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Field studies are paintings done in the field with an actual bird in the hand (alive or recently collected). Admittedly they have a freshness that nothing else can equal, but I have done very few of them. The ones shown here are from my first trip to Micronesia and two trips to Midway Atoll. Several things have prevented my doing more of these, the most important being the time limitation one has when visiting Pacific islands. One has to maximize one’s time, and when you are exploring, collecting bird sounds, and doing photography, not enough time is left in a day to do field sketches. In my own case, I am simply not very good at freehand sketching. That is an inborn ability that some people have and others do not, but lack of this skill does not prevent one from becoming a successful illustrator. In fact, I have found that those who are good at quick thumbnail sketches often lack the patience for more finished and detailed work. I envy those, like Lars Jonsson and Daniel Lane, who can do both.
The artist painting a Golden White-eye on Saipan, 1976. Photo by Phillip L. Bruner.