The Rain King

“When I think of Heaven, deliver me in a black-winged bird
I think of dying, lay me down in a field of flame and heather
Render up my body into the burning heart of God
In the belly of a black-winged bird” The Counting Crows, “Rain King

The WV Botanic Garden Project: Birds of the Garden Series. Next up is :

The Red Winged Blackbird.

I no sooner started sketching this bird when a song came to mind from The Counting Crows. It has since played in a continuous loop in my head. I am going to need to listen to it while I work.

It all began with sketching the bird from a reference photo courtesy of Tim J. Hopwood.

I first painted a base layer of color then applied multiple layers of black to get the depth of color needed for the bird. I mixed my own black using primary colors of yellow, blue, and red. I finished by adding a light wash of iridescent Daniel Smith Blue to the underside of the wing to give it a highlight. It was the first opportunity I have had to use the iridescent paints and I thought it might be a nice pop of color on a painting for the children’s series. What I learned is it does not come off if you decide you want to lighten it any. Once it’s on, it’s on for good.

I see red winged blackbirds often on my walks. There is a marshy area on the trail where lots of cattails grow. They like to nest there among the cattails. Being an aggressive bird, there is no hesitation in telling you to keep your distance. I always look for them though, and enjoy seeing the flashes of red in their wings.

I started this post with a few lines from the song titled ‘The Rain King”. And just in case you have never hear this song or need a little kick start to your Monday, here it is from YouTube:



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