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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 14:31   #1
solitaryVSong
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revivingKensArt

Hi,

I've been led to this site and specifically this forum by Jo, after commenting on my own blog about how much I liked the work of Nick Derry, which I just discovered recently. So for the last few days I've been poking around here. What a pleasure it's been seeing so much good art!

Oddly enough the title of my last blog post was 'Wildlife Art and Me', where I mentioned how surprised I was at not liking much 'wildlife art' once I turned from years of abstract work to bird art about three years ago. Nick's work and the work of others I've been discovering here over the last few days has been a revelation. There really is good, lively wildlife art being done. I hope to see a whole lot more of it, and maybe create some over the coming weeks and years. I can't tell you how refreshing it is.

Without further ado I'm going to include my last work, assuming I don't have any troubles with attachments. I've been tentatively working my way around bird art for the last three years. I'm fully convinced of the need to work from life but most of my work is based on photos. When I have more time, or maybe just through the sheer example of this forum, I'll force myself to work from life.

In any case here are a number of versions of a Snowy Egret done in watercolor, based on one seen at 'The Meadows' at Cape May, NJ in April, 2009.

Ken
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 15:11   #2
ARTHUR BISHOP
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Hi Ken & welcome. Looking forward to seeing a lot more of your work.
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 15:31   #3
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Thanks Arthur,

I certainly hope you WILL see a lot more of my work. I can't think of a better impetus to work than the art I'm seeing here.

Ken
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 17:45   #4
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Good to have you aboard Ken. This egret piece has much to commend it; I particluarly like the vibrant colours. The reds of the earth work really well with the deep blues of the water.
And for inspiration - you could go a long, long way and not find the like of Mr Derry.
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 22:42   #5
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Hi Ken, welcome to the best bit of BF. I had a peek at your website, the charcoal work is particularly nice, we certainly need to see more of that here.
I think Nick inspires all of us on here!

Mike
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 22:45   #6
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Originally Posted by timwootton View Post
Good to have you aboard Ken. This egret piece has much to commend it; I particluarly like the vibrant colours. The reds of the earth work really well with the deep blues of the water.
And for inspiration - you could go a long, long way and not find the like of Mr Derry.

Thanks so much Tim. I really am happy to be aboard. I feel a bit like I've finally found the right place for myself.

As for inspiration I have to say your 5 watercolors from 'being stuck in the studio' last week are an inspiration themselves.
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 22:48   #7
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Hi Ken, welcome to the best bit of BF. I had a peek at your website, the charcoal work is particularly nice, we certainly need to see more of that here.
I think Nick inspires all of us on here!

Mike
Hi Woody,

Thanks for the welcome!

You know I'm far, far more comfortable with charcoal than with watercolor. But I got it in my head that I liked watercolor, especially after reading 'Drawing Birds' about three years ago, and I just have had this nagging desire to become better at it. There are times though when I say 'Enough! Back to something I know like charcoal!'
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 23:46   #8
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Hi Ken, welcome to Birdforum, very glad to have you on board here, and very pleased to hear that you find my work inspiring. I've got to say the same of your work - I love the colours and the bold nature of what you do - had a quick look at your site, and I'll certainly be going back for more!

and don't wait to work from life - just dive in and do it - usually the thing that stops us working how we would like to is the fear that it won't work out right - dive in with the knowledge that it will NEVER be as you hoped or expected, but will ALWAYS be surprising and rewarding (and often incredibly frustrating!)
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Old Friday 10th July 2009, 23:59   #9
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Originally Posted by nickderry View Post
Hi Ken, welcome to Birdforum, very glad to have you on board here, and very pleased to hear that you find my work inspiring. I've got to say the same of your work - I love the colours and the bold nature of what you do - had a quick look at your site, and I'll certainly be going back for more!

and don't wait to work from life - just dive in and do it - usually the thing that stops us working how we would like to is the fear that it won't work out right - dive in with the knowledge that it will NEVER be as you hoped or expected, but will ALWAYS be surprising and rewarding (and often incredibly frustrating!)
Thanks much Nick,

I have to thank JoMo for pointing me to this forum and your work here. And I'm enjoying seeing everyone's work. It's going to take a good, long while to work my way through it. What a great collection of good art and artists.

As far as 'waiting to work from life' there couldn't be a better inspiration than your work. I think this weekend I shall start. No more waiting around!!
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Old Saturday 11th July 2009, 00:02   #10
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Thanks much Nick,

I have to thank JoMo for pointing me to this forum and your work here. And I'm enjoying seeing everyone's work. It's going to take a good, long while to work my way through it. What a great collection of good art and artists.

As far as 'waiting to work from life' there couldn't be a better inspiration than your work. I think this weekend I shall start. No more waiting around!!
excellent to hear it, in that case, I'll get the paints out too - been lacking a little in inspiration recently, but I think it's time to get back into the studio!
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Old Saturday 11th July 2009, 03:13   #11
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Hey, Ken! Glad to see you turn up here, and welcome! Both feet, man, and looking forward to the results.
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Old Saturday 11th July 2009, 23:13   #12
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Well I did force myself to work from life today. We've had a Ruby-throated Hummingbird hanging around our backyard for two weeks so I decided to start here and try to get some sketches of it. Not the best idea. He wasn't here much and when he was he was up high and backlit so he wasn't much more than a silhouette.

But there were insects and flowers around so I drew them while waiting for a hummer reappearance. The one time I thought I had a shot a robin shot in and landed on tomato cage and scared him off. Then the robin moved so even his sketch is a composite view.

This isn't jumping in with 'both feet' as JoMo suggests. I know that two feet is exactly the right prescription. But for today this will have to d0.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2009, 09:52   #13
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Some little gems in this lot Ken - pages 1, 4 & 5 have tiny thumbnail sketches which really shout out. Super start.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2009, 11:33   #14
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Just catching up with the recent burst of activity on the forum- I really like the richness of colour in the Snowy Egret, background and all.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2009, 15:26   #15
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You may not call it both feet, Ken, but you're out there with your subject matter, and that's exactly where you need to be. That they just won't stay still never ceases to be frustrating, but it DOES get easier, I promise! (Personally, I find I get bored when they don't move -- where's the fun in that? )

Distant and silhouetted can be a good thing, since it keeps you from getting bogged down in details (the biggest hurdle to quick drawing). The hummer below the perched robin is particuarly good.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2009, 20:49   #16
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I don't plan to keep posting every little thing I do on a daily basis. But since I vowed that I would start working from life I did want to post today's evidence.

I convinced my wife to combine a birding and sketching trip so we spent 2 1/2 hours at Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. We got very good looks at a Green Heron, and also a number of shorebirds. I was surprised to find so many species(5).

The sketches include the Green Heron, many Kildeer, and one shorebird that I finally puzzled out to be a female Pectoral Sandpiper. I'm not an expert on shorebirds but I am improving and I'm pretty sure that I'm right about this id.

The sketches aren't anything special, but they do show I think the sense of life you can get when working from life. I'm hoping that they'll keep getting better as I continue to work.
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Old Sunday 12th July 2009, 21:37   #17
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Seems like we have a bit of a run of egrets and herons on the art forum recently!! I totally agree with you on your assessment of the field sketches - it's obvious you've observed them well producing some very convincing drawings.

Looking at your fieldnotes of the wader above the Kildeer, from what I can read and from what you've drawn, I suspect it's more likely a juvenile Pec Sand - they show more dark contrasting mantle feathers made so by light 'v' shaped tramlines down the scapulars, the under chin is paler and they have a slightly more prominent supercillium. (There's little difference between the male and female adults)
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Old Sunday 12th July 2009, 23:38   #18
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Seems like we have a bit of a run of egrets and herons on the art forum recently!! I totally agree with you on your assessment of the field sketches - it's obvious you've observed them well producing some very convincing drawings.

Looking at your fieldnotes of the wader above the Kildeer, from what I can read and from what you've drawn, I suspect it's more likely a juvenile Pec Sand - they show more dark contrasting mantle feathers made so by light 'v' shaped tramlines down the scapulars, the under chin is paler and they have a slightly more prominent supercillium. (There's little difference between the male and female adults)
Hi Deborah,

First I should say how much I've enjoyed your recent egret, heron, ibis and pelican work! And thanks for the thoughts on the Pectoral.

I'm really a beginning birder when it comes to shorebirds. I'm just about positive it's a pectoral due to the clean line where streaking ends on breast. But I wasn't sure about juvenile or female. I finally went with female because 'The Shorebird Guide' says that they can be so much smaller than the males and they start to migrate in mid-July. There was a supercilium and the scapular feathers did have a very strong contrasting pattern. So the feathers made me think it had to be juvenile as you say.

It just seemed so small compared to a nearby Kildeer, and it seemed early for migrating juveniles, at least according to my reading. I don't have enough personal experience to say when they normally migrate around here. So it could very well be a juvenile as you say. I'm happy to go with that until sometimes steps up and argues for female!

Ken
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Old Monday 13th July 2009, 05:00   #19
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way to go Ken, it will get better, at least it has for me, it's taken me about 2 months to get some chops for the live thing, but have to say I'm hooked for good, it's so exciting and always something new. I take photos too in case I want to do a more complete work.
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Old Monday 13th July 2009, 08:25   #20
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Nice going Ken, you can easily see the way you've been exploring the lines and homing in on the final shapes. It does get somewhat easier as you go but the excitement and the challenge of working direct from the living bird never changes.

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Old Monday 13th July 2009, 13:17   #21
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Thanks Colleen and Woody,

I've actually written about how much you gain from working from life for years. I said this based on my many years of figure drawing from long ago. But I just haven't forced myself to sketch birds, always opting for photos instead. Now, thanks to this forum and especially Nick Derry and JoMo, I have! I agree with you both about the excitement. I remembered it from figure drawing, and I guess also from street sketches I used to do. It's nice for it now to be fresh and not a distant memory!

Ken
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Old Monday 13th July 2009, 13:22   #22
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Just catching up with the recent burst of activity on the forum- I really like the richness of colour in the Snowy Egret, background and all.
Thanks so much Ed!

For many, many years I was strictly an abstract artist. Then about three years ago I turned to naturalistic art, specifically birds. So I've spent all that time trying to get them down with some accuracy, all the while sort of chomping at the bit to return to some of the coloristic and compositional freedom of my old abstract work. Finally I think I'm starting to do that with my paintings and drawings of birds. That's my goal anyway! So I'm very happy to find you like the color in the Snowy Egret. I hope I'll continue to find a way to get some rich color into my work.

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Old Friday 17th July 2009, 14:31   #23
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I've spent the morning before work for the last two days working on this small 7x10 watercolor. When I began working in watercolor three years ago I used photos of birds that I've taken as subject matter, knowing all the time how misleading photos can be. Since then I've made some effort to work from life but I'm still at the beginning stages of that.

I'll continue to do so but in the meantime I'd like to paint! So this watercolor is based on a photo of an Eastern Willet that I saw at the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, NJ in spring of 2009. I'm afraid to do any more work on it for fear of killing it, so most likely it is done.
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Old Sunday 19th July 2009, 14:55   #24
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Well the last 24 hours have been a struggle and a half. I took some photos of very cooperative Piping Plovers last spring. Yesterday I tried my second small watercolor. Though the plovers completely disappear in the sand when seen from a distance in these closeup photos they stood out as bright white spots against a sand of contrasting orange and blue casts.

So I thought I'd try to capture the color of the sand as well as the birds. I hoped for a bright fresh watercolor. Well you can see the results. It turned out to be more a dark, muddy watercolor that no longer gives much indication of sand. But in trying to rescue the overall painting I changed the background in such a way that it looks more like hills. Still you learn from your mistakes so I hope this will be a learning experience.

I may head out later today for some fieldsketching. I do want to continue it. Unfortunately the birds around my urban home are not too plentiful. So all work from life, outside of the flighty hummingbird, requires a drive somewhere.
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Old Monday 20th July 2009, 18:30   #25
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I feel your pain, I don't know how many of my pictures start in watercolour and end up getting very muddy, most of them perhaps! - I'm sure that's where my 'style' of mixed media comes from - just glue some white paper back over it, and start again.

It's a shame that you didn't stop after the first photo was taken - that's very nice - but it's hard to stop when you're having fun. I love the composition and strong shapes. Onwards and upwards.
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