December 8. That date’s been in my mind ever since I started oil painting last month. The 8th of each month, of course, is when the online art community we’ve created celebrates “Draw-a-Bird” day. The “official” celebration is in April each year, but since we all love birds, we enjoy having our own day for sharing each month.
But as a fledgling oil painter who hasn’t yet learned to fly — or to do much more than basic landscape paintings — what would I do for December’s “Draw-a-Bird” event?
I could, of course, grab pastels or colored pencils. I could draw a bird with graphite or charcoal. Instead, I chose to challenge myself and attempt to create a bird in oils.
It’s not much of a bird.
I had fun painting Poor Mr. Patridge, and it gave me a chance to use a small canvas that would otherwise have gone to waste. It was one I received for Christmas last year. Now that I’m doing a bit of oil painting, I got out the old canvases, and I actually started a little autumn scene on this one. It’s an 8 x 10 stretched canvas, and when I began painting I found it had a lovely indentation in it. So I just gave up the autumn scene and set the canvas aside.
But then, when I decided to attempt painting a bird in oil, I figured that canvas would be just perfect. I knew the results wouldn’t be good, but that was all right with me. I just wanted to fun of joining in the December festivities, and I wanted to do it with oil.
I have a feeling there will probably be lots of partridges flying around today, as well as many more sitting contentedly in their pear trees, and I hope you’ll let Poor Mr. Partridge join the flock.
I painted him very quickly — as you can certainly tell — then took his picture, added a colored background, and put him in a “Foto-Flexer” poster. Sure, I could have done better. I could have taken more time, carefully drawn the bird out with charcoal on a good canvas, and I could have used tiny little brushes to create feathers and make the bird’s coloring more true-to-life. The results still wouldn’t have been anything to brag about, and I would probably have come away from the painting feeling discouraged and down-hearted.
Instead, I let myself have fun painting Poor Mr. Partridge, and he has a certain charm of his own. I’m keeping him, and someday when I have more oil-painting experience, I’ll paint another partridge. But that’s not going to happen for a while.
So, for now, Happy Draw-A-Bird Day and Merry Christmas from me and Poor Mr. Partridge.