New Birds at the Pet Store

June 22, 2011

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.

110605DovePetStoreEYEDETAIL 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.

110605DovePetBodyDetail 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.

  1. Reply

    Wonderful piece. Great use of materials and color as well.

  2. Reply

    Great piece and thank you for sharing a little of your process. I need to get out and sketch more 🙂

    • Lynn
    • June 22, 2011

    Roz – I just have to say how grateful I am for your Blog. I’ve been following it daily for several weeks and have been truly inspired by your work. Thank you for all the time and effort required to maintain such a detailed and educational collection. I also love your You Tube videos! More please…

  3. Reply

    Judy, yes, get out and sketch as much as you can! Make a plan right now and mark your calendar. Go somewhere fun where you’re sure to find stuff.

    But in the meantime, carry your journal with you everywhere and make a point of taking it out at least 3 times a day for a couple minutes. Soon you’ll be sketching all the time!!

  4. Reply

    Lynn, thanks for your kind words. I’m glad that you enjoy the blog and hope you enjoy exploring the various categories. Since you’ve only been reading for several weeks I recommend that you look at “Superstitions” which is one of my favorite categories. And check out the “PAGES” list because there are some fun things there—like the Weirdo Journal. And if you still have a moment stop over at
    Which is near and dear to my heart.

  5. Reply

    Oh, and Lynn, I forgot to mention, there will be more videos. Look for them this fall. There will be something from the State Fair I’m thinking, and there will be some paper tearing stuff, and I’m going to be making some videos of me painting. But it has to cool down first because I don’t want to make videos with all that fan noise!!!


  6. Reply

    I found your blog through Rice’s yahoo journaling group, and have been excited to see your work. I’ve been in a bit of a ‘blocked’ stage, and you are motivating me to get drawing again. Your deft and expressive line drawings and paintings are quite inspiring. Thanks for a great blog!

  7. Reply

    Ok so I ordered some Schmincke gouache and am anxiously awaiting its delivery and also the travel palettes from Wet Paint. I will let you know how it goes. Thanks for the tips!

  8. Reply

    Birds…chickens…always good subjects for creative work. And,thanks for the technical tips.

  9. Reply

    Susan, yes birds, chickens, are always great subjects. But I have to admit that within the large set of birds the subset of pigeons/doves have a special place in my heart. I have traveled all over the world and everywhere I go I always draw pigeons (or doves).

    Can’t help myself.
    Thanks for reading.

  10. Reply

    Dianne, I’m so glad you found your way here and are enjoying the blog! The great thing about drawing is that once you start drawing you get some momentum and that builds and then you quickly will get past your block. So pick up a pen and have at it!

  11. Reply

    Awesome painting. I like too much. When working in a lighter color for my pencil drawings that I created with these paintings.

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