I recently completed this portrait of an Eastern Buzzard (a race of the Common Buzzard). The bird had been cared for by the late Jim Ades in Hong Kong prior to its release so I was able to do quite a large series of sketches and drawings along with taking a few pics - all were helpful in creating this painting. As is my usual practice, a careful drawing was followed by washes of brown and yellow to build up the background tones. When this had dried, I started with the head then as this began to come to completion, followed with the underparts and wing. I left the painting for quite some time and when I came back to it, I could see that there were only a few areas that needed attention before I could call it finished. Mostly this was a case of darkening some of the markings on the nape and breast followed by some smaller details around the eye. Size is 11" x 15", watercolor on Arches paper.
When I looked out the kitchen window it was just sitting there in the morning sun, a young Sharp-shinned Hawk. Usually they don't stay around long so I wondered as I ran to get my telescope, would it still be there when I got back. Fortunately it was and actually sat looking around for over 10 mins - long enough for me to do some sketches and take some really bad pics through the telescope. Later I started this watercolor intending to do a slightly different background with snow - but that didn't work out so I just added the leaves and branches that it was sitting on. I struggled with the Canson watercolor paper it is painted on so will keep my supply for smaller works. Perhaps this study will be the beginnings of an oil painting - will have to wait and see. Size is 15" x 11".
While recovering in Hong Kong, I was still able to do quite a bit of birdwatching thanks mostly to Richard and his network of birding friends. In fact, Jan was quite an unusual month in Hong Kong with regards to rare birds, I think that a total of 11 species were seen in the territories that were either a first for Hong Kong or uncommon enough to be of special note. Although we didn't get to see all of these, my total count for birds new to me during Jan/Feb was 11! Often when returning home from a day out, I would sketch these new birds in my sketchbook or finish off the ones I had done in the field. The Bluethroat above was one of these. While I had seen quite a few of this species in the past, I don't think that I have ever painted one.
Hearing about a Long-billed Plover seen not far away, we jumped in the car (well for me it was more like a hobble) and sped off, fortunately the bird was still there when we arrived and great views were had by all. It was associating with a small party of Little-ringed Plovers and at first took some separating from them. Once the characteristics were learnt though, it was much easier to re-find the bird when scanning through the birds. Also seen near the plover was a Blyth's pipit so two great birds were had in one day! Both the above studies are about 5" x 7", watercolor.
Here is the finished painting. I basically worked all over the bird at the same time starting with the bill then laying in the warm purplish washes of the head and neck. Next I turned my attention to the back and the wing taking special care to get the correct look of the feathers. While one area was still wet, I worked on another back and forth until I was happy with how the painting was progressing. By now the bird had flown away but I still had enough information to continue. I initially got the shape of the eye wrong but was able to wash out the area and start again when it had dried. After the bird was almost complete, I added a few more washes to the background rocks then let the painting sit for a few days - that way I find it easier to see what needs to be done next. A little darkening here and there and that was it. Grey Heron, watercolor, 11" x 8".
Here the background is almost complete but I'll still do some more work to it later. Mostly this stage was a case of deepening the values of the rocks here and there but I didn't want to go too dark - I was actually reserving the final colors until after I had completed the heron. Usually I would do the background first but initially I wasn't sure how the bird was going to look against the rocks - would it stand out enough or simply fade into the background. Often with drawing and painting, there are many such questions! Still, it seemed okay at this point but even though this is the third of four parts, I felt that I was only about half-way through!
Painting carefully around the bird (especially the bill) I laid in various washes of violet and burnt sienna. These two colors were also mixed together to form a range of warm and cool greys which were spread around while some of the washes were still wet. When the initial layer of paint had dried, I began lightly defining some of the darker areas of the rocks and let that dry off too. Next more work on the background.
After spending some time viewing and sketching Egrets and Herons at Shuen Wan, I decided to complete a field study of a Grey Heron in my sketchbook. As the bird was resting amongst rocks along the shoreline, I was able to observe it for some time and started with a careful drawing. Egrets and herons often spend a lot of time immobile while waiting for the tide to turn and so are easy birds to get to know - as a birdwatcher and as an artist. This bird was facing into the sun (and the wind) but looking slightly left so I drew it that way. Once I was happy with how the bird came out, I lightly sketched in the background rocks then contemplated how to proceed next - paint the bird first or start with the background. Since the tide was still quite high and the bird was probably going to stay around for awhile, I decided to work on the rocks first. Next, getting some color down.
I am an artist living and working near Washington DC in the USA. I was born in the UK but have lived abroad most of my life. I paint mostly landscapes and birds but have many interests so you never know what will turn up. Most of the paintings shown here are for sale so please contact me at jeremypearse (at) gmail.com if interested. Thanks for visiting!