Oil on canvas, 20 x 30 inches
I sketched this group of three redshanks at my favourite local estuary near Dunbar on the south east coast of Scotland. It was a very high, spring tide and the birds were gradually being pushed up the shore until there was almost no beach left for them to escape to. I liked the way the foaming water bubbled up through the strand line of seaweed while the birds kept a weather eye on how far up each flood would come. Periodically they would hop forwards to avoid getting too wet. I noticed how the stranded seaweed, dried by many hours of exposure, became quickly rehydrated as the water lapped up to it making it glisten and bringing out rich browns and greens.
I made careful note of the way the shadows cast by the birds’ beaks fell across their breasts in different shapes depending on how far round their heads were turned. I love little observed details such as this and I think they help bring an authenticity to the work.