I recently joined a Facebook group where members contribute photographs for artists to use as references. If you’re interested, here’s the link: Free Photo References for Artists. This isn’t the only group on Facebook. A quick search will turn up several active groups.
I no sooner joined and began to scroll when I came across a lovely photo of a merganser. Immediately, I decided to paint it — or, well, that is, to at least try to paint it. The August “bird day” was coming up, and I wanted something to share.
I also wanted to challenge myself. With one look at the photo, I recognized that painting this merganser would be far above my technical skills. The bird’s fate would probably be similar to that of Poor Mr. Partridge, the woeful, misshapen bird I attempted to paint soon after I first tried oils.
So it was that I was actually a bit pleased with the results. My drawing skills are improving. Mr. Merganser looks like a duck — at least from a distance. I don’t know whether he quacks like a duck or walks like a duck, but he does swim like one.
Look! You can even see the bird’s reflection in the water, and with a little imagination, you can see a few ripples. Although he’s nothing to brag about, he’s a sight better than Poor Mr. Patridge, and painting him was a good experience for me.
It was a quick project. I saw the photo, I drew it out on my canvas, and I painted it — all within a very short time. One day soon I might try doing a more serious oil painting of one of our fine feathered friends. For now, I just wanted to have a little fun while I challenged myself to do something I didn’t think I could do.
Mr. Merganser came out better than I’d expected, and if it looks like a duck, it surely must be one!