On our previous trip to the beaches of the Outer Banks in June, the prevalence of Brown Pelicans dictated my main subject for the week. One of the exciting aspects of birding is not knowing what kinds of birds will show up, and hoping that I will come home with inspiring images to paint. Many of my best photos from this most recent trip to Duck, NC, all had one common characteristic ~ they were appreciably enhanced by strong reflections!
Having just finished two paintings of Sanderlings in wet sand (Reflections and Working All the Angles) I suppose I was more aware of the reflections than ever before. Everywhere I looked it appeared I was seeing double.
It wasn’t just birds and their reflections. While walking along the town of Duck’s boardwalk, I looked to my left and saw two turtles on a log in the water. The reflection made me stop and take a picture.
Along the same boardwalk, a Great Blue Heron was stalking his prey, a large yellow perch, unbothered by all of the onlookers, including me. As he worked his way around the shoreline and under the boardwalk, I noticed dramatic reflections. Some were very dark and some actually reflected the colors of the bird and it’s likeness. Some reflections were broken from movement in the water, and some were exact and mirror-like.
Then, two handsome Seagulls were standing side by side as we walked the beach of Corolla. Their reflection helped make the picture. Another gull decided it was time to take off on the run, gaining speed before liftoff. The reflection in the wet sand, and its shadow, took a scene of a common bird and elevated the image to something much more interesting.
At the end of each day of birding, my knees felt like a catcher’s must feel after an extra-inning baseball game. The Sanderlings were running up and down the beach with me chasing them. I found myself constantly getting down almost to their level to take their photograph. Up and down, over and over, I went, while busily thinking about lighting, different grouping compositions, movement, etc… I noticed that the flat surface of the beach, the wetness of the sand, and the angle of the sun were creating unusually strong reflections.
Here are just a few of the Sanderling reflection images I took.
I think the sight of a beautiful reflection amazes most of us. We know it can be explained by science, but still wonder how it is possible. I’m hoping to produce many new works from this collection of images. Many artists have perfected the art of painting reflections. I’m thinking of following up this blog by showing how other artists have tackled the challenge of making reflections appear real and how they add interest to a painting. Monet and his lily pad series come to mind.
Thanks as always for following my art, my photography, and my journal! Please check back soon!