Recent Work: My Little Warbler Series

May 27, 2019

A few weeks ago, we attended the Biggest Week in American Birding. In case you don’t know, my husband, Douglas, is an ornithologist. He is obsessed with birds. Just about every morning during our trip, Douglas would get up at 4:30 or 5 am, grab a cup of coffee, and go birding. I would crawl out of bed sometime later, sit around sipping coffee and shaking off the grogginess, and then join him on the Boardwalk or wherever he happened to be.

Douglas has been encouraging me to do a series of warbler faces and since I was actually seeing these birds every day during our trip, it seemed like a good idea to pursue. I brought along all my Acryla Gouache so set up a little temporary studio space in our AirBnB; I painted on most of the days we were there (eleven in all!).

I started with this Blackburnian Warbler because it’s one of my favorites. This was the first piece I’d done in weeks so I was really out of practice! But it felt good to be painting again.

Next was this Black-throated Blue Warbler. I experimented with texture a bit. Still clumsy but maybe improving? I don’t know. What do you think?

Breakthrough time! I’m super happy with this Palm Warbler. This is when my studies of perspective started paying off. The bill looks properly foreshortened! I love the blue background, too.

Seeing this Kirtland’s Warbler was incredible! This species is one of the rarest warblers in North America so it was a big deal! The painting is a bit on the meh side to me though. I can’t really explain why but I’m just not happy with it.

For this Chestnut-Sided Warbler, I was attempting a more foreshortened perspective, from below. This felt very awkward and the results look kind of awkward to me so I didn’t share this one on Instagram. Still, it’s part of the series and I learned something from it, so here it is now.

I painted this Cape May Warbler face on because Douglas loves this view. I really have mixed feelings about it because it’s not a pose that people use much (at all?) and it looks weird to me. But I do like the texture and painterly feel of the piece overall (and I got positive feedback from Manda Comisari whose work I absolutely swoon over).

Next was this Black-throated Green Warbler. The line work was inspired by the linocut art of Matthew Clark. I really love how this one turned out.

After I got home, I added one more to the series, this Wilson’s Warbler. I continued working on modeling form using line a la linocut. I also tried underpainting the background with Burnt Umber and adding a little frame of willow branches similar to some of the older portrait illos of Rebecca Green. The original is available for purchase in my Etsy shop.

I just got a copy of Arthur Guptill’s classic, Rendering in Pen and Ink (the 1976 edition) and I’m hoping that by studying the line work of these classic illustrators, I’ll learn new approaches that improve my paintings. Time will tell.

Leave a Reply