Juvenile Great Blue Heron
  Oil on Canvas (24"x48") 2005. Plano TX.

I followed this juvenile Great Blue Heron for eight months on a lake close to the house I used to go three four mornings in a week and spend an hour taking pictures of this GBH.  I always found this GBH and another egret making rounds of the lake shoreline. I was more interested in GBH than the egret because egret is pure white and doesn't photograph as well as an GBH. GBH flies away earlier than an egret as you approach them. So initially I had a tough time getting close to this GBH. It would just fly to the other side of the lake and I would have to run and get to him to find him flying away again. My persistence played off and soon it became used to my presence and would let me come up close and take pictures while it waded the waterline fishing. It rewarded me with excellent pictures including a sequence I shot of it catching a snake and eating it. After they gulp their catch GBH rotate their neck to move their food down unlike egrets who stretch their necks upwards to move their food down.
People ask me that painting must be a very relaxing exercise. Contrary to that creating art is a mentally taxing activity. A process that constantly runs in the background. Right from the beginning it makes you think hard. All the time you are looking for material. Composition, color combinations, texture, patterns. So many times I have caught myself looking at the grass on the side of the road while driving that I can use in my paintings. The following picture shows what I mean. At this stage in the painting I become depressed and a lot of them get abandoned.

It's very hard to come out of this mess. And this is after I redid the water. Earlier I had planned concentric ripples in the water around the GBH. That wasn't working so I redid the water in a horizontal pattern to highlight the horizontal stretch of GBH's body. In the other sketch I have shown it in a nearly vertical arrangment. This bird can present you with so many interesting compositions. The picture above is at  a very dangerous point where it can be easily abandoned, and mentally I am most disturbed at this stage. Because it looks so messed up. If I pick it up and work on it then it gets completed. If I don't and loose interest then it gets abandoned. At times I ask myself why do I do this to me. This is not my primary source of income. Why do I create work for me after I come back from work? I hold a master's degree in computers and earn my living using that. Then why do I torture myself . I get my answer every time I finish my work. It's like bringing up a child. So much goes into it and when the child grows up into a healthy and successful individual you feel the accomplishment. It's entirely voluntary. You don't have to create. But you do.