pastel wildlife painting great blue heron pond lily pads marsh

Big Blue, and My 2016 Trip to Savannah

pastel wildlife painting great blue heron pond lily pads marsh

Big Blue, pastel, 13.5″ x 19.5″, 2023 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Big Blue” is a pastel from one of my photos, one I’ve been wanting to paint for seven years, and I just finished it today.

We have a rookery of great blue herons not far from me and I see them all the time flying overhead and fishing in the creek sometimes right in the middle of town. The fact that a creek that had once been as polluted as Chartiers Creek was for decades could today host great blue herons is actually pretty surprising and it’s still exciting when I see what looks like a big pterodactyl flying through the middle of town.

We don’t have any water lilies on Chartiers Creek so this is obviously not from downtown Carnegie. In fact, it’s not even in Pennsylvania!

In 2016 I visited my niece in Savannah, Georgia to deliver two kittens I had fostered and socialized and she and her children decided to adopt. She is very familiar with all the wild and conservation areas and took me on a whirlwind tour of what felt like everything but I know there was a lot more to see. I photographed everything I could, lots of photos, knowing I’d want to create some artwork. In fact, I decided right then and there that I was going to go home and start painting and title my next solo exhibit “My Visit to Savannah Georgia” or something like that. I did not start painting then, but In the intervening years I did a small pastel marsh sketch and two small paintings of seagulls on the beach from my photos. The big show had to wait.

Until now. I have a dozen images in mind, each different, lots of water, other birds, and plants, and the Atlantic Ocean. I might not paint them one after another, but if I get half of that dozen finished I’ll be really pleased with myself.

I shared the reference photo on my photography website Today in September 2017, and the last line of my post was, “Yes, this looks like a painting.” I knew then that I wanted to paint this someday. Today I shared the painting on my photography site and talked about how I started taking photos as references for paintings even before I started painting. You can read that on Today.

I’m not thrilled with the title, but in all the years I’ve been thinking about this, and the week I took to paint this, I haven’t come up with anything else. “Big Blue” is the silly name I call them when I see them, not that they respond or even care, but I stop what I’m doing, if I can and watch the heron and photograph it if I have something on hand to do so.


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© 2022 | | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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