In my children’s book the protagonist is a young Steller’s Jay. I plan to use one of my end matter blank pages for a painting of an actual Steller’s Jay. If you live on the West Coast of the United States, you’re probably noticed these noisy, playful birds that might be called Blue Jays. I always called them that, but when I was doing research for the book, I thought it would be a good idea to double check. I found out that Blue Jays are East Coast birds. What I’ve been calling Blue Jays are actually Steller’s Jays.
I’ve been drawing the comic version of a Steller’s Jay so often that I was unsure whether I could paint a real Jay. I decided to use gouache because I really need the practice.
Here’s my effort today. It’s a work in progress. I’m going to add a few details tomorrow. The top page shows my Wikipedia reference photo and a practice sketch. I used a water soluble graphite pencil for the sketching and M Graham and Creta gouache for the painting. I’m intimidated by gouache, but I love it. When I’m painting I feel the same excitement I felt as a kid doing a really messy finger painting.