February 17, 2010
|The Squirrels Birdfeeder Breakfast Buffet. Susan K Donley, 2009. Engraved clayboard with ink (scratchboard), 14×11 inches. ©2009 Susan K Donley. Backyard Wildlife Series|
No bird feeder is complete without a clean-up crew of squirrels sifting through scattered hulls for the occasional sunflower seed. I saw these Eastern Gray Squirrels feasting under a bird feeder early one spring morning last year. The low, raking angle of the sunlight caught their fur coats and made them positively glow against the shadow cast by the trunk of the tree right behind them. Very soon, the sun moved on and the effect was gone leaving the squirrels to finish their breakfast in the shade, but not before I grabbed my camera to record the dramatic lighting. It inspired this painting in my Backyard Wildlife Series.
Squirrels are a perfect subject for scratchboard with their coats of gray variegated with black and brown. Click on the image here to go to a larger view. Then mouse-over to reveal a close-up of one of the squirrels showing the fine engraved lines depicting his fur. The white clay’s high reflectivity (compared to paper) really makes the glow, which pops them forward from the background.