Did you know that a group of hummingbirds is called a shimmer? Hummingbirds don’t “flock” together, the way many bird species do, so several names have come to describe them as a group. You can also call them a charm, a glittering, a tune, a bouquet, or a hover. Truth be told, I have only seen hummingbirds individually of late, but painting several in different positions seemed a better way to capture their movement, beauty, and vitality.
Tips and Techniques– When you are painting birds, do you ever overwork them to the point of killing them on paper? With such complex feather patterns and colors, that’s not an uncommon thing to do. It’s exactly what happened on my first attempt at painting hummingbirds last week. I immediately got too tight, and soon the birds looked static and lifeless. Even though I had invested several hours in the painting, I decided it would be better to start over than to press on. I began again by doing gesture drawings (right) from life and from videos which forced me to convey the bird’s incredible postures and movements, rather than details and colors. From there, I started a second painting (above), working more loosely this time. The lesson: don’t be afraid to let a bird go and begin again if your painting isn’t working.
Join me for FACING BIRDS HEAD ON (via Zoom), a free program on Friday, September 17, 10:00-11:30 AM Pacific Time/1:00-2:30 PM Eastern Time at
Winslow Art Center, and TAPPING AUDUBON’S PASSION: Sketching Birds in Watercolor
Thursday, September 23, 2-5pm (via Zoom) at
Currier Museum of Art. Details on the Workshops page.