Female Eastern Bluebird Transparent Watercolor & Time-Lapse Video

Female Eastern Bluebird on Hawthorn (7x10 inch transparent watercolor on Arches 140lb HP paper)

Female Eastern Bluebird on Hawthorn (7×10-inch transparent watercolor on Arches 140lb HP paper)

Female Eastern Bluebird on Hawthorn (4.5x3 inch detail from 7x10 inch transparent watercolor)

Female Eastern Bluebird on Hawthorn (4.5×3-inch detail from 7×10-inch transparent watercolor)

I finished this painting in May but am just now (finally) getting it posted. I’ve not been idle though. I’ve been busy on a complicated painting that I’ll share soon.

Like most people, I love bluebirds. I’ve painted the brilliantly colored males before but never had gotten around to attempting to render the subtle beauty of the female. Many female birds have similarly understated coloration, and it’s a difficult thing to render. Bright backgrounds can make their muted colors seem boring and undersaturated. In this painting I chose to go with a fairly low-key background color that would make the female’s colors seem to have a bit more zip by comparison. I also set out to give the background a blurry depth of field effect. That’s really easy to pull off in airbrush but harder to control with watercolor washes.

When I was a kid growing up in western New York in the 70’s, Eastern Bluebirds weren’t abundant, despite being the State Bird. Truthfully, I don’t remember coming across them at all. The populations had plummeted due to competition for nesting sites from European Starlings, House Sparrows, House Wrens and Tree Swallows.

Ages ago I read a fascinating article about efforts to bring the Eastern Bluebird back to New York. Apparently, switching to fence posts and road signs made of metal rather than wood had caused a big decline. Previously, the bluebirds nested in the decaying wood of the abundant posts as well as natural tree cavities. Researchers in Minnesota found that Eastern Bluebirds took readily to predator-proof nesting boxes in orchards, pastures and backyard habitats. As a result of human efforts to place and monitor nest boxes, Eastern Bluebird populations have rebounded throughout their original range.

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