Yellow-eared Toucanet. (Selenidera spectabilis)
This painting is part of the Regional endemics of Central America collection.
Rather than just posting paintings I thought a little background on how these things happen would be fun, so here goes.
There are a lot of good reasons for attempting these but one important driver is species accuracy. I’m happy to indulge in an arty approach providing it doesn’t interfere with a clear and general description of colour, shape or markings of the species.
I enjoy inventing things out of my head without referring to a photograph so I usually start by fleshing out the pose, scene and shape from a blank page. It’s then worked on as far as memory and knowledge allows. There’s a lot of pushing, pulling, erasing and going backwards this way but boy is it satisfying when it works out.
I tend to invent this way in order to avoid the subtle but persistent tyranny of the photograph. I’m susceptible to it’s influence so have to exercise caution.
When the painting has a life of its own I then sit down and curate as many photos as possible in order to gain an understanding of an average colour, shape and markings for that species. I put off the curating bit for as long as I can.
Needless to say another important tool is field work. Seeing the bird in the wild even briefly helps immensely and since my memory is fairly photographic I can use that in the sketch workups. Field work is not always feasible of course but whenever I can I do. Consulting with biologists and field workers is also a sought after resource as well.
Having access to a lab collection would be wonderful but that’s not happening any time soon so I build my research processes as best I can.
To be honest I’m not sure where these fit in the field of bird illustration. That spectrum consisting of pure art for arts sake at one end to pure scientific illustration at the other. Betwixt and between perhaps. At any rate I find the work challenging and intellectually rewarding.
A side note,
One nice thing about switching over to an iPad after 35 years working with traditional materials is that every stroke in the painting in the painting app is recorded. It’s a great teaching tool, and actually helps with understanding the progress and timeline of a painting.
Anyway, I include here a video from that process video. It originally was a twelve minute video that I speeded up to one minute. Even I don’t have the patience to watch the entire twelve minutes and I painted the bloody thing. The video quality had to be reduced as well so it could squeeze through the internet.
The painting itself in real time has 14 hours invested so far with more to come.
View attachment IMG_4512.MOV