Being able to draw this beautiful eagle close-up was a chance that I couldn't miss, fortunately the drawing went well right from the start as my time was limited. But all the same, it took far longer than I had anticipated and frankly was happy that I had finished this piece. I don't often do that many drawings as completed works but this one was a wonderful introduction to the character and structure of this eagle. This is the first time I have worked on this species, mainly due to the fact that I haven't seen that many of them in the wild. This bird (in a wildlife rehab center) had been injured and couldn't be released so it was the perfect opportunity to gather details that couldn't be seen in the wild. I used a few different grades of graphite pencils for this one ranging from HB to 2B. The size is 9" X 11". SOLD.
Working on the feather tips with pale brown gouache finally brought out the beauty in this young eagles' plumage. I did have to subtly darken a few areas and if truth be told, I may stil go back and do a bit of work here and there but for now I'm calling it finished. I did alter the curve of the neck slightly and perhaps this area also needs a bit of work. Some of the finer details were added right at the end as until this point, I just trying to get accuracy in tones and chroma. Apart from the eye, nearly all these smaller details come at the very end. Working with gouache is a little easier than working with pure watercolor and for studies like this is probably the preferred way to go. I thought that this would be the last in this series but I may just take another look at the first one I did (especially since this one was a quick study) and see if I can make a little more of it. I also have access to an adult Golden Eagle in a raptor rehab center so may well go there soon and visit. This study is 8.5" X 7.5", watercolor and gouache on 100% ragboard.
Quite a lot of work has been completed so far and the painting is nearing the end. It didn't take me very long to get to this point but from here on the work will slow down as I tackle some of the more intricate details of the eagles' plumage. I have done very little opaque overpainting so far, instead concentrating on getting the base tones accurate. There is still some darkening to do but I'm pleased with it so far. The eye is basically complete as is the bill although there are some darker tones to be added here too along with some finer details and some modeling. Next I'll start on adding the pale tips that many of the head feathers have then finish up with the final smaller details etc.
Here with this the fourth in the series of young eagles, I have tried to approach this study slightly differently. Working not on watercolor paper but on ragboard, I first drew out the image of the bird as usual and decided on a side view of the head making it more of a regular portrait. This format can look a bit like an illustration if one is not careful and I was worried that this is how the painting would turn out like. Also different with this one was the use of gouache instead of the pure watercolor that I usually use. This would allow me to work on the underlying tones of the plumage without worrying about painting around all of the highlights (such as the lighter tips to most of the head feathers etc). I could then use opaque watercolor later on to paint in the feather highlights. As it turned out, there would be a lot less of that than I had thought. Being somewhat set in my ways, I still painted around most of the lighter tones that I had initially laid down and you can see from the above image that this painting was still built up with thin washes as in most of my usual watercolors. I worked on the eye almost to completion then set the work aside until the next session.
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!