Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Feather Studies

Feather Study #6 - Mallard

Feathers come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, colors and textures and all on one bird! Each serves a special purpose. Often times we only see the bird as a whole, but the individual feathers are fascinating and worthy of study.

I have always been enchanted by the beauty of feathers. I like the way they look, the way the feel and how they float freely in the breeze. And who hasn't found a feather and marveled at it's color and structure and wondered what bird had passed that way and left it behind?

Well, my curiosity has gotten the better of me. I'm not just interested in birds any more, I'm interested in their feathers as well. I have decided to spend a bit more time learning more about these things that make a bird a bird and have been reading books and doing some research on the subject and paying a lot more attention to the feathers I find laying about. They're not just pretty to look at. Feathers have a serious side that goes far beyond their beauty.

Study #1 - Chukar

There are many types of feathers on a bird and they serve different functions. Some, obviously, are used for flying and they are shaped distinctly for that. Tail feathers are not just for steering, sometimes they are used for balance when perching (wood pecker) or in a mating display (think peacock). Others are soft and fluffy and serve to keep their young warm in the nest. All feathers have tiny barbs on them that interlock and all feathers overlap one another like shingles both serving as a way to provide warmth and weather proofing.

As a way of discovering more about feathers I have decided to try and paint them. I have determined that this can be quite a challenge to try and convey the delicacies that some feathers exhibit. How do you paint "soft", "fluffy", "iridescent"?

For the next few months I will be doing a series of feather studies. Most of these will be small format paintings of 
3" x 4" and 4" x 6" and will be available for purchase through my Etsy store for a very reasonable price. They would be a great way to collect original art and would make great gifts for bird lovers or anyone who appreciates nature.
You can find them at 



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