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Direct Sketching with Pen and Ink: Drawing Birds and Animals from Life—Another Look

March 23, 2011

See the full post for details and another drawing from the March 6 Como Zoo trip.

110306CPenguin

Left: Staedtler Pigment Liner .3 pen on defunct drawing paper in a handmade journal, 8 x 8 inches.

This post continues the series begun last week on direct sketching with Pen and Ink. Then in Monday's post I wrote about sketching while watching Puffins. The sketch shown here is a penguin sketch that was made on the same day, after I had finished with the puffins.

Sometimes when your subject is standing in one place, and you have a sense that it will remain in that position for a significant time (with the odd nod of the head now and then) you can invest in sketching a portrait, working only on the one sketch, and bringing it up to a little more detail.

After sketching the puffins on March 6 I worked my way around the aquatic building at Como Zoo to the penguins. A group of penguins stood right near the glass in an area where viewers can also stand next to the glass. You are about 2 feet away from the penguins and because their landscape is elevated so you can also see them swimming under water, when they stand here you are pretty much eye-to-eye.

This sketch was executed in exactly the same manner I've discussed in this series, except that I only worked on one sketch and when the bird turned his head or interacted with his fellows I simply waited until he returned to this pose.

Besides taking time to get a bit more detail I also made some notes. At this point there were children milling around and I wanted to step aside to allow them a better view. I decided not to add paint to this sketch. (I have enough detail here that I'll probably attempt a painting outside my journal.)

And off I went to my next stop on my sketching trip at the zoo.

  1. Roz, I took to heart your urging and have been doing my usual journal sketches straight out in ink since your first post on this subject. Yes, I often “miss” the drawing, but I do that EVEN WHEN I SKETCH IN PENCIL FIRST!! The truly amazing thing I’ve discovered is that the overall quality of my sketching is the same WITHOUT doing the pencil first…..this discovery is exactly the same thing I learned in yoga one day when the instructor had us do our tree (balancing pose) next the the wall, so that I could stop my fall with just a fingertip at any time. Suddenly, I held tree easily for the entire time….so perhaps I don’t need the safety net of the pencil any more than I needed the wall.
    Of course, my work is no better without pencil…but there is always more practice! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Jeanette, congratulations for taking the leap. I’m glad that it is working well for you. And that you had such a great epiphany in the process!

    Have fun with that practice.

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