|Chipping Sparrow at Houston Meadow. Watercolor Sketch on Stillman and Birn Gamma paper by Ken Januski.|
It seems inevitable that just after I've finished, and often posted a photo of, a more realistic work that I'll run across something that makes me doubt its accuracy. Yesterday it was rereading Ken Kaufman's Field Guide to Advanced Birding, second edition. Sure enough he divided sparrows into families and mentioned the slim build of the spizella group, which includes the Chipping Sparrow.
I of course know this from experience. They are small, slim birds. And yet my last watercolor made the one portrayed look bulkier than it normally is. So I decided to try another sketch and watercolor based on recent photos. The one above is based on photos taken of some Chipping Sparrows at Houston Meadow in Philadelphia this past Monday. I like that I've captured the grassy habitat in which they bury themselves.
A number of years ago the Wall Street Journal ran an article on Birds in Art and wildlife art in general. One of the more horrifying aspects of it was the demand of buyers of such art for exactitude in portrayal. Every little detail needs to be accurate for some collectors.
But that's not art. That's a type of deadly illustration enforced by someone other than the artists. It positively scares me! So when I venture into worrying about accuracy as I did here I'm quite uncomfortable. And yet I also like to get a believable portrayal of the subject. I just don't want verisimilitude to be paramount.
In the painting above it's obvious that there is just an impression of the weeds in which the sparrow fed and hid. That's the way I like it. I'm trying to make art, something that will be enjoyable to both the scientist and the general viewer.