The other day I heard a friend of mine was having some health problems. I said a prayer in my head as I set out on my bicycle to admire the beautiful piece of the planet I inhabit. As I thought of this good for my friend a Red-shouldered Hawk flew right over my head from a tree behind me. Moments later I came across another tree with a pair of Red-shouldered hawks looking down to me on my bicycle. The smile that brought fueled me further and moments later I was face to face with another Red Hawk. I’m not here to preach to you about anything other than the good that is the natural kingdom, but I will say those hawks brought me good hope on their wings. An experience well timed, I am grateful for. Whatever unfolds down the line from here I am forever grateful to be here to draw birds for you on our planet Earth. If that’s all I’ll do then that’s the best I’ll do.
The Osprey is an incredible hunter. Sometimes called “River Hawks” or “Fish Eagles”. Their primary food is fish, which they spot underwater from hundreds of feet above. Diving feet first into the water. Their curved talons and rough textured feet help them grip the fish. And in just a few wing beats it’s out of the water and heading home for supper.
It was over the course of last week I put this together. However it’s been on my mind for the last two and a half years.
They are surrounded in history with legend. I too have a few good tales to tell that has an Osprey drawn into it.
One summer not long ago. In a cluster of Jack-pine not more than a mile from the shores of Lake Superior…
I met with a friend over the weekend in Berkley, CA.
We rode bicycles through San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge and up into the Marin Headlands.
There we visited Hawk Hill. I finally remembered to bring my binoculars, and what a treat it was.
I lost count of the raptors in a matter of minutes.
The sky was like beautiful blue gravy and the fog was flying mashed potatoes.
(Perhaps not my best analogy of the week, but let’s go with it.)
Before I left the hill, I met two ravens. They seemed amused with my excitement of the birds around me. They were the only two birds that sat still for me to take a half decent picture of so I went for it. I have long admired Ravens. They made sounds like a chuckling cow when I rode away.
From Hawk Hill to San Francisco. Mashed Potato clouds make me hungry.
The Great Gray Owl has been of interest to me lately. The largest of our Owls in North America. They hunt over forest clearings and nearby open space by night.
The rings on the face make the yellow eyes appear smaller.
This was my initial sketch after just looking over a few photographs and books. Further studies will yield better illustrations I’m confident.
Two years ago when I decided I wanted to write and illustrate my own collection of birds, I was uncertain of my capabilities of capturing the nuances of the Owls. While I’m still far from mastering it, I do see delightful progress in the direction I desire.
I don’t think it’s a stretch of the truth to say the Peregrine Falcon is an inspiring animal. While diving they’ve been clocked in at over 200mph/320kph. They look like little fighter jets with eyes and claws. My Father and I spotted a Peregrine on the Morro Bay rock this past weekend. This got me thinking about how to illustrate them in a fashion that shows some of their prowess, strength, and precision.
With sketching birds it’s easy for me to get in a rut of several similar poses back to back. I broke up a series of owl studies with this new-to-me composition. A Peregrine with a fresh kill. I didn’t draw in a background, because I was so startled by the new bird my pencil brought to the page I didn’t want to screw it all up trying to draw in a rock or something stupid like that. I’m going to work more on this sort of layout.