A bird with chiffon-like flowing plumage topped by a bald head full of wrinkles and scales, and all I could think about was the fun I would have sketching it! And while I sketched, I wondered about these peculiar features.Wood Storks are wetland waders that "grope feed" in shallow water by dragging their open bill to capture moving prey, primarily fish, but also crayfish and shrimp. They don't have to actually see their prey to catch it. Tactile sensitivity in their mouth triggers an automatic reflex when prey is encountered and the bill snaps shut at a record speed for vertebrates, 0.025 seconds. And the bald head? Presumed to be easier to clean than feathers after a day of muddy foraging.
To create this sketch, I experimented with masking fluid, to save the feathery edges of the plumage, using a disposable skewer to make fine lines. Interesting experience. Gaining control of the fineness of the line took some practice. Droplets form on the stick, so the trick is to place the drop of fluid in a large area and drag a line of liquid to the edge of the feather.
Since these rubbery masking fluids deteriorate when exposed to air and lose their effectiveness over time, I've poured some into an old film canister to lessen the bottle content's exposure, and labeled it with the type of mask and date. (Have you ever picked up your bottle of mask and wondered how long you've had it? It's not dated anywhere on the bottle. I mark the date on newly purchased bottles as soon as I get them home. ) Besides the fineness of the line, an added plus to using a toothpick or skewer is no soap dipping or cleaning. Just toss the tool away. I also got reinforcement for my practice of walking away from the table for a while, sometimes overnight, to discover what I see differently once my eyes have had a rest. In this case, it resulted in noticing that the stork's eye wasn't placed just right. (Compare the two images above.) Another look and I realized it wasn't really the eye at all, but the height of the crown. A light scrub and a new crown line and the correction was made.
For more fun facts and images of this fascinating bird visit my Wood Stork post at Vickie Henderson Art. (They have pink feet!)