Another bird sketch – not entirely sure what it is but I think it is a tree sparrow or something similar. I don’t know too much about birds, in fact, I don’t really know anything at all worthwhile about birds and I find the whole issue of bird identification quite bewildering. Nevertheless, I am finding that they can be quite fun to try and sketch once in a while.
I was aiming for a much looser and expressive feel with these sketches. The result is certainly looser than my previous attempt but still a long way off from what I had envisioned originally. I might try and blame the paper for my failure to get the result I wanted but I think the problem is mainly me.
I actually made a couple more sketches of this bird, although those were so horrendously awful I decided they will stay hidden in my sketchbook forever. What you are seeing here are actually the third (below) and fourth (top) sketches. I do find there’s a lot of value in redrawing and repainting the same subject again and again. The repetition always leads to improvements and even if they are only incremental refinements, one is still learning. At some point you have to call it quits, even if only temporarily, and in this case, after four iterations I’d had enough – I figured it was time to move on to other subjects and try something different.
In this first sketch, I used mainly a Pentel brush pen and a Pigma Micron. The brush pen lends itself to expressive mark-making though I do find it quite difficult to use effectively. It’s a matter of control, the marks I make often end up completely different to those I intended. The bottom sketch was made using a Pigma Micron 01. Paints were mainly W&N Cotman; Sepia, Burnt Umber, Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue.
I’ve been meaning to try some sketches of birds for quite some time and at long last Ive done it.
I kind of messed up with the first sketch (hidden at the bottom of the page), of what I believe is a Bullfinch, so I think we’ll just call that one a test. I actually thought it was going alright until I started working on the background and that’s when it became just a huge mess. In the later sketches, I found that a more sparse treatment for the background worked much better.
The first sketch and the second one also were done in a Stillman & Birn Zeta series sketchbook (7″ x 7″), which has a smooth hot press surface. For the first sketch colours were mainly cadmium red pale hue and Payne’s Gray – I don’t recall the colours for the background. The second sketch, of a Nuthatch, was an improvement – the background foliage was nothing more than a random green mixture splashed onto the paper – the tree trunk was something similar but with a couple of brown mixtures. The third sketch is of a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. Again, this was completed in a Stillman & Birn sketchbook, but the Beta series, which has a cold press surface but is in the same 7″ x 7″ square format, which I find suits these sketches quite well.
The process for these sketches was essentially the same. Pencilling in lightly to establish the contours and the main shapes, then going over the sketches again with a Pigma Micron 01 and then finally, adding the watercolour. In the later sketches, I spent more time rendering the birds with the pen particularly with regard to modelling the form – which has the effect I think of simplifying the painting part of the process.