Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Studying Storks

White Storks in Poland 8.5" x 11" pencil

As I have been watching several nests of storks in Poland and Germany, and one nest of black storks in Germany, like many others, I became fascinated with their grace, strength, loyalty, and abilities. High up in their huge nests, they swooped in to balance on the edge of their lofty home, tidied up the nest, touched and rolled the eggs, endured strong winds, heat, and even attacks from another stork. An online group has been sharing information and events as the eggs approached time for hatching, and the subsequent efforts of the parent storks to care for their babies.
I couldn't help but think of the old cartoon at the movies in which an elephant was tricked into sitting on a bird's nest while Mama bird was out having a good time. Through fair weather and foul, the elephant sat there, waiting for the mother bird to return. The elephant would say, "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant's faithful, 100%." These storks have certainly been faithful.
But in one nest, which was online as a school project, there was sad news, and now there is an almost empty nest. Out of 4 eggs, two eggs hatched. A third egg hatched, but the baby died before getting all the way out of the egg. The last egg has not yet hatched. Then, one baby got sick and died. A crew went in and took the dead baby and removed the remaining living baby to go to a veterinary hospital. An autopsy revealed that fungi had attaked the nest. The remaining baby is undergoing treatment now. The nest was disinfected and there were plans to take a baby from a zoo in Poznan so the parents would have a little one to raise and migrate to Africa with, when the time came. But it was decided not to try that plan, thinking that the parents might kill the strange baby.
One stork did return to the nest. He really had a lost look about him. I guess it was a him. I really can't tell. Maybe one stork flew off in grief, looking for the babies, or just gave up and moved on. One stork went back to the nest, not knowing what else to do.
Looking at the empty nest was really sad.
I didn't know much about storks, and really had not looked at them much, but, once I started drawing during a couple of evenings, I did about 14 sketches. I need to do more. They really are beautiful creatures, and very interesting to watch.
I don't usually draw animals, but I think that these drawings turned out pretty well. Sometimes, I could swear that those storks were posing for me, or looking at me! They made excellent models.
Most of the time, I think that I can't really do justice to beautiful animals. Sometimes, my animals have the expressions of people, or a cartoon look. Other times, they turn out very well. I usually try to capture animals with a camera, if I see something I really like; but, occasionally, I do try my hand at drawings or paintings with interesting poses. I had to sketch these storks, if I wanted to capture them, because I couldn't take a picture over the internet. It was certainly good practice for me.
I do need to do some more stork sketches as the babies grow stronger and will fly away before we know it, just like our own children.
The drawing above is of the nest where the babies died. One parent had just flown in and was checking the babies, and turning the unhatched eggs.
I began with a gesture drawing, using a Sanford 314 Draughting pencil. I thought that it should be kept fairly simple, just to capture the pose as other interesting movements were happening about the time I would get a quick sketch done.
By the way, be sure to check out the Links section of my blog. I've listed the websites of some very interesting artists and writers. I know that you will enjoy those. At this point, I am listing websites of people whose work I admire or who have some connection, possibly through their art, to my hometown of Calvert, Texas.
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