A few years ago I found a great blue heron skeleton revealed under melting snow in a ditch near my house. I don’t know how it met its end, but the bird was almost completely decomposed and I decided to take the skull. As a specimen, it’s fascinating; as reference for painting, it’s quite useful. The colored pencil study here is life sized, based on the 9-inch skull.
I’ve also been doing gesture drawings of herons as a precursor to doing a larger painting. Since the ground here in New York is covered in snow and herons are long gone for the winter, I’ve resorted to the next best option: watching and sketching from nest cam videos. These videos offer a rare view of herons courting, mating, and raising their young. Come spring, you can watch them live, but for now check out the links below if you want a glimpse of these majestic birds.