Friday, August 26, 2011

A wildlife commission

I don't think of myself as a wildlife artist, but every now and then I get a commission for a wildlife piece.

The task is to depict the subject accurately, in a characteristic pose and setting, with a sense of life and liveliness. I don't think it's at all easy. My hat is off to artists who dedicate their careers to this work.

The bird in the painting is a Bohemian Waxwing. We get them in flocks during the winter. They love the mountain ash berries above all others.

This is the painting at the beginning. It was a second beginning. There was actually another start, which I discarded when I realized I had misjudged the composition. I started over on this new panel. The good thing about starting over is that it goes much faster once the problems have been sorted out.

When I was a volunteer at our local wild bird rehabilitation center, I made some sketches of a bohemian waxwing who was our guest. I used other references to pin down details, especially the color notes. If you look closely you will see my Munsell notations for various parts of the bird. Waxwings have the most beautiful subtle coloring, with very gradual transitions from one hue to another. Their plumage has a fantastic smoothness.

I have not posted for some time because I was traveling out of the country. Now I am about to make my annual trek to Denali National Park, so I hope to have some good photos to post in a few weeks.

6" x 8"
oil on linen panel