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Tiny tanagers

Extract from my painting journal

I have been fascinated by birds from an early age. Indeed, according to my mother, as a young toddler I would sit in our garden in Libya and watch the many birds that visited. But that’s another story. Among my favourite bird groups are the colourful Tanagers. There are 89 species of these little birds in Brazil though this number includes the Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) whose taxonomical classification is temporarily parked in the tanager group.

Of these, I have seen and photographed 22 species including the Bananaquit, about 25%, which is not a bad score considering many species are in difficult areas to visit. Obviously, I would love to see more species but, in the meantime, I have started a project to paint the birds that I know.

The extract from my painting journal, above, shows thumbnail sketches of each of the 22 birds that I have seen. The thumbnails help me to work out some sort of order in which to paint each bird. I need to indicate which of the birds has differences between male and female – in some species, the sexes are alike – as well as showing where I may have reference photos of the juveniles of the species. The main focus of the first phase of my painting plan is on the single birds with a final phase doing a more detailed painting of a family of birds in their environment.

The following image shows a sketch of a Bananaquit that I had painted a few months ago.

Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola)

My thumbnail sketches were very quick to complete – a rough outline of generic bodies in pencil followed by touches of appropriate watercolours, some needing to dry before the next colour was added. Done in seconds for each bird.

The Bananaquit sketch took a bit longer but was also quite quick – just a few minutes to paint after doing a reasonably accurate pencil outline. The colours are by no means accurate but serve to illustrate the bird in a recognisable manner.

Green-headed Tanager (Tangara seledon)

Palm Tanager (Thraupis palmarum) and Silver-beaked Tanager (Ramphocelus carbo)

The Green-headed Tanager is a quite a bit more detailed in terms of brush-work, but isn’t  a particularly good illustration, while the painting of the Palm and Silver-beaked Tanagers is a bit looser. The last image, below, of a Silver-beaked Tanager and a Masked Crimson Tanager is a lot looser.

Silver-beaked Tanager (Ramphocelus carbo) and Masked Crimson Tanager (Ramphocelus nigrogularis)


More on Tanagers after I complete the project.


Setting up a website

For many years I had used a couple of internet service providers – and Yahoo Small Business.

Through these companies I bought a number of domains but used only Yahoo for web-hosting.

The issue with Register was that I found the email service difficult to manage and was unable to launch a web-site through them.

I had something like 25 domains in total, the majority of these registered under Yahoo, translated into 6 web-sites. Four of these were full web-sites while the other two  were simple landing pages.

I used a Yahoo-recommended web building software called Sitebuilder, easily confused with Sitebuilder the webhosting service when searching for them on the net.

All was well up to 2012 – I had access to the sites and was able to maintain them using Sitebuilder and even used html to code some pages and content.

I was then obliged to put the maintenance on hold for a while as some time-hungry projects had come up. To cut a long intro short I found that I was unable to get access to my domains for maintenence purposes. Sitebuilder refused to let me in and once I was able to get in I could not download the sites in order to maintain them.

Countless contacts with the helpdesk got me nowhere.

Having gone to the trouble of buying a new laptop (PC) and having tried to upgrade and downgrade the Windows OS I got nowhere. Sitebuilder does not work on Mac hence the need to use a PC. Situation made worse by having both my new laptop and my Macbook go missing in transit between Mexico and Brazil!

I had no alternative but to ditch Sitebuilder and therefore to rethink both Yahoo (Aabaco) and the number of domains that I owned.

The re-thinking process began in earnest this year. I looked at 10 service providers in addition to another that I used (Amazing Internet) before deciding on SquareSpace.

My new ShootStock site is now running, though still work in progress in parts. On balance I found that SquareSpace offered both a flexible site that, while not perfect, as well as domain hosting. I am still experimenting with the site – and its blog capabilities, and in the meantime I am running three blogs in parallel: this one, Shoot Stories and Continental Drifter.

Feel free to contact me for details of my reviews of other web providers.