Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Watercolor--Bluebirds and Ice

Just as we were thinking that spring was around the corner, winter decided to puff up and bring wintery precipitation of every form to east Tennessee.  In a matter of 24 hours we had an inch of sleet, freezing rain, snow, and artic air that plunged the temperature down to 4 F degrees, with lower wind chills due to the bitter wind.  
I spent a lot of time feeding and watching birds while ice glistened on every limb, sparkling like crystals when the sun came out briefly and creaking and popping as the wind brought the deep freezing cold front. Feeding bluebirds became a challenge.  
Bluebirds are special eaters--spiders, berries and fruits in the winter--they can't digest seeds. Larger birds suddenly became territorial--initially it was an American Robin, claiming all the berries for himself, and then a rogue Mockingbird moved in to claim every food source driving all the smaller birds away. Everybody was stressed!

I simultaneously worried about the survival of my bird friends and stood in awe of the dazzling beauty that surrounded them.  
Beauty is certainly one element that inspires our desire to create, but in this case, beauty juxtaposed with these harsh conditions tapped into that desire even more.  My mind immediately went to--how do I represent these beautiful ice-covered limbs in watercolor?

I'm just getting started with this exploration.  Creating a winter background, saving the white for the ice, getting that bluebird color and shape just right.  The only way to know how you will do it is to get started.  This process will result in either a valuable exploration or a painting.  Either way, the artist wins.
I decided to save the whites on the limbs by painting around them rather than using mask. Painting the subject next will help me see what else is needed as I go along.
Today, we're having a very dark, rainy mid-40's day.  I welcome it since the piles of snow that followed the ice disrupted a second week of work at my office.  There's always an upside, though. The incredible beauty that surrounded those wintery days, the influx of birds to my feeders with exciting wintering species like Fox Sparrows and Pine Warblers, and the added bonus of lots of inspiration for watercolor projects!  
Above is another painting in process that offered some different challenges--a light subject with a dark, textured background.  More about this painting soon.

Related Links:
Decision making -- the process
Chickadee in Snow
Bluebirds and Ice
Polar Bears sketching and my journey to Churchill

2 comments:

  1. Your last post had me very concerned about the bluebirds. Since I was snowed in I mixed up a homemade concoction of peanut butter, oatmeal, raisins and some other ingredients I had and made a feeder from a three cup egg poacher and hung it outside my window. The bluebirds swarmed my little feeder! I had never seen them so close-up before. It was wonderful and I was thrilled to be able to help them through the snow days. Thanks for posting about this.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jane, thank you for sharing that story! They were clearly hungry and its so great you got to see them so close. Here is the link to the suet recipee I make during the winter. Juncos, sparrows, woodpeckers, bluebirds, hermit thrushes and so many other come to this suet and seem to thrive on it. I hang it in a block and also serve crumbled on a plate. http://vickiehenderson.blogspot.com/p/bird-suet-recipee-loved-by-bluebirds.html

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

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