South Padre Island Pelicans at Sunset


Here’s my newest painting, “Meeting of the Minds, (Pelicans of South Padre)”, painted from photos taken during our month-long stay on South Padre Island in February 2020.  South Padre Island is a good place to appreciate nature that is very different from the Midwest where I live. The sunset over the ocean with its burst of colored shards of light on the water is different from the soft, pink or yellow glow of a sunset over a field.  The pelicans, with their huge bodies, tiny heads, and long beaks with elastic pouches are a contrast to the hawk, with his short, razor edged, curved beak. Yet they are both birds of prey.  Having spotted prey while in flight, the pelican dives like a jet plane plummeting to the ground. The hawk pounces with curved talons. The pelican swallows prey whole. The hawk tears it apart.


Being an artist makes every trip special, because I'm always looking for interesting and beautiful things to photograph and then paint. The trip to South Padre Island in February was no exception. Watching the sunset was a nightly ritual during our month-long stay on the Island. The sun would inch lower and lower toward the horizon, until for a brief moment, it appeared to be sitting directly on the water, its reflection exploding into shards of colored light. Even with some cloud cover, the sunset could be beautiful.  I was particularly amused by the pelicans, the way they would tuck their heads back against their shoulders in flight. Or the way they could stretch their necks upward, their beaks pointing toward the sky, their small heads disappearing between the neck and the beak. I took countless photos while we were out, so that back at the room, I could paint. 

Here are some of the photos I took on the Island. No, I didn't use these particular pelican photos for reference for the painting, but I just thought you'd find them amusing. :)