At least once a week I try to go and sketch outside and the weather is lovely at the moment so this afternoon I went to the lake to do a larger sketch of a clump of trees by the shore. I love working in charcoal, it is responsive and messy, a real welcome change from the waxy hard coloured pencils. This is 20 x 25 inches, charcoal and white chalk on a warm grey Ingres paper. I´m not very keen on Ingres paper and started working on the textured side by mistake which I like even less because of its mechanical looking surface but it was nice to work on a larger scale today.
I had the usual accompaniment of critics, jeering from the trees around me, mostly grackles which I wrote about before, perching sometimes just a foot way, all glossy and smart. When not screeching they have a disconcerting "uh oh" noise like some insufferable know-all's " I wouldn't do that" comment, looking over your shoulder just as you are about to make a huge mistake. They sat by me, above me and below me squawking, "I wouldn't put that mark there if I were you", noises for about an hour. A pair of mallards was pottering about in the water at the foot of the trees, so happy and so sweet together.
The little ghostly blue heron was also silently patrolling up and down, quietly stalking its prey of dragonflies and little fish. Also known as the 'levee walker' it is the Italian greyhound of the bird world, delicate and fragile with twig thin legs, looking as though it has been carefully crafted from the finest and softest dusty blue suede. When you sit for long enough the birds come very close and I was able to do some more sketches of the heron.
This little bird is not so difficult to draw from life as it moves quite slowly and hesitantly and covers the same patch of floating marsh grass, up and down, delicately picking up its huge feet and gently placing them down again, almost walking on the water.