I’ve been fortunate this past week to have had enough time to make some progress on this painting. As promised, I began work on the nest. There’s a lot to it, a lot of inter-woven branches going this way and that. Some diving deep into the mass, others poking out and away. All of it tangled – but very well constructed and suited to the task of protecting eggs and eventually young chicks. Ospreys use their nests year after year, making repairs as necessary. They build nests on manmade structure such as telephone poles and special platforms constructed just for that purpose. These platforms have been instrumental in helping to re-establish Ospreys after steep declines in their populations due to DDT use in the early 1900’s. DDT was banned in the 1970’s and Osprey populations began to re-build.
The nests are built out of stick, vines, bark and anything else the birds can find. Usually the male brings all the materials and the female builds the nest. The nests start out at about 2 and one half feet in diameter and six inches deep, but can increase in size to nearly 12 feet deep and up to 6 feet wide after years of use and additions.
My first task was to fill in all the darkest areas, and in doing so, give some three dimensional form to the nest. I used dark sepia FC and burnt umber FC over all of the left side of the nest, the part in shade, as per the tonal drawing. Next, I filled in all the deepest recesses between the twigs and branches using the same two colors. The darks wrapped around the bottom of the nest also and in doing so, defined the masses of foliage in front. As I worked toward the right side I filled in only the deepest areas because the sunlight is impacting this side more. Using additional colors (warm greys I and II, raw umber, cream, white, raw ochre, black) I started to give form to the myriad branches that formed the nest.
I’ll continue with these colors, working each of the twigs and branches, giving them three dimensional form and adding cracks, splits, little worm holes and whatever to make them realistic looking. It seems to be subjective exercise, working on each branch, darkening here, sharpening there, adding highlights and deepening shadows until it feels right.
Work In Progress: Osprey: Lover’s Key, Florida Update 12
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