The Bird is the Word

Back in 1963, if you turned on the radio you might hear this silly song:

It went all the way up to #4 on the charts, and yes, we went around singing, “Bird… bird… the bird is the word…”

So, when I attended Wednesday evening’s “Gettin’ Sketchy” session and drew this vulture, I was hearing those crazy lyrics running through my head. The bird is the word, and the word for this bird was unlovable.

Charcoal Drawing – Vulture

If you’d like to follow along with Ashley Bane Hurst as he sketches this bird in charcoal, you can click the link below:

Gettin’ Sketchy – Unloved Bird

All the “Gettin’ Sketchy” episodes feature a timed drawing exercise — forty-five minutes from start to finish. As usual, I completed my drawing in much less time, probably about 30 minutes. My vulture, as you can tell, is not carefully drawn, and it’s sorely lacking in detail.

For reference, here’s the image we were drawing from:

I know I didn’t get the shape of the bird’s neck quite right, but at least my bird resembles a bird, and actually, I think it does resemble a vulture.

Charcoal is a medium I enjoy using. My drawing was done completely with a small stick of vine charcoal.

In his drawing, Ashley used both vine charcoal and a charcoal pencil. He also used a kneaded eraser to create the details. His drawing was magnificent. Everyone watching applauded his talent.

My bird is a sorry, bedraggled-looking sight next to Ashley’s vulture, but seeing what can be done with charcoal is definitely inspiring.

After taking part in last night’s timed drawing exercise, I’m reminded again of how important it is for me to look closely at whatever reference I’m drawing from, and how much I need to look at the changes in value. Where I saw mostly a “black bird” — which is what I drew — Ashley saw feathers, patterns of light and dark, wood grain on the perch. Learning to see more carefully is an important lesson.

I had fun drawing my black bird. Gettin’ Sketchy is always fun, so if you have a chance, be sure to join in on YouTube every Wednesday at 5:30 CST. I’m not sure how many more sessions Matt and Ashley will be doing, but there will be at least a few more weeks before they take a break.

Now, I’m left singing that crazy song… bird, bird, the bird is the word!


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