Sunday, January 27, 2013

A second try...Birding at Renwick

I somehow managed to get out and bird this morning, although it was much later than I had wanted. I was worries about the chance of being frozen outside in the icy rain that was predicted, but with a stroke of luck I was able to get out before the rain started to come down. It may have taken a lot to go out, but when I was finally out there I was glad I went. Sure, I was cold. But I admit that even the muted landscape of winter has it's own unique beauty:

(Horizontal flat landscapes: a personal favorite of mine)

I shouldn't have expected to see many birds, but that's what I was out there for. After almost 45 minutes of nothing but a stray robin and gull, I finally stumbled upon a migrating flock of American Robins feasting ravenously on winter berries. It was so nice to see a flash of bright color on such a dreary day. Plus, who doesn't love robins? I enjoyed their company for most of the next 30 minutes and got some decent reference shots:

While I didn't see many species, I did see a downy woodpecker (yay!), a few Canada geese flying overhead, some Starlings mingling in with the robins, a loud pair of chickadees, and a group of Am. Tree Sparrows. Anyone who has ever tried to photograph or sketch a chickadee knows that it is not an easy feat. These high-energy birds never seem to want to stay in the same place longer than five seconds. I was happy to get a few clear shots:

I sense some more small studies of birds in the future. I will have to put these reference photos to good use. Still working on a couple large projects in the meantime. I should have one done or at least a progress shot by the next entry. 

I look forward to the next birding adventure. I may not be out for that long or see a lot of birds when I do, but it's nice to be around nature and breathe some fresh air, even if my fingers are numb. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Birding at Lake Renwick and some small paintings

I feel like I've been posting show after show and not much work lately. I am making a very conscious effort to journal my artistic process more and give a more "inside view" on my working process. Part of the working process for me is being an active birder. While there are times I would much rather paint, as a bird painter and  illustrator I need to have a good understanding of my subject matter in their natural habitat--that includes studying and becoming familiar with different environments, their patterns, the way birds perch, fly, and even sit perfectly still. While birding may sound like a simple past-time, it is an essential part of my understanding of birds and nature. So, I decided to brave the cold weather and go to Lake Renwick, a local rookery in Will County, on my free morning this past Saturday. It was a glorious morning, though windy and cold. I haven't seen the sunrise like that since my school days in May.
As beautiful as the morning started, my mom and I had gotten there a little too early and there were no birds to be seen or heard. After about a half hour or so, the sun started to warm the air and I started to hear some White-Breasted Nuthatches in the more woody part of the preserve. Anxious to see these little birds, I forced my mom to follow me again onto the path we had already taken. From there we saw a decent number of species, but nothing too grand or exciting:

White-Breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
American Goldfinch
Am. Crow
Canada Goose
Am. Robin
 B/C Chickadee
European Starling
N. Cardinal
Am. Tree Sparrow

There might have been more, but I can't recall them now. There was a strange duck-like bird flying onto the lake near the many flocks of geese but I couldn't identify it. I'm going to try to go back with my scope to see if it's still there next week. I was eager to reach the other side of the lake and hopefully see some more birds as well as sit down and sketch for a little bit, but the sky had clouded over and the wind bit right through my thin gloves. I was starting to get chilled. I decided to call it quits early, only because I wanted to get back into the groove of birding and I knew I could return more prepared on a later morning. 

Not the most exciting trip, but it helped me for future bird mornings. This weekend, I managed to also finish some paintings I have been late with, but I think they still came out well and I enjoyed painting all four. I had painted these small bird studies for my friends at work as a late Christmas gifts:



Right now, I'm working on a large painting that I hope to finish before the end of the month. I will also be working on some smaller studies like the ones above to have ready to sell in a pinch. I will have that opportunity soon for a show in the Health in the Art program at UIC. More details to follow about that.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Centerline 2012 "State of Mind" book available!

If you didn't get the chance to catch the show, the entire exhibition from the Zhou B. Center this past December is now available in book format for purchasing! My painting is included on page 28/29. Check it out!

Also, here are some illustrations I have recently completed for a client. I thoroughly enjoyed painting them both!