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Heatherzart's avatar

A Glimpse of the Past

Scratchboard and Ink
16" x 20"

This is a cormorant, a water bird common to my area for those of you who don't recognize it. They are one of my favorite birds to photograph because of how unique they look up close. It's almost like looking at a dinosaur or a dragon with their bumpy skin, scaled beak and brilliant green eyes. They are very expressive birds and I enjoy just sitting and watching them interact with each other, especially during breeding season. The male and female do a beautiful dance where they intertwine their long necks (not so easy to see in this pose but they do have long necks) and "sing" to each other.
They are actually black birds and my picture here is very blue, the original is not so vibrant, but when the sun shines on their wings the glossy sheen is a blue gray color.
I recently invested in a professional photographer to take new images of all of my work (well the pieces I can still get my hands on anyways). It was money well spent! The new files all represent the work as it looks in real life and so much more of the details can be seen. As of now I've reproduced about half of my inventory - it's an expensive and time-consuming process. And I've been forced to do something I HATE ... dreaded watermarks!! Recent thefts have forced me to reevaluate my views on them so you'll see new files from me with my website strategically placed here and there.
Image details
Image size
1200x960px 498.08 KB
Better Light
Model Super6k
Shutter Speed
1/20 second
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Sep 24, 2012, 10:33:53 AM
© 2012 - 2021 Heatherzart
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SunStateGalleries's avatar
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Overall
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Vision
:star::star::star::star::star-half: Originality
:star::star::star::star-half::star-empty: Technique
:star::star::star::star::star-empty: Impact

I love cormorants, when I visited Morro Bay and SLO these guys were always seen on the sand beds at low tide or roosting on the rocks. They always had the most melancholy calls in the evening!

Vision: Excellent use of colors and detail. The beak is spectacular, I really love how you captured the mosaic like pattern of their beak in the sunlight. The lighting on this is great, it really brings expression to the artwork. The eye looks so real, and the scales around it really bring it to life.

Originality: No one paints these birds. No one. So I love that you chose such a unique animal to include into your gallery, I can only wish that his head was turned slightly more to the viewer, instead of a strict profile. But again, that is a very small preference, the detail you included really makes up for it, because it captures the curious almost mischievous expression of this species.

Technique: While I love the colors, and the detail of the feathers, the overall artwork seems a bit rough to me, not in the sense it looks unfinished, but the feathers look to be almost grainy. When I see these birds their feathers look slick as oil, and there are not many robust highlights to bring that out. However, the subtle lighting on this one makes up for any need for him to be improved much overall.

Impact: Overall, I love this work of yours. Maybe more than others because these birds bring back so many memories and joy from visiting the more northern beaches. Really great job, Heather!
NettieBesos's avatar
5 out of 5. this is incredible. I can only dream of drawing this well. amazing.
Heatherzart's avatar
Thanks so much for a very detailed review! I'm still trying to figure out birds and feathers in particular so I think I'll see some improvement over time. I'm happy to meet someone else who appreciates these birds, why don't more people draw them? They are fascinating!
SunStateGalleries's avatar
You're welcome! I really was surprised when you submitted this, really brought back great memories (:
designer356's avatar
I agree with most of what you said. ^-^
However, when you said "I really love how you captured the mosaic..."
Hold on. Think about it a little...
SunStateGalleries's avatar
I don't understand what you mean (:
AmbergrisElement's avatar
Wow, those details are simply amazing!
ArtofIndigo's avatar
Wow, this is astounding. Scratch board skills off the chart!
This colors are so beautiful!
And as you say, the bird looks indeed a bit prehistoric/dinosaur alike :)
I love it... That looks really really good!
ElwynEllessar's avatar
The details are amazing in this scratchboard! The design in his beak, the texture around his eyes and the edge of the beak, the coloring, and the texture of the feathers is spot on! Incredible job Heather!
Blue-Anima's avatar
I really enjoy the way you render textures. You are extremely skilled.Clap Clap Clap 
TchaikoGret's avatar
Woow, I was sure it was a photography, until I read the traditional art / scratchboard. I love the eye !
Koeskull's avatar
Seriously amazing, everything in your gallery is! What kind of scratchboard and ink do you use? I recently got some scratchboard paper but it doesn't seem like it would hold color well since the underside is glossy. Or is that normal?
Heatherzart's avatar
Thanks!  I use Ampersand scratchbord -… - the paper stuff isn't very good for serious work and it depends on the substrate underneath the ink layer whether it'll take color or not.  Ampersand boards are very good quality and still reasonably priced - they have a nice clay surface under the ink that takes many layers of scratching if you're patient and you use a light hand.  I use Koh-I-Nohr inks to color and the Ampersand ink set.  The Koh inks are a little stronger and I have more options for colors I'm too lazy to mix so I like using them but the Ampersand inks are pretty good as a starter set.  Ink mixes very true to the color wheel so the set will allow you to make every color of the rainbow with a little work ;)
Just make sure that when you lay ink on your board - dilute it first and layer it on - it gets dark FAST and wait until the board's completely dry before scratching again.  All of my pics have 15 - 20 layers of scratching in them with coloring done throughout the whole process.  Patience is key!
Koeskull's avatar
Thank you! I'm very new to it so I'll keep practicing with the paper. I'll definitely try those though!
sciencevsart's avatar
It's a beautiful bird. Your colours are rich and vibrant. The eye is so full of life, blazing with conscuousness, that it almost seems like a photo, or a window.
ParagonofAwesomeness's avatar
this is so beautiful!!! I'm from NZ and I once visited a gannet colony on the side of a cliff. There were THOUSANDS of  them, and some of them were doing courtship dances where they wag their heads about and invert their wings. Have you ever painted any gannets?
mossoak's avatar
Spectacular!  The textures, the colors...jaw dropping!
Costellomunteanu's avatar
____________________AMAZING !!!
WillemSvdMerwe's avatar
Very well executed!
Fajralam's avatar
incredible!!!!!!!!i am very much amazed i have never see such a excellent work before :squee:
LadyCorvidaea's avatar
Absolutely magnificent! I love cormorants! They have such pretty eyes.
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