Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hummingbird Series - Calliope Hummingbird

Calliope Hummer (male) and Larkspur - 5" x 5" acrylic
It seems like this last pair has taken forever to complete! I struggled with this one because of my lack of good photo reference and familiarity with this tiny hummer. I had photos of a male in flight and a perched female, but I wanted to do one more set of a pair feeding at a flower. How hard can it be to come up with a composition? Well, apparently it can be harder than you think.

I first started with the flying pose, but then couldn't seem to find an appropriate flower to have the bird feeding on. All my photos showed the birds at my feeder, not at flowers, because when they came through eight years ago I didn't have any flowers blooming for them to feed on. Then I thought I would just do the pair perched on something, but didn't have reference for that either, so....back to idea number one.
Calliope Hummer and Larkspur (female) 5" x 5" acrylic
The next problem was finding the appropriate flower to have them feeding on. Since these little hummers are more common to mountain meadows at 4000 to 11,000 feet in elevation I didn't feel it would be correct to have them feeding on say, zinnias, so I packed up the dog and the cameras and headed for the mountains in Idaho to gather more reference and, maybe if I was lucky, find one of these hummers there, too. 
Camas flowers near Moose Creek Reservoir, Bovill, Idaho
In the past I have seen Calliope hummingbirds at Moose Creek Reservoir. That is where I decided to go and the photo shows the type of habitat that one might find a Calliope in. It was beautiful there and I found lots of wildflowers to photograph like the blue camas flowers in these photos.
Camas flower
 I set out a hummingbird feeder while having my lunch hoping to lure one in, but had no luck with that. Instead, I had to be content with photographing wildflowers and butterflies and being pollinated by thousands of pine trees releasing clouds of pollen in the breeze.

Back home I went over my photos again and finally, FINALLY, was able to come up with a composition I liked that accurately depicted our smallest hummingbird. (Did I mention that accurately depicting the size of your hummingbird next to the flower it's feeding on is another challenge when you don't have a photo that shows the size difference of the two?).

So, this hummingbird series is officially finished and with this final pair my quota of thirty paintings for my upcoming show has been reached, with over half of those paintings completely new work in the last six months. This puts me ahead of my deadline and releases me to be able to paint at a more leisurely pace and to tackle my next challenge, another state duck stamp contest due in August. As a reward and a celebration for reaching my goal I think a few days relaxing in those mountains I just visited would be just what I need to recharge the batteries and refill the well of inspiration!