First Heron Portrait ~ The Duke of Queens Lake

One of my last times out birding, I was overwhelmed by the sight of three different kinds of herons in one location at roughly the same time.  First we spotted the little Night Heron posing on the dock close-by.  Then a beautiful Great Blue Heron, stalking, flying and grooming his plumes.  Then a smaller Green Heron landed on the fallen tree nearby, climbing to the tips of the broken branches. 

At times like this I end up taking a couple hundred pictures.  Then after downloading them, viewing them, and manipulating them, I analyze them to determine which might make a good painting.  I’ve become fascinated by each species.  Watching their mannerisms and feeding habits has become somewhat addictive to me.  I could spend all of my time out watching and photographing these beautiful birds, but now that I have gathered enough material to keep me busy painting for quite awhile, it’s time to pick a heron and start painting!

I have a Green Heron drawn out already on a board, but I’ve decided my first bird portrait will be of a Great Blue Heron.  It was the first heron that I became interested in when thinking about pursuing painting birds. So, not playing favorites, the Blue Heron it is!!!

I’ve subjected all of you who follow my blog to many of my birding adventures and bird photographs, so I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of the painting process on my Blue Heron portrait.    

So without further ado, after reviewing hundreds of my photos of Great Blue Herons here is the final image I chose to paint first.  I chose him because of his proud, royal look.  My finished painting will be entitled The Duke of Queens Lake.  Out of all of my pictures, this was the only heron that had this particular look.  The upright plume on his head and the keen look in his eye are as if to say; I rule!

The Great Blue Heron, photograph by William R. Beebe

The Great Blue Heron, photograph by William R. Beebe

Here is the pencil drawing on a 14” x 16” hard board (coated with two coats of gesso).  I started with a simple outline drawing and will paint in the details later.  

The Duke of Queens Lake   , drawing, by William R. Beebe

The Duke of Queens Lake , drawing, by William R. Beebe

This is a work-in-progress photo of the very early stages of painting.  The background colors will be blended and many layers of paint will follow this stage, gradually working in more and more detail.  

The Duke of Queens Lake   , stage one, by William R. Beebe

The Duke of Queens Lake , stage one, by William R. Beebe

I plan on putting together a video/slideshow of the entire painting in progress, to show you upon completion.   

When taking on a new genre like bird portraiture, it’s always a little scary.  Will people like them?  Will there be a market?  All I know is that I have to paint them!
I hope you approve of my choice of The Duke and that you’ll stay tuned and check back in to see my progress. To view my other bird paintings click here.