Thursday, December 15, 2016

A Little Hummingbird is Added to the Bird Portraits - well almost added!

Developing a painting from an idea, photo, or real life requires some fore-thought and planning. Aside from the obvious color choices, the composition is probably the primary concern, followed by the balance of dark/light, positive/negative space, and so much more. One reason why I chose to do simple bird portraits was because I could eliminate many of the typical concerns of an artist as they approach their subject and simply focus on the primary portrait of a particular bird.

As you probably can guess from my writings, I have been a bird lover and watcher since childhood, when my grandfather was kind enough to point out different birds as they landed in his garden or sang from his apple tree. He gave my my first bird books, The Little Blue Bird Book and The Little Yellow Bird Book. I still have the blue one some 60 years later - although I couldn't locate it if I tried!

As this little female Ruby Throated Hummingbird is coming out on the canvas, I find her subtle shadings much more complex than I had realized they would be. Isn't it strange how we can be so familiar with something and still not know it in detail? That's another reason why I've chosen to do bird portraiture. I want to be more observant to all the subtleties as well as the obvious traits of my little feathered friends.

Adding the beak and eye certainly brings the bird more to life than the subtle shadings of her breast! The beak is several different shades of gray, not all of which are yet captured.

Making the eye really look like a living bird's eye has much to do with creating the roundness of the eyeball via shading and with the wonderful highlights or reflections in the eye itself. Some birds have brown, black, green, blue, even yellow eyes. So it's important to notice precisely with eye color belongs to the bird on the easel! And creating the reflections - that is really what makes the eyes dance and come alive for me.

And it's a process, a deepening of color here; a lightening up of tone there. Every stroke counts - so noticing just what goes where and whether or not you want the bristles of the brush to show through the paint or not, these all impact the finished piece of art.

My little hummer is not yet complete. As Christmas approaches, my studio time is somewhat more limited. That and a myriad of appointments on the calendar. I will continue posting both the Red-Bellied Woodpecker and the Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird as then move towards completion.

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