Wednesday, April 14, 2021



Dark-eyed Juncos are quite common winter visitors around the Eastern Shore where we are staying. The population we see here are 'slate-colored' and are a basic combination of dark grey upperparts and white underparts - the females have some brown on them. Consequently for the artist, they are perfect subjects when using a pencil. During winter, I have had up to 40 Juncos feeding around the house usually in the company of Chipping and Song Sparrows with whom they flock during the colder months. Most have moved northward now that it has warmed up but being so common, I had plenty of chances to draw them as they either fed out front or sat and preened in the small bush outside one of the east-facing windows. These drawings initially started out as quick studies but I did more and more to them as I watched each bird until they were far more detailed than I wanted. Still, this was an enjoyable experience and I suppose that is what really matters. Drawn in my sketchbook, size 12" x 9".

Thursday, April 8, 2021



I have been drawing and painting Willets - a medium-sized wader usually found along the coast. We most often see them in a around Chincoteague where there can be quite sizable flocks on some of the tidal ponds. At other times they are dotted along the shoreline either resting, like the sketchbook study I did here, or actively feeding in the surf. They don't quite chase the tide line like sanderlings do but will also feed in shallower water as the tide recedes. This bird is still in its winter plumage although a few new feathers have come in. During spring and summer, they have darker streaks on their breast and sides of belly along with markings on some of their back feathers - I'm looking forward to painting these breeding-plumaged birds.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021



I found this Boat-tailed Grackle drinking from a puddle near the ocean at Chincoteague on the Eastern Shore and did some sketches as the bird was present for some time. Later at home, I painted this illustration, trying more than anything to capture the wonderful iridescent plumage of the bird as it appears in direct sunlight. Although not as obvious, the black on the wings and tail also have a subtle reflective sheen that changes due to the direction of the sun but these areas lack the bright iridescence seen on it's body. While following it around, I discovered that they are somewhat large and lanky birds with what seems to be an almost too-small of a head set on top of it's body. This watercolor was done in my sketchbook, size is 9" x 12".

Friday, March 26, 2021



Although Common Grackles look black from a distance, close up they show a completely different array of colors. Most mornings, they can be found in the shady area next to the house feeding amongst the early spring flowers where I can get a good look at them. As long as I sit without moving too much, they usually come quite close and I can draw their basic shapes then get down some of the smaller details looking through my binoculars. In this study, I mostly wanted to capture the tones and colors of a grackle without much iridescence showing - this is an adult male in early breeding plumage. Size is 9" x 12", watercolor on Strathmore paper.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021



As their names suggest, Common Grackles are.. well, common - especially around here. They surround the house each morning, feed in the grassy areas nearby and also gather in large flocks out in the bean field opposite us. They have a large communal roost in the marsh behind us so all this means that I see a lot of them. From the top deck I can get really close views of them as they fly into the trees out front and display. Usually there are three or four gathered close to each other and take it in turns to preform calling all the while - quite a racket! They don't seem to bother that I am close by as long as I stay inside so can get lots of sketches and studies done as they go about their daily life. Above is just one of the finished paintings that I have completed trying to capture the lovely iridescence of their plumage as well as their unusual shape and the keel-like tail. Size is 12" x 9", watercolor on Strathmore paper.

Friday, March 19, 2021



I did this study after visiting Seattle and taking a trip out to Mt Rainier. I haven't yet completed any paintings of Mt Rainier itself but I have enjoyed discovering interesting compositions like this one along the way.

Here is the beginning to the painting. When working on small studies like this, I don't do much preliminary work, usually a quick wash drawing is enough to get started and the work develops as I continue painting. Size is 5" x 7", oil on canvas.

Saturday, March 13, 2021



Walking along the shore you are likely to come across all number of things. Occasionally we find horseshoe crabs that are either washed up on their backs or dead like this one. The live ones are turned right side up then gently directed back to the sea. The dead ones I usually draw and in this case paint. Heavy surf probably caused this ones demise as a major storm had passed a day or so before we found it - you can clearly see the broken shell on its left side. Still, I found the underside of the crab with its many claws to be interesting enough to make a painting. This watercolor was done in my sketchbook, size is 9" x 12".