I’ve had an idea in my head for a couple months now – I’ve been calling it the “Thrush Family Portrait”. Most people are very familiar with our common thrush in North America, the American Robin, but may not know the others in the family.
I love thrushes – they are amazing vocalists and such a big part of my #birding experience in the spring. The sound of a Wood Thrush on a misty morning is magical. We commonly see five species of thrushes in spring migration in my part of the world (Hermit, Swainson’s, Wood, Gray-cheeked and Veery). At first glance, you may think they all look alike, but upon closer examination they have, in some cases, some very subtle differences that I just had to paint.
I recently spent an afternoon at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto dedicated to sketching specimens of the five species from the vast collection of birds. From there, I pieced together a “family portrait” in my travel journal. The first incarnation (which has since been erased) looked very much like a posed portrait and not at all interesting. Dipping into my experience in the field, I created a scene like those I’ve seen from my office window – birds interacting with each other, moving in different directions. Here are the sketches and the start of the painting process. The colours will be added to the birds in the next week.