Bird-Drawing Tip: Get Familiar

Familiar has a double-meaning in this case. Barry Van Dusen said a smart thing the other day, that if you wish to successfully draw a bird, draw that bird over and over until you assimilate its form. Stay within that bird family long enough to grok it. If you draw warblers and then switch over to herons you’ll have a bit of disconnect until you get the hang of long legs and long necks . Draw a lot of one family until that particular morphology makes some sense and becomes second nature to you, until you get the hang of the proportions and movements. A warbler is a bird, and so is a stork, and so is a mudhen but it will be less frustrating if you practice on one type at a time. Get comfortable with one bird family before you move on to another. For example: Monday=Raptor Day, Tuesday=Shorebird Day, Wednesday=Cassowary Day (or whatever shows up for you). Try it!

Bad I.D. alert: it’s a Parula warbler, folks. Jumped the gun a little, but now I have another life bird to look forward to!

Lately it’s been Warbler Day every day. That’s all about drawing with your head thrown back, looking straight up. Sore necks (yours) are part of the process. But worth it!

Exception to the Warbler Neck Rule: Ovenbirds are walkin’ warblers, found on the ground.

About zeladoniac

Debby Kaspari travels the world with sketchbook and binoculars, drawing and painting in wild and not-so-wild landscapes. Norman, Oklahoma is her home base, and she lives there with her tropical ecologist husband and a mackerel tabby named Gizmo.
This entry was posted in Art, bird art, birding, birds, Drawing, field sketching, Nature, nature journaling, teaching, Wildlife. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Bird-Drawing Tip: Get Familiar

  1. Selma says:

    What a bunch of little cuties. You have captured the essence of them so well. Awwww!

  2. Absolutely loving this journal of your discoveries in the Harvard Forest and environs. That last study of the ovenbird, especially the head-turned one, is a killer. Also love the leg position on the walking bird. Yayy on the turkey! She must figure she’s safer glommed up against the house. Hope she’s right. Is the turkey the new robin??

    This blog–such a breath of fresh creative air. How lucky are you to be able to ramble around, drawing what you see.

  3. I must agree with Julie, it seems that new environs have given you a fresh creative view. You seem to be enjoying yourself, you certainly are giving your blog readers lots and lots of enjoyment too! Great work! 😀

  4. wrjones says:

    Good advice, thanks.

  5. 100swallows says:

    zeladoniac–do you know what happened? I pushed on your visiting card address left at my blog on May 13––and a card came up and said your blog no longer existed, the authors had deleted it. Scared the devil out of me.
    I like these and all your fine watercolors.

  6. freesabird says:

    Beautiful bird sketches. What a blessing to have such talent.

  7. zeladoniac says:

    Thanks, freesabird, that’s really nice to hear.

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