Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gyrfalcon Sketch

I apologize for not putting up more recent progress shots of the Griffon Vulture and Lanner Falcon, but they're already finished! Since I will be handing in my thesis tomorrow, I will thus be able to start posting the finished paintings here.

But for now, I'm working on my very last thesis painting, which is the Gyrfalcon as used in European falconry.

In medieval Europe, which bird you were allowed to fly was dependent on your social status. Emperors could fly eagles, whereas peasants were allowed tiny sparrowhawks. In the social ranking of falconry, the gyrfalcon was a noble bird reserved for kings. It is the largest of the falcons, and its plumage can range from gray barring to a striking, nearly pure white. Quite fitting as the bird of kings.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lanner Falcon Thesis Progress 1

Once more, I'm trying my hand at backlighting. The 'moon side' of the falcon is going to have a blue reflected light tint to it.

Oddly enough, this painting is going much faster than the vulture!

Griffon Vulture Progress and Lanner Falcon Sketch

More progress on the Griffon Vulture, plus a sketch of the next painting, which will explore the Lanner Falcon as the Egyptian god Horus.

And the sketch of the Lanner Falcon:

The sun and moon behind the falcon represent the belief that Horus' eyes were the sun and moon. I placed the focus on the Lanner's head since the shape of the Eye of Horus is believed to mirror that of the Lanner Falcon's facial markings.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Griffon Vulture - Thesis Progress 1

Here is the first progress shot of the griffon vulture. As mentioned before, I am working quickly since I have this and two other paintings to finish within the week!

(Click for a larger version)

After looking at my previous illustrations, I realized all my lighting was shining right on the figure. This is the first I've done where I've experimented with backlighting. I think it creates a more interesting overall tone.

And the papyrus is giving me quite a bit of trouble. I think I'm going to have to break out the white gouache for this, but I think I can make it work.

Griffon Vulture Sketch

Thesis painting #8 will be the griffon vulture. In Egypt, this bird was the symbol of the goddess Nekhbet. Its head was used on the Upper Crown and its wings were a common decoration for the headdresses of royalty.

It was believed that when the griffon vulture turned its back to the southeast, that it would become fertilized. For this reason among others, it was considered a symbol of fertility.

In this painting, I wanted to show the vulture with its back to the southeast, with the sun streaming through its feathers. All around it are papyrus, a plant that grew on the Nile River.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bald Eagle - Thesis Progress 2

I'm about 75% done with the bald eagle thesis painting. I'm looking forward to painting that salmon! Fish are another subject I haven't had much experience with.

I love the Pacific Northwest. It's such a beautiful area.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bald Eagle - Thesis Progress 1

The first progress of the bald eagle painting. I am working quickly because I need to have this and three others due in less than two weeks!

Bald eagle feathers are so beautiful and fun to paint. There is an interesting variation between reddish brown to nearly blue.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bald Eagle - Thesis Sketch

Here is the sketch for thesis painting #7, which is the bald eagle. In the Northwest Coast of the United States, the image of the bald eagle was carved on poles, masks, and other items by native tribes. Since fish was a staple food of the people of the coast, they respected the eagle's ability to catch fish.

Here I show the bald eagle overlooking the coast with a salmon, an important fish of the region. Although bald eagles are not one of my favorite raptors (too often portrayed in art, often painfully kitschy), they are quite beautiful. In my painting, it will be perched on a western white pine, a common tree of the area.

The next paintings will be (though perhaps not in this order):

Gyrfalcon in European Falconry
Lanner Falcon as the God Horus
Griffin Vulture as the Goddess Nekhbet

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Peregrine Falcon - Homestretch!

I'm close to finishing the peregrine falcon thesis painting, so here is a progress shot so far. I've never really painted ducks before, so this proved to be an excellent excuse to study mallard plumage and try my hand at painting one. They're such lovely birds with such interesting plumage!

And a detail of the peregrine and duck:

I will have my thesis done by May 30th, so on that date, I will start to post the finished thesis paintings here.

Peregrine Falcon Thesis Painting Progress 2

Apologies for the lack of updates lately, however for the past week I've been concentrating on the writing portion of my thesis so that I would have a first draft done in time for editing. With that sent off, I've continued work on the painting of the peregrine falcon as used in falconry in the United States.

I am well aware that the peregrine is used worldwide in falconry, and not only in the United States. However, the purpose of this painting is not to exclude any region, but rather to focus on falconry in a specific area of the world, and I chose a bird that I feel represents a widely-used longwing species in the U.S.

It's only fair to point out the efforts of falconers and a variety of societies in the United States for peregrine falcon reintroduction after the widespread damage done by the pesticide DDT in the mid-20th century. The Peregrine Fund, which was started in 1970, was one of the foremost organizations in the United States to rebuild peregrine populations nationwide. To this day it remains an active force in raptor conservation. Other organizations which focus on raptor conservation include the North American Falconer's Association and a number of individual rehabilitation and education centers.

According to Candace Savage in her book Peregrine Falcons, the peregrine falcon population in the west coast region of the United States went from over 1,400 pairs in the 1940s to just over 100 pairs in the mid-1970s (an in-detail graph of worldwide populations exists on page 54, in case you have the book). In the late 1980s, the population on the west coast rose to just over 400 pairs. Today, the population of the peregrine falcon is doing well, thanks to the banning of DDT and these conservation efforts.

That said, here is the painting in progress:

And a detail of the falcon so far:

There peregrine falcon is also known as the 'duck hawk,' for what should be an apparent reason. When choosing a duck species, I wanted to show mallards since that is one of the most well-recognized duck species in the United States. While I know the jesses probably wouldn't be flying so wildly as that, I wanted to put a bit of movement behind the stiff, angular falcon to compliment the curving ducks.

The markings of peregrines are so beautiful, and while challenging to paint, it's rewarding when it starts to come out right.

UPDATE May 9, 2009 2:48 AM Here's a bit more progress:

Detail of the falcon: