Monday, November 22, 2010

Long-billed Curlew at El Matador Beach--Malibu, CA

Located on the west end of Malibu, El Matador is one of three beaches located in the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach, an area of cove or cliff-foot strands, also known as "pocket beaches" because of their isolated accessibility.
To reach this beautiful view, I had to navigate a series of dirt paths and stairways that zigzagged down the cliff face until eventually, if you desire, you arrive at beach level.  I stopped two levels short of the shore because I didn't want to flush the shore birds I spotted foraging among the rocks.  The one that attracted my attention the most, was colorful and tall, with a very long bill--a new bird for me.
It's funny.  Even though I had never seen one before, "curlew" immediately came to mind.  As we browse through blog posts and bird books, our mind obviously absorbs more than we realize.  The names and shapes of other birds we encounter along the way get stored in the "library" too, whether we're paying attention or not!
This sketch was created in a Moleskin sketchbook.  Described as heavy Italian stock pages for "fountain pen, charcoal, tempera, acrylic, etc", it contains paper unlike any I've used before.  And this was the first time I've tried painting on it.  New paper, especially non-watercolor paper, is just about as challenging as trying an entirely new medium.  In this case, you basically have to use less water and keep the paper dryer.  Though I have other sketchbooks, I wanted to try this one to see how I liked it for field sketching.  I've seen it among the supplies of other artists.  The verdict's still out for me.  I have to practice with it more to give it a fair chance.  This book  is for sketching, after all, not painting.

Moleskin Sketchbook, 5" x 8 1/4 at Cheap Joe's
To see more images of beautiful El Matador Beach visit my Long-billed Curlew post at Vickie Henderson Art.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bird Banding Sketches--Savannah Sparrow

This is the time of year when sparrows move south and settle into wintering territories, Tennessee among them.  The Savannah Sparrow is one of those beautiful birds, often blending right into the pale dried grasses in its habitat and appearing "brown" at first glance.
But when you see sparrows up-close at the banding table or even with good binoculars or camera, you find that instead of being non-impressive gray or brown, their back and wing feathers are exquisitely beautiful with contrasting patterns of black, white, cream, brown and rust.    
The sketchbook page above is one that I created in preparation for my bird banding article published in Nov/Dec issues of the TN Conservationist magazine.  This month I also created an article on sparrows published on the Knoxville's Wild Birds Unlimited website.  Visit the article to see the beautiful wing colors in the overall grayish Swamp Sparrow and the exquisite maroon-like reds in the Fox Sparrow.  

All of these birds were new to me last fall.  All of them are now imprinted in my mind through close-up views, photography and sketching.  Sweet, sweet sparrows!

Links:
Wild Birds Unlimited--Arrival of Wintering Birds 
More on my experiences with bird banding, truly a matter of the heart

Saturday, November 13, 2010

TN Conservationist Magazine, Bird Banding and Sketching!

The November/December issue of Tennessee Conservationist magazine features my article on bird banding,  and I must say, it is a thrill to have my research, writing, photographs and art all featured in one place in one publication!  And the bonus of this project--the subject is birds and conservation, a subject dear to my heart.
The article, entitled Tracking the Birds of Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge, focuses on the bird banding activities of the refuge, a 360-acre preserve bordering the French Broad River, that is jointly managed and operated by the Seven Islands Foundation, a non-profit land conservancy, and the Knox County Department of Parks and Recreation.  And what's unique about this refuge?  Its primary habitat is grassland that is being reclaimed from agricultural plantings of non-native fescue and restored to native warm-season grasses that support grassland bird populations.
The article represents more than a year of research and collaboration with the bird banding team, and my own participation in bird-banding, which has been a joy unto its self.  Sketches, like the one you see above, and photographs taken represent incredibly intimate moments with birds, allowing me to see their detailed beauty and enjoy their personalities in a very special way.  Add to that, the wonderful friends I've made during the year's activities, and you have a very satisfying experience!

To take a peek at the published article visit Tracking the Birds of Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge at Vickie Henderson Art.  And to find out more about this award-winning magazine and how to obtain a copy, visit the Tennessee Conservationist.

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015
Photo credit: Thuan Tram

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Birds Close-up

Birds Close-up
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Churchill, Manitoba--2014

Churchill, Manitoba--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky

2014 Hummingbird Festival

2014 Hummingbird Festival
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012
Photo courtesy of Ruth Carter
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