Travel with me back in time… back to the 1980’s… back when I truly couldn’t draw a thing! I loved birds — I still do — and once upon a time I sat down with a copy of my Roger Torey Peterson field guide to our feathered friends and made an attempt to draw one. It didn’t look too difficult really. Easy, gentle outlines. Surely if I took my time and studied the illustration carefully I could draw something as simple as a bird, right?
Wrong. My results were so laughable I threw the page away and lamented the sad truth. I was not an artist, and at the time, I never expected I would someday become one.
But, somehow, the miraculous happened. In 2015 I decided I would learn to draw, and I began patiently teaching myself the basics of lines and shapes and forms. I was surprised to find myself doing well… at least until I bravely tried once again to draw a bird.
It was not pretty. Probably better than my earlier attempt back in the ’80’s, but still awful enough to convince me that drawing birds was likely not a talent I would ever develop to any significant degree.
I have perservered, though. I’ve continued drawing birds, and even though it’s been a slow and oftentimes painful process, my birds are getting better. Many are still a little misshapen, and I’m not able to get delicate details of wings and feathers, but more and more I’m surprising myself.
Here is a recent sketch done during a 45-minute drawing session at “Gettin’ Sketchy”:
It’s really a bird! A “Harris’s Hawk”, I believe. I’m proud of this magnificent creature. It’s one of my best attempts at drawing a bird that doesn’t look like it belongs in a cartoon strip or on a kindergarden art wall.
I did the original sketch with a graphite pencil, working lightly on toned gray paper. I then switched to charcoal for adding some shading, and a white charcoal pencil for a few highlights. The rest was done with pastel pencils, using reddish-based hues.
As I look back now over the last year or so of drawing, I can see how my bird drawings have been gradually improving. I’m getting a better understanding of body shapes and proportions, and I’ve learned to create more realistic eyes and beaks. Those were the features that always proved most difficult for me.
Yes, I’m proud of this hawk, and I’m happy to share my drawing today. I hope you like it.