Getting My Ducks in a Row ~ The Art of Nature

The more I venture into the world of waterfowl and birds, the more I’m struck by the beauty and art of nature.  I’m busy getting my ducks in a row (as the saying goes), for a series of paintings that has me all jazzed up.  Doing my homework has actually been fun. I’ve been brushing up on my photography, Googling geese, Binging ducks, and Yahooing birds!

I’ve been studying what other artists are painting, especially experts in the field of waterfowl art.  I’ve been researching wildlife and nature preserves that are easily accessible to me.  I’m planning a quick trip to Chincoteague and Assateague, on the Eastern shore of MD and VA.

My last painting, entitled Gander in Flight, was hopefully just the beginning of many years painting the beauty of nature.  I thought it would be fun at this point in the process to show you some of the photographs that I’ve taken recently. Some will become paintings, some will be backup material to draw from when I’m looking for a certain something in a composition, and some I might not be motivated to paint but I can appreciate the image.

This great blue heron I spotted way across the pond.  I fortunately saw her take off headed my way, flying low and stealth-like. She landed near me and I was able to watch her predatory movements with fascination.  When she took off I was ready for her and lucked out with this picture.  


Just this morning I had a calling to get in my T-Bird and go bird hunting.   Usually, I head right to the easel, but I had spotted a few ruddy ducks on the same pond last night and I couldn’t pass up a sunny, calm morning of photography.  This handsome, white swan saw me photographing three little ruddy ducks and swam all of the way across the pond to pose for me.  Like a runway model, he gracefully showed off his long neck and plumage and did a close-up swim-by.


Mallards are the most common duck.  The mallard drake has the brilliant green head and the yellow beak.  I never thought that much about focusing a painting around this common duck until I studied some of the photographs that I took.  The way the male and the female stuck close together complimenting one another struck me.  I quickly changed my mind.  Visualizing future paintings of mallards is easy for me now.


The little ruddy duck has always fascinated me.  I love the colors on the male; rusty-red body, white and black head, and a blue beak.  Not to mention how their little tails stick up as they swim along.  Up until yesterday, I thought to myself, where am I ever going to be able to photograph a ruddy duck?  I actually spotted these little, diver, ruddy ducks close to home!  They are constantly on the move, diving for food and being careful not to come too close. They make it difficult to get a crystal clear image of them.


Some shots I take just to capture the different water patterns.  The different lighting, colors and ripples of the water alone will provide me plenty of material to draw from when developing a composition.  Overly dark exposure on the waterfowl can create a nice silhouette of the bird on a glassy, reflective surface.  Here are a few silhouette, water shots I took that interest me.  


Every year, a couple of lovebirds (mourning doves) land on our deck railing.  They take in some sun and enjoy the springtime weather.  Here they are soaking up some rays.  


Some shots are somewhat humorous.  I took this shot of a great blue heron in this awkward moment.  If she knew it was going to be plastered all over the internet she would be mortified.  :-)


Lastly, this picture makes me smile.  The  drake and the mallard hen swimming away, their tails up, ready to motor out to deeper water and to enjoy some time together.  


It’s been fun to share some of my photographs with you.  Soon I’ll be sharing more paintings too.  I’m also busy visualizing how I want to present each waterfowl/bird in my paintings, to make sure I do them justice.  Hopefully, you all will check back in soon to see what I’ve been up to.  Thanks!