Every artist has their own way of putting a piece together, but the elements are pretty consistent with all: observation, sketching, and gathering reference material. In 2008, I was in Estero, Florida for an exhibit. I made a trip to the wildlife sanctuary at Tarpon Bay, on Sanibel Island, and was able to observe, sketch and photograph several species of water birds not native to my home state of Illinois. The white ibis is a strange looking bird, and it isn’t very large. I was able to photograph them as they moved about the dock and shallow waters nearby. I choose three photos for the composition and made three separate simple sketches of them on transparent paper.
Next, I searched the water reference photos I had taken and chose one I wanted to use.
Using the three separate sketches, I placed the birds in various positions on my board and moved them about until I was satisfied with the composition. I painted the water first (before I transferred the birds to the canvas), so I would be better able to place the birds relative to the water. Once the background was dry, I layed my transparencies on the painting for placement, transferred the sketches to the canvas and painted the birds and foreground.
“The Beach Boys” has been included in several exhibitions nationally and was one of three paintings chosen for the catalogue cover of the Judith Ryan Williams Wildlife and Nature Art Show in St. Augustine, FL in 2011. View a larger image of The Beach Boys