Friday, July 12, 2013

Scrub Jay

Diane Mannion, #86 Scrub Jay, 6x6" oil

This scrub jay landed near my paintbox at Venice beach, Florida looking for a hand-out.  Signs all around said, "Do Not Feed the Scrub Jays!"   But it was a popular picnic spot and I'm sure folks dropped a crumb or two, so this bird was pretty tame and seemed to like posing for my camera.

Notice how many bracelet-like bands he had on his legs!  Scrub jays are cherished birds down here.  The Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) is the only endemic species native to Florida!  It's also an endangered species.  Birders travel from all over the world to see them.  Unfortunately, they are easily tamed by feeding which causes major harm to their breeding cycle.  And also, scrub jays that are fed by humans will reproduce earlier in the year than those that are not.  The problem is... fledgling scrub jays need to feed on caterpillars present in late spring.  If they hatch too early they will starve.  Sad.  I never knew this.  Now I'll have to explain it to my neighbors that like to hold up peanuts for them to eat.

The scrub jay, like the crow, is a bold and curious bird attracted to shiny objects and tempted to steal!  Perhaps, the silver glint from my paintbrush handle caused him to land nearby.  And no, I did not feed him!

This sign on a nearby roadway always makes me smile!  As if scrub jays didn't know how to fly!

Artist note:  Took the reference photo for this painting a few years ago and knew I wanted to use it... but wasn't ready technically.  This happens often, I'll take a great reference photo but can't quite figure out how to make a painting from it.  Then years later, I get braver, or feel I'm more capable technically and give it a shot.   And like I say over and over about painting from photos..."Don't be a giant copy machine!"  So, I changed a lot of the information in the scrub jay photo, especially in the background.  I'm pleased that this scrub jay painting has taken on a life of its own.

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