Heard but not seen

I went out with a friend one evening this week to sketch at a beaver pond. The water was dark and still, trees were lay crossways in heaps where beaver had felled them, and a large mud lodge rose on the far shore. But what struck me most about the place was not the pond itself, but the beauty and intensity of bird song in the surrounding woods. Other than a pair of catbirds and the flash of the rose-breasted grosbeak as it darted into the trees, I saw no birds. But I’m good enough at birding by ear to identify the singers. I decided to try to capture the ethereal experience of hearing these birds in the darkening woods.

Seen, but silent were birds of Connecticut on display at Yale’s Peabody museum, where I enjoyed a brief visit on Friday. I had time to do a pencil sketch of these two vireos, which are commonly heard, but seldom seen.

Vireos- sketch

14 Comments on “Heard but not seen

  1. Your greens are beautiful! Your birds charming as always.

      • If they are not top secret I’d love if you would share your color combos.
        I am going to try the one Shari recently posted, Windsor yellow and thalo blue.

      • Hi Linda- Happy to share: for the light green: sap green with Hansa yellow medium and a touch of permanent rose; medium and darker greens are mainly ultramarine blue with Hansa yellow, sometimes with a bit of rose.

      • Thanks so much. Time to make a new green chart!

  2. Love both your writing and art in “Seen but not heard”. ❤️

  3. Wow. I’m in awe of the way you have rendered the woodland. I’ve been trying for an age to capture the Australian bush near where I live. The greens are a different colour but that’s not the problem. Did you paint the lighter greens as an under glaze first and then use negative space technique with the darks? Or did you paint the different sections one by one?
    The use of text works superbly to convey the hidden bird song.

    • Hi Anne! Yes, I painted the lightest greens first, then the mid greens, then the darkest. As I did the darkest tones, I looked for places to add depth with negative painting. I put in the trees last, and tried not to overwork it. It’s one of those times when I could have gotten lost in too much detail. I did most of this painting with a water brush and I kept running out of paint and having to mix more. That ended up adding to the slight variation in tones of the greens across the page. Good luck with the Australian bush!

  4. Jean — the Stillman and Birn featured artist!! Brava! And a glorious piece as well. I can hear those wood thrushes singing in your lovely green woods.

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