Watercolor painting of oak tree and American Kestrel by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Basking In Autumn Light

Medium: Watercolor/Gouache, Image Size: 15.25″h x 24.25″w, 1995.

I painted this American Kestrel basking on the twisted trunk of an Oregon White Oak. The kestrel’s natural colors blend so well with the warm autumn-colored leaves of the surrounding oak woodland and the blue-gray trunk of the oak. Here’s the story of what inspired me to do this painting.

One autumn afternoon I went down to the barn to gather eggs from the chickens, and I was spooked by a Kestrel who was nervously swooping about the barn trying to find a way out. In all my years of hiking I never had been so close to a wild Kestrel, and it was a moment I cherished.

I interpreted that experience as a sign to do my first Kestrel painting. Since it was autumn, I chose that season to be the setting. The following days I spent wandering about Black Mountain meandering among the oaks and pines until I finally came upon this oak branch. The rich colors of the autumn leaves saturated the scene in warm colors which contrasted nicely against the cool gray bark of the oak. I was so pleased to see how well the kestrel’s colors matched those of the setting. But, after all, this was the Kestrel’s native habitat, and it would naturally blend in.

I’ve been on many walks through the woodlands since then, and I’ve seen many Kestrels among the oaks; and each time I see one, I wonder if it was the Kestrel who visited my barn.

Original is sold.

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