ecosystem

Merlin (The bird not the magician)

Putting together the third of a four panel collection. Falcons of North America. Already completed are the Kestrel and Prairie Falcon.

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Falco peregrinus. (Again probably).

I cracked open a can of cola and laid out the paints I would need. As well as several books opened to pages with peregrines on them. To double check the colors I imagined.
I always start these with some idea but a lot of it I figure out on my way through it. Still learning how to best translate from pencil to paint.
f1
When I got to the wings I looked for blue….I found some in my paint box.
f2
The body through me for a loop, and I sat staring at it for a good bit. In the background I could hear the soundtrack of a movie I was half watching. Somebody was laughing.
f3
A glance to the window and I knew where to go. Like driving in the night and checking the map under a streetlight. (I guess now everybody looks at their phone).
I brought back the smallest brush and approached like it was my micron pen. With the precision of a drunk surgeon with a rusty scalpel.
I like paper maps.
falconfinal
Got it sorted well enough.
No simple highway.

Maps to get lost with.

I had a delightful afternoon of painting owls and laughing at my own jokes.

My jokes, like when I put the Nashville and the Tennessee Warblers on the same page, this map was begging for the largest owl of each region…..right?

My punch line, The Great Grey and the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
The Great Grey I had painted before but this was my first Bubo. I have seen one once before at a wildlife presentation in Southern California. It was injured and unable to fly but still sat with more pride and power than any human I have ever met.
Its eyes seemed to stare through me like a laser shot through soft butter.
The Great Grey still is a ghost on my list of birds to see. They can be found in California but certainly not on my chair in Oakland so I’ll probably need to pack a backpack and head to the Yosemite region if I want to get closer than photos in books or my own sketch pads.
Great Grey Owl Strix nebulosa

Great Grey Owl
Strix nebulosa

Eurasian Eagle Owl Bubo bubo

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Bubo bubo

Great Horned Owl

I’ve had this one on my mind for a while. Until recently I never saw on the page what I did in my mind.

With the help of field time, some great literature, a stack of sketchbooks, and zero social life, I have found a foot hold on the uphill battle that I call owl portraits.

Sketches of Spain...except owls....and I was watching cartoons and I misplaced my Miles Davis CDs.

Sketches of Spain…except owls….and I was watching cartoons and I misplaced my Miles Davis CDs.

Like a lead in a detective case. While I'm far from having the nuances of the owl captured, I'm off to a good start. This is the motivation I hoped for going into a new year.

Like a lead in a detective case. While I’m far from having the nuances of the owl captured, I’m off to a good start. This is the motivation I hoped for going into a new year.

Elbow room

With out a doubt, my favorite part of mountain biking is the access it grants me to the areas around. In this case California’s central coast.

I do my best thinking with my feet off the pavement. These day trips help me put together thoughts and drawings on the page as well as sort a plan to be the best person I can.

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All I know she sang a little while and then flew on

All I know she sang a little while and then flew on

Though a raptor book isn’t a bad idea either. I’ve got this great spot I’ve been going to with my bike to ride some little jumps. There’s usually a large hawk around, its a perfect meadow for mice and that sort so there’s plenty of food to go around. No hawk today but a small bunch of finches where hanging around.

Birding and bikes have gone hand in hand with me since i can recall. I don’t go out my front door with a list in hand of birds to see. Rather I just open my eyes to whichever show up. There are birds all around us that frequently get over looked. Today at the jumps it was finches, yesterday a hawk. Some nights on my way to get groceries I see the neighborhood Barn Owl.

I have no expectations of the natural world to “show me something”. It just happens when it does, and it makes me grateful. that’s how seeing a Red-tail on a high tension line can be the same as hearing a song I love to hear, or a poem I love to read.

The choice for documenting with illustrations comes from my love of the books. A bird book feels a poetry book. Like a book of poetry that Richard Brautigan would have written. Inside the photographs take me places and illustrations show me light.

My connection to birds goes back farther than I can remember. My Mother tells me I had an imaginary friend bird named Gus as a little kid. My Grandfather always had bird feeders in his yard and a bird guide on the inside table. My father keeps binoculars hanging on the lamp by the window and dozens of feeders kept full. My Uncle was a carver and illustrator who loved the natural world and carved many birds, and animals.

No doubt there’s a big nest of birds in my family tree.

Maybe when I see a hawk or song bird it seems all my relations come to be right there in my presence and the gratitude I feel makes me smile. Or maybe I’m just glad to play a roll in this ecosystem we call our solar system. vast and great.

All I know is as long as I’m able to, Ill draw them for you.

Laugh in the sunshine,
sing,
cry in the dark,
fly through the night.