Monday, October 10, 2011

A Chestnut-sided Warbler to the rescue...

Posted by Kelly Riccetti

Hello! This is my first time to post on Birding is Fun, so I'd like to start by thanking Robert for inviting me to be a contributor. It's very exciting (and intimidating) to be part of such a wonderful group of photographers and writers! Because of that, it was hard for me to decided what to post, but I shouldn't have worried because a little Chestnut-sided Warbler flew up and came to the rescue. Since I was birding with Robert when he spotted his 400th bird (a Chestnut-sided Warbler, of course!), I decided to spotlight Robert's accomplishment and create a little bird art to remember the event. If you've ever stopped by my blog, Red and the Peanut, you know I sometimes like to experiment with style and technique when I paint, so that's what I did here. I never know what will happen when I do that--sometimes the paintings turn out sweet and pretty...and sometimes they turn out grungy and wild. Looks like we ended up a little grungy and wild with this batch...

...this painting started as a mild-mannered watercolor. It was minding its own business and was behaving itself too, but it was a little boring, so I took pen & ink to it (outlining and stippling)...and then rubbed charcoal over it! As if that wasn't enough, I then scanned the painting and ran the file through a quick PhotoShop filter to come up with this "tough bird." The bird we saw in September wasn't quite as colorful as this bird because it was molting into its non-breeding plumage, but I decided if you're going to paint a Chestnut-sided Warbler you might as well put him in his springtime best, especially if he's a tough bird!

...sketchbook drawing for the previous painting.

...again, I started with a normal watercolor, but this time while the paint was wet, I sprinkled in salt to create the mottled background...then outlined and stippled with ink...added a course rub with charcoal...and topped it off by running it through a PhotoShop filter. This was the first time I ever used a PhotoShop filter on a painting. I like the result. (If you want to try putting charcoal over a painting, use a rough watercolor paper that has a lot of tooth and go lightly.)

...sketchbook drawing for the previous painting. I drew this guy in the hotel the evening Robert hit #400 (we were at the Midwest Birding Symposium). I used a photo from a post I did back in 2009 for my reference. oil pastel over a quick watercolor painting (this is my favorite--I always love grungy oil pastels with lots of pigment). No practice sketch with this one. I just "winged" it...I always wing my oil pastels!

Robert tweeting out that he just hit #400! Yeah!


  1. Wow, beautiful bird art ... all of the pieces! You truly are a gifted artist.

    Congratulations to Robert on his 400th!

  2. @Kelly - Thanks so much for commemorating that experience with fantastic artwork. I'm honored to have you on the BiF! team.

  3. Absolutely stunning. What a beautiful art work to stumble on first thing on a Monday morning. Thanks for sharing your gift with us.

  4. Fantastic work Kelly! All of them are cool, but that last one is my favorite.

  5. Kelly, I am so glad to see you on Birding Is Fun! You are such a talented birder and artist, Robert is a lucky guy to have you on his team!

    Your Chestnut-sided Warbler is gorgeous! I love all three pieces and couldn't pick a favorite, no matter how hard I tried.

  6. All I can say is WOW Kelly! The one that you did in the hotel at MBS is amazing!

  7. Kelly, so cute and so informative as well. I always like to see the process. I can't decide which painting is my favorite. You do such a great job capturing their personalities!

    Oh, and Robert looks cute too!

  8. Absolutely gorgeous! I am so envious of your talent. I feel Robert's joy! I hit #300 this weekend and thought I was the cat's pajamas!

  9. Julie G...thank you! Robert was really excited--a great accomplishment!

    ...thanks for inviting me, Robert! :-)

    Julie W...thank you! It was fun experimenting with this little warbler!! :-)

    Jeremy....Thank you! I think I'm with you. I really like the freedom with the last one.

    ...thank you, Larry!! You are always so nice...

    Rob...thank you! We still need to get out birding. I had breakfast with Corky the other day and we talked about that road trip!

    Kathie...thank you! Haha! Robert was cute with his excitement at hitting #400. You've had a whirlwind of birds this summer too from what I've been reading on your blog! Congrats on your growing list too.

    KaHolly...300 birds!! Yeah!!!! That's a great milestone. I need to get tracking with eBird. That would help me keep track.

  10. Very nice! You captured the bubbly and anxious personality of the warbler very well.

    Congratulations on 400 birds Robert. I assume you...warbled with joy?