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 designed these two Claybord pieces as a diptych. Pete is on the left, Banner on the right.
I switched from acrylic paint for my backgrounds to Ampersand ink and I love the change. I can water down the ink without any issues, and they’re lightfast and archival. With this 6″x8″ piece, however, I went overboard with green and then spent most of my time either toning it down with colored pencil or sanding it off with a fiberglass brush. The beauty of Claybord is that I can use scratchboard techniques for detail and highlights, but using steel wool or a fiberglass brush can erase any mistake nearly down to the white surface. And here are some pictures of Pete having a good roll and then hightailing it back to me.
I followed the same process as my other Claybords by using an acrylic background, colored pencils for all the drawing, and scratchboard techniques for highlights and details for these two 6″x6″ pieces.
I’ve become fascinated with sketching birds, so I’m making an effort to learn more about them. Artist and naturalist John Muir Laws has numerous lectures on nature journaling, and I’d recommend them to anyone who wants to improve drawing animals, trees, insects, etc.
Some very, very fast equines (and goats).