Shorebird Ensemble

Watercolor painting of shorebirds by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Shorebird Ensemble

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 17.25″h x 23.5″w, 2016.

My husband and I were beach strolling at Morro Bay, California when we saw hundreds of shorebirds strolling and hunting along the surf and having a feast. I was so impressed with the magnificence, beauty, elegance, and grace of the Long -billed Curlews and Marbled Godwits, and the peppy little Western Sandpipers darting in and about at light speed, so I created this painting to capture a fitting impression of that day and those birds. My husband and I spent hours ambling along the beach alongside these awesome birds. They were comfortable with us being close to them and rewarded us with their behaviors, feeding habits, poses, etc. We must have taken over five hundred photographs of them.

For this purely transparent watercolor painting I used many different photos as references for lighting, body shape, pose, etc…, I had to study dozens of my photos to get better feather detail information because my photos weren’t descriptive enough to actually know what I was looking at, especially in shadow areas, and those Godwit and Curlew feathers were very complex.

I was very grateful to those birds for generously sharing their magnificence with us, and I hope the painting will inspire others to appreciate their beauty too.

Original is sold.

Reproductions available.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Surf’s Edge Oystercatcher

Watercolor painting of Oystercatcher at surfs edge by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Surf's Edge Oystercatcher

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 25.25”h x 19.25”w, 2022.

I enjoy watching Oystercatchers dart among the rocks in the intertidal zone as they probe for mussels, mollusks, and other invertebrates. It’s fun to watch them fly up to avoid the crashing surf. I saw this noble Oystercatcher at Port Townsend, Washington and wanted to do a watercolor of it, so I portrayed it in a surf’s edge setting that I saw, also, at Port Townsend.

I love seeing Oystercatchers along the North Beach at Fort Worden State Park, but I also love seeing the amazing diversity of rocks along that beach. There are hundreds of distinctly different rock types along that beach that were carried there by glaciers from Canada and terrain all around the Puget Sound.

So, I got to share my love and enthusiasm for the rocks of that beach and for Oystercatchers in this painting.

Original is available.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Sandpiper and Twisted Kelp

Watercolor painting of twisted kelp and Sandpiper on a beach by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Sandpiper and Twisted Kelp

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 15.25″h x 23.5″w, 2019.

Winter storms often deposit huge piles of kelp on the shore. The powerful forces of the waves interweave and twist the uprooted kelp into beautiful, complex masses much like twisted strands of string. I am attracted to debris piles because they are beautiful, and they leave a record of the turmoil that ocean storms express. These kelp masses are intriguing by themselves, but this particular pile was even more interesting because its linear qualities contrasted the solid, roundish shapes of the rocks which were comprised of many diverse geologic origins. I saw this beautiful this beach scene in Port Townsend, WA. I added the Least Sandpiper because I often see these tiny birds foraging among the beach rocks and storm debris, and this one was a perfect complement to the composition. I did this as a purely transparent watercolor without using masking fluid.

Every painting I do starts with a journey. I either hike, ski, bike, or sail somewhere beautiful – preferably wild or remote. Many journeys stimulate ideas for a new painting as did this day walking along the beach.

Painting available.

Reproductions available.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Shasta Valley Sandhill Cranes

Watercolor landscape and Sandhill Crane painting by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Shasta Valley Sandhill Cranes

Medium: Oil, Image Size: 18″h x 24″w, 2008.

This setting for this artwork is scenic Shasta Valley just off Louie Rd. which lies north of Mt. Shasta. The painting depicts a family of Sandhill Cranes ambling along in the Shasta Valley of Northern California with Mt. Shasta as the dominant background feature. What inspired me to do this painting was a combination of motives. One, I adore this view of Mt. Shasta especially with its reflection in the flood waters of this setting, and two, I’ve wanted to do a Sandhill Crane painting for years and felt this was a perfect match of these noble and beautiful subjects.

An added motive was that the cranes had just arrived in the Shasta Valley and there were reports of hundreds of them visiting some of the area ranches. The nearby Shasta Valley Wildlife Area has been managing their land to foster Sandhill Crane habitat for many years, and apparently it has been very successful. Shortly after hearing reports of the Shasta Valley Cranes, a pair of cranes arrived in the nearby meadow in Rocky Point, Oregon, where I lived. I had already started the painting, but when I heard the trumpeting calls of these elegant birds, I was motivated to finish this painting. Sandhill Cranes have so much grand presence about them. They are elegant, big, and beautiful, and their leaping dance and trumpeting call really excite me, and that was a good reason to do this painting.

This is a painting about the creative forces that combine in a unique way to inspire awe and rapture in others for the beauty of this planet and all its forces.

The challenge of doing this painting was working in oils. I’m a skilled watercolorist and I work intuitively in that medium, but oils are so different. The thickness of the medium meant I had to interpret things differently than I would have in watercolor.

Original is sold.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Swan Song River Poem

Watercolor painting of swan on a river in winter by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Swan Song River Poem

Medium: Watercolor/Gouache, Image Size: 13.75″h x 19″w, 2012.

The basis for this painting was the graceful curves of the adult and juvenile Trumpeter Swans and how they enhanced the elegance of this winter, snow scene. I saw this at the Harriman River in Harriman State Park, Idaho. The waterfowl in the background show the enormous size of the Trumpeters.

Painting Available

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Quail Puffs

Watercolor painting of a Quail in winter by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Quail Puffs

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size:15″h X 19″w, 2014.

I saw these bachelor male Quail on a frosty winter morning, and they were so puffed out to insulate themselves that they almost looked like round balls. I thought it was both interesting and cute.

Original is sold.

Reproductions available.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

The Embrace

Watercolor painting of a Red-tailed Hawk by Janet Tarjan Erl.

The Embrace

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 28.75″h x 21″w, 1993.

I often saw this rock outcrop when I hiked along one of my favorite trails on Black Mountain in Siskiyou County, CA. The backdrop is of the Southern Oregon Cascades, and Pilot Peak is to the left of the hawk. Red-tailed hawks are common on Black Mt., and I have a great admiration for them, so I painted this Red -tailed Hawk embracing a weathered rock that is, in turn, embraced by an old dead bush. The background scene was our view of the Siskiyou Mountains from our former home on Black Mountain. This watercolor required many delicate washes to bring out the details in the foreground, feathers, and the details and depth of the clouds.

Original is sold.

Reproductions available.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Driftwood Gull

Painting of Western Gull on top of driftwood by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Driftwood Gull

Medium: Watercolor/Gouache; Image Size: 9″h X 15.75″w; 2018.

This Western Gull was perched atop a massive hunk of driftwood at Bullard’s Bar State Park, Oregon. The colors of the weathered driftwood and the wingbars of the gull complimented each other nicely.

Painting available.

Reproductions available.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Elegant Trio

Watercolor painting of swan trio on water in snow by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Elegant Trio

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 15.5″h x 22″w, 2009.

This painting depicts the elegant beauty of a trio of trumpeter swans that grace the chilly waters of the Harriman River, Harriman State Park, in Idaho. The three are almost hidden against the snow in this little cove.

Original is sold.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.

Devoted Flock

Watercolor painting on a California Mission and flock of chickens by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Devoted Flock

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 23.5″h X 17.5″w, 2009.

This is one of those paintings with multiple meanings. Is it a painting about the mission and its flock of devoted worshipers? Is it a painting about this flock of chickens who are devoted denizens of the mission grounds? Or is it a painting about a flock of hens devoted to their handsome rooster? You be the judge.
I enjoyed doing this painting of the Carmel, California mission. It has strong shapes, diverse colors, and great character. The chickens just seemed the perfect complement to the scene.

This painting was juried into the 63rd Annual International Aqueous Open 2009 sponsored by the Pittsburgh Watercolor Society and the WAS-H 2010 33rd International Exhibit sponsored by the Watercolor Art Society – Houston, (Merit Award).

Original is sold.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.