Next up on the easel is a pair of Trumpeter Swans. We've had the pleasure of observing these beautiful swans up close this winter. The largest waterfowl in North America, overhunting had virtually eliminated these magnificent birds from Ontario by 1886. In 1982 a restoration program began in Ontario and now their numbers are estimated to be upwards of a 1000 now. I'm starting with this rough sketch, working with a number of different reference photos that Judy and I took, to figure out the overall placement and composition.
Progress so far on my Trumpeter Swans. The challenge for me with many of my paintings involving waterfowl, is the water. I'll often spend days working in the patterns of light, reflections, movement and flow to get it just right.
The water is coming along and I've started working in details of the tree trunk. Adding in some fallen down branches and grasses to break up the river bank and add a little more interest. Next comes the swans. The morning we visited these swans was a beautiful sunny day with lots of sun light coming in from the left of the painting. This lighting will come in handy as I try to add some depth to these predominantly white birds.
One swan nearing completion. Although it's difficult to tell which is the male (cob) v.s. the female (pen), in my head, the one on the left is the cob. Being on the alert is typical of the males, and I see this one being more focused on what's happening to his left (actually a group of other swans). Now it's time to work on the pen.
Trumpeter Swans, 16"x20". The final detail work completed on the female swan, working in some more highlights and shadows to bring depth to the swans. It's always a challenge painting a white subject against a white background and one of the things I've learned from other artists is that the key to achieving this is to look closely at nature. Rarely is something pure white or completely black and so I try to avoid using them in my paintings.
These swans were a lot of fun to paint and it's great that they are making a comeback here in Ontario and across North America from being on the endangered species list. It shows that there is hope for all other endangered animals.