Tag Archives: birds

pastel by fire

Many decades ago, I bought a set of pastels at a fire sale. It was a real fire at a local store where I lived at the time. The owners sold everything in stock that was not too badly damaged. Mostly, things just smelled of smoke. I scooped up a 90 color set of Rembrandt soft pastels for a song (no dance). I recently looked up the going price for the set in today’s market and it was something over $300.
(ack! I did get a deal)

Anyway, I did of few pictures with them, teaching myself as I went along and they were okay. And then my mom died, life got way busier shuffling home, work, kids, 2 jobs, and all the rest that goes with being a single mom with no money. There was really no room (or time) for art. I did a few pastels now and then for friends but nothing worth noting.

So now with my kinda-sorta project of producing works on paper of animals that are endangered, maligned, or misunderstood, I thought I’d break out the pastels and see if I remembered how to make them work. Here’s the test, on a baby robin that I snapped a picture of while he was perching on the cable wire outside my window. Even though his mom was still feeding him, he felt quite proud of himself and his new found freedom.

Bird on a Wire by Linda Saboe

Baby Bird on a Wire by Linda Saboe

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no space plus flamingoes

For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve been concentrating on learning to sculpt in clay. I think I’ve managed to get a handle on the medium and looking back on my sculptures, I believe I’ve progressed reasonably. I’m even rather proud of a few of my pieces, and that, for those who know me, is quite a statement.

but

There are issues. One is that the art center I go to has become prohibitively expensive. I would buy a kiln but there is no safe place to install it in this teeny, overpacked house. So, my plans to sculpt a series of endangered, misunderstood and maligned animals has become undoable.

Before I began sculpting, my medium was oils, but here again, I have a logistical problem with space. I am working in a tiny corner of the tiny “sunroom” which is actually just an enclosed porch with a lot of drafty windows, ugly paneling and because of its shape, is more shaded than lighted. I share this space with my parrot, Milo. The fumes from turpentine and linseed oil are not so good for parrots. Also a very steeply sloped ceiling makes setting up my easel impossible. Oils are right out.

so

I decided that I need to develop my ideas using not-toxic materials that can be done in a small setting without spending a fortune. My solution was to learn how to use watercolors and colored pencils. I’m already quite adept with graphite — drawing with graphite is like breathing for me. I used to use charcoal all the time when I was younger, so despite being hideously rusty with charcoal, that’s in the new mix of preferred media.

The first animal I chose to research was the wood stork. By all accounts a most ungainly bird. Ungainly appeals to me. I did some preliminaries and then a graphite portait and a small watercolor. I am proud of  the portrait and not too displeased with the watercolor. Here’s the portrait… what an impressive bird!

Wood Stork by Linda Saboe

Wood Stork, pencil. Resource photo: © Tammy Karr, with permission.

After I worked on this guy, I decided to look for other ungainly birds (I will return to the Wood Stork, I promise). As a lark, I started sketching flamingoes without giving them any serious thought. Suddenly, while trying to figure out that incredible beak, I realized that I needed to research this magnificent bird who has become not much more than a tacky lawn ornament to most in this country.

so here’s some stuff about flamingoes

  • Their name means flame.
  • As far as anyone can tell, they may or may not be related to grebes, storks, ibises, spoonbills, pigeons, doves.
  • There are 6 species, 4 in the new world, 2 in the old.
  • For the grebe-flamingo clade, the taxon Mirandornithes (miraculous birds) has been proposed.
  • Their color comes from the caretenoids in their diet, they filter feed on brine shrimp and blue-green algae.

as i was drawing their beaks during research, it occurred to me that their beaks reminded me of baleen whales.

  • The Ancient Egyptians believed them to be the living representation of the god, Ra.
  • Ancient Romans considered their tongues a delicacy.
  • They were worshipped by the ancient people of Peru.
  • They are the nationals bird of the Bahamas.

and in the United States, we have turned them into cheap, pink plastic lawn ornaments.

Wiki entry for flamingoes is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo for more info.

So, this is the work I started with the flamingo. The flamingo (who was once a god) is teaching me watercolor (slowly and painfully), colored pencil (slowly but not so painfully), and a revisit with my old friend, charcoal. I hope you enjoy the flamingoes, and I hope you notice that this magnificent bird is anything but tacky.

Flamingo in White by Linda Saboe

Flamingo in White by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 18″x 24″.
Resource photo: Unable to find valid attribution. Google search filename: Udivitelnye-flamingo.jpg

Flamingo Apart by Linda Saboe

Flamingo Apart by Linda Saboe. Watercolor and ink, 10″x 14″, resource photo: Dreamstime/Yinan Zhang.

Synchronized Flamingoes by Linda Saboe

Synchronized Flamingoes. Watercolor and ink, 10″x 14″. No resource, just made up in my head.

 

Flamingo by Linda Saboe

Flamingo by Linda Saboe. Colored pencil, 14 ½“x 18”.
Resource photo: American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) (cc) Robert Claypool.

Once, I was a God by Linda Saboe

Once, I was a God by Linda Saboe. Colored pencil, 16″x 20 ¼“.  Resource photo: Daniel Healy (still trying to contact him via Your Shot Photo Community, National Geographic).

One other thing I learned…I’m not very good at taking photographs of art. I also like wolverines.

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe

Woverine Watches by Linda Saboe. Charcoal, 12″x14″.
Resource photos: Dreamstime/Dennis Jacobsen and Dreamstime/Vladislav Jirousek.

But more about her later.

 


close avian encounters of a surprising kind

so…

Having finished planting some tomatoes and peppers in the deck boxes, I was leaning on the railing, contemplating nature and stuff, when a young blue jay swooped up from the gully and landed on the railing about 4″ from my elbow. He looked at me, I looked at him, and then a big male robin bombed him and a lightning quick scuffle ensued.

Blue jay beat wings to the other side of the deck with a broken tail feather and the robin, beak full of feathers, perched on the telephone wire and pooped his displeasure.

 


of dogs and parrots

Sometimes my animals are just too cute for words.

When the weather is nice, Loki will go out on the deck, choose one of her balls, and then sit there, ball in mouth, waiting for one of us to notice that she’d like to play. She will wait for quite some time, as she has the patience of a saint.
Loki waits patiently

Milo likes to hang out at the front window, watching the neighbors.

Milo at the window

The two seem to like each other. One day, Milo was perched on his cage door, eating a snow pea. Loki likes to sit under him and wait for crumbs. This time, Loki reached up and gently took the pea from Milo’s beak. Milo didn’t seem to mind as nary a feather was ruffled. He just went inside and got another pea. That’s one picture I regret not getting.

I can hardly believe that Loki is 9 years old and Milo is 24.


for the birds

just in case you thought i’ve been idle, here are some pics of the most recent water birds, just finished yesterday.
for some reason, i can’t seem to get decent photos of these two, but you all get the idea. the cormorant is about 10.5 inches and the pelicans are about 11.5 inches at the highest point. both sculpts are sculpture clay with pigmented wax finish.

cormorant

cormorant

two pelicans

two pelicans


crows in trees

One afternoon last fall I took some pictures of a crow who lives on my street and then promptly forgot all about them. I found them today while I was poking around my files. They are by no means good photos, not having a decent lens for distance, but I like them all the same.

This one looked nice in black & white.
crow TV

I took a lot of this one harvesting cherries in the big cherry tree in my gully. These are the only ones that even came close to turning out ok. I need a bigger, faster lens sooooooo bad.

crow in cherry tree

crow in cherry tree

after she finished eating, she cleaned off her beak on a branch. how i wish i could have gotten closer.
crow grooming


there were birds today

and luckily, i had my camera with me.

on the way to the CSA farm in Kimberton, i saw an amazing gathering of waterfowl.

duckpond

and then my favorite bird came by to see what the ruckus was all about

turkey vulture

turkey vulture

and when i got to the farm, the chickens were all hiding under the old rusted cart in the chicken yard.

chicken yard

it was a good day.


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