Summer is here, and I’m thinking about pelicans.
When I see a squadron of pelicans flying overhead, it’s so easy to imagine that I am witnessing pterodactyls gliding over a primordial sea. But I can’t keep that serious thought for long because pelicans are just so comical. How can a bird that looks so awkward, and so top heavy, be such a great diver, and fly so near the water with such precision?
So I paint a lot of pelicans. The two images in this post reflect my fascination and indecision about them. The watercolor on the left sports an exaggerated beak and a cheerful, friendly expression. It was a quick sketch, finished with marker and India ink. I really like the friendly expression on this bird, and I’m pleased at how much fun it was to paint this quickie pelican.
In the oil, the pelican draws its color, texture, and movement from the raw power of the ocean. The pelican is painted with an intense eye. At first, I thought he was too intense. And then I decided there may be a little bit of pterodactyl in there, or just enough to remind me of the strength of the ancient bird forms that patrol a relentless sea.