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Painting a Pair of Bobwhite Quail

This is the first time I’ve painted Bobwhite Quail. I’ve had some requests for quail paintings, so this is my toe-in-the-water dip into that audience. How many I’ll do depends upon the market for quail paintings.

A Curious Pair, bobwhite quail painting in Ozark pigments by Madison Woods.
“A Curious Pair”, Bobwhite Quail by Madison Woods. All Ozark pigments. 14″ x 11″ top mounted in 16 x 20 frame. Original and prints available.

This doesn’t mean an end to the raptor series. Quite the opposite – I’ve been corresponding with an excellent photographer with good photos of some of those on my list to paint. As soon as we get all of that ironed out, I’ll start working on the next raptor (once I’m finished with this quail). It also doesn’t mean the end of the nature fantasy series. I’ll still do those between the wildlife, because the nature fantasy allows me to work only from what’s in my mind’s eye and relieves the stress of making sure the details are correct on the real life scenes.

As well, there are other wildlife and birds with colors suited for my pigments I may also one day paint. Unfortunately I can only do one at a time. In the meantime, I’ve had a few requests for some Bobwhite quail, so I’ll see if there’s much of an audience for them.

The Progress

The photo gallery below will run you through the major steps of the whole progression.

The paper

For this Bobwhite quail painting, I’m using an unidentified piece of watercolor paper I had on hand. It’s torn from a larger sheet and I can’t remember which brand it was, but it feels as heavy as the 300#. However, it is much more absorbent than the Arches or Fabriano I’ve used for the previous paintings. Hopefully I will be able to flatten it back out once I’m all done. The background wash caused quite a buckle. If not, I’ll chalk this one up to practice. I’m not at home, so will have to make do with what materials I brought with me. Until end of February, I’m here in Doha, Qatar visiting my husband, but I came with my Paleo Paints and brushes in tow.

Update about the paper. I am not going to be able to get the amount of detail I usually add to my birds, so this painting will be an exercise in much looser structure. It will be about giving the appearance of feathers, and adding color to the right places, in the right amounts, as opposed to creating a realistic effect. This is probably good for me, but I find it quite frustrating. As well, the lack of a good black is driving me nuts. I forgot to bring my good, deep, bone black, so the best I’ll be able to get while here is dark gray.

A Little About Bobwhite Quail

I haven’t heard the call of a quail in a long time, but the sound of it is unmistakable. And it’s how they got their common name, “Bobwhite”. Here’s a website where you can listen to the sound: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Bobwhite/id . This little bird is tremendously popular for hunting enthusiasts, but the population of them have declined steadily for many years now. Much effort is devoted to restoring their numbers. No single cause has been identified, but many factors contribute such as habitat destruction, predation, and displacement.

Jami Linder, Photographer

A pair of bobwhite quail, photographed by Jami Linder. Used as my reference with her permission.

Jami has graciously given me permission to use her Bobwhite quail photos as references. She has several good quail photos and many other species of wildlife too. I stumbled across her Facebook posts in my quest to find good photographers of raptors. When I reached out, she responded and I was delighted. Take a moment to browse her website to see some of her work. One day some of those turkeys might be a painting too. I think it would be pretty cool to have an exhibit one day, of my paintings and the photos that inspired me to paint them. But I’d either need to quit selling them so I can build up enough to show, or learn to paint a lot faster. I’m working on speed.


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4 thoughts on “Painting a Pair of Bobwhite Quail”

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    1. Ha! That’s right! Thank you, I am having a wonderful time just being here and assimilating into his daily life routine. He’s still working, so not a vacation for him, but it’s almost like a retreat for me.

  1. Seeing your bobwhites and early studies brought back wonderful memories of my years with the quail. I loved hearing them rise on the wing and watching the pointers work the fields. My next book project uses the background of bird hunting and the dogs they Southern men love. Keep me posted on your drawings.

    1. Hi Nancy! I’m sure you’ll make that an interesting backdrop. If I were going to hunt, flushing birds with dogs would be what I’d choose, I think. In one of the paintings after I warm up to the quail, I’d like to include a dog, too. My fav pointer is the German Short-haired, so that’s likely to be the one I’d add. But that in itself will be a new element, so no telling whether it’ll work or not. Let me know if you want me to try something specific to suit your needs, but you’re an excellent artist too, so you might have your own work ready to go!

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