Backyard Bird Nerd Bluebird (#31): 100 Face Challenge

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been struck by Kathy’s photos at Backyard Bird Nerd. She recently posted a series of bluebird photos that begged to be sketched. If you are interested in birds at all, you owe it to yourself to check out her site.

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My Polychromos colored pencils once again helped me out with this little sketch in my Strathmore mixed media art journal. I may just have to make time tonight to sketch the whole bunch! I just love bluebirds, and Kathy captures them from every angle. Sometimes they look so disgruntled, which always makes me laugh. Thanks again, Kathy! You are a huge blessing to us all!

Stay tuned for another famous face tomorrow. Not an American and not a sports figure! Woo hoo! 😀 I just hope I can resurrect it…….we shall see if the portrait gods are with me! Peace.

Redbird …. or not? (#18): 100 Face Challenge

I want to thank Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd once again for inspiring me with a lovely photo of a cardinal.    I almost didn’t add color to this, but I did think to take a photo beforehand this time.  🙂

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What do you think?   Better with, or without?  It’s nice when we can look back at an image, or see the stages along the way.   I often go into a creative trance and forget to take photos during the process.    I love color, but sometimes those pen lines look fine as is, and the color can be a bit much.   I’d love to hear your thoughts.   I believe this was Graphitint and Inktense watercolor pencil, and a General’s sketch and wash (water-soluble graphite) pencil.   With Copic 0.1 mm fineliner underneath.

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And I hope we are all joining the birds today in whistling a happy Friday tune!    Peace and pigskins (that’s football for my friends outside the States) to all!

Pine Warbler (#16): 100 Face Challenge

If you ever need a bright spot in January, just head over to Kathy’s place at Backyard Bird Nerd, where I was met with yet another stunner last week.

011316Birds were the first thing I became interested in drawing when I got started over a year ago, and I think they are still my favorite subjects.    I got help from Derwent’s Graphitint and Inktense lines of watercolor pencils with backup from a General’s Sketch and Wash watersoluble graphite pencil and a touch of Polychromos colored pencil to finish!    Not to mention an amazingly clear, crisp shot of a wing-ed masterpiece!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pine warbler in real life.   Isn’t he a beauty?    Thanks again, Kathy!   Happy Wednesday to all.   May yellow birds of happiness follow you everywhere you roam today!    Peace.

Birdies in my Reader: 100 Face Challenge (#14)

There are many photographers here on WP whose work I’m privileged to see daily, and one of my very favorites is Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd. Her recent post of three stunning bird closeups had me itching to grab a sketchbook.

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I’m focused on faces this year, but I really liked the perspective of the bird in Kathy’s photo, so I sketched a quick outline, then went back with Derwent’s Graphitint and Inktense watercolor pencils to liven it up a bit. I also used a General’s Sketch and Wash water soluble graphite pencil for a bit of depth in the eye and beak.   (I really like those pencils in particular just for sketching with Strathmore’s mixed media paper.   Lovely creamy feel to that pencil.)

I want to thank Kathy for her friendship and encouragement, and for helping me and many of the other artists here out with reference photos for Draw a Bird Day every month! So I’ll be featuring several of her photos this week.    I also want to thank my friends Kerfe and Nina at Method Two Madness for hosting January’s edition of Draw A Bird Day.   If you’d like your artwork to be included in the compilation this month, post a link to your work here.   We like to celebrate our winged friends on the eighth of every month!

Happy Monday, and just think…..the days are getting longer every time the sun rises and sets. Spring will be sprung before we know it! Peace and plumage to all.

Draw A Bird Day in January

Tweet Tweet!    Check out those bird feet!   hehe

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I’ve been sketching sketches from the book “The Bluebird Effect” by Julie Zickefoose. I found this on page xxiii of the introduction and couldn’t resist trying it. This was painted with my Cotman travel palette, drawn in Pitt waterproof pen in the Canson universal sketch pad. I was amazed at how well this 65 lb. paper took a light watercolor wash! It sold me on these books (which are under $4 for 100 pp. at Blick)! Hard to beat that.

I find I learn something every time I intentionally copy something another artist has done, particularly when there is pen work involved.   This book has been a big help to me, because she has tons of small illustrations (all her own artwork) throughout.   The book is worthwhile for those alone, but if you’re interested in birding, her stories about birds are wonderful.   I highly recommend it.

Happy FRIDAY to all!  Fly, be freeeeee!

100 Face Challenge: Mallard Duck (#4)

The best thing about blogging on WordPress is that we’re all constantly surrounded with tons of inspiration coming at us from every direction. This post at Bay Photos by Donna recently caught my eye, and I just had to attempt to draw this mallard head.   It was a magnificent close-up head shot!   It was calling….um, quacking my name!!

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I like the ink drawing ok, but this is a face that begs for watercolor.   Don’t you agree?   How could any painter resist the beautiful colors in his head? I ran out of time to paint today, but aiming for a more colorful version of this beautiful bird next time out.   Thank you, Donna, once again, for your wonderful and inspirational photos!

Happy Sunday! Do more of what makes you happy. The world will be a better place if you do! Peace.

 

Materials Used:

Superfine Pitt Artist pen in black

Strathmore Visual Journal – Mixed Media format

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!

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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!

Draw A Bird Day (November rewind) and October recap!

*drumroll please* Here comes the long-awaited October recap of Draw A Bird day, which we last celebrated on October 8!   I hope you enjoy the artwork of the artists who joined us in October to celebrate our free-wheeling flying friends.   (If you’d like to learn more about the official Draw A Bird day holiday, visit A-Wing and A-Way here.)

We had quite a few first-time participants, listed first:

Moses at Art by Moses shared his favorite bird artwork with me and I’m sharing it with you!   😀

Michael of A Certain Line

Kathy at Backyard Bird Nerd included a poem she wrote along with just a few of her amazing bird photos

Tree at Conversations Around the Tree

Haunani at Art and Moondreams

Surabhiakascarlette at The River in Me

Carol at Carol’s Creative Papers

Susan at Susan Feniak Art

And some old favorites who’ve joined us before, in random order:

Ann at AnnChristina.com

Kirk at Dumb Sketch December has two entries here and here

Charlie at Doodlewash

Catherine at www.catherinemjohnson.com

Sharon at Monday Tuesday Wednesday

Jill at Jill’s Art Journal

Jodi at Life in Between

Kerfe at Method Two Madness

Tequihby at One Stumble at a Time

Teresa at One Good Thing

Snehal at Snehal Kank

Beverly at Art Prescription

Cynthia at Sand Salt Moon

Myriam at Myr’s Bytes

Whew!   What a list!   If I missed anyone, trust me, it’s me not you…….please let me know and I’ll be sure to include you!

Hub made a new windowsill peanut feeder, which he installed recently, and the titmice have been using our deck railing as a runway ever since! They’re trying to fatten up for winter, I guess. 🙂  So for this month, I thought I’d post a recent page from my art journal in which I’ve been drawing birds from life. Talk about a challenge! They usually only give you a few seconds before flying off with peanut in beak, lol.   I like the two on the bottom best – I had a few more seconds on these poses, as the bird decided to start eating the peanut inside the feeder.    It’s lots of fun – I encourage you to get a windowsill feeder and try it!

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I also wanted to share with you a beautiful book I found recently called “The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds” by Julie Zickefoose.    If you love birds and bird artwork, you owe it to yourself to check this book out.   The author not only wrote but illustrated it, and even though I recently brought it home from the library and have not yet read it, I can tell you the writing and illustrations are both lovely.    The artwork alone is enough, really, but she has been fascinated with birds since she was young, has rehabilitated injured birds, etc. and I have a feeling this is going to be a wonderful read, filled with anecdotes from the author’s experiences.   I’m really looking forward to it!

I took a blogging break when we went on vacation in October, and I really want to thank everyone who emailed me, commented, etc. while I was away.   There is a great community of people here and it was nice to be missed!    Thank you so much for that.   I learned a few things from my break though, and the biggest surprise was how much time was freed up by not blogging!    I was spending lots more time on WP than I realized.   I’m still making art every day, and enjoying every minute of it, but I’m not feeling the need to return to blogging at this point.   I may pop in here and there, but if you don’t see me around for awhile, rest assured all is well.     Paintbrushes and pens are still flying over here…..I’ve learned I need to make art.   So, I will definitely continue!

Peace and purple paint puddles to you, and I hope you enjoy this beautiful Autumn season as much as I am!

Draw A Bird Day, October *cue the howl*!

The other day, I spotted a beautiful little bird on our deck neither of us has seen before. I saw him several times throughout the day, and then by the following day, he was gone. Found him in our trusty Audobon field guide and it turns out he was an Eastern Phoebe, migrating south. So of course, I had to draw him for this month’s birdie celebration!

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Time has been short of late, so I sketched him pretty quickly with a couple of Polychromos colored pencils and then added a bit of a hasty background with my Cotman travel palette.    I’m looking forward to seeing all of the terrific artwork from the many artists who join together on the eighth of each month to celebrate our freedom-loving feathered friends.    Find out more about the official Draw A Bird Day holiday from A-Wing and A-Way at this link.

I’m taking a creative blogging break for a little while beginning this weekend, but I look forward to making a wrap-up post with links to everyone’s artwork when I re-enter the blogosphere!    Happy peeps and chirps to all today!   Peace.