See the full post to read details about this sketch and see close up images.
Above: Sleeping Dove at the pet store. Grey Faber-Castell Pitt Artist's Brush Pen sketch, covered with gouache; all on a prepainted (fluid acrylics and rubberstamp ink [stenciled squares]) background. Handmade journal using Velin Arches (Arches Text Wove), approximately 6 x 8 inches when closed.
Since there is no life model at home any longer there are some days when I just have to go out and sketch something. Often the zoo is already closed. Often there are no animals about (if I take a walk). I need a dependable source of animals. Birds at the pet store can be a great fix.
Tip for Sketching in a Pet Store: Sketch in a small book with a pen or pencil—nothing to draw attention to yourself. Stand out of the way and be aware of buying customers and get out of their view and access. If you do those two things most store personnel will simply let you work away quietly.
I decided to use a grey pen because I wanted to have less work trying to hide the ink lines below the paint. And frankly sometimes when I work with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen I love the bold black lines it makes so much that I can't stand to paint over them. I knew I wanted to paint on this very energetic background.
Left: Here's a detail of the eye portion of this journal sketch. While I was sketching I didn't take notes about the bird because I was working on a prepainted background and was going for a no-text page. If you look closely at the eye, to the far back and left, you can see the gray of the Faber-Castel Pitt Artist's Brush Pen. You can also see a line of this ink at the top of the beak in this same deail image—I placed the pink paint just inside the gray line and left the line showing to give the beak a bit more definition. I don't use black paint in my paintings so the darkest darks in this sketch are blacks created by mixing complementary colors at a saturated strength.
Right: Here is another detail from the page spread. By using the white paint in a more translucent fashion in the body of the bird I can blend back to the white of the page (at the far left) and create a softness indicative of the actual bird. It also allows interesting textures to emerge from the prepainted background. The bird had a little bit of buff colored plummage here and there so I suggested that as well with some paint. Then, with a mixed "black" I went in to add some of the feather pattern this bird sported, but I quickly abandoned that as too fussy.
I painted the bird sketch at home using freshly squeezed tube paint (for the white) and other colors I had left over, dried out, on my palette. I love that the colors I had out worked with the bird's real colors and the background I had prepainted a week earlier.
While at the pet store I will often take some reference photos (though once you start doing that store personnel are apt to ask you to leave—suspicious perhaps of your motives—thinking perhaps you're from PETA?). Those photos tend, because of the lighting, to be blurry, but I can use them to remind myself of details about local color on the birds, or shapes of bills and such.
By using gouache as I have on this page spread, I can hide or correct "errors" in the original sketch with paint. Typically I'll leave some portion of my inkwork showing through to give me a darkest dark near an area of contrast. When working in a lighter pen color for my sketching I have to create those with paints.
I was thrilled to go to the pet store and find a new type of bird (a small breed of dove, which I didn't write down the name of because I was supposed to meet up with Dick and was in a rush). I was also pleased when I painted the image that the colors worked so well with the existing background. It always makes me smile, and it makes me anxious to get some more sketching done.