15 December 2013

Callipepla californica

I said in my last post that I wanted to try painting another bird, but I didn't anticipate how soon. My friend Cindy had her 60th birthday today, and as well as being born (?) and raised in California, she also works for the California State Library, so I decided that a painting of the California state bird might be an appropriate birthday gift. Unfortunately, I ended up having to miss her party, so she has yet to receive it, but since she doesn't read my blog (that I know of!), I decided to go ahead and post it. Hope this isn't a spoiler!

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,
The California Quail is a handsome, round soccer ball of a bird with a rich blue-gray breast, intricately scaled underparts, and a curious, forward-drooping, comma-shaped topknot. Its stiffly accented Chi-ca-go call is a common sound of the chaparral and other brushy areas of California and the Northwest. Often seen scratching at the ground in large groups or dashing forward on blurred legs, California Quail are common but unobtrusive. They usually travel in groups called coveys. Their flight is explosive but lasts just long enough to reach cover.
This was a fun, though complex, bird to paint. I love his bright eye and cheerful goofy head plume, and his beautiful, subtle colors. The "intricately scaled underparts" were a challenge, and I have to say that I phoned in the detail a bit, but I think the feeling of the feather pattern is conveyed. I overworked the background, but when do I not? Someday I'll learn to let things be instead of going in just one more time!

A final note (no pun intended): While the quail's call does have three syllables, I wonder whether some homesick transplanted Illinois ornithologist decided that "Chicago" is what this guy is saying--I sure don't hear that! See if you do: Here is a link to the various sounds the quail makes.