This is the final family member in my paintings and drawings of the 2019 Big Bear eagles. Shown here is Angel Cookie, forever 42 days old. The drawing is done using only a small piece of sterling silver, and a small piece of 14k gold. The silver will tarnish and darken some, but will still reflect light (as shown below). The pale layer of gold will never tarnish; you can almost see it in this image, along the back of the head, the eye, and the breast. The gold can also be seen in the larger image below, taken in sunlight too bright for the camera to handle. The method is called “silverpoint” or “metalpoint” and was used during the Renaissance. It’s said to be the most difficult method of drawing (they’re all difficult for me!). This is my 2nd attempt at silverpoint and there’s some surface damage and other problems. But, hey. It’s Angel Cookie. And he reflects pure sunlight. (I had to wear shades to take the sunlight photo.)
The bald eagle builds the largest nest of any North American bird, up to 13 feet deep, 8.2 feet wide, and 1.1 tons in weight. And nests are used year after year, with about 2 feet of added branches and “fluff” each season.
Liberty is shown here delivering soft pine straw to her nest just before sundown. It won’t be long, once eagles begin restoring their nests, before eggs are laid. In this case, eaglets Ch’áak’ and Anáaski (Tlingit for “Eagle” and “Alaska”) arrived soon after the nest was restored, comfortable, safe, and near water for fresh fish.
“Pre-Fledge Flight Check” is a new painting of one of my favorite eaglets, Simba. He fledged on July 23rd, after weeks of wing flapping and hopping madly around the nest in order to to build his flying muscles. He’s about to fledge here, hence the “pre-flight check”.
A young eagle learning about flying—he couldn’t fly when I drew this, but he was learning a few wing skills, and strengthening his muscles for the big day. High winds helped him learn to balance by using his wings. He came into the world with a sibling who perished due to a late snow and freezing temperatures, though the mother did her best to keep them warm. This one continued on alone, growing and learning day by day. He won’t be mature for another four years, but first things first—he needs to survive the high mortality rate of an eagle’s first year. He fledged this past week, but returns to the nest for food and sleeps there with a parent.
“Eagles and Eaglets” After watching this unusual family of eagles raise three newborns to fledglings this spring, in spite of the loss and hardships they’ve endured over the years, I decided to commit an act of art in their honor. Here they all are, three parents and three eaglets.