Small Moments of Sketching Time: Some Finches

November 19, 2014


Above: Recent finch sketch made at the nursing home aviary. Faber-Castell Pitt Calligraphy Pen and Daniel Smith Watercolors in a small Hahnemühle pocket notebook—my regular journal was at home.

I started the week writing about taking every small moment you can find for sketching animals from life, so I'll continue it here with this sketch made recently while visiting Dick's parents.

Over the years I've noticed that recovery facilities almost always have aviaries. When you help care for two elderly people you spend a lot of time in such facilities and I think of this feature as a plus, not just for residents, but for me. Sketching birds even for a couple minutes, especially when the weather changes and it's not as easy to spot birds outside or stand in the wind and sketch, returns me to balance.

140717_FinchLeft: Here's another finch from the summer. I carry this small notebook in my bag to take notes at doctor's meetings with the folks, but it's also useful for these quick sketches. And over time they provide a record of the birds that have passed through the aviary. This little guy is no longer with us. He was a rabble rouser, and a bit arrogant and aggressive, but inquisitive. I miss his pugnacious spirit, but I'm sure his "roommates" give him not a thought. A comment on life.

No matter where your day takes you today I hope you take advantage of the bright flickers of movement that catch your eye—stop and actually savor them; even if you don't have your regular journal with you.

    • Carol
    • November 19, 2014

    Lovely post and lovely drawings, Roz …

    • Cathy
    • November 20, 2014

    I agree, sketching returns me to balance too. I love your beautiful drawings of the birds, you capture their wonderful spirits!

  1. Reply

    Wonderful sketches, so these are pet birds, not wild birds? We look at the little finches in the Pet Store where we buy dog food, they always seem so nervous.. flitting about. Our parrots, the big Macaw and the little Conure are quite sedate in comparison to these little birds.

    • Julana
    • November 20, 2014

    I han’t seen aviaries in rehab facilities around here. We’re missing out!

  2. Reply

    I’ve been in seven such facilities in the past two years and all but one had one or more aviaries—all for the entertainment of the residents. The one facility that didn’t have one was a sad place in so many ways, with no enrichment for the residents of any type.

    I know it makes extra work for the facilities (they hire a company to come in and set it up and care for the birds) but it really is a great thing and I know I will look for a facility with an aviary when it’s time for me to go into assisted living!

  3. Reply

    CaptElaine, the bird species are all originally wild, but these birds were all bred in captivity for aviaries. Finches at pet stores are usually pretty nervous. They are in rather small holding cages and don’t get to fly much and there are lots of weird noises and people pressing their faces up to them all the time.

    At the Aviaries, which vary in size but the smallest I’ve seen was the size of a large old fashioned stand alone wardrobe, and most are about 7 feet tall and 10 feet or more long and 3 feet or so deep, these little birds have lots of space to flit here and there and sit companionably with their friends on the many branches included as resting places, or retreat when tired to nesting boxes.

    I find that over time they get quite used to me standing there on the other side of the glass (there are screened sides but the front is glass). Many fly right up to the edge of a branch and sit and pose for me.

    The residents can watch them for hours.

    There are also times of day (like at the end of the day when it’s time for “bed” and the aviary light goes out, when they settle down even more.

    I hope you get to draw your big birds a lot!

  4. Reply

    Thanks Cathy, I’m glad you enjoy them. And I’m really glad you find balance in sketching.

  5. Reply

    Thanks so much Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed them. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you day is filled with sketching.

    • Julana
    • November 22, 2014

    Am going to put that on my list, too. 🙂

  6. Reply

    I hope we both don’t have to worry about this for some time yet, but it’s good to have a checklist of these essential features we want!

    • Julana
    • November 28, 2014


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