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Pa aa se aNd A lavish feast for birders nels lei Duek cull a favourite island PLUS: ARTIST PROFILES ® PHOTO TIPS Wader hotspots Jeal Living in harmony EVENTS GUIDE FRANCISCO J HERNANDEZ | ARTIST SKETCHBOOKS. gue es 3 DRAWN <” TO NATURE The market o wildlife art in Spain is still in its infancy but the country is already producing several talented artists. Here FRANCISCO J HERNANDEZ gives us a glimpse into his working life. AWN BREAKS as I drive my car across the extensive cultivated fields of rice bordering the marshes of the Guadalquivir River, in the south of Spain. I'm lucky to live just an hour from Donana’s National Park in Andalucia where a wealth of bird subjects is. always available, | feel that working from life is always ‘an exciting experience. To observe a bird's ‘movements, its behaviour and colour, while trying to understand how the light moulds its forms ~ these are the things that feed my passion for art, For me field sketches are the start of the cess. In the past I would usually create inished paintings in my studio using my sketchbook material and photographs for 24 BIRD ART & PHOTOGRAPHY reference, but now I often tend to finish ‘works in the field At the beginning ofa typical day I generally spend an hour sketching with pencil in a rapid and free style, looking to capture the fe and s ‘Then I begin my first watercolour painting with more confidence. It is always a very ratifying experience and, if at the end of the day I have some watercolours and seve sketches, I will drive home feeling very Tam a self-taught artist and for years Thad to combine my wildlife art with my profession as a biologist. However, in Spain the interest in wildlife art has started to ‘grow in step with the increasing interest enjoying and conserving nature. Certain| it of the birds in front of n the number of people interested in watching birds is increasing all the time and many Of them are interested in acquiring a work Of art, so nowadays I'm a full-time wildlife artist and illustrator, The publishing world and regional government departments are once again using illustrations in their literature after a long period of almost exclusive use of photography, but Spanish artists still have to work very hard to promote our work, both Inside and outside of our country. ‘The sketches in this article have been produced in Donana’s National Park and in the marshes of the Odiel River during the last three years. I hope you like them and will visit my website at www.avestrazos. com to see more of my work. Ml ‘One of the big challenges when ‘tying to portray species such ‘23 Cormorants sto get the) ‘plumage colour conect, wos) {greatly tracted bythe strong” this er) ‘combined with cosines ofits “plumage. ‘www. ARTIST SKETCHBOOKS | FRANCISCO J HERNANDEZ Yelowsegged Gul iso fastexpanding species in the Mediterranean region s0 there are usually plenty of them wiling fo pose for a passing bic cats In this study of an immature bied. my main concer was 0 ‘aceurately render the beautiful pattem and colours. White Storks are « prominent feature of the Andalucian landscape os they make their large untidy nests on pylons, church towers and other high place. On this particular day, the golden spikes of rice seemed fo bun with the light of the late aftemoon and its colour, together with that of the blue sky, were reflected on the plumage of this White Stork. Right: Shrikes make good subjects for an artistas they will perch {or long periods of time looking out for prey. ‘This Woodcchat Shrike chose a dry branch of an cork oak for hhis look-out and it was interesting to note that while the branch and its body was moving slightly its head remained immobile BIRD ART & PHOTOGRAPHY 25 ‘wun FRANCISCO J HERNANDEZ | ARTIST SKETCHBOOKS ‘The sinuous neck of a Great Flamingo while itis resting is ke a beauitful sculpture, but sometimes its form is cificuit fo interpret. In this case | wes interested fo show the disposition of a whole group, taking ackantage ofthe landscape format of the double page of my notebook. ‘Though the population of Audouin’s Gull hs increased ‘significantly in the Ebro Delta and along the French Mediterranean coasts stil a relatively rare species and ‘generally only appears in Andalucia during the winter, Here | "was interested in the differents plumage pattems of youngsters, immatures and adults resting together during the high tide. 26 BIRD ART & PHOTOGRAPHY Ground-nesting species are always vulnerable fo predation, but ‘Gt least this Little Tern enjoyed a degree of a protection from a. {fence that prevented human disturbance of a breeding colony in Odiels marshes. I find that itis @ good time to draw waders ‘when high tides are covering their feeding ‘grounds because the birds will move into nearby vegetation to roost. At this time they tend not to move around too much, which is just what you ‘want from an aris's model! In this page of sketches I've captured Greenshanks, Redshanks, Black-talled Godwits ‘and Grey Plovers. www