Draw a Bird Day – Savannah Sparrow

Draw a Bird Day - Savannah Sparrow
Graphite and white pastel on tan paper, 9″ x 12″

This little sparrow had his portrait taken by me last spring, and although I’ve probably drawn this exact same bird before in another pose I wanted to do another sparrow.

I was thinking about when Jesus was reassuring that God has taken a deep interest in each of us, saying “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 NIV)

I’m glad that Jesus chose a common sparrow for that illustration, and not something more majestic. Otherwise, there might be room for someone to think that they were too small for God to notice.

Draw a Bird Day – Immature Cooper’s Hawk

Immature Cooper's Hawk
Charcoal on gessoed paper, 8.5″ x 6.5″

On my morning walk I got some photos of a hawk that flew past me and landed nearby. My lens wasn’t suited for distance photos, but I got some good pose references and enough details to identify it.

There were several attempts made before this final one, but none were working well. When restarting an artwork it sometimes helps me to try a different medium. For this last one I wanted to try something different from normal, so this is sketch paper that’s been given one coat of white acrylic gesso to give it both a water resistant and slightly toothy surface. I then drew the hawk with charcoal and used a damp brush to blend or lighten it by pushing around or removing the charcoal. Normally I’m not a fan of charcoal at all as it’s a little messy to use, but this is worth doing again.

Cooper's Hawk ref

This is a small crop of the photo, enlarged 200%.

Draw a Bird Day – Bald Eagle

Draw a Bird Day – Eagle
Watercolor, gouache, and ink on sketch paper, 11″ x 14″

This is referenced from yet another photo I took from the train. The photo is blurry but even these are still usable as a reference even if the real expression can’t be seen well. I just kind of drew something.

The pen was just a black Pentel Slicci. That was followed by various mixes of cerulean, cobalt teal, ivory black, van dyke brown, yellow ochre, and a couple of other yellows already on the palette that I’m not sure what they were. Some were watercolor and some gouache. The brush used for everything was a Princeton 6300 size 10 bright. It’s a very stiff synthetic brush meant for thick oil paint, just the opposite of pretty much all watercolor brushes, but the way it handles can be an advantage. The stiff bristles are robust and hold up well in a faster and more aggressive approach to a painting.

Draw a Bird Day – Young Robin

Juvenile Robin
Mixed media on sketch paper, 8″ x 9.25″

This is one of three baby American robins that came from a nest on the side of my house. For a couple of days it was hanging out around my front door, being fed by the parents.

Water soluble graphite was used for most of this, along with some red ochre conte crayon, yellow ochre dry pastel, and white casein paint. These were painted over with a mix of clear acrylic gel medium and clear acrylic gesso after they were applied to the paper, but the paint was mixed before use.

Juvenile Robin

Draw a Bird Day – Killdeer

Killdeer acting injured
Acrylic on sketch paper, 9.5″ x 6.5″

It’s late now, but earlier this morning I saw this killdeer pretending to be injured. They do that to lure potential predators away from their nest or chicks. Maybe after deciding I wasn’t a threat, she scurried off, stopping every few feet, but I didn’t see any nest.

It looks like the draw a bird day hub is over here on Create Art Everyday now.

Killdeer acting injured

Draw a Bird Day – House Sparrow

Maybe a Black Throated Sparrow
Acrylic on sketch paper, 9.5″ x 6.5″

I tried looking up what this bird is, but I’m not sure. I took the photo in Denver and the closest match I could find is a black throated sparrow, but none of the photos look like this one. – Update, it’s a House Sparrow as Myr said below.

It looks like the current bird posting place for draw a bird day is here.

Maybe a Black Throated Sparrow

Draw a Bird Day 3

Chickadee in a tree
Gouache and watercolor on paper, 7″ x 6″

I’ve been looking forward to making some chickadees for this month, but somehow thought there was still another day left until I checked my email this morning and saw Laura’s wood stork. The bird posting hub is here. (edit- fixed link) (edit 2) I forgot to mention all of these are referenced from Paint my Photo. In the order posted they’re from Thomas Waters, Rodney Campbell, Lissa Perkins, and Rebecca3.

These four study paintings were each entirely made with just a Robert Simmons titanium shader, size 20, with a short handle. The two middle ones were painted with some old tubes of casein from Shiva. It’s a paint made from milk protein that’s been used since ancient Egypt and used to be popular with illustrators until acrylic paints were invented. It’s water soluble, even after it’s dried, but gradually becomes more water resistant. I used to not really like it that much because if you overwork an area, like I often do, then it can get muddy fast. Of course, that’s more of an issue with my skills and approach than the paint, but it kept me from practicing much with these paints and is why I still have them after many years. I’m not sure if it’s the age of these paints, maybe they’ve gone bad, but I don’t like the odor of them. The handling of the paint itself was enjoyable though, so maybe this’ll be a good one to use outside for plein air. When thinned with water they’re similar to watercolor, and are otherwise similar to gouache.

Draw a Bird Day 2

Chiffchaff in acrylic
Acrylic on paper, 8″ x 6″

It’s draw a bird day again and this time I got the acrylics out. The previous bird day effort is over here and the blog to post these here. This time the reference is from the site Paint my Photo, here. There’s so many useful reference photos there that maybe I’ll start a new weekly series with an animal theme.

At first I was painting this just as black lines with watercolor on sketch paper, but copying the reference freehand was a little hard to get every line and proportion right on the first try. So, I painted over everything with neutral grey acrylic and then proceeded with just that grey, ivory black, and some student grade titanium white using the same brush. The paper wrinkled a bit, but it worked fine.

Chiffchaff in acrylic and brush

Here’s the brush, a 1″ Loew-Cornell 7550 wash. It looks like it’d be too big, but it actually worked great using the corners for details. For example, having one color on one corner and a different color on the other corner allows for fast switching between the two. Also, with just a little extra pressure the weight of the stroke can be greatly increased. Flat brushes are surprisingly versatile.

Draw a Bird Day

Zenaida Dove
Zinaida Dove, after John James Audubon
Mixed media on bristol board, 6″ x 4″

Last night I was browsing the blogs Create art everyday and Myr’s Bytes and noticed that today would be draw a bird day, and as you can see they already have theirs posted. Apparently the present bird hub is on Method two madness.

This is copy of part of an illustration by John James Audubon, original seen here. The beginning line work was done with a 7H pencil, followed by Daniel Smith walnut ink applied with a brush. Then the solid black areas were mostly drawn with a fine black felt tip pen but some of it was done with a brush pen. The part that took much longer than expected was adding the details of the feathers and some grey areas with a black colored pencil. I lightened the bird’s back by partially erasing the colored pencil, and the background is also colored pencil. A little white charcoal was used to add white lines on a couple of tail feathers that had too much ink.