Currently Browsing: sketching birds 17 articles


Minnesota State Fair Prep—#11: Paper Selection


Above: 9 x 7 inch trial journal card made of 300 lb. Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press watercolor paper. Wild Turkey sketch using Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

It’s time to make decisions—get paper and other media ready for sketching at the Minnesota State Fair. Yes I've been writing about this since August 12, but I still have some decisions of my own to make.

At the end of last week I was still thinking about what paper I wanted to work on. Since I had already purchased several sheets of 300 lb. hot press Fabriano Artistico I was hoping I liked it as much for the Faber-Castell Albrecht Dürer Watercolor Pencils I had decided to use, as I do for ink sketches (which I typically do at the Fair).


Using Your Journal as an Art Tool—A Meeting of the MCBA Journal Collective


Above: The progression from a journal thumbnail to a finished painting (shown later in this post). In the journal pictured above (which happens to be a Rag and Bone 8 x 10.5 inch journal) you'll see a thumbnail sketch of a bird flying out of an odd pipe. (Top of the journal's right-hand page.) Years after sketching this thumbnail I enlarged it with the photocopier (black and white enlargement behind the journal), did some color studies and tests (left, loose sheet), and when partially finished I scanned the painting, printed it out and used an acetate overlay to add details to the bird (right loose sheet). Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Monday, July 20, from 7 to 9 p.m. the Minnesota Center for Book Arts Journal Collective will meet to share ways the members have used their journals as inspiration for other artworks.


Canada Geese—And a Sort-of Quiz


Above: gesture drawings of Canada geese, made from my Subaru as they walked by. Read more about this below. Scanner cut of text at right: "walked past the car." Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Today marks 9 months of more than daily posting and I have some questions (and a prize) for readers at the end of this post, but first…

Yesterday I drove out to White Bear Lake (about 30 minutes from my home) a small town that is now really a north east satellite suburb of the Twin Cities metro area. It still has lovely wild areas in it, however. On my drive home, while driving through a business park, I saw a gaggle of Canada geese crossing the road. I pulled over, slowing the car quickly and then gradually creeping forward. By the time I coasted to the gaggle, they were almost all across the road and feeding in the grass at the side of the road, next to my Subaru. The car was off, the windows closed, the temperature rising, but I didn’t want to frighten the geese with any mechanical noises. I reached for a pen and my journal and started to sketch. Sadly the pen I grabbed was an almost dried out .1 Staedtler Pigment Liner. These are fantastic pens, but even they have a life span, that pen was at the end of its time. The still stiff and fine point actually carved into the paper and I had to dig down to get firm black lines, but I managed to get some gestures of the birds as they moved past the car and towards the marshy and reed-filled depression they were living in, at the side of the office park. I even had a chance to slap some watercolor down, before the last one walked through the wall of green weeds and disappeared.

Nature Sketching in the Dry Forests of South America

Donna McMenamin wrote in to give me a heads up about Ten Days to Paint the Forest on Terra. When I was still in Project Art for Nature we tried showing this DVD at one of our meetings but there was equipment failure. I never heard what was going on in the sound track and […]


Duck with Landscape: What Started as a Thumbnail Sketch…


Left: A duck in a landscape, Daniel Smith watercolors over graphite sketch, 2-7/8 inches x 3-1/2 inches (on a 6 x 8 inch page in my current journal.) The actual image has more yellow in it—especially in the sky and ground. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Last week I spent some time writing about fast sketches and pushing things past the point where they fall apart. I find I am still in process mode today and wanted to share this sketch of a duck I did with a landscape.

This sketch started as a thumbnail and it may or may not become a finished painting. But here is what happened.

I wanted to do a sketch of a mallard with a landscape behind him. Just a whim really. My bird paintings tend to be very large and the birds, typically just the heads, tend to be a bit "in your face." And I am always looking to improve my landscape painting skills. In the 1990s I did a series of paintings with animals and birds peering out of the frame. I wanted to get back to something a bit more overtly narrative.


Mining Sketchbooks for Inspiration (Again)


Above: This is a cropped portion from a page spread I did during the recent SketchCrawl. The bottom right hand corner is the penguin sketch I'm interested in. It was the last penguin sketch of the day and the most successful, and I was sad that I'd run out of space on the spread, but the sketch was to have life in another way too. This sketch was made with a Staedtler Pigment Liner and Schmincke gouache, in a journal I made with Nideggen paper. Read about it below. Click on the image to view an enlargement.

Regular visitors to the blog will remember that for SketchCrawl on the 11th I went with a group of sketchers to the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. (If you would like to see all my pages from this SketchCrawl they are posted at Twin Cities Sketchers.) I focused on the animals, which is typical for me. The above image is a sketch I made while at the zoo. There was one very sick looking penguin and he was standing still, so I sketched him.

090411BPuffPen Left: the entire page spread can be viewed by clicking on this image. The journal is approximately 6.5 x 9 inches. The top half of the page spread was used for puffin sketches. I then moved on to look at the pengiuns and those sketches are on the bottom portion of the spread beneath the dashed line.

When I am out sketching at the zoo I'm not worried about trying to get a finished painting of an animal or bird, I'm just trying to notice things about whatever it is that I'm sketching. I believe that everything I notice will be useful to me later when I try to make paintings of any of the animals or birds. I didn't have any plans to do a painting of a penguin anytime soon, but that very day these sketches were useful to me when it came time to do the next entry for my International Fake Journal Month journal.


First Page Spread in My International Fake Journal Month Journal


Above: The first page spread in my fake journal, started April 1, 2009 (my persona writes the date Year-Month-Date). Click on the image for an enlargement.

This week has been exhausting but interesting. I had to juggle a lot of things. One of those things was the start of IFJM, the other was jury duty. I'll be posting about the later sometime soon.

In the meantime, I wanted to post the opening  spread to my IFJM journal to give people an idea of the approach I'm taking.

Close Cookmode

Pin It on Pinterest