Draw a Bird in December?

I couldn’t let December fly by without resurrecting Draw a Bird Day once again. I want to thank Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd for a photo that just kept calling my name, and Ann at AnnChristina.com for a wonderful, emotive painting that just made me want to really try and capture a beautiful little wren!

1208 Wren

Wrens are such exuberant, lively singers, and they are so chippy and happy too. I fell in love with Ann’s recent wren painting, and wanted to try my own rendition with the same photo.   Ann gave me a great tip when I asked about her painting.   She sometimes uses colored pencil for the underdrawing, or to add depth to her work.   I really loved that idea, so I decided to try using watercolor pencil for the initial sketch.  Once I sketched in the wren, including the markings, and liquified the pigment, I let it dry before going back in with my Cotman travel watercolor palette.   Considering it was done with student-grade paint in my little mixed media art journal on my lap in front of the TV (vs. using good Arches paper meant especially for watercolor and sitting at a proper table with my full M. Graham palette), I was pretty happy with it. I have drawn many of Kathy’s lovely wren photos since, and I’ve even made some progress rendering bird feet since this painting was finished (which was kind of like my impossible dream, lol)!    I’m making the journey, people. 😀

I also wanted to share a few paragraphs from a book about drawing birds that I’ve mentioned before, “The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds” by John Muir Laws.   I have tremendous respect for this man, both as an artist and a teacher.   If you love birds as I do, and you’ve ever wanted to draw or paint them, let me assure you that you CAN do it.   It does take practice.   Just as you wouldn’t expect to sit down at the piano for the first time and play a symphony, you can’t expect to sit down and draw perfectly the first time either.   Drawing is such an amazing practice, much like meditation.    You will get back what you put into it, and I can tell you I’ve found rewards beyond anything I could have imagined when I started just over a year ago.

All my life I told myself I can’t draw because I don’t have “the gift”.   Well, often we believe what we tell ourselves, and in this case, I wasted over 45 years believing that!   I don’t want you to fall into the same trap.    Mr. Laws says it much better than I could here on page two of his wonderful book (please click the photo to enlarge):

I found this book at my local library, but if you have any interest in birds/making bird art, this may be one to purchase (or add to your Christmas list).    You may also want to check out the author’s blog and YouTube videos.    I promise you will be informed and entertained!    He is due to release a new book next month called “The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling”.   Based on my experience with this author, it’s sure to exceed my expectations.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season.   Hub and I set up his homemade nativity scene in the front yard over the weekend, and I’m looking forward to doing a post on it soon.   Until then, peace and joy to all!

82 thoughts on “Draw a Bird in December?

  1. Your little bird looks like he is out and about on a spring day, which is rather refreshing! Very nice! Thanks to you I am on the bandwagon to draw a bird each 8th of the month and am loving it. Thanks for inspiring me! I just got the Laws Guide to Drawing Birds for my birthday and can’t wait to dig into it. I also am eager to see the nativity set that your hubby made. Peace, love, and joy to you as we prepare for Christmas!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kathy; I’m so glad you like it! I spent hours that weekend drawing your wrens and birds from your flickr feed. Your work gives me tons of happy hours.

      Re the address – I will if you will! I’d like to send you something as well! Createarteveryday@comcast dot net is my email.

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  2. I have that book and it is most excellent, Laura! Thanks for mentioning it as I have not looked at it in awhile. Your wren is beautiful! I like the idea of using watercolor pencils as an under painting. Well done, my friend! 😃💜🎨🌈

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    1. Thank you so much, Jill! I find wrens very challenging but since they’re one of my very favorites, I had to keep trying. I’m still trying to get the drawing right, much less the painting, but I do think the watercolor pencil helps and I really like Ann’s idea to use colored pencils underneath as well. And depending upon the wax content, they can act as a nice resist too. 👍🎨👏🐦

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  3. Oh Laura! My jaw dropped open when I saw your little wren! Your art is growing by leaps and bounds! I think this is your best yet! Wow wow wow! I’m so glad I didn’t miss this! I’ll have to look into that book, but for now, I am still awestruck over your beautiful painting. I’m going to go look at it again! So good to see you hear Laura! So miss your daily posts! Hope you are enjoying life! xo

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  4. so I just started at it some more. Laura this one is so amazing, and to think you didn’t even use top quality professional grade materials. Just imagine. If so, it may have just flown off the page. Oh laura – how you have grown as an artist. I am starstruck! ❤

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  5. Wow! Awesome wren :-). You totally captured its jaunty tail, beak and head. Great colors too! I’m astounded you did it with mediocre paint and paper in your lap!!!

    I agree – the John Muir Laws bird drawing book is awesome. Great drawing technique and attitude advice. The page on feet really helped me. Before, I didn’t know the back toe was only one segment, with no joint, so it can’t bend. And I was also amazed to find out that all the other toes are segmented differently.

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  6. Your Wren is wonderful! I love the posture. They’re such flitty little birds. I’ve have a hard time just photographing the little Bewick’s Wren that visits my yard I can’t imagine drawing and painting him this well.
    You’re making great pieces of art with the tools you have both student and pro grade!

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    1. Thanks so much, Iris! We were so happy to learn about the real holiday last April but many of us missed it, so we started celebrating monthly. I’m a big bird fan and really enjoy drawing them. Hoping to improve my paintings too. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for your comment and visit!

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  7. Oh, Laura, this looks so, so, so, so gorgeous and wonderful!!! What a huge progress you made, unbelievable!!! Love your wren, the colors, the light the whites draw to it – it´s perfect!!! I´m so busy the past several weeks, it´s awful but also good somehow. But not enough time to look into “here” more often… I even missed “Draw-A-Bird-Day”, shoot!!! 😔 Anyway, I´m happy I saw your wonderful birdie – and thanks for mentioning me so kindly in your post! Hugs, Ann Christina (((((Laura))))) ❤️

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    1. Thank you so much, Ann! I’m so glad you see improvement in my work. The underlayer of watercolor pencils I think really gave my painting depth. I don’t like doing layer after layer of WC paint and waiting for the paint to dry. It’s just not my strong suit, working that way, as I have no patience. Your painting inspired me so much and I wanted something with just as much visual impact and appeal. I missed that mark for sure, but now I have something to reach toward. Every bird you’ve done for DABD really shined, and I always enjoyed them so much. I hope you’re busy in a good way. I’ve been wondering about you because I know you were trying to drum up some sales so I hope things are going well and that you’re enjoying the holiday season. (((((((Ann)))))))) So nice to see you, but believe me, I understand the need to be offline, especially around this time of year!

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    1. Thank you so much Deb! I could not figure out how to follow your blog on the iPad for some reason, so I’m so glad that you came in because now I can just click follow under your name! Your work is so beautiful! Which makes your compliment even more meaningful. Thanks again for visiting and commenting. 💛

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      1. You know I just changed blogs from WordPress.com to my new website, debbreton and I’m still trying to figure out how to get my previous followers back. Anyway, in trying to say that I think the error was on my end, hopefully all is resolved. In any case, I’m following YOU😊 And looking forward to your new artwork!

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      1. I’m planning to attempt painting birds in January (though need to find time to take some good photos of them first), so maybe we can aim to improve together. I know how hard they are to draw, though I only sketched them few times with a pen

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        1. I have a suggestion for bird photos. http://Www.backyardbirdnerd.com Not sure if wordpress is in her URL or not but I’m pretty sure I linked to her photo in this post. She is always posting new images and she gets great closeups! Might be something to consider. I think I’m going to start the year with a faces challenge. Everything I post, probably at least through January, will have a face. Eyes and mouth, no nose required, so birds, people, almost any type of creature goes. Definitely focusing on pets and people though. I was doing portraits earlier this year and I seem to have a strange knack for them. Still haven’t figured that out. Not sure where this need to produce artwork is coming from in my mid-40s! Would love to watch your progress with birds. Kathy’s site gives me an unending supply of images for practice. I’ve been drawing tons of birds lately but I’ve been drawing more and blogging less of late. Can’t wait to see your paintings, Zoya!

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          1. Thank you for the link to the beautiful site. You also gave me an idea – I have a friend, who takes great photos of animals, so I can also ask him for reference photos. Good luck with your faces challenge – I’ll keep an eye on your blog to see what you’ll produce. I’m also struggling to find time to blog.

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    1. Awww thanks Denis! You could, you know, if you made a commitment to sketch regularly. You’d draw more, see better, draw better, and it just becomes a big circle that keeps going round! Momentum is everything. You’re lucky, because your photos could feed an urge to produce artwork forever! How’s your dog doing, Denis, been thinking of you.

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  8. Thanks Laura but I will leave the sketching to more adept artists like yourself for the moment. I am still learning functions on my cameras and that will take time for now. Charlie girl has had 3 cysts removed and one was deep and the stitches burst. The restitching is now holding and all that is looking good. She is living with a diagnosis of Cushing’s disease and high blood pressure but medication is holding these. We are hoping for a couple more years yet, thanks so much for your thoughts.

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  9. Lovely little bird, I love wrens too, they make the biggest noise and tell you off if you disturb them. I like the text you posted and as I come to the end of my daily drawing project I can confirm that I am more confident and more skilful but I think I need to continue to practice daily.

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    1. Thank you so much for your visit and comment, Cathe! I have no doubt you could accomplish anything with your talent. You are one of the many artists whose work I admire here. I hope you have a terrific holiday and thanks again for your encouragement! 💜

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  10. Well this is such a cool posting. I like your bird and think I should also paint a bird before the month is out. And I love the excerpt from the book. I have been following Betty Edwards for decades, who says the same thing (she wrote Drawing on the right side of your brain) though I would not be surprised if you already know about this. It was the book that opened up the world of drawing for me.

    Good luck with the feet.

    Thanks for the visit my side and I hope you are spending your winter days creating great art.
    We are in full Summer this side.

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    1. Stephen, I hope you do paint a bird! That Betty Edwards book started everything for me too, many many years ago. I could draw upside down even then, if I really went for it. I think the trick is letting the left-brain go. The harder you try, the harder it is though and I’m so left-brain driven. Maybe becoming an empty nester allowed for that left-brain drop? Not sure, but my drawing skills are finally improving and I’m happy with them. Enjoy your summer and I really appreciate the visit and comment!

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  11. Thank you Laura for including the page from Mr. Law-I really needed to be reminded that innately talented or not, it is practice that makes one a better artist. And I would say courage too, to push forward even in the midst of doubts.

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