Are you a bird watcher? I love to watch the birds, but I wouldn’t call myself a birdwatcher- at least not the hardcore bird list kind of bird watcher. Those are the types that are super dedicated, who travel the world to check off a rare warbler off their lifetime list (have you seen The Big Year?) I am more of the "set up 5 bird feeders and baths and wait for them to come to my own yard" kind of birdwatcher. And I have seen a lot of birds this way! Yes, I have traveled a little to see migrating birds, and my family trip last May to Maine did include a boat ride out to Petit Manan island to see the puffins at my request. But I digress- it is because I love to draw them.
Although I have been drawing birds for a long time, there were gaps in my knowledge of bird anatomy that I could still not get my head around, especially wings and feet. Enter The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds by John Muir Laws. I highly recommend this book if you would like to either get started on the right foot with drawing birds or improve where you are currently at. I am still working on the wings and feet. Mr. Laws has opened up some things I didn’t know before, even in the department that I felt strongest at- bird portraits.
All this leads into sharing my current series of bird portraits. It began with this apple gourd that I wanted to coil. It had 3 flattish sides but there wasn’t much room for a scene. I decided to make 3 circles to fill in with a design but still was not sure what I wanted. I thought trees, drew them in and just wasn’t’ feeling it so erased them! I tried Celtic knots: same thing happened. Then I started drawing out bird head portraits in my sketchbook, as I was feeling inspired by my new book. That was it!
This turned in to a Sparrows gourd, I added a song sparrow, an American tree sparrow and a white throated sparrow. I wanted to approach my pyrography a bit differently, with a slightly more graphics look. Enter the dreaded … dun..dun... dunnnnnnn….outlining! I know, I know, but I really like how this turned out and added colored pencil (something I have been doing more and more lately).
During this time I have been dabbling more and more, ok maybe dabbling is not the right word- I have become a little bit obsessed with watercolor! So I started doing these circular bird portraits as miniature watercolor paintings, with gold leaf backgrounds.
AND that’s not all- more of these “bird heads in circles” appeared on ornaments. I grew these egg gourds a couple years ago, I had a great crop but many of these were very round- not the shapes I was used to working with; and something also was different in the shell for burning. They were kind of oily and not the best for subtle shading. Enter in the outlined birds- perfect for these round gourds! Below is a photo my first batch of bird ornaments. I think I have completed more than double that by now. I will keep going until I get tired of them or run out of little round gourds- whichever comes first!
My little flock of birdies- do you have a favorite bird? I have a lot of favorites but I always get excited to see a wren visit my yard - they are little and feisty, I love the way they hold up their tail and they have a beautiful song.
At some point I will be revisiting those wings and feet I have been avoiding, I will keep you updated.
Art has always been a part of my life, and I have worked in many different mediums.