Monday, August 15, 2011

California Brown Pelican

"Pelican #1"
oil on panel, 2011
6" x 8" (15.24cm x 20.32cm)
private collection

The California Brown Pelican is found all up and down our coast and in the 1970's was in danger of becoming extinct due to DDT, a pesticide.

Pelicans with their huge beaks appear gangly but are so graceful in flight. Simple subject, simple design.
The challenge with the single object is trying to avoid the  'clump'  or  'bullet hole' smack dab in the middle of a composition.

Fortunately birds, with their wings especially, make the design easier to manage. Even centered this configuration allows for a more dynamic composition of angles and interesting shapes.

After that not much more was needed. I put the lightest value along the bottom to put air underneath the pelican and provide a visual 'lift' and subtly echoed the head and feather shapes in the darker clouds to set up an opposing angle to the two wings.
Cool light from above, warm shadow or reflected light from below.126

Click on image for larger view

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