Bird Art, Nova Scotia bird art

A Promise of Spring

Spring…at this time of the year it seems a long time coming, so I wanted to paint a picture that really felt like Spring and raise the spirits. Many of the bird portraits involve a lot of grey, brown and black, fun to do but maybe a bit repetitive,  so I also wanted a chance to use some of those lovely colours in my pencil sets!

We are lucky enough to have 5 or 6 old crab apple trees in our garden, gnarly things but that also have a good crop of apples for the birds and the deer every year. The blossom comes out in May, and for a week or two is glorious. To our delight, last May, a flock of Cedar Waxwings visited and proceeded to take flower buds. This was such a colourful spring-like image, I had to have a go. I don’t do many flowers (not yet, anyway), so they were a new experience and a chance to use up to 7 different shades of pink! Waxwings have a very subtle colour, also, and a blend of up to five pencils were required to match that lovely pinky/cinnamon glow.

cedar waxwings rs watermark

‘A Promise of Spring’, Cedar Waxwings in apple trees in May, 10 x 13 inch, watercolour pencil on 140 lb watercolour paper.

Thanks to Mark for his beautiful reference photos:

aa cedar 2 foliage watermark

aa cedar 1 foliage watermark

A couple of examples, above, from which I took images to make my picture. I had to simplify the foliage a little, otherwise I would still be painting flowers. As it was, the picture took most of the week to complete!

We get both types of Waxwing here; the Bohemian Waxwing seems to be the most common one in the winter, the Cedar seems to be more of a spring bird, although they are present all year round. Mixed flocks are not unusual, either.

I used a new watercolour pad. I already had some 140 lb paper, that I had owned for years, and used on the ‘Loafing Eiders’ picture, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the lighterweight paper, probably because it did not have quite so much ‘tooth’ on the paper so it seemed harder to transfer pigment from the pencils. For the record, the heavier paper is ‘The Langton’ by Daler-Rowney in the 10 x 14 ib size, and my lightweight paper is Bienfang 90 lb cold press in the 9 x 12 inch size. On our last visit to Halifax, I was able to nip into Michaels, and picked up a block of Canson XL 140 lb cold press paper in the 11 x 15 inch size. This one has a really nice, durable surface and proved to be a good choice for a larger picture. I think I have found a good alternative paper for these larger images.






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