I don´t support the human habit of stuffing animals, I think it´s actually quite sickening, but when I get a chance I can´t help but looking, studying their shapes, colors and features. I rarely draw animals, especially birds, they are all so fast, far away and shy, and you have to spend so much time waiting to get a good chance of actually drawing them.
This weekend we went down to my in-laws and they have a few stuffed animals in their home. They don´t support the sport either, but they have a few specimens that came with their house, an old village school, and they kept them since they have a history there.
I made a few drawings of a duck and an owl standing on a shelf in their living room, and some color studies of this little guy. Luckily, I don´t know what this bird is called in English, so I don´t have to listen to experts saying it doesn´t look like a ... whatever it´s called.
I never painted birds in watercolors before and I guess I shouldn´t expect it to be easy, but I was still a bit surprised at how incredibly difficult it was. Their feathers have such subtle changes in color and everything I did with my paintbrush felt like clumsily walking around in a shop full of glass and china with a huge backpack on.
This experience made me admire Swedish bird-painter Lars Jonsson even more. Take a look at his work here. There is an introduction in English, the rest of the homepage is in Swedish but I think you´ll find the paintings quite easily. Can you imagine that this guy does it by observing the birds in their natural habitat?