Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paintings of a Red-breasted Nuthatch...for the challenge

Sunday morning I went birding at Winton Woods (a Hamilton County park in Cincinnati, OH) with the Cincinnati Audubon Society. This was my first time to bird with the Audubon Society. Normally I go on the Cincinnati Birding Club trips, but Winton Woods is only 30 minutes from my house...and the walk started at 9:00 a.m. (yeah!). I also wanted to go because I had heard Red-breasted Nuthatches could be found regularly at the pine stand there, and I wanted to find out where it was. We started the morning at the Settling Pond on McKelvey Rd. where we saw lots of lovely ducks including Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwalls, Wood Ducks (a lot of them!), Coots, Black Ducks, Bonaparte Gulls (a small flock flew in flashing white against the dark grey sky....beautiful and exciting...), Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Ducks, Mallards, and Northern Shovelers. A Great Blue Heron was also there fishing among the ducks, and we watched him catch a fish, taking his time to finally swallow it down. A Belted Kingfisher could be heard in the distance, and just as we were leaving, a Swamp Sparrow and couple of Song Sparrows popped into view. The Swamp Sparrow was especially beautiful...so dark against the light tans of the cattail stalks. For a complete list of birds we found on the trip, check out the Cincinnati Bird Sightings log, here. (Did I mention it was cold? The day before I was in shorts, but Sunday morning was cold!!!)

After watching the ducks, we headed over to the pine stand on the Parcours Fitness Trail and soon enough the little Red-breasted Nuthatches made an appearance. At one point I had three in sight, but could hear others--probably at least a half dozen were following us through the pines (others in the group had 6 in sight at the same time, so there could have been even more). Their nasally calls were soothing and soft and floated in the cold air around us. Such happy little birds, they were so busy darting from branch to branch...following the branch to the end of the pine needles...never stopping for a rest. They inspired me so much I whipped out three acrylic paintings that evening when I was home (paintings 77-79 in the 100 Painting Challenge), and followed them on Monday with a watercolor (painting 80).

Painting #80, Red-breasted Nuthatch at Winton Woods
9x12 Arches Rough 140 Lb Paper, Watercolor

I used a very light pencil sketch on this painting so the water colors could be vibrant and not weighed down by graphite showing through. I took my time with the water color, so it doesn't show the activity, speed and agility of these little birds as they zip through the branches. Although, when I look at it, he does have a wily look in his eyes and appears ready to spring over to the next branch, which no doubt holds another spider to eat.

With the acrylics I tried to capture the movement of the little imps, plus convey autumn's last hurrah. The cold and overcast morning was a shocker. We had been enjoying Indian summer and had grown used to the warmer temps. The cold made the trees seem barer and reminded us what November should really feel like. Starting without a drawing underneath, I quickly painted in the birds, adding in a dark background to relay the gloom of the morning (and the end of autumn)--flashes of autumn color give a nod to the season at it tries to hold on, but we know winter is on the way...

Painting #79, A Red-breasted Nuthatch flits from branch to branch...
9x12 Acrylic Paper, Acrylic

Painting #78, ...never resting
9x12 Acrylic Paper, Acrylic

Painting #77, ...always looking for another spider to eat.
9x12 Acrylic Paper, Acrylic

If you want to read more about these little birds, head over to BirdingBlogs.com for an article Kenn Kaufmann recently posted.

One more cool thing...two other Cincinnati Nature bloggers were there:

Mike of Everybody Funny was our trip leader. I think his phishing is what brought the Red-breasted Nuthatches out. They were very curious at the sound and came in closer to see what we were all about. Mike is very creative, and his blog focuses on visual poetry, nature, and humor. It's a lot of fun, and his work often makes me think in ways I don't normally think...and that's always good!

...and Kathi of KatDoc's World was there too. I started reading KatDoc's blog a few months ago when she posted on a warble (the larval form of of botfly) living under the skin of a kitten (if you want to get grossed out, click here). Since Matty wants to be a vet, I thought I'd check it out. Kathi is a vet and potter and writes about her vet practice and other interesting things. I had never met Kathi before, but when I saw her, I immediately recognized her from her blog..."You're KatDoc!" was the first thing out of my mouth. Kathi let me borrow her Ohio Ornithological Society hat because it was so cold and I didn't have one. Thanks, Kathi!

30 comments:

Debbie Miller @HooootOwl said...

Beautiful! Verbal and visual. Very much enjoyed reading about how the Nuthatch's appearance and busy bubbly behavior inspired your incredible pieces.

Lois Evensen said...

What a wonderfully fun trip that must have been. Your paintings are beautiful, too. Just lovely.

Elizabeth Seaver said...

Your paintings are so energetic and capture the nuthatch just beautifully! Such fun to read about a birdwatching trip--and one where you got to see so many birds. I am jealous!

Felicia said...

Gorgeous paintings--you really captured the contours and movement of the little nuthatches! It sounds like you had a great morning out.

Marie said...

I just love this little bird! What a wonderful little bird to brighten up a dull day.

Your acrylics are making me want to pick up a brush and play with paint! Well done.

Montanagirl said...

Just terrific paintings. You are just so talented. Enjoyed this post very much.

Nicole MacP said...

Very cool! Love the little trailing foot in the first painting, and love the energy and movement in the second!

Chad said...

Love it! I love this bird and I love the paintings!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, I would love to see a Red-breasted Nuthatch... I don't think we have them here --but they are so pretty... Love your paintings.
Hugs,
Betsy

Valerie said...

Yep looks like the real thing! Beautiful work!

Wanda..... said...

Lovely Kelly. I love the detail in the water color and the acrylics are lively!

holdingmoments said...

Excellent paintings Kelly; such a talent you have.

Reading your list of birds there, some of those would cause great excitement over here lol

Garden Lily said...

Kelly - This time I think the watercolor really captures the essence of the nuthatch, and as you mention, it has the look and feeling of motion, even though a snapshot in time.

Elaine said...

You saw a nice variety of birds on your outing. I too am jealous. What good inspriation for your paintings too. I like the watercolor best. Hey, you only have 20 more to go to meet your challenge!

Chris said...

Fantastic. I love the second and third ones a one!

Roy said...

Love the watercolour Kelly.

Elizabeth Smith said...

Love seeing them in different media - wonderful work, Kelly!

Robin Robinson said...

Hi Kelly, Haven't been here in a while and thought i'd catch up. The RB nut paintings are stunning. I love the top one, so characteristic of the nut. I've got a whole family of them here as they nest every year in the ivy on my house. I'll have them pose if you want. For peanuts, they'll cooperate. ha! Have a grand Thanksgiving and keep up your wonderful, wonderfull work. It's good to know you're out there.

Jayne said...

Love all these Kelly and hope to see one of these sweet birdies in my yard again someday.

Out on the prairie said...

Love your paintings, I went back through them after reading the post.A rather comical bird to me. I keep gloves and a hat year round in my van, you never know how weather can change especially when near water.Laughed the other day, my daughter traded me hats and when I got out fishing wore her pink camo hat.LOL

Heather said...

Kelly, I REALLY love the acrylics of the RBNU. The colors are so vibrant and rich. Your paintings of late have been fantastic. Keep it up!

dAwN said...

Wonderful!

cindyzlogic said...

Wonderful work, Kelly!! I especially like your watercolor! I just had my first visits of RB Nuthatches here.

Jeni said...

Man Im so behind on my blog reading! Great paintings as usual Kelly. Great colors.

Hilke Breder said...

Another set of beautiful paintings. Those birds can take the gloom out of any day! A cheery first-of-fall red-breasted showed up at my feeder today.

forgetmenot said...

What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning!! Love your drawings and paintings, and your blog. You seem to have found a wonderful way to share your love of nature.

Laure Ferlita said...

Such energy radiates for these images, Kelly! Well done. I also agree that the watercolor has a sense of alertness as well.

Kelly said...

...thank you, everyone! Sounds like we all love these little birds. I don't get to see them that often. Although, now that I know where they hang out in Cincy, I'll get to see them more often! I'm finding the acrylics and watercolor satisfy two painting moods. I love the wildness of the acrylics...they paintings become paintings of energy, but I also like the softness of the watercolors. It's much more meditative to paint in watercolor. I love both styles! Thanks again, for always sending such kind comments my way!! I'm so happy I'm a birder!! Birds are so fun to paint...

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

What a great series - and how different you're acrylics are from the wcs. Love both!

Tammie said...

wow, painting without a sketch. Awesome. I really enjoy every piece you share with us, and the ones with the palette knife truly get my attention, something about the movement you capture in the paint and the light. I really love that.