A Note on the Fly

My new New England spring wardrobe: includes the thinly veiled look...

Spring arrived sometime yesterday, I think, but it’s flowering nicely and greening right up. The blackflies and mosquitoes got the memo and arrived en masse, as did a goodly number of warblers and other feathered eye candy. I got up this morning at the crack of dawn, inspired by Ireland’s National Dawn Chorus Day. In twenty minutes I counted twenty five species, a slow day, relatively speaking, as it’s been raining and that seems to have put a damper on avian enthusiasm. I didn’t even take out the sketchbook- rain puts a damper on paper, too.

I hope they eat blackflies. Two male chestnut sided warblers competing for a small but productive spot of territory in a scrubby, marshy corner of Petersham gave me some good closeup views, which I took advantage of, sketchwise.

It’s just been a carnival of migrants in the last two weeks or so. On territory or just passing through, in waves or just a few at a time- not hard to see in the barely-leafed out treetops- they’re wonderful to watch, and a frustrating but rewarding challenge to draw. Great practice, on the fly.

Bobolinks are great to draw- they aren't shy, and they repeat their sky dance over and over, showing their stuff and singing their crazy hearts out. If I can stop laughing at their wild song and dance, I can manage a few sketches.
Wonderous warblers congregate at a smallish, moss-lined brook; I've been haunting this spot regularly and have gotten great looks at American redstart, black-throated blue and black-throated green, magnolia and parula warblers. Growing in the water: marsh marigolds. On the banks: Virginia bluebells and royal ferns.

8 thoughts on “A Note on the Fly

  1. Becky says:

    Wonderful drawings, even if you call them “on-the-fly.” They are amazing, as usual. Love seeing the unfinished ones, along with the more finished drawings. It’s almost as though we can see your thinking process. Thanks!

  2. Ken Januski says:

    What a breath of fresh air these are! You do have a wonderful way of drawing live birds.

    Just got back from 10-11 days seeing and drawing warblers at Ottawa NWR and Magee Marsh in Ohio. And now I see how much further I still have to go………… I didn’t even TRY to sketch the bobolinks we saw briefly one rainy morning.

  3. kevin says:

    Raining, misting, fogging etc. in RI can’t imagine it is much different in MA. So funny that you posted a picture with the head net. I was going to post something to the effect, to heck with drawing advice how do you deal with black flies, mosquitoes, deer ticks and, the deer flies who are on the way. I guess I have part of the answer. I really appreciate your blog although when I stumbled upon it I was a little taken aback. I felt like I did in college having come up with an idea for a paper, done some research thinking to myself,” heh this is a pretty good idea,” then finding a paper which states the case I was trying to make much more elegantly then I would have been able to do. I don’t know why this sort of thing still surprises me but it does. The motifs you choose in the woods were so much like the ones I was trying to capture and your technique so sparse but complete that it left me gasping. I have since caught my breath and shameless borrowed from you. So I thought I should write and at least say thanks.

  4. Anita says:

    Your New England spring wardrobe looks a lot like ours in Michigan. (smile) I love seeing your sketches–they show what lots and lots of practice can do for a person. I aspire to sketches that look as good as yours.

  5. Mindful Drawing says:

    What a nice sketches.
    The birds are so busy this time of the year. You notice them, you have a look and away they are. They are feeding their young, searching for caterpillars, and digging for worms. I see so many different birds. To sketch them demands a professional eye.

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