Island Inspiration, Part 2: Birds!

The Hog Island Audubon Camp has an incredible lab with hundreds of specimens and bird study skins. What makes it extraordinary is that camp participants and staff have access to it all. Drawers of mothball-laden cabinets reveal many treasures: bird eggs, wings, feet, skulls, and whole birds. I love using the collection to study birds up close and to teach Arts and Birding participants about bird anatomy. This year, I chose two birds that are frequently heard but hard to see in the island’s spruce forest—hermit thrush and black throated green warbler—and used a combination of video and study skins to bring them to life on paper.

hermit thrushBlack throated green warbler

I also found the remains of a gull skeleton while hiking and made a careful study of the wing bones, which will serve as a useful reference for sketching living birds.

Tips and Techniques– If you want to improve your bird drawings, I highly recommend studying bird anatomy and feather structure, and looking at stuffed specimens or study skins. Many museums and nature centers have collections that you can request permission to look at. You’ll be able to see key features up close and sketch details that you can then incorporate into subsequent bird artwork.

10 thoughts on “Island Inspiration, Part 2: Birds!

  1. I always get such pleasure from your nature paintings – delicate, detailed, artistic all at the same time. You are lucky to have access to the museum treasures, as are your students. Such things enhance learning, whether painting or just observing our world.

  2. The little warbler is so pretty and has great attitude Jean! It’s unusual to see art featuring a wing feather with wing bones attached – this really fascinates me.. you’re full of surprises 🙂

    • I’m glad to be full of surprises. The feathers attach to the bone and this wing showed that pretty well with the two remaining feathers. The body of the bird was mostly gone, but the wing bones and some feathers remained to study.

  3. How informative! Love this! I would so love to join one of your workshops some day. But for now I anticipate your returns to see what you have in store. This does not disappoint. Thanx so much.

  4. Inspiring all the way to Guatemala. The rewards of a productive and intense two weeks in a place you are appreciative to know well.

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