Artist Judy Boyd uses color, composition and meticulous attention to detail in her unique and fascinating watercolor bird portraits. Visit her website to see more.
In a fast-paced urban existence, birds are a touchstone to nature. They fly in and out of our consciousness, making a stop at a feeder, taking a walk or swim in the park, resting on utility wires, nesting in a tree outside our window.
Flowing with the seasons, birds are the ultimate nomads. They always leave us wishing for a bit more of their time and looking forward to their return. I paint them to connect. I paint them to remember.
I started working with watercolor at the same time that I started painting birds. I’ve learned a lot about both during my fifteen year (and ongoing) ornithological exploration. During this time, I’ve traveled around the United States and to Belize, Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador to see, photograph, and paint birds.
While photographic realism is not my goal, I do want the species of the bird to be recognizable in my paintings. After that’s accomplished, I feel comfortable taking some artistic license with colors, patterns, and textures.
The detail in my work is all done with a brush. I use a dry brush technique because I like the control it gives me. I love fine detail and take every opportunity to explore repeating shapes and patterns in the feathers.
I also like the layering and transparency that watercolor affords. I paint each bird numerous times, building the shapes from light to dark, little by little.
I don’t usually paint a lot of habitat because I don’t like it to take the focus away from the bird. Instead, I often use my fanciful borders to tell some of the story about where the bird lives.
The blue-green border on the American Flamingo painting, for example, represents the cyanobacteria that turn flamingos pink when they eat it.
The Green Heron is surrounded by the fish it is hunting. The border on the African Kori Bustard is inspired by Maasai tribal designs. The tropical Wood Stork is framed by bamboo.
What’s next? I’m currently working on a series of threatened/endangered birds. I hope to focus attention on the plight of the birds and other animals that must share their world with a human population of more than 7 billion today, 9 billion by 2040.