Monday, December 1, 2014

Goldfinch Woodcut Waylaid by Goldfinch

American Goldfinch at Houston Meadows. Watercolor by Ken Januski.

With an icy mix predicted for tomorrow and 60 plus degrees for today it was easy to convince myself to start the morning with birding rather than continue on my woodcut. Who knows if this will be the last 60 degree day for 3-5 months?

So the first bird I saw puzzled me with it's yellowish nape and warm rusty colors. I couldn't really see the black of the wings on first view but I still suspected it was an American Goldfinch in non-breeding plumage. But boy was I struck by the combination of yellows and rusts in the head. For all the goldfinches I've seen I'd never been struck so strongly by that before.

So I took a number of photos and thought I'd try a watercolor at some point later in the day. This is the result. It's on Arches Cold Press watercolor paper, 7x10 inches I think.

It's a far cry from my current American Goldfinch woodcut, where I've taken a lot of artistic liberty. That is still my preferred way of working. But sometimes you can just be struck by the beauty of something and want to try to get it down more or less like you saw it. Such was the case with this.


Ellen Snyder said...

Hi Ken,

I have not seen such a beautiful winter plumage goldfinch. Ours seem so drab...nice renditions in the watercolor and in my perennial favorite of your art--the woodcut.

Freeze-thaw swings here. Just got our bird feeders up and no birds yet.

Regards, Ellen

Ken Januski said...

Hi Ellen,

I'm not sure why this bird was so striking? Early morning sunlight, young bird with fresher plumage,??? I also normally see them as drab birds in winter plumage. So this one really struck me. He was very close so maybe that was part of it. As I mentioned on your blog I also had a similar experience with a White-throated Sparrow recently. Though I've always found them striking this one was especially so.

We're also in the freeze/thaw cycle though probably not as much as you. Who knows what winter might bring this year?! Most of our garden is long gone though the kale hangs on and last I checked my newly built cold-frame had young beets, choi, mustard and tatsoi. Generally they just stop growing about this time of year but I'm hoping the beets will overwinter.