Friday, December 31, 2010

Cooper's Hawk Study in pencil and acrylic

In keeping with my recent postings about the birds that I have been observing lately, I thought it might be appropriate to post a recent study drawing that I did featuring a Cooper's hawk. These poses were taken from the photos I took of the bird that has been visiting my yard and making a meal of some of the smaller birds at my feeders. While this might seem a bit gruesome it has really given me a great opportunity to see this hawk much closer than I normally would be able to and I have observed some hunting behavior that is very interesting. I have observed both this bird and a sharp shinned hawk do more than just swoop in for the kill. I have seen them both actively pursue the smaller birds that are trying to hide in the shrubs by diving in after them or even shaking branches and vines with their talons to scare the little birds out. It's quite the drama to watch. I'm not sure who I'm hoping will come out the winner...the little, terrified birds or the determined hawk. Hey, they both gotta eat!!

This piece was done in pencil with light acrylic washes. I decided to do just a study sketch for now because I wanted to capture the different attitudes and poses that I've seen this bird in and to focus on the intense look they have with their glaring reddish colored eyes. Without meaning to make this bird out to be the bad guy, that red eye makes them look quite ferocious. The heavy eyebrow above that eye makes them look like they are one mean bird! I think they are just awesome!! The study serves to remind me of their powerful beauty.

I just realized that this is my last painting for 2010. In a few hours it will be a brand new year with new goals and new challenges. Is anyone making new years resolutions? I'm going to go out on a limb here and publicly posting one of mine. Maybe it will give me more incentive to reach it.

In 2011 my main goal is to paint 20 - 25 new paintings with birds or wildlife as the main subject. That would be roughly two paintings a month depending on the size. Reaching this goal will then put me in a better position to reach a few other being to participate in a large wildlife art show/sale and the other to start searching for gallery representation. Both of these goals require a good body of work to show and sell.

Well, now you know what I'll be doing for the next 12 months. What about you?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sharp shinned hawk

Okay, I have to admit it. I have been bitten by the birding bug badly lately. (say that fast three times!) For some reason I just can't get enough bird watching in. A lot of my free time has been spent perusing bird watcher blogs, websites and chats about bird sitings in my area. When I locate something interesting off I go with camera, binos, sketch pad and bird id books to find my current prey. I'm afraid I could be becoming obsessed! But what fun!!

Today I didn't even have to leave the house to find something interesting. First thing this morning this sharp shinned hawk came in looking for it's breakfast. Like the cooper's hawk which it resembles it was intently watching the rose bush and the tomato vines for signs of movement from hiding birds. It was very determined to get a meal and as I watched it first dove into the rose bush to snatch whomever it could. When it came up empty it flew to the tomato vines. I was in awe when I saw it fly down, grab the vines in it's talons and beat and shake the vines with it's wings until the terrified sparrows popped out. Then the chase was on! I saw all this, but missed the actual capture of it's prey. Both sparrow and hawk had flown out of my line of sight and I had assumed it had missed it's meal, but when I went out later I found the telltale pile of feathers that told the rest of the story. I was actually bummed about missing that part, gruesome as that may seem. I get to watch the song birds feeding all the time at my feeders or in my yard in the summer, but rarely do I get to see the birds of prey doing the same thing. Seems a bit unfair.

I guess now I have to start making some time to turn all these observations and photos into art. I have been doing some sketches with ideas, but seem content lately to just leave it at that. The time will come though when the story needs to be told in paint. Of course, when that happens, you'll see it here.