My bird drawings come from my fascination with birds in nature. I spent a few weeks this summer in Coralville, Iowa, visiting my son and his young family, – I have a beautiful granddaughter now named Alyssa. When I had free time during the day, when everyone went off to work and daycare, I walked to the nearby wildlife refuge looking for new birds.
For several days I sighted blackbirds. At first I observed just the male blackbird; he is easy to spot because he is so black and has a striking red and yellow marking on his wings. Then I began to notice several brown birds, I thought I had identified them as flickers; but as I researched, I realized that they were female blackbirds; they were much plainer looking, almost scruffy.
I first painted several watercolor backgrounds using light blues and greens; I know that I always do many studies, so I prepared many backgrounds. Then I was ready to sketch in pencil. I did many sketches. After I got home to Corning and over the course of a few weeks, I looked at my sketches. Before I could work on the final step for these drawings, I had to know the gesture, the day, the memory of what I saw. When the time was right, I completed it. Onto the pencil drawings, I rendered the final gesture. I did fast continuous line without stopping.
I did many of both the male and female blackbirds, but in the end, just the female drawings were successful. I can only say that I must not have not been as impressed with the male as I thought, and it came through in my drawings. At first, I thought my final paintings of the female blackbird to be too simple, but as I looked at them, I think that they perfectly express my memory of the simple bird.