Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Heron

The old Pleasant St. bridge over the Charles River in South Natick, Massachusetts.
My kids catch the school bus pretty early. My youngest is ready and waiting by 7:00 a.m. and I have the privilege to walk her down to her bus stop. After saying our "good bye's" yesterday morning, I kept going to a local café. I had my sketchbook and pencils, two books ("Nana" by Zola and "Breakfast With Socrates" by Robert Rowland Smith) and some correspondence I needed to work on. The weather was overcast and a barely perceptible mist (or was it drizzle?) was in the air. But on the way I detoured to a small park overlooking a small dam on the nearby Charles River.
Here's a picture of it on a sunny morning. It's lovely and the noise of the steady stream of suburban commuters is drowned out by the rush of the Charles River over the dam. It's a popular place for people to lunch or have their coffee. Fathers and children fish there. Wedding photos get taken and pensive romantics hang out alongside professionals getting a quick, sunny break from their office routines. But not yesterday.

The only one working was a Great Blue Heron fishing for his breakfast below the dam. I drew his portrait. He would stand there on his spindly legs and do slow avian tai chi as he looked for something slippery and silvery to stab and gulp down. Every now and then, he'd balance on one leg and start to stretch and rotate the other (no doubt, those years of ballet training had given each of his muscles a mind of their own). I think it was just a technique for finding reliable footing, Braille-like in his slow progress across the face of the dam and the eddies where the fish were hiding.

I used a conté pencil for this drawing. I liked how the droplets of mist made the chalk more intense and how I could smudge it with that little bit of water. When I was done, I washed my fingers off in a puddle and went to get my coffee.

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