These silly sea gulls provide both charm and agitation to the life of a plein air painter. After many days (years) of painting in the presence of Gulls, I learned at least 5 interesting things about them.
1. They know who is friend or foe. If you feed them they don’t dive bomb your floppy hat and leave you a present. If you ignore them they do! They learn to get close if you let them alone. They have a very good memory.
2. Young gulls start out brown not white. They are taught in a school by older birds and protected until they are almost grown.
3. Seagulls go very far inland and search for food in “dry” places too. They dwell around very small ponds too if there is food. Most like to live and nest on high bluffs or buildings.
4. Seagulls are very good swimmers and divers, and float just as well as a duck. They are a very smart bird, sometimes using bread crumbs to “fish”, attracting small fish to the surface to then dive on and grab for supper.
5. Seagulls can be found very late in the fall in Duluth, then one day they just vanish. I do know they are considered a migratory bird, and fly south for the winter. Although they live in flocks they migrate more haphazardly than ducks or geese and forage along shorter flights paths in steps until they find enough warmth and food. They are habitual and return to many same locations yearly.
Pen and Ink on illustration board 8″x10″ Rapidograph Tech Pen.
Graceful seagull in flight; they are a joy to watch and both fun and funny characters to sit and observe. Catching them with a pencil sketch and later converting to pen and ink works best. Grabbing photo research helps, but there is nothing like watching and sketching to get the feeling of how much they enjoy flying. Makes you want to stretch your arms out and try. If you watch the children watching the birds, they mimic their flight with out stretched arms and share their popcorn to encourage the joy. Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota – one of the best places to see both children at play and birds at work.
Seagulls Swarm – Watercolor on W/C paper 8″x10″ (2005)
Seagulls swarm over a popcorn-tossing audience, a common occurance in Canal Park, Duluth, Minnesota and probably everywhere else there are seagulls.
Capturing these birds in plein air style is very tough. It takes several boxes of popcorn to keep them near enough to sketch; first one bird, then another to represent the flock in action.
I paid a kid to keep feeding them while I sketched for about 30 minutes. Later, I just started photographing them and trying to illustrate them in the studio. On site is more “real,” but studio illustrating from reference photos makes more accurate bird images.
If you wear a hat and keep feeding them, they don’t drop things from the sky on you. I have watched them try to get popcorn from some people who ignore them and they will send their own special message to them. Yep! They know who is going to feed them, and who needs a lesson.
\Geese Pairs Heading South (Illustrated 2013) Crow Quill pen with India Ink on Crescent Illustration board 7.5″x10″.
After living in Minnesota for many years, the geese in flight and their honking arrivals and departures, have become a familiar bird watching experience. It is always exciting to watch and also to illustrate. Geese are a messy bird and some would say a bother. True, if they are on your front lawn, but in the air they are magnificent. This bird mates for life and flock as a group for life as well. Wildlife painting requires good research information and observation, sometimes seeing the geese fly gives enough inspiration to go do the research or get the camera, or sketch pad out. Bird watching is not only a great and popular hobby, it is a great wildlife painter pleasure too!
Graphic Designer / Digital Artist & Photographer. I love Nature, Animals, Tropical Sun, Bright Colors...I am eclectic, chameleonic, and love to pass through different styles and to use Bright, Bold, Exotic Colors!...but my Dark Side is not so far...