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Gurney Journey

This daily weblog by Dinotopia creator James Gurney is for illustrators, plein-air painters, sketchers, comic artists, animators, art students, and writers. You'll find practical studio tips, insights into the making of the Dinotopia books, and first-hand reports from art schools and museums.

gurneyjourney.blogspot.com

Don't Wake the Rooster

Don't Wake the Rooster
If you’re going to sketch an animal, it had better be either sleeping or hypnotized.

I went to the chicken house yesterday at the Dutchess County Fair looking for a sleeping rooster. I’ll need some practice painting feathers if I’m going to make those feathered dinosaurs look right.

The chicken house has long rows of cages stacked on top of each other. The air smells like guano, and most of the birds are preening and fussing or crowing like maniacs. But there’s this one gorgeous Buff Japanese Cock blissfully asleep. I get right to work.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a kid come in the door holding a giant inflatable blue dolphin that he won at the midway. He’s whacking all the cages one by one, saying “Look at ‘em jump!”

“Please don’t,” I beg helplessly as the kid gets closer. My little rooster rouses and hops up in alarm. The kid moves on, snorting with laughter.
Don't Wake the Rooster
Fortunately a 4-H kid comes up to me and says “Don’t worry, mister, I can hypnotize him.” He opens the cage and says, “He belongs to my sister, and here’s what she does.” With that he cradles the rooster, rubs him under the chin for a while, and puts him back. The little rooster stands stock-still in a philosopical daze for another seven or eight minutes, long enough for me to work up a little watercolor study.

The Robin's Nest

The Robin's Nest
I've been doing a quick sketch of the robin hatchlings every morning. I try to be quick because the mother seems agitated whenever she sees me on the ladder, but amazingly both she and the hatchlings seem to be getting used to me.

Three years ago we raised a baby robin that fell out of a nest, and during those two weeks of feeding I developed a great appreciation for the work of robin parents. It was an amazing feeling to see the little guy fly off on his own for the first time.

Baby Robins

Baby Robins

The robins are raising their second brood on the nesting shelf in our back porch. Three eggs hatched just yesterday. I heard the hatchlings peeping while I was taking out the compost. This morning while Jeanette was making the pancakes I climbed up the ladder and did a quick sketch of one of them, while the very distraught mother called out her alarm.
Don't Wake the RoosterThe Robin's NestBaby Robins

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