Why does a painting express so much? What does an artist do to make it so expressive? Questions all artist's wish they had a concrete answer for. The one answer I live by is having something in front of or behind all things: breaking a plane in art terms. Would this bird be so connected to us if the branch in front were removed? Nature is nothing if not about connections. By showing the bird in the tree we remove the angst of isolating the bird. So we see it as simply "there." Breaking a plane is the simplification that works every time!
This quick watercolor of a Harris' Hawk shows the energy of the real hawk. Painter's that want to show what it "looks like" often concentrate too much on the surface and not the internal qualities of their images. Brushstrokes that are loose and expressive help determine the feel of a watercolor. Even original brushstrokes under the final brushstrokes help the viewer "see" the animal and allows the viewer to bring what they know to an image. It is the reason we connect to art!