For the next two posts I have painted a set of bright decorative canvasses, of 8x10 of which this painting is the first. With so many shows coming up, I am going to need smaller paintings. But I am also working on a large painting of a gannet colony, so it will be back to normal soon.
Almost everything in the physical appearance of the beautiful gannets have a function! Strange that such lovely birds have these really large chicks with absolutely no facial features besides their loud-loud mouths! Imagine a dark charcoal grey Pacman!
The gannet is brilliant white for the purpose of attracting lots of others when they dive for the fish. From the depths of the ocean, looking up towards the sky, the colour white is not easy to see. So when a lot of these birds hit the ocean, there is great confusion among the fish and they don't have much of a chance!
I could not find a function for the soft yellow heads, maybe it's only for decoration. Now the eyes! A gannet has binocular eyesight. The pale blue eyes are most impressive, and have strong black lines all around, which is naked featherless skin with a cooling function. I have painted so many of these gannets that I see another little bird on each side of the face. Can you see it too? Or is it supposed to mimic the shape of a fish when the gannet dives?
The beak is something to be reckoned with. Liz wrote to me regarding the beaks: "Gannets! I remember washing them during an oil spill! Vicious beaks! " Well done, kind and brave, Liz! Today I also post the photo of the friendly-looking gannet behind the glass of the bird hide, so that you can see the nicks made by these beaks! I love this almost magical photo with the markings and feather-dust and the light filtering through. I took it a few years ago and has been entering it in countless photo competitions but I seem to be the only person liking it!
Down the neck is a gracious black line, and again it is naked skin with a cooling function. The wings of the gannet does not lie flat like in garden birds, but they have thick folds. When the gannet unfolds its wings, the very wide wingspan is a wonder to behold, the width is unexpected. There is a black spot on each wing and the end feathers are black.
Last to inspect is the amazing grey fully webbed feet. Great for standing in the colony, for landing flatly, and can be folded out of the way when flying and diving. In the next post I will discuss their flying in greater detail!