The Red-tailed Hawk- A Second Attempt

by Bryce W. Robinson

Red-tailed Hawk- Buteo jamaicensis. 11x15" watercolor on paper.

After painting the Red-tailed Hawk the other day, I had an unsettling feeling of dissatisfaction. Interestingly enough, the same day Ron Dudley posted an incredible photo of a Red-tailed Hawk in dramatic lighting on his blog Feathered Photography. The photo captured the character and beauty of the bird, and truly paid due respect and honor to the creature. I am always taken aback by Ron’s work, and after seeing his photograph, I realized that I needed to make a second attempt at the Red-tailed Hawk.

My problem with the previous image was form and proportion. I wanted the hawk looking directly forward, locking eyes and directly engaging the viewer. This is a difficult exercise, and I failed in creating a natural looking bird. True, I did misrepresent the lighting with the shadowing, but I believe the bird itself did not look entirely real. This was the basis for my dissatisfaction. Some may say art does not need to present realistic images to be successful, but my goals at the moment are to develop the ability to illustrate birds as one may see them in the wild. If I am hyper-critical of my work, and feel the need to repeat a subject time and again until I feel satisfied, it will only further me towards developing the abilities I desire.

My attempt today presents the bird in a more natural pose, and I feel satisfied with the outcome. Although an easier way to paint the bird, I recognize the limitations of my skill at present, and will need to wait until I get some experience under my belt before attempting anything too crazy. For now, I feel the need is to practice, and paint tirelessly.