Making the Cut ~ “How does a bird get a break around here?”

Sometimes it’s hard to choose which bird to paint.  I’ve taken thousands of bird photographs, and each bird wants to make the final cut and be featured in iPhoto on my Mac, or better yet, be one of the chosen few to be put on canvas!  

Some will actually become my Screensaver, like this Great Blue Heron who posed for me on top of a bare Cypress tree in the middle of the winter!  She’s been there for quite awhile, knowing that her time will come too, when she will be replaced by a new, fresh face.  

So just “how does a bird get a break” and make the final cut?  What am I looking for in a bird model?  It’s not just looks; personality plays a big role in the decision-making.  

Take for instance my recent painting entitled Beach Blue.  I was totally involved in photographing dive-bombing Brown Pelicans when this Great Blue Heron landed right near me.  One of the first birds to catch my eye and interest me in Aviary art was the Great Blue Heron.  I love to watch them; each visual encounter leaves a lasting impression on me.  

Beach Blue, 12 x 10, oil on board, SOLD

Beach Blue, 12 x 10, oil on board, SOLD

This particular Heron was so at home and at ease with me so close; I took my eye off of the Pelicans and turned my camera on her!  It was fascinating to watch, as she walked slowly from the sandy beach into the light green, shallow waters of Sanibel, Florida.  Poised and confident.  Unafraid.  She stood, beautiful to look at and longing to be admired.  I had to paint her!  ☺

Not all birds that make the cut are so bold.  Some are quick to flight or hide in trees, and don’t want their picture taken.  Some just luck out and are in the right place at the right time.   

All birds are worthy of painting.  It’s just that I have limited time to paint them.  The selection process is often difficult, and I hate it when I have to cut them from the team.  Pushing the delete button on my digital camera is often painful.  

I’m currently working on a little Piping Plover full of personality.  Its picture was a big hit on Facebook, because the little bird posed right at the right time in the right place.  I’m also working on a larger painting of two Brown Pelicans, one resting on a piling and the other standing on a rope off the piling.  Browns are known for their personality, and I love the composition.  

Thanks as always for your interest in my art, my photography, and for following my journal.  It is appreciated very much!  


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next? Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe