Sometimes it’s February, sometimes March when the red-winged blackbirds return. Regardless, it’s a welcome and exuberant racket of wingbeats and squawking from the marshes and treetops. It doesn’t necessarily mean that spring is here; indeed, today, a flock swarmed over our yard and flew off just as it began to snow. But it means we’ve turned the corner: more light, more days above freezing than below, and more good things to come.

Tips and Techniques– I wanted to zoom in on the shapes of the birds in flight, rather than the details, and let some of the birds merge, the way they do in a flock. To do this, I used a loose wash of ultramarine and burnt sienna to create the black, and tried to drop in a bit of yellow and red before the birds got too dry. I like the way the red merged into the dark mix, creating a dusky purple on some of the wings. I suspect this would work better at a larger size, where you could really get some nice color variation and more mixing right on the paper.

18 Comments on “Return

  1. Here on the other coast, we have butterflies everywhere after all the rains! It’s as exciting as the bird migration, I assure you!

  2. the red-winged blackbirds will come back here too, a bit later. I love their song so much, it says spring. What a beautiful page you have made of their flight

  3. I feel their flight…..happy for their return. This piece has a great movement Jean.

  4. Love this. They are noisy (and they’ll clean out my feeders in minutes) but I’m always glad to see them again. Love the quote too.

  5. Turned the corner, yes! Soon you’ll hear those rusty hinges in the marshes….
    Your painting really takes off! It’s full of light and air and movement.

  6. I always get soooo excited when “my” red-winged blackbirds return! Saw a Fox Sparrow today, and the Bald Eagle is sitting on her nest – so there is definitely at least one egg! (Approx. first egg date – March 10th!)
    Thank you for capturing and sharing one of the true highlights of Spring.

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