What I learned about sketching from birds

Most of us have something that intimidates us when we think of doing a sketch. Some fear buildings because of perspective issues, others its people and faces, for me it is (was) birds. Past attempts were usually disappointing.

Thanks to Lyanda Lynn Haupt the author of Crow Planet, and Nature Together in Mukilteo, WA, I was challenged to paint birds. Crow Planet stimulated my awareness of the nature around me, which includes birds. Nature Together is sponsoring my Nature Sketching workshop on April 17; I have sketched a lot of leaves, flowers, and rocks in preparation, but, what if someone asked about birds, oh no! 

I have sketched a lot of leaves, flowers, and rocks in preparation. But, what if someone asked about birds, oh no! 

So I had a little talk with myself, I do that often, trying not to let people see me. “Terry, you tell people to stop thinking about lines and paint the shapes, so do it with birds.” Wise advice from a wise person I am sure. So I gave it a go. 

“Don’t define, don’t think of lines just look at the shapes and paint them with globs of paint.” This is how I teach people to paint anything because it works – and I discovered it works with birds. The temptation is always to want to outline the shapes with the brush, but it is better to work from the center and push the paint outward into the shape. Then use a bit of Micron ink for some details.

These two robins were my first attempts with the technique, and I must say I am quite pleased. When you follow the technique it works, wether it is buildings, flowers, shells, or even birds. Now I am finding birds are a favorite. And I am confident that I can pass this on to others.

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