One of the things that impresses me about Jessica Douglas's work is her use of references in wings, and her ability to work large and fine enough to get just about every darn feather. Not to mention what David Sibley can do (have you seen his bird guides??!!)
I was noodling about on a 4"x6" piece of paper meant actually for printing cards on inkjet printers. As such, it moderately sucks for watercolors, but once I laid in a background (while vaguely thinking I might work at some of Linda Kemp's techniques), I switched to mixing colored pencils and gouache and thicker watercolors, and kept thinking of Ursula Vernon's advice that people will "believe" any lighting and skin tones if you get the shadows right.
Well, I'm not in their class, on any of those counts. I'm not even sure there are enough shadows (there often aren't, in my stuff). And I know I'm working too small and too impatiently to even get halfway to some of their techniques, let alone toward their deeply practiced skills and cool creativity.
On the other hand, they're all teaching me stuff, I keep going when I can find some damn time, and I'm grateful, and pleased with this as a step towards their levels (say, as of a couple years ago; I may never catch up and that's OK too).
It was a sooty shearwater, by the way.