Nova Scotia bird art

Pictures for an Exhibition…

I have never exhibited before so when a friend, Cal Kimola Brown, told me about an exhibition coming up in Clark’s Harbour, I was all for being involved. The only issue was that the pictures had to be of ducks, the theme of the exhibition was duck carvings and paintings. Scenes were ok, but they had to include ducks. I quickly realised that I did not have much ready in the duck department, although I have nothing against ducks per se. Actually, they are often delightful birds and can be a joy to paint. I enlisted Mark’s help in finding suitable reference photos and set to, to build an inventory.

I had already painted a female King Eider, and decided that this would be number one in the exhibit list.


It is, however, quite a small image (5 x 7 inches) and so my new paintings would be larger. I aimed for 8 x 10 inch, since framing with mats would be simple for this size.

My first painting was taken from a medley of shots of Long-tailed Ducks, provided by Mark. Flocks of these ducks are a common sight around now, off the coasts of Cape Sable Island. The drakes can be quite peculiar-looking, although undoubtedly colourful and charming. The picture has three drakes in various poses and a single duck.


‘Long-tailed Ducks’, 8 x 10 inch watercolour pencil on 90 lb cold press watercolour paper.

For the next project I wanted to draw something with a little movement, and Mark’s photo of a female Common Goldeneye coming into land on a lake was just what I was looking for. Female Goldeneyes are not particularly colourful, but lots of subtle greys, browns and blacks were great fun to use. I think this picture was the one I most enjoyed painting. Again, a relatively common bird of the area in the winter months.


‘Splashdown’, female Common Goldeneye, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb cold press watercolour paper.

A spectacular duck, occasionally seen in the area, is the Harlequin. They have always held a special place in my heart since Mark and I drove overnight from our previous home in Nottingham, UK, to the north of Scotland to see a very lost female Harlequin on a river in Wick, Highlands, many years ago. The trip was fun, the bird a bit nondescript but amazing, none-the-less. Of course, the drakes in full breeding plumage are anything but nondescript, so my painting would obviously include a male. Mark provided a few reference pictures for my portmanteau image of a full male and an immature male Harlequin Duck. The immature’s plumage, of mostly browns, shading to blue where the adult colours were peeping through, was much more of a challenge than the spanking full adult.


‘Harlequins’, adult and immature males, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb cold press watercolour paper.

My final picture for the exhibition was of Northern Pintail. A really smart duck, in the adult male plumage, they are seen around and about during the winter months. Mark’s picture of an adult drake was an excellent start, although I was puzzled initially by the green speculum, since I had never noticed this feature in the field (it is there, though!).


‘Northern Pintail’, adult male, 8 x 10 inch, watercolour pencil on 90 lb cold press watercolour paper.

Frames were obtained and the final set of pictures looks like this:


I always enjoy how a mat and frame can really finish off a painting.

All of these pictures are for sale. they will be on sale at the exhibition, or can be purchased through this blog. Please use the ‘contact me’ form below and add your requirements into the ‘comment’ section.  I accept payments by cheque or PayPal, details available if interested. Pictures will be shipped unframed, or can be purchased with the frames at the exhibition. Large pictures are $50 (plus p&p), the small picture is $35 (plus p&p).

Note also that I can accept orders for ‘print to order’ prints for any of the pictures on this blog that are 8 x 10 inch or larger, at $25 per print, (plus p&p).

The exhibition of Duck Carving and Paintings is at the Clark’s Harbour Legion Hall, on 10/11/12 March 2017, with a $3 entrance fee. Many thanks to Councillor Rex Stoddard for allowing me to participate!




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