I watched the Brown Pelicans at Shem Creek (Mt. Pleasant, SC) in a feeding frenzy, as fishermen on the docks cleaned their fish and threw the unwanted scraps in the water. Pelicans can get downright vicious fighting over a meal. As the gang wrangled and maneuvered for food, one young pelican stood quietly on the dock taking it all in.
He had a bright-eyed innocence to him. Some pelicans actually look mischievous or ornery. Not this bird! It was as if he was waiting his turn, hesitant to jump into the fray. I found him likable.
I photographed him from a fairly close distance, studying his movements, realizing that he was definitely painting material. He wasn’t just likable; he was handsome.
His brown neck was starting to turn white, a sign of maturing. Soon his head will become a soft yellow and he will be considered an adult bird. For now he is still impressionable, watching and learning.
My portrait of him is called The Bystander. My goal was to capture that bright-eyed innocence that made him so likable. I want the painting to pull you in and draw you close, as if the pelican is a friend.
Every bird portrait I paint is from my own close encounters with the avian species. Usually the bird chooses me by creating a lasting impression, which in turn leads to inspiration.
I hope you are enjoying my portrait series as much as I am enjoying painting them. Thank you for your interest in my art and for reading my journal. Please check back soon to see what’s next on the easel!