A couple of weeks ago, I saw some Sandhill cranes -which I think are absolutely lovely birds – in a field in mid-Michigan. There were three juveniles, and two adults. Then, the adults stated to do the most amazing thing: they began to do a mating dance, right there. I was in awe of their beauty; they literally looked like dancers, and I took a ton of photos (some are below, including the original reference shot for this painting).
Sandhill cranes mate for life. And they will do their mating dance not just during the spring, but at other times as well. While their plumage is naturally grey, it gets stained ochre during their migration. I find the ochre/rust colors lovely, and chose to emphasize them in this painting. I also wanted to create drama, so I took them out the original field, and put them in a wetland (their natural habitat; they go into the fields looking for corn), with strong backlighting.
This was a once in a lifetime moment; I hope that you enjoy it as well.