Warblers in winter’s colours

I’m just wrapping up the last of the warblers I have been working on drawing for the forthcoming book Niagara Birds, edited by John Black and Kayo Roy. The project has been a bit more of an undertaking than I had originally anticipated when I agreed to do it, I certainly had expected to have them all finished by now. But, well, it’s so easy to get caught up in other projects or diversions, chores and errands, and before you know it time has slipped away. I was also amazed at how challenging some of the warblers were to depict in black-and-white, something I hadn’t considered until I actually sat down to do them. So much of how we identify warblers is through their colours, such that those species that lack conspicuous markings are difficult to actually make look like the species they’re supposed to be.

I’ve put the originals up for sale at my online shop on Etsy – better they hang on a wall than languish hidden away in a folder somewhere, and I’ve only got so much wall space in my own house. (I also won’t turn my nose up at some compensation for the time put into them.) A friend of mine tipped me off to Etsy, which is a great forum for artists, artisans and crafters to sell their wares, a virtual craft fair or one-of-a-kind-show without all the travel expenses. Even if you’re not interested in my drawings, be sure to check out the rest of the site, there’s plenty of cool crafts and amazing art to browse through!

Once these are done I start working on preliminary sketches of some blackbirds for a field guide to Brazil. I had 37 warblers to draw; now I have 58 blackbirds to paint. And just in case I have too much down time on my hands, I’ll also have moth photos to edit for the field guide I’m working on with TheMothMan, hopefully some additional form of income-earning writing (I’m still poking around, sending out investigative feelers on various ideas there), and, of course, this blog to update.

These are a few of my favourites of the warbler drawings, but there are many more up online at my Etsy shop. Feel free to pop over to check them out, or to buy something if you’re interested. An original, one-of-a-kind artwork makes a great gift!


Some shameless self-promotion

Northern Hawk-owl – pencil

I think I’ve mentioned in passing once or twice that aside from maintaining a blog about nature stuff I’m seeing, I do have other pursuits as well. One of these was a post I made way back in March, where I included a sketch I did from the field, of a snow-covered trail. I’d made a semi-resolution to try to do more field sketching this year. Well, I haven’t, just so many other things to do, to look at, to photograph.

Northern Waterthrush – ink

That doesn’t mean I’ve abstained from drawing, however. In fact, I’ve done considerably more this year than I do in an ordinary year. Most of it has been on commission. The primary project that’s been keeping me occupied lately is illustrations for a book on the birds of Niagara County, Ontario, edited by noted Ontario birders Kayo Roy and John Black. The book is currently in process (good thing, or my drawings would be a tad late), and I believe will be published sometime early next year.

Hooded Warbler – ink

I’ve been asked to do the warblers for the book. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no Julie Zickefoose, or Debby Kaspari, at least not yet. Hopefully with a bit more practice, and some more years under my belt, I’ll be drawing like they do. But I still feel that I draw well, and am happy with the works I do. It was an honour to be included in the Niagara Birds project. There’s no up-front compensation for the drawings I do for it, but it will be great exposure for me, and practice, plus I do have the opportunity to sell the originals once they’ve been scanned in by the layout designer.

Black-throated Green Warbler – ink

To this end I’ve set up a storefront at Etsy.com through which my pieces will be available for purchase. I’ve tried to price them fairly – both for myself, in terms of receiving reasonable compensation for the time put into them – but also for the buyer, since I’m still a relative nobody in the art world (perhaps I always will be, or perhaps in twenty years I’ll be the next Robert Bateman – okay, I’ll probably never be a Bateman, but it’s nice to fantasize).

Bay-breasted Warbler – ink

My shopkeeper name there is simply Seabrooke, and the store address is Seabrooke.etsy.com. In addition to the Niagara warblers, I also have a pencil drawing there that I did for the Ontario Field Ornithologists’ October issue of OFO News, and a few gouache paintings that I did last year for my own enjoyment. I’ll be putting up the rest of the warblers as they get done and scanned in for the book, as well as other works where I have the original to sell. I invite my readers to swing by and check them out if interested.

Yellow-rumped Warbler – ink