I picked up a copy of the book Identify and Draw North American Birds and spent a few hours doing just that. The book is awesome as it gives a photo, facts, and a sketching progression in colored pencil. However, if you’re not comfortable with sketching birds, you may want to trace the bird first. The emphasis is on using colored pencils and not on bird anatomy and drawing.
But for me, this is perfect. There are 47 birds total, and I happen to have a new sketching journal, the ForestChoice John Muir Observer Journal, and I’m dedicating it to bird sketches.
Four down, 43 to go.
I finished this 9″x12″ colored pencil drawing based on a photo I took of one of my favorite farms. I started with a piece of Strathmore 500 Bristol Vellum and a light, complimentary watercolor wash–orange on top and purple on bottom–and then covered the entire thing with colored pencils (Caran D’Ache Luminance). The sky has about six or seven layers of different shades of blue, but the light orange still shows through as little glowing dots. I’m trying to decide if I like this effect and if I should stay away from complementary colors when it comes to an underpainting. It certainly gives a moody effect. I’m really pleased with this. Sometimes I think I could be content painting only barns and horses.
I spent three fun, creative, and inspiring days attending a colored pencil workshop with the wonderful artist Allan Servoss, an amazing teacher with a wealth of experience to share. The workshop was held at the Heyde Center for the Arts in Chippewa Falls, a location I can’t say enough nice things about.
Colored pencil is a new medium for me, and I had been looking forward to learning from a master artist ever since I bought my pencils a month or two ago. He started with what seemed a simple task–draw a leaf–and he brought in leaves for us to choose from. I learned quite a bit about light layering, sticking with a limited palette, and adding shadows. My leaf was a bit busy as I fell back into my habit of cluttering up the image, but I was pleased with how it turned out.
The medium of colored pencil isn’t a fast one–I stuck with my leaf much of day one. Days two and three focused on negative space and using graphite over colored pencil. Even though Allan demoed and taught techniques, we also discussed the creative process, other artists and their works and writings, material selection, and the benefit of hard work throughout the entire workshop.
I started this iris drawing on day two but didn’t complete it until I got home. I think I muddied up the background, but I’m still happy with it. I began with a background “wash” of yellows and oranges, a process he demoed that takes a great deal of time. I lightly drew in the iris and then began the background, using the negative spaces as the darkest areas. Once I finished the iris itself, the main struggle was creating a dark background.
I’m hoping for a second workshop in the future, but in the meantime, I have more than enough to think about and practice.
I took a whole slew of photos of my horse the other night as he fussed and played with the other horses in his pasture. I tend toward taking pictures of him as he looks directly at me or grazes–in other words shots of him not moving–but I think it’s time to put more motion into my practice. Even the blurry shots are useful, and I plan on doing a whole series of various Pete sketches that take less than 30 minutes to complete.
I’m loving the gray toned Strathmore sketchbook, which is what I used for the first sketch. The second set is on a light cream color which isn’t as useful for his bay roan coloring. I lean toward choosing grays, dark blues and purples, and orange highlights, which work well on white or cool-colored papers.