Sanhill Crane Quartet

Sanhill Crane Quartet
OIl on 18x24 inch canvas

Sunday, November 26, 2017

High Priestess

Prints and other items are available through Fine Art America.

The High Priestess was named by my friend, Jamie Morris, because of it's resemblance to the tarot card of the same name. In that card, the High Priestess stands before a body of water regarding her own reflection with apparent indifference. The High Priestess isn't normally portrayed with her reflection, but she does represent the shadow side, the subconscious. She appears when you need to listen to your own inner voice. Egret appears when you are told that by grounding, spiritual and emotional insights will become clearer. You can achieve balance. So in this my own "tarot" card you are asked to find balance between the shadow world and the daylight world by grounding.

I completed this painting with Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints on a 12 x 24 canvas. When complete it was varnished with Gamvar Satin varnish by Gamblin.
Just click on Face Book page to see my slide show.

These are the colors I used: Titanium White, Lamp Black, Payne's Gray, Raw Umber, Viridian, Indian Red, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow. I used Liquin Original oil to thin the paint and quicken the drying time. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Snowy Egret Grooming

This portrait of the Snowy Egret grooming was painted using oil on 12 x 24 black canvas. I began with a drawing in white charcoal and filled in the white areas. The painting is based on this image from Prints are available through Fine Art America. Additional items can be purchased through

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Peacock in Snow

This lovely portrait of a peacock posing in a snow covered landscape was done with oils on a 10 x 20 inch  1.5 inch deep canvas.

Prints of this paintings and other items are available at Fine Art America.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Duck Feathers

These perpendicular duck feathers were painting with oils on an 8 x 10 gesso board. I started out on a white background but when I was nearly done, I didn't like it and used Paynes gray to create a cloudy background. Prints and tots of this painting can be purchased at Fine Art America.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Red Crown Amazon Parrot on canvas

The Red Crown Amazon Parrot painted on a 12 inch square canvas using Winsor Newton water-soluble oil paint. Prints of this painting can be purchased at  Fine Art America. The image is based on a photo purchased from

Rock Dove

This portrait of the Rock Dove is painted on 8 x 10 gesso using Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints. Prints of this painting can be purchased at Fine Art America. The image is based on a photo purchased from

Barn Swallows

This pair of Barn Swallows were painted on 8 x 10 inch gesso panel using Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints. Prints of this painting can be purchased at Fine Art America. The image is based on a photo purchased from

Cocheral Hen

This portrait of a Cocheral hen was painted on a 12 inch square canvas using Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints. Prints of this painting can be purchased at Fine Art America. The image was purchased from


A male and female cardinal perched on sweet pea branches. This portrait on an 11 x 14 canvas was painted with Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints. This painting has been sold but prints may be purchased at Fine Art America. The composition is made from two different photos purchased from

Sand Hill Crane Quartet

Sandhill Cranes, 18 x24 inch canvas painted using Winsor Newton water mixable oil paints. The other day I was at a Winn Dixie parking lot and down swooped a flock of these magnificent birds. I'd only ever seen them in photographs. I took lots of photos and created this composition, relocating them to a sand dune. Prints of this painting can be purchased from Fine Art America.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The African Sacred Ibis crossing a herd of Zebra

This 19 x 24 drawing was executed using Faber-Castell water soluable graphite pencils with a touch of a black Derwent Verithin colored pencil. The paper is vellum bristol.  

I felt it was time to incorporate my bird portraits with other animals and I plan to create more pieces with flocks of birds or a variety of species. I think this composition is an interesting one, capturing a Sacred Ibis as it slowly strolls across the view of a herd of Zebras. Taking no mind of the Ibis, a Tick Bird goes about it's business, dining on the insects on the back of one of the Zebras. I used three different photos downloaded from to create this drawing.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Aplamoda Falcon

  • The Aplomado Falcon was placed on the Endangered Species List in 1986 and is the last falcon in the United States currently on this list.
  • The last known wild breeding pair of Aplomado Falcons in the United States was last seen in New Mexico in 1952.
  • Aplomado Falcons will hunt together as pairs or in family groups, working together to pursue or flush out their prey.
From:  the Peregrine Fund

The beautiful bird of prey's portrait was done primarily in Derwent Inktense Color Pencils with some Windsor Newton water soluble paint and Derwent Verithin colored pencils on 9" x 12" water color paper. I purchased a photo of this beautiful bird in captivity from Wild Life Reference Photos to produce this portrait.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Barn Owl

This Barn Owl hales from New Jersey where it's numbers have so decreased that it has been placed on the states endangered species list. "Barn Owls are threatened by the conversion of agricultural land to urban and suburban development, and the loss of suitable nesting sites such as large, hollow trees and old buildings. Changes to agricultural fields and grasslands can also affect Barn Owls through changes to their prey populations. Barn Owls were affected by the use of DDT-related pesticides, and they may be susceptible to poisons used against rodents, since they form a large part of the owls’ diet. Because Barn Owls hunt by flying low over fields, they are often hit by cars; planting hedgerows alongside roads can help prevent this from happening. Nest boxes (of the correct size) have helped Barn Owl populations recover in areas where natural nest sites were scarce."

The Barn Owl hunts at night feeding on small rodents, bats and other small mammals active at night. 

I used water soluble graphite pencils on 11 x 14 inch water color paper to create this portrait. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Red-Crowned Amazon Parrot

I love the expression of pure delight on this parrot. In the photo he's nibbling on a treat but I didn't want anything to detract for that look. 

I used my new pastel pencils, Carb-Othello by Stabilo. The hues are different from my Derwent pastel pencils and can be painted on the paper with water. I used a combination of painting, smudging and drawing  to complete this portrait. 

The bird cage trade and destruction of their habitat have placed this beautiful creature on the endangered species list. The red-crowned amazon parrot, also known as the red-crowned Parrot and the green-cheeked amazon parrot and the Mexican red-headed parrot is native to Northeastern Mexico.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Endangered Probiscis Monkey

The next portrait in my series of endangered animals is the Probiscis Monkey. This image was drawn and colored with Derwent pastel pencils and Faber-Castel charcoal pencils on Canson Mi Tientes paper.

This native of the Mango groves and swamps of Borneo uses it's most obvious feature, it's large, fleshy nose to attract a mate. It is believed that the large nose creates an echo chamber amplifying it's call and attracting the females of the species. The male can weigh up to 50 pounds and they stand from 24 to 28 inches.

They live in organized groups called harems or bands. I love collective nouns. Unfortunately, the cute noun doesn't serve as protection from extinction. They are protected from hunting or capture in Borneo but that doesn't protect them from natural predators. Because their local environment is being destroyed, they are forced to leave the safety of the trees and travel some distances to find food. This puts them directly in the path of jaguars and native peoples. Both consider the Probiscis Monkey a delicacy.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Black Spider Monkey

My latest portrait is of the endangered Spider Monkey. It was executed in charcoal and pastel pencil on 9 x 9 inch gray toned paper.

The Black Spider Monkey, scientific name Ateles lives an average of 22 years in the wild and in captivity. The weigh on average 13.25 pounds and vary in height between14 and 26 inches. Spider monkeys live in the tropical rain forests of Central and South America and occur as far north as Mexico. It is because it's rain forest habitat is being cut down that it's numbers have decreased so drastically that they are now endangered. They very often will not inhabit disturbed areas and are unable to find sufficient nourishment to survive. This adorable creature contributes to the ecological system by spreading seeds of the fruits it feeds on. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017


This week I used pastel pencils to create a beautiful Jay...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Birds of Prey

I've added two more birds to my collection, an African Eagle Owl and a White Headed Vulture. I used Derwent Inktense for both.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Red Tail Hawk

The following are progressive photos of pastel drawing of the Red Tail Hawk.
I began drawing the outlline with a white pastel pencil on blue pastel paper. Then I drew in and painted the eye with pastel pencils.

I built up greater detail around the eye by rubbing in the pastel from the black pencil.

I moved on the the outer eye, the top of the head and the beginning of the beak layin in the base color of the bird while adding the first of the highlights.

And the beak is complete.

I have layed out the base color and indications of feathers.

Here I have begun to build up the red coat of the hawk.

The hawk is nearly done. It's just a matter of touch ups and more highlights.

And here is the final pastel drawing of the Red Tail Hawk.

While I love the image I am not please with the pastel paper. I much preferred working on the smoother gray tone paper. But I like the reddish tones of the hawk against the blue paper. And, I love the way the shadows on the eye build out the ridge over the eye giving the hawk that intense look of the hunter with his target in sight.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Back to Pastel Pencil and Chalk

I did a new portrait of favorite niece doggie, Fiona in charcoal and pastel pencils and remembered how much fun it was so I set about using pastel pencils to do more bird portraits. I'm not giving up Inktense or colored pencils but there are some methods that work best for some subjects.

Here they are:

And here is the Princess Fiona

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Florida Crows

This wonderful crow, a common crow of Florida, posed for me the other morning and these are the two poses I selected to paint.  What a ham! I love her.

Both portraits were executed using Derwent Inktense water soluble pencils on  9 x 12 inch water color paper with the lightest touch of Winsor Newton water mixable white paint.  In the portrait on the left I used China Black and on the other I used India Black. The China Black has a blue cast and the portrait on the right has a brown cast. I used only three pencils, China or India black, willow and white. In spite of the fact that I have many colors to choose from I generally choose a limited palette.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Pair of Pelicans

This "Pair of Pelicans" is taken from a group photo of pelicans I took in Bel Aire Beach, Florida. The photo itself is a work of art, at least I think so, but I do so enjoy putting my own spin on the image.

I began by wetting this 11 x 14 inch water color paper and coating it with my own aqua mixture (Winsor Newton mixable oil paint) begining at the bottom and thinning the paint to lighten the Gulf of Mexico in the distance. After the paper dried I drew in the birds and pilings. I was a bit concerned about how the Derwent Inktense would lay on the paint but it worked out beautifully. And,,, I found that I could erase the aqua colored paint if I wanted to. An important bit of information to store in my artist's brain.  I drew the pilings and birds with HB Faber Castel water soluable graphite pencils and then laid in the Derwent Inktense color using the pencils to create the appearance of texture and adding water to make it permanent. In the end, I highlighted the pelicans and the pilings with Winsor Newton mixable white oil paint.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Pelican of Bel Aire Beach

I am most pleased with my latest shore-bird portrait, Pelican of Bel Aire Beach. I snapped his photo while vacationing in Bel Aire Beach, Florida a bit more than a few years ago. It seems like only last year.

I began with an 11 x 14 sheet of watercolor paper and a number 2HB Faber Castell watersoluble pencil as the underpainting. Then I moved on  to Derwent Inktense pencils to build out the feathers and add new layers to the piles that serve as resting place for the regal bird. I made a few delicate strokes with a white Inktense pencil and then made slightly broader highlights with my Winsor Newton water mixable Titanium white oil paint. It's so cool how his eyes on they sides of his head and he can watch you watching him. It almost looks as if he's smilng. It's like that with birds. Very cool to have such great side vision. I wonder how that would work with human heads? My perspective would certainly change.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Gray Heron

This painting of a gray heron, from a photo I took on vacation many years ago at Bel Aire Beach, Florida, is my best in this technique. I am learning so much about the materials and happily mastering them. I used a 16 x 20 illustration board which is a pale azure rather than the  dimmer blue that shows up here. No matter. I began with Derwent Water Soluble pencils, HB to be specific and after drawing colored in and painted in place the 8B pencil. Then came the mix of rust, orange and brown to create the spots of color on the heron. I used Derwent Inktense blocks for this. I painted over the 8B with Inktense black and added a few fine lines and streaks to improve the feathery appearance. Next came the white paint.

I like the Inktense blocks and pencils. The colors are strong and they work as easily as opaque watercolors but I'm not so crazy about the white. sometimes it's good for the work and sometimes it's not enough. The white often appears to be pearlized and is translucent so it works for some highlights but not as a strong cover. Before I began this project I headed out the Hobby Lobby in search of opaque white. I searched very hard and finally found a box of tubed, opaque watercolor paints; 12 colors. No open stock. Well, I know I'll use them so I picked up the box and then I saw a sign for a new product. New to me at any rate. Winsor Newton has a new oil paint, Winsor Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Color, that works with water and cleans up with soap and water. No turpentine like cleaners, no thinners or oils. I picked up a tube of Titanium white paint and happily went to check out with all my new supplies.

I was most satisfied. The WN water mixable paint works a bit better than acrylic. I don't know the drying time of the paint but I used so little that it didn't take more than 10 minutes to dry. I must say that I am very pleased about all of the materials I've assembled to create my paintings. I was never good with watercolors and while I've used acrylic and oil paints and love the strength of colors and variations of the hues it was to far away from my first love, drawing. That's what I liked most about chalk pastels and marker brushes; they were a step away from drawing. I find that this combination of water based products is giving me the best of both worlds. I'm having so much fun!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Raven

This very beautiful specimen is a Raven (wth a capital R) from New Mexico. I took his photo while I was living in New Mexico a few years ago. He's actually hunting for food at a construction site but I softened the background a bit.

I started this painting with Faber-Castell water soluable pencils and painted it with Derwent Inktense pencils.  Highlighting was done with the white Inktense block but the remainder of the highlights were drawn in with the pencil. I've always enjoyed the mischeivous stance of this Raven. It's almost as if he knew I was watching and he was ignoring me, inviting me to watch.

I know at first glance you probably thought this is a crow but it's not. If you ever do see a raven up close you'll know it. Thoughts like "that's a really big crow, twice as big as any crow I've ever seen" will immediately pop into your head. You'll watch, transfixed, as this regal bird casually struts about and wonder what they feed crows in New Mexico or whatever state you happen to be in. And then, you'll get it. You'll know. This is the Raven. The same bird Edgar Allen Poe wrote about in his poem of the same name. You'll wonder how he didn't run screaming from the room when a bird twice the size of a common crow flew inside and made his menacing self comfortable in your living room.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The African Pygmy Falcon

This delightful and diminutive bird of prey rests on the gloved hand of it's handler. Drawn in actual size or close to it, I started with Faber Castell water soluable pencils on 9 x 12 inch watercolor  paper. I began layering color from my Derwent Inktense blocks and then the pencils. I used acrylic white paint in addition to Inktense white  and followed up with fine detail using Derwent Verithin hard colored pencils. All in all, I do like the result. I also like being able to use several paint and drawing media to paint the bird's portrait.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Male Rufous Hummingbird

This delightfully colorful hummingbird looks as though he's wearing camoflage with his green cap and orange collar.  I drew the image on 6 x 6 inch bristol paper using Faber Castell water soluable graphite pencils and painted it with Derwent Inktense blocks.  I used both Inktense white and acrylic white paint to highlight the feathers and a touch of orange acrylic paint to get a touch more intensity. 

This small bird spends it's spring in California, summers in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska and moves to the Rocky Mountains in the fall.  

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hooded Warbler

This study of the Hooded Warbler was painted on 6 x 6 inch bristol paper using Derwent Inktense blocks, Faber Castell water soluable pencils and acrylic paint. I drew the bird with the Faber Castel pencils, "painted in the linework with a water brush and then added the Inktense inks. When I was done I wasn't done. I wanted more pop and I realized that the black and yellow weren't as strong or intense as I would have liked. I added medium yellow to the chest and face of the warbler and black to the hood, beak and eye and a touch of acrylic white to the beak and wing.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Swan and Cygnets

I've done this mother swan and her cynets before with marker brushes on white bristol. This time I moved the family to a 15 x 20 moss green illlustration board which I later trimmed to 14 x 18. It's a better frame fit. Being lazy and not yet comfortable with filling expansive backgrounds I chose the moss green board to take the place of water. I drew my image with Faber Castell water soluble graphite pencils and painted the image with Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks but I ran into a problem. The white Inktense medium wouldn't cover the the board as I had hoped. It took three coats to acheive the swan reflection. I turned to acrylic white to build up the body of the Swan and was quite successful. It (the acrylic) lay perfectly on the Inktense applications. I used the Inktense white to paint the cloud reflections and the ripples. 

All in all I am pleased with the calm image of a mother and children getting ready to cross the lake. At least I think that's what's going on. Certainly it is. I'm the artist. I should know.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Florida Scrub Jay

The Florida scrub jay is the only bird species found exclusively in Florida. It inhabits scrub oak habitats, which consist of scrubby flatwoods, sand pine scrub, rosemary scrub, and coastal scrub. Because the Jay is found only in Florida and it's environment is in danger, the Florida Audubon Society runs a Jay Watch Citizen-Science Program. You can find out more about the Scrub-Jay and the Florida Audubon Society at or

This drawing of the Scrub-Jay was executed on a 9 x 12 inch piece of watercolor paper using Faber-Castell to draw the image and Derwent Inktense blocks. I used a limited palette of gray, blue, tan and white.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

African Scops

The African Scoops is an owl who has evolved a color scheme which matches that of tree bark. This, of course, makes it easier to trap it's prey.  This piece was executed on 9 x 12 inch water color paper using Faber Castell water soluble pencils for the greater part of the drawing and accents and color using the Derwent Inktense pencils and blocks.

Pine Warbler

This beautiful and tiny bird was painted on 6 x 6 inch bristol and was still larger than life. I used Faber Castell water soluble graphite pencils to lay out the drawing as well as paint it along with Derwent Inktense blocks. The specks of black on the body under the wings were created by using the 8B graphite on wet paper. This immediately makes the graphite permenant and much darker.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Beautiful bird

I just finished this work. In the end, because I didn't like the way the right wing feathers came out, I touched it up with acrylic paints which worked very well over the Inktense blocks. This painting was done on 9 x 12 inch watercolor paper using Derwent Inktense blocks and pencilas as well as acrylic paints.