Sunday, August 14, 2011

Picture Story: nectar

I think that illustrations are often self evident. That's why they're illustrations. And that's what I do - I illustrate. So, I realize, when I talk about my work, instead of explaining what is in the picture or why it's there - I tend to talk about how I illustrated it.

So, on to the obvious: "nectar" is a picture of ruby-throated hummingbirds eating the nectar of fuchsia. Ruby-throated hummingbirds are native to the eastern United States, for most of us on this side of the country - they're the only species of hummingbird around. They show up here (in Michigan) in May or June and usually hang around until September, when they fly South for the winter. Ruby-throated hummingbirds have a head and body that are green and a white underbelly, only the males have a ruby-colored throat.

Contrary to the depiction in this picture - this species of hummingbird is very territorial. I have never seen 2 of them aware of each other at the same feeder or plant at the same time. However, you can find videos on youtube of multiple ruby-throats in the same feeding area at the same time coexisting peacefully... that just doesn't happen in my yard.
This clip has music - but this is what it sounds like on the back porch all day long: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twqrrlAEHf8 Just tiny little birds fighting and squawking over the sugar water (often referred to in this household as 'bird koolaid') in the plastic container.
"nectar"


"nectar" was one of my first experiments with coloring over a printed image. The fuchsia in the picture were actual flowers that I photographed. I then edited the backgrounds out of those photos, combined several photos together and adjusted the color on the image I had created. I printed that out and colored over it with prismacolor pencils, and then scanned that and edited it as the base of my illustration. The background is based off one of my photos of the sky. I adjusted the colors and then merged it with a color layer to get it the shade of aqua I wanted.

And the hummingbirds were also an experiment in coloring over a print out. They were originally drawn in pencil. And that was scanned and printed as a blue page — and then inked. And then I colorized the ink outline and printed that out and colored over that in prismacolors, and then scanned that back in and made another print out. I colored over that print out — adding details, and then scanned that back in and 'cut' the hummingbirds out of the background.

And then I added the hummingbirds into the illustration, in a layer that was above the sky but below the fuchsia.





I know, I know, the boring technical stuff is only remotely interesting to me.

Since it's August, I come home from work every morning to the sound of a 'bird fight' taking place on the back patio... and I imagine this squawking and fighting and chasing and otherwise all-out territory dispute goes on until dusk. They're lovely creatures and they're complex.

And when I go out on the back porch to do something I am often reminded that I am interrupting their visit. The hummingbird will just pause and hover and look directly at me, and then jut forward, and pause and look at me again, and then decide whether it's on to the feeder or to quickly buzz off to go sit on the edge of some nearby leaf and wait for me to leave... like as if I'm not the one who keeps making them more bird koolaid or something.

Yes, they're complex creatures.

18 comments:

tinajo said...

Well, I think it´s really interesting since I have NO clue of these things - so keep the tech talk coming..! :-)

Love the birdies, beautiful!

Montanagirl said...

Very interesting post! You went to a lot of trouble to create something that is spectacular. Love it!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

These are so beautiful!

Betsy said...

Beautiful!!!!

And I'm laughing at 'bird koolaid' haha.

My Farmhouse Kitchen said...

beautiful....

happy to see you at farmhouse kitchen

kary

Cheryl said...

I love the final product. So very beautiful. It reminds me of japanese artwork that I have seen.

I was fortunate to see hummingbirds in Kansas City last year when I visited blogging friends. Wonderful experience, will never for get it.

Bob Bushell said...

You have made them beautiful, I love 'em.

Marie said...

Lovely!
xx Marie

Hilary said...

Three favourites in one post.. flower, bird and artist.

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

I always wondered how you achieved some of the results you show us. I find it very interesting -- but I also admire your artistic talent in drawing. These are amazing illustrations, Sarah. :)

S. Etole said...

It all sounds very complicated, but I like the results.

gretchenmist . . . {belinda} said...

wow, it's gorgeous. i like reading about the tech side of things :)

Amibeth said...

I guess its the nerdy side coming through, but the process is as beautiful, and interesting, as the end result. Nice work!

Georgianna said...

It's a beautiful image, Sarah. Gorgeous colors!

We are lucky to have hummingbirds all year but I do have to be careful to keep the feeder filled and thawed during winter. Ours don't fight so much, though. Have a great week.

Brandi said...

I love the description of your process + the result is beautiful! We would love for you to share some of your work on our site as a part of our project, if you're interested! http://www.mobileartlounge.com

Kelly said...

..it's so cool how you do all of the techie stuff. I don't know how to do any of it. One of these days I'll try and learn. You create such beautiful art...

Becca said...

Beautiful!

Dave said...

Amazing pictures Sarah, specially considering the effort you put into producing them - Dave