Tag Archives: Asa Wright Nature Center and Lodge

Trinidad: Art Workshop

Feb 23—Mar 01, 2017
CrestedOropendola ASA L1410804eTrinidad: Nature & Wildlife 
Art Workshop

Immerse your senses into the bounty of the tropics and you will find endless inspiration to breathe new life into your artwork. Join me during this wonderful upcoming workshop presented by Victor Emanuel Nature Tours (VENT).

Click this link to the VENT website for details, itinerary, pricing and more information about this exciting tour and workshop.

This workshop and tour is geared toward beginner and advanced nature enthusiasts interested in ample opportunities to capture wildlife through art or journaling while being immersed in a tropical setting – the world famous Asa Wright Nature Centre. Whether you are a birdwatcher who has always wanted to draw birds in the field but has not found the right setting, or an avid journal keeper, a blossoming watercolorist or an experienced landscape painter, this workshop will offer a balanced combination of structure and freedom to create art at your own pace. Most important, the abundant tropical birds, stunning rainforests of Trinidad and rustic setting of the estate house will grant you long-lasting inspiration.

CrestedOropendola ASA L1410804h

Detail of a sketch (5.75″ x 12″) done at the Asa Wright Nature Centre veranda, Trinidad. This watercolor was started during June of 2012, and then finished during February of 2016. Crested Oropendolas are colonial breeders, and weave long basket-like nests suspended from the branches of large trees that hang over the Arima Valley.

This workshop will be centered on a six-night stay at Asa Wright’s great estate, lodge and preserve. The historic plantation house has been visited by a number of renowned ornithologists and artists including William Beebe, David Snow, and renowned American painter Don Eckelberry, who depicted a number of Trinidad’s birds and their habitats. As with many other researchers and artists, they were attracted to the wide array of tropical species representative of New World bird families found at the preserve, including trogons, manakins, motmots, parrots and antbirds, and the lush habitats teeming with epiphytes, lianas and blooms.

Asa Wright Nature Centre is the ideal location for a nature art workshop because the ample veranda at the estate is a “living” studio that offers close views of feeders that attract many birds and other wildlife, with vistas of the expansive Arima Valley, and access to trails into tropical forests. Without leaving the veranda, participants will observe hummingbirds of several species including Tufted Coquette, tanagers and honeycreepers such as Blue Dacnis, Bananaquits and many other colorful feathered gems. Ample subject matter is readily available to the nature artist, and the facilities at the preserve offer a variety of settings for those interested in working in close proximity to the outdoors.

CrestedOropendola ASA L1410804i

Detail showing Crested Oropendolas (Psarocolius decumanus) engaged in elaborate nuptial displays that include bowing from their perches and from overhanging nests, and displaying their bright yellow tails and rusty vents.

Participants are invited to immerse their senses into the bountiful nature of Trinidad to find new inspiration for their artwork, and to work in a supportive setting, surrounded by like-minded individuals. The goal is to create work influenced by the field experience with a focus on personal growth. This workshop is ideal for those that have already developed a personal craft, and for those who would like to play with line and color, learn new techniques, and participate in constructive group sessions. Participants are encouraged to work with the materials of their choice and on the subject matter that most interests them. Emphasis will be placed on the depiction of fauna, flora and habitat from direct observation. Sketching or painting while viewing wildlife through a spotting scope or binoculars can be quite effective. Those who wish to work from their own photographs may do so. Each participant is responsible for bringing his/her own optic and photographic equipment and art materials.

Golden-headed Manakin Sketches

Click to enlarge – Various sketchbook studies of Golden-headed Manakin males engaged in lekking behavior, which includes sideways dancing, foot-tapping and sliding along display perches, vowing and chest-puffing, wing-vibrating, and darting up and down branches. Most of the sketches were done on February 2012, with touch-ups during February 2016 at leks within the Asa Wright preserve.

Throughout this workshop, you will be guided by experienced naturalists and artists. The leaders have extensive experience in the visual arts when it relates to nature, particularly the depiction of birds in their habitats, and have acquired significant experience by working in the field. The workshops, hikes and presentations offered during this tour are designed to give nature artists enough structure and support when needed, and the freedom and flexibility for those seeking independence. During our morning hikes, we will have an opportunity to study the birds, butterflies and plants of the preserve, and become acquainted with the trails that lead to the leks of manakins and the haunts of bellbirds. Your guides will be field sketching, painting or journaling right alongside participants, demonstrating techniques, leading group exercises, and working with those needing individual help. You will have the option of taking part in structured exploratory workshops for the strengthening of drawing and composition skills, or follow your own pace. More importance will be placed on process rather than product. Participants have the liberty to focus on simple projects like creating a series of loose sketches throughout the tour, or dedicating their entire time to a sketchbook, or developing as ambitious a series of works as desired. There will be plenty of free time to explore the grounds on your own and find subject matter of your liking, to study the birds and plants at your own leisure, or to spend most of the time participating in structured workshops.

Field trips away from the lodge should produce encounters with a number of particularly spectacular tropical birds and landscapes. Throughout the tour we will be keeping a detailed list of all our observations, as is done in traditional birding tours. Each evening we will have recap sessions during which we will share our progress, give feedback to those who desire it, and learn about other artists. Trinidad is a wonderful entrée to the natural history of the American tropics and its marvelous biodiversity. Birders, naturalists, sketchers and painters alike will find the Asa Wright Nature Centre inspiring, and this workshop will offer a broad range of options for both beginners and advanced artists.

TRINIDAD: NATURE & WILDLIFE ART WORKSHOP
FEBRUARY 23 – MARCH 1, 2017

More blog entries about sketching in Trinidad & Tobago:

VENT2_kicsi

To find our more about tours led by Rafael Galvez visit the
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours website.

Neotropical Raptors of Trinidad & Tobago

Imagine the possibility of 37 raptor species in a territory smaller than Delaware, or one sixth the size of Belgium! The wonderful Caribbean islands of Trinidad & Tobago have that many raptors on record. Not to mention the 400 or so bird species that make this nation a birding paradise.

I returned from a trip through Trinidad & Tobago with Caligo Ventures astounded by the wealth of bird species we saw – tropical rainforest passerines, hummingbirds, trogons – the list goes on. Trinidad & Tobago is a nation composed of two main islands and several islets no more than 13 miles from the coast of Venezuela. For its relatively small territory, the nation boasts a surprisingly diverse bird life.

Neotropical Raptors GALVEZ

Above is a field sketch of raptors seen from the Northern Range, overlooking the Arima Valley on June 11, 2012. The sketch includes Common Black Hawks, Turkey Vultures, a Zone-tailed Hawk, a Short-tailed Hawk and a Swallow-tailed Kite. Click image for a larger view.

The composition was done on a 7″ x 9″ sheet of 100 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper. Each bird was done as a pencil thumbnail directly from observation through binoculars (Leica Ultravid 8×32 HD), filling in the composition one by one during a fast paced day of birding. The watercolor was added later, with the rendition of the Arima valley done the next morning from the veranda at the Asa Wright Nature Center.

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Above are details of the watercolor sketch, depicting the various species observed during a relatively brief stop at an overlook along the mountainous road. The thumbnail sketches range in size from less than half an inch to more than two inches. In each, I’ve made an earnest effort at capturing the flight attitude that differentiates the depicted species.

While the abundance of hummingbirds alone would have made the trip unforgettable, I was particularly excited about seeing any of the 37 diurnal raptor species documented from this archipelago nation. I was fortunate to observe 14, and I have also posted about one of my most memorable – the Bat Falcon, and interesting observations about the mud-covered legs of a Common Black Hawk.

This article was originally posted in the Florida Keys Hawkwatch blog on July 15, 2012.

TRINIDAD: NATURE & WILDLIFE ART WORKSHOP
FEBRUARY 23 – MARCH 1, 2017

VENT2_kicsi

To find our more about tours led by Rafael Galvez visit the
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours website.

Bat Falcon: TRINIDAD

June 10, 2012. Asa Wright Nature Center and Lodge, Northern Range, Trinidad.

Falco rufigularis: A small and intrepid Neotropical falcon that takes most of its prey on the wing. Though it does consume bats, these typically compose no more than 15% of its diet. It hunts primarily hummingbirds, tanagers and swifts by agile aerial pursuits, though insects such as dragonflies and lepidopterans are also taken in substantial quantities. Rodents and other ground dwellers are taken on occasion. It is the falcon with the highest rate of reversed sexual dimorphism, with females up to 30% larger than males.

A Bat Falcon perched on a snag overlooking the Asa Wright estate house, and most members of my Caligo Ventures group had already seen it from the spectacular veranda by the time I got there that morning.

It was a raining and mist could be seen over the Arima Valley below, climbing the forested slopes of the surrounding mountains. The wet falcon kept mostly in a tucked posture, perched above eye level and facing down the slope.

Bat Falcon studies GALVEZ

The colors of some birds appear saturated when wet and their feathers become stringy, hugging the body and giving them an unusual contour. This morning, the sky washed with a thick atmosphere that flattened distances, and the falcon appeared dark and silhouetted.

I must confess that Bat Falcon was high up on my Trinidad & Tobago (T&T) wish list, and I was thrilled to see this bird regardless of lighting conditions. The proximity lent by my trusty scope – Leica Televid series – fixed this.

I decided to truncate breakfast and stayed with the bird some 40 minutes. We were soon to depart on a full day’s journey, and as we learned the hard way, the tour bus waited for no one. I managed to do a couple of watercolor sketches and several quick pencil and ink renderings. All the renderings in this post were done based on field observations of this bird from the Asa Wright veranda.

Bat Falcon GALVEZ

My first impression was that of a small bull-headed falcon in the vein of a stocky Eurasian Hobby. Superficially, the combination of a heavily patterned breast against rufous thighs and vent add to this. And the aerobatics of the Bat Falcon have a similar reputation as the hobbies, in terms of speed and agility. However, authorities consider the species a closer relative of the Aplomado Falcon, and particularly of the Orange-breasted Falcon, with which they share general similarities in appearance, vocalization and behavior.

As I quickly sketched, I noticed that this bird had brownish primary feathers, indicating a certain amount of wear, and a warmer cast to the greater coverts compared to the bluer upper parts. In the case of most North American falcons, wing molt begins once the birds are nesting. Females tend to molt primaries while incubating and males when nestlings are being reared. I also noticed the tail feathers in a bit of disarray and falling short of the folded wing tips. Most male Bat Falcons have wing tips shorter or equal to tail length while the wing tips of females may surpass tail length. However, rain causes feathers to appear out of the ordinary, and I might have been interpreting this bird more than is prudent.

Rain seemed to be slowing by the time I left this Bat Falcon. Now its appearance was changing; its feathers fluffed and its posture enlivened as it commenced preening.

Bat Falcon sketches GALVEZ

Sketching in the field

I use a telescope and binoculars to do many of my field sketches and paintings of birds. During this trip I carried an assortment of paper, none larger than 14” x 10”, and a couple of small sketchbooks. Because of the wet conditions throughout the trip, particularly in Trinidad’s Northern Range, the paper was always moist or wet, especially after hikes in the rain.

  • Bat Falcon preening: This was rendered over a watercolor gesture done on site. Pencil and color details were added later that day and the following morning, using sketches from other renderings as reference.
  • Bat Falcon – various postures and talon details: Most of the watercolor was done on site. Details were added later.
  • Bottom image: Pencil and ink rendering done on site. Watercolor added that night.

This article was originally posted on the Florida Keys Hawkwatch blog on July 15, 2012.

TRINIDAD: NATURE & WILDLIFE ART WORKSHOP
FEBRUARY 23 – MARCH 1, 20

VENT2_kicsi

To find our more about tours led by Rafael Galvez visit the
Victor Emanuel Nature Tours website.