Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weekend Sightings

Gnatcatcher, Blackburnian and Pileated. Sketches by Ken Januski


It seems like migration has truly begun. Though we haven't seen hordes of birds over the last few days, especially this weekend, we have seen enough to make it feel as though spring and migration is truly here. As is usual with warblers they don't sit around long for sketching. In fact they don't sit at all!

The only bird drawn from life here is a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and they're as flitty as any warbler. Still I did make this attempt yesterday. Later in the day we saw a Pileated Woodpecker excavating a hole. Every once in a while he would seem to rock back and forth into and out of the hole. When I put up my binoculars I realized that every few minutes when this rocking occured he was tossing out the wood that he'd just chiseled out.

I didn't begin to try to draw it, though I did take some distant photos. This is done this afternoon strictly from memory.

The biggest thrill of the weekend was a male Blackburnian along the Wissahickon today. Most of the recent warblers, even the Louisiana Warblers, have been very high, either feeding or singing. But this most beautiful of warblers perched at eye level just 10 feet away, but also for just about 10 seconds. Then he was gone for good. So this also is done from memory after I got home.

As I've said I've been experimenting with Stillman and Birn sketchbooks for my demo this Saturday. But my field sketches are generally done in ballpoint pen in a Moleskine sketchbook. That is what I used to draw the gnatcatcher so I decided to also use it for the other birds. After that I decided to experiment with adding color with the Caran d'Ache Neocolor II crayons and a waterbrush.

I much prefer the Stillman and Birn for more developed work in color, especially with the Caran d'Ache crayons but it's nice to know that they can also be used to add a bit of color to the Moleskine field sketches.

There was a tiime I couldn't imagine working from my memory hours later. I'm glad that I finally have enough experience that I'm at least not afraid to give it a try. Perhaps later I'll try something more developed combining the Blackburnian and one of the waterthrushes.

P.S. Given all the birds I'm seeing recently I've found myself going back to Michael Warren's American Birding Sketchbook. I admire it more everytime I look at it, especially for incorporating bird and environment, something quite rare in most bird art.

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