Stepping out onto the deck to refill a feeder was surprised to see a cedar waxwing fly into the tangle of dry brown wisteria vines growing over the arbor just about three feet from me. It had left it’s flock, which was sipping water at the pond’s edge, in order to get a closer look at what I was doing, or so it seemed. It looked straight at me, seemed unafraid, and let me get a long delightful look. What an elegant bird-the smooth plumage blending perfectly from lemon yellow to baked caramel brown, the vivid black mask, the top-knot raised high and fluttering in the breeze, the early morning sun warming up the east side and throwing the west side into cool shadow. I memorized the sight, did a little retinal burn, held onto it until I could get inside and grab a sketch book, where I did a very generalized memory sketch.
Next, I cleaned up the outlines and checked the proportions against some photo reference I had handy in my scrap file.
There was a lot of tweaking and muttering, trying to get the bill right, trying not to lose the freshness of the original sketch, and finally a bit of rendering and shadowing to show the light source. Now I have a nice little beginning for a future painting. What great luck – having a lovely bird pose for me nearly at arm’s length!