Straight after completing Dee Dee the gorilla, I had a commissioned painting to do. This one was quite a battle in that firstly I ended up painting the background at least 5 times before I got something I was happy with. Then the bird itself was uncooperative… or maybe, it was me. I think that perhaps my desire to want to paint Botswana pieces was blocking my creative flow to get on with this painting; despite it being of such an impressive bird. But finally I got there and I am happy with the result; it is a beautiful bird with that lovely blue and white lacy crest, deep maroon chest feathers contrasting with the blue grey back and wings and amazing brilliant red eyes. I did enjoy painting it, despite the struggle... or perhaps, because of it. I wanted to show off that wonderful crest on its head, so I decided to back light the subject against a darkish background as if caught in a shaft of light in its lowland forest home. Luckily we have had this species at the zoo for quite a few years, so I have been able over a long period of time to get some good reference photo's (cos you just never know if one day you'll get asked to paint one!) and see the bird move and stand in real life.
I had to get the painting finished and delivered before the middle of July, as it was a present and being given at a party towards the end of July. I haven’t posted this before now, as I wanted to make sure the recipient had received it before I posted the image online.
The painting is A3 sized, gouache on watercolour paper. The bird, a favourite of the person it was presented to, is the world’s largest pigeon and lives in northern New Guinea. I’m guessing it stands about 44cms (17”) tall (its size is given as 74cms (29” long) and weighs approx 2,384 grams (5.3 lbs) as an adult. Quite a substantial bird and therefore, unsurprisingly, it has a deep booming sound as part of its call repertoire - you can make a similar sound by blowing across the top of an empty bottle.