Frances’s Inspiration: “Jerrabomberra Wetlands in the ACT is a wonderful bird watching spot. I often go there to gather reference and was lucky enough to photograph these stunning birds perched on a native bottlebrush. Fairy-wrens are incredibly quick and prefer dense cover, so I had to wait patiently for them to make an appearance a little more in the open, unfettered by dense cover and shadow. I was undecided as to whether or not to depict both male and female, but eventually settled on painting two males, which provided a bit more “pop” to the overall colour and tonal scheme. The multitude of narrow leaves took about three times as long as the birds to paint. Masking fluid makes life easier, but I cannot use it because it destroys the surface of museum board on removal. This only leaves one option: to paint around lighter areas in the traditional way. This sharpens technique unlike anything else! Extremely dimorphic, male fairy-wrens moult into female-like plumage at the end of summer. Interestingly, only older males over four or five years old retain their nuptial plumage year-round”.
Original artwork by Frances McMahon.
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