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Old Monday 23rd January 2012, 20:14   #526
Moulty
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Hi John,
Agree with the others about the owl, but really like the Rainbow Lorikeet the colours are so bright and clean.

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Old Monday 23rd January 2012, 22:41   #527
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Thanks, Russ! It is indeed a Great Gray Owl...and I'm with you about never having seen one in the wild yet, despite three serious tries in the dead of winter in the small area of our state where they are sometimes found. One of these years...
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Old Monday 3rd December 2012, 20:08   #528
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Back Again - after a long absence

Hi folks,

I've been away from this forum for WAY too long and had to hop back on after a busy summer which included a six-week across-and-back-the-USA road trip during which I added 46 life birds to my list by visiting several parts of the country in which I had never birded.

I really am anxious to go through all the threads here and catch up with what everyone has been doing.

Most of my time has been spent on landscapes (mostly in oil) but I have still been sketching birds (mostly from references, some from life) and plan on doing much more of that this winter.

The following sketches are from a project I started at the beginning of 2012 and which fell by the wayside, but which I am now dead set on finishing. I decided to start a sketchbook and do a page per species of each species seen during 2012. Since I've seen 286 species this year (with still a chance for a handful more) that will be a big project - especially considering that so far I've done 22 of the species. So, it will carry over in next year, obviously (hopefully not 2014!).

The A4 sketchbook I'm using is from a wonderful premium binder - Stillman & Birn - it is their Epsilon model, which is a plate finish so it isn't meant for water-based media although I'm adding watercolor to some of the pieces anyway. It's great for dry media, so many of the sketches are in Pitt brush pens, and pencil. The Pitt brush pens I love, but even with a wide selection of colors, it's tough to match colors very closely, so bear that in mind.

Anyway, here are some of those sketches.

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Old Monday 3rd December 2012, 20:11   #529
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And some more...

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Old Monday 3rd December 2012, 20:12   #530
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And the last group for now...

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Old Monday 3rd December 2012, 20:50   #531
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What a treat, love field notes like these, a wonderful peek into your birding experiences. Thanks for posting these, standouts for me include the Lincoln's Sparrow, Song Sparrow and that Northern Flicker drawn from below:)
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Old Tuesday 4th December 2012, 13:02   #532
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Nice to see you back John and with quite a collection of work.
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Old Tuesday 4th December 2012, 21:00   #533
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Great I love the Swan sketches id slap a frame around it then hang it. I remember as a kid at Minsmere looking at prints set up like that. Fell in love with them obviously its never left me Cool Sparrows too
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Old Tuesday 4th December 2012, 21:07   #534
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Great that you be back John

and with a couple of beautiful sketches
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Old Wednesday 5th December 2012, 21:49   #535
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these are looking nice John!
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Old Thursday 6th December 2012, 18:39   #536
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these are looking nice John!
what a great narrative quality to this collection (and the previous- I remember the fishing diary too)

I do like images that reflect a birding or travelling life, rather than just being paintings
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Old Thursday 6th December 2012, 21:33   #537
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Thanks Alan, Ken, Bigshent, Gaby, Matty and Ed! It's good to be back to the forum. Here are some more sketches adding a few more species to the group. These are quick sketches, and some are pretty rough, but I decided to post everything I'm doing during the project.

The first page here is Chestnut-backed Chickadees. We have four species of chickadees in our state (Black-capped, Chestnut-backed, Mountain and Boreal) and the Chestnut-backed is probably my favorite. They prefer coniferous forests. The next is Ruby-crowned Kinglets. The watercolor is really rough on the top bird - I attempted it quickly while watching TV and got a predictable (bad) result. This paper is not specifically watercolor paper either. The third page is Belted Kingfisher, a favorite species of mine. The kingfisher is done with an initial pencil drawing, then adding Pitt brush pens for the color washes. The final page is our tiny forest wren - the Pacific Wren - which is full of attitude despite its diminuitive size. I was pleased with the drawing and some of the watercolor with this page. The original drawing was pencil.

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Old Saturday 8th December 2012, 14:13   #538
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Quote:
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what a great narrative quality to this collection (and the previous- I remember the fishing diary too)

I do like images that reflect a birding or travelling life, rather than just being paintings
Speaking of that, and something I've mentioned on my own thread, I would treat myself to Michael Warren's American Birding Sketchbook for Christmas. I'm just going through it for the 3rd time since receiving it a few weeks ago. It's a wonderful birding travelogue that has at least a couple pages for each US state.

To me one of the hardest parts of rendering birds is deciding on background or environment. All his birds are in believable environments and to me are a lesson in how to portray birds as something more than just portraits in blank space. Outside of that though it really is like a travelogue and it's great fun to pick out the birds you recognize in each state, etc., etc. A cheap way to bird the US! And learn something about portraying them at the same time.
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Old Saturday 8th December 2012, 16:16   #539
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Thanks, Ken. I'll have to check out Warren's book - I had not heard about it before.

The main purpose of this project of mine is to provide a somewhat structured means to force a lot of drawing of birds in a short period of time - my drawing skills are not where I would like them to be yet (whose is? ) and this should help get better/quicker at proportions and some details. A second reason, of course, is to document all the birds I saw in 2012 as a reference when I'm old(er), crotchety and unable to get out to bird like I once was. I do want to try to do some more complete paintings or drawings with backgrounds and more considered compositions, especially in oil, which has become my primary medium for studio work and plein air studies.
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Old Sunday 9th December 2012, 02:07   #540
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Here are three more quick species sketches - pencil and gouache, A4 Stillman & Birn sketchbook. The first page is Downy Woodpecker, our smallest local woodpecker. Second is Bewick's Wren, which along with Pacific Wren is common on the west side of the Cascade Mtns. in our state. Finally is a Great Blue Heron.

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Old Wednesday 12th December 2012, 21:27   #541
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Here are the next five species sketches from 2012 sightings (this puts me at 33 out of 286...at least I'm over 10% of the way there - ). The birds are Mallard, Tundra Swan, Common Raven, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and American Kestrel. These were all done as pencil sketches, followed by gouache.

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Old Wednesday 12th December 2012, 22:39   #542
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WOW - is that you back, John??!!! Fabulous re-entry to the cellar, mate. Fine drawings and a nice splash of colour, but mostly impressed, as ever, by your expansive knowledge and enthusiasm for the sport. Welcome back!
Nice belty, too . . .
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Old Thursday 13th December 2012, 00:38   #543
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Hi Tim!

Yep, I'm back, hopefully to stay this time without any long breaks. Until this project (all 2012 bird species seen are sketched) is done, it looks like my bird art is going to emphasize quantity over quality for some time. But I am finding that sketching so many species quickly is definitely helping me to get shapes down better, at least from my perspective. My other painting time has been spent on landscapes in oil - a few examples follow. The first two are quick and small studies (6x8 inch). The third is an 8x10 plein air study I did at a mountain pond near my house during the summer. The fourth is a 16x20 studio piece that is nearing completion, with a few changes needed that I'm hoping to get to today until I call it done. Lots to learn about landscapes as well, of course. The (indirect) bird connection is that the studio painting is of a marsh in SE Arizona (mostly a desert otherwise) in which 30,000 Sandhill Cranes winter each year.

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Old Thursday 13th December 2012, 09:19   #544
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Very nice landscapes. I think the last one is superior to the other three.
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Old Thursday 13th December 2012, 19:59   #545
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Smashing stuff John, welcome back!

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Old Friday 14th December 2012, 08:57   #546
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Smashing stuff John, welcome back!

Mike
Can only but agree. love it all
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Old Sunday 16th December 2012, 21:19   #547
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Nice to see all these landscapes John. You seem to be getting very comfortable with them. They seem to be quite confident.
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Old Monday 17th December 2012, 14:28   #548
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the landscapes look very nice!
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Old Monday 17th December 2012, 16:42   #549
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Thanks Oskar, Mike, Arthur, Ken and Matty!

I've spent most of my serious painting time on landscapes, and I think they have taken a step or two forward in the last year. But, I have so far to go to paint like I want to be able to do. At least I can see progress, and my interest and drive to continue improving are strong. I've also been taking to heart the 'don't let your paintings be too precious' mantra that one of my landscape painting idols drums into his students. In fact, the last painting of the set I showed here is sitting on the easel ready to be completely repainted, despite the fact that I think it is one of the better paintings I've done so far. I took it to an instructor and we did a detailed critique on it and I came away convinced that it could be much better. Here's hoping...!
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Old Tuesday 18th December 2012, 00:57   #550
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Here are the next 6 species as I work my way through 2012 bird species seen (soon I'll have done the species I saw just on January 1st - long way to go yet!). The first page is Brewer's Blackbird and Merlin, page 2 is Brown Creeper and Red-breasted Nuthatch, and the final page is Steller's Jay and Double-crested Cormorant. All were started as pencil sketches, then color was added either with gouache or Pitt brush pens. I think a couple of these are pretty poorly done, even for quick sketches which all of the 2012 species seen are going to be at least initially.

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