I really like this one. It is not at all what I started out to do but I love how it ended up. This was going to be an exercise in careful planning. I was going to have a background, the bird was going to be highly detailed. For once I had every step of the painting planned out ahead of time. But when I put down my first wash of color on the flamingo's neck and saw how it interacted with the paper, I suddenly knew I needed to paint loose with no background and that I needed to not fuss with the painting but just let it be as it was. After 18 paintings, I think I am finally beginning to understand the unique properties of watercolor and how not to fight that but use it to the painting's advantage. This is a very exciting step for me.
I believe my reference photos for this were taken many years ago at either the zoo in Seattle or the zoo in Philadelphia. I don't remember which. But I do remember spending a lot of time watching them preening and fluffing and doing their flamingo thing. Such great, beautiful, awkward birds! Their feathers are not naturally pink - the color comes from carotenoids contained in the algae and little crustaceans that they eat. When the birds live in captivity, such as in a zoo, they need a special diet to keep their coloring or their feathers will become white.