A few days ago, a friend called and said she had found a hummingbird in her garage. It had come inside sometime this fall and had either not been able to find its way out, or had just been too weak or cold to survive. It had freeze-dried, hanging by its feet from a wire, with its tail splayed out against the wall. The unusual position, in which it can “sit” balanced on its tail, with beak straight up, made for an intriguing view to sketch.
It's amazing how quickly a year passes. I've traveled and taught and sketched a lot in the past year, but haven't returned to my lonely blog til now.
Just got back from a teaching trip to Wrangell, Alaska, for the Stikine River Birding Festival. Bird highlights for me included sandhill cranes chortling overhead, flocks of white-fronted geese descending on the school football/soccer field, snow geese whirling over the Stikine Delta, and a fascinating talk about the wildlife of Wrangel Island, Russia by biologist Vassily Baranyuk. Also, this sad highlight, a female rufous hummingbird that hit a window. I tried to capture her iridescence by starting with white Prismacolor for the feather texture, then layering metallic green watercolor and several shades of Neocolor pastels and water.
Today, two hummingbirds–a male and a female–are tussling over the feeder outside my window, swirling around each other and surrounded by swirling snowflakes. It has been a long, cold spring.Nice to see these little spots of warmth.
An expedition in search of dippers had me scrambling through devils-club and alder tangle, up a steep, fast-moving creek above Juneau. The dippers kept zinging upstream past me with food, so I knew the nest was even higher. Just about the point where I decided it wasn't worth six million more devils-club stabs and the risk of spraining some valuable joint, I sat down for one more vigil. I never did see the dippers, but while I waited, this rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) nest was revealed to me–a great example of the fringe benefits of keeping still and paying attention.
The sketch is from a photo, as I had my camera but not my sketchbook…
Since 1997, I’ve been offering classes in field sketching, nature journaling, and science illustration.
- University of Alaska, Southeast campus: annual summer course, Field Sketching and Nature Drawing
- The Canvas Community Art Studio and Gallery, Juneau: periodic classes in sketching, colored pencil, scratchboard, and other subjects
- Alaska State Museum: youth drawing classes in conjunction with various exhibits
- Various Alaska elementary, middle, and high schools (Juneau, Gustavus, Wrangell, Lower Kuskokwim School District, and more): artist residencies in nature journaling and science illustration
- Stikine River Birding Festival, Homer Shorebird Festival: classes in field sketching
Contact me if you’re interested in participating in a class, or arranging for a class at your school, museum, festival, or organization.
Owl sketch page, graphite
Rufous hummingbirds, colored pencil and gouache on toned paper