The Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) is one of the largest members of the Sulidae family, and range across much of the North Atlantic, from the eastern US and Canada to the coastlines of Greenland, Iceland, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and the UK. They are most famously known for their characteristic and striking body color and silhouette, and for their distinctive plunge-diving behavior in pursuit of fish or other prey items too close to the water's surface.
Did you know...
Northern gannets dive vertically into the sea at velocities of up to 100 km/h.
They do not have external nostrils, and their secondary nostrils can be closed when they are in water.
The opening of their auditory canal is very small and is covered with feathers; they can also be closed in water using a system that is similar to that used for the nostrils.
Northern Gannets are highly pelagic seabirds outside of the breeding season, and are only seen inland if they have been blown off-course.
The wings of the Northern Gannet have a very high aspect ratio, and their long and narrow shape allows for easy flight over the water, allowing efficient use of air currents when flying. Even in calm weather they can attain velocities of between 55 and 65 km/h.
They utilize the winds coming off of the water's surface in much the same way as albatross do, termed 'dynamic soaring'. This further allows less energy expenditure during flight.
While they are great soaring birds, Northern Gannets find difficulty in landing and taking off, requiring sufficient wind speeds to give lift while they perform these maneuvers. Individuals often suffer damage to their legs or feet when they land on the ground if there is not sufficient wind, as they use their tails and feet to steer as they come in to land. They do not use their feet when alighting on water. They may also become 'beached' should the waves be too high and the wind too weak.
The flying muscles of the Northern Gannet compose only 13% of their total body weight, compared to 20% in most other flying birds.
Source: Wikipedia (2014)
This painting is one that I had an immensely good time creating - Gannets are a very beautiful bird to me, and incredibly striking in their behavior. I initially created this to potentially have it exhibited soon, but I would like to offer prints in either case. This painting is meant to be printed at 2 feet high, and would make an eye-catching image for the end of a hallway, on a staircase landing, or in a long, thin visual space. I used a lot of reference for this image, but created the pose and lighting from scratch, copying no particular image viewed during creation.
I would really love to keep working on images like these, and I may come back to this one to render the waves much more thoroughly. That could be a 20 hour job, though, so I only will if time permits. The original resolution of this image is waaay too big for online sites, but I will be uploading detail shots very soon, and might even offer select views as wallpaper.
I surely hope that you enjoy this painting - it is a new direction for me, and I am very happy with the outcome.
Media: Photoshop CS4
Time: ~13 hours
Art by and © Copyright 2014 Stephanie Dziezyk. Do not redistribute, copy, alter, etc., any portion of this image without personal permission from me, the artist.