Friday, May 27, 2011
Warblers Need Crayons
Before we left on our vacation I stocked up on some art supplies I thought might prove useful, in particular something that would allow me to quickly add color to field sketches. With many wood warblers on the horizon I wanted to be able to add color in the field, with the birds in front of me.
I've tried watercolor pencils with no success or happiness. So this time I decided to try Caran d'Ache Neocolor crayons. They promised brilliance, a prerequisite for wood warblers, as well as the ability to lay lighter colors over dark.
Well it made no difference. I never had the time, or room, to use them on the crowded boardwalk of Magee Marsh.
But since I've been home I've decided to give them a try on some warbler sketches, some based on field sketches, some based on photos I took.
At top is a male Cape May warbler, shaking itself off after a dip in the stream. To me it's in the running for most beautiful wood warbler, though my wife turns up her nose at this thought and suggests it's a bit over the top. The orange/rust/rufous on cheek though is brilliant against the yellow and black of the rest of the head. I think the crayons capture this fairly well. What they don't do, and this is more my fault than theirs, is create a convincing background.
We also saw a number of one of the more subtle warblers, the Northern Waterthrush. It tends to stay low near water and I'd hoped to set off the rich, colorful reflections in the water against the subdued browns of the bird itself. But a limited palette of just 10 colors left the richness I'd hoped for somewhat absent.
Still these crayons allow me to work fast, to experiment, to try out ideas for paintings. It's taking awhile for me to work myself up to more ambitious work. I think these crayons works will be a productive step along the way.