Have a Happy Day

Today is Draw-a-Bird Day, a special holiday I celebrate each year.  Yes, this is real holiday, and you can read all about it here: Draw a Bird Day – April 8th. I love birds. I love feeding the birds in our backyard, watching them play, and listening to their cheery songs.

Birds in flight were the very first thing I ever tried to draw — way back in my childhood days when I simply couldn’t draw anything at all. My birds were so sad-looking. They flew straight into the wastebasket.

Soon after I began learning to actually draw — in 2015 — I once again started trying to draw birds. Ten days after I uttered those words —  “I guess I have to learn to draw” — the birds began appearing in my sketchbook.

There were these fellows:

And then with a bit of added colored pencil, there was this bluebird:

Honestly, for a beginning artist who knew little about drawing and nothing about colored pencils, I don’t think my first attempts were too bad, really.

As I learned more, I drew — and painted — more birds. In fact, at one point, I even bought a book about drawing birds and a sketchbook that I devoted only to our fine feathered friends. Some of my drawings were fairly good — my colored pencil Snowy White Egret is still a favorite — but most were more like poor Mr. Partridge, that is to say, misshapen, squat, fat, and quite sorrowful-looking. Thank goodness my bird-drawing has improved over the years.

While drawing “real birds” is something I enjoy, I also love “doodle birds”, or “weird birds”, such as those drawn each Wednesday by artist Jill Kuhn at Jill’s Art Journal. Her birds always make me smile. I look forward to seeing them each week.

Inspired by Jill and by a “free workshop” offered as a Sketchbook Revival gift, I recently signed up for and completed Lucia Leyfield‘s “Doodle Bird Card” class. Even if you haven’t participated in Sketchbook Revival 2022, I think you can access this free workshop by signing up for her newsletter.

I enjoyed the class. It was a simple project. Even I could do it, I knew. The instructor, Lucia Leyfield, made sure that good results could be achieved by ANYONE enrolled in the class because she offered a variety of ways to approach the project.

This was important for me. I was in a bit of an “art funk”, but here I was reassured right from the start that, yes, no matter how discouraged I might be feeling, I, too, could create a “doodle bird card”. And I had a chance to try something new, plus I made a discovery – and all of this made me very happy, indeed.

Before I go on, let me share one of my little Doodle Birds.

I’m calling this “The Happy Chicken”. She makes me happy, and that’s something I need with my art right now. Happy Chicken is not part of an actual card, and I didn’t even add a “speech bubble” to have her wishing you a Happy Draw-a-Bird Day, even though that was my original plan.

I did add a sort of weird-looking speech bubble to this illustration. It was a bit of an afterthought. Let me tell you, though, about these little birds, how I made them, and what you’re actually looking at.

This is not a piece of paper. This is one of the thin foam sheets I have in my craft bin. I often use these foam sheets for backing on the coasters I make with alcohol ink and glazed tiles. I have a stack in a variety of colors.

The birds are not drawn on the foam. What you’re seeing is actually stickers I made, and I’m highlighting that because until a few days ago I had no idea I could make my own stickers!

You probably know all about clear sticker sheets, but this was an eye-opening new revelation for me. I heard about these sheets in another Sketchbook Revival workshop class, one by LaQuisha Hall. She mentioned them while doing a visual journal demonstration.

I stopped the workshop video then and there, clicked over to Amazon, and immediately ordered a set. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with the sheets, but I knew I had to have them here in the studio. I was thrilled when they arrived. When I logged-in for the Doodle Bird Card class and found a print-out of “bird elements”, I was excited. How easy to simply print the entire sheet of “doodles” out on a piece of sticker paper!

For inspiration, take a look at these cute little doodles from Lucia Leyfield:

I do have these printed out on a sticker sheet — but I haven’t used any of them. It would be more fun, I decided, to draw my own bird doodles. After doing a few practice shapes along with the instructor, I was feeling much more confident. I knew I could draw a bird doodle. So I did. I then printed them out on a sheet of sticker paper, cut them out, peeled the backing off, and applied them to the foam. I was in a “pretty pink” mood by then — much happier than the glum gray mood I’d begun the day with.

Lucia Leyfield goes on in the class to do a number of other things. She uses scrapbooking paper or collage papers to make backgrounds and adds various touches to give her doodle birds a bit of personality. She sometimes creates little “landscapes” for the cards she designs. All of that would be fun to do — and all of it would be quite do-able.

I loved the way Lucia Leyfield showed me how to create doodle-birds. This was very important for me right now. I was inspired and encouraged, so much so, that I simply started doing my own thing. I drew my Happy Chicken — taking up half a sheet of watercolor paper — then playfully colored her in with watercolors. I had such a good time.

I could have done more. I could have printed Happy Chicken out on sticker paper, placed her on a colorful background of scrapbooking paper, added other elements to create a “scene” — and I could have given her a speech bubble, too. None of that seemed necessary, though. I’d created a little bit of crafty art that brought me happiness and made me smile. That was all I needed.

So, today, as we celebrate Draw-a-Bird day, I’m glad to share Miss Happy Chicken with you, and I hope she makes you smile, too.

There is one other thing I want to share, as well. It’s another new “discovery” I made. It’s a Daler-Rowney pad of A4 sheets — sheets that will fit into the tray of a printer. But these are a slightly heavier weight than standard “cartridge” or “copy” paper. There are several textures available, too. Earlier I’d actually cut down a sheet of watercolor paper so that I could use it in my printer, all the while thinking “Why doesn’t somebody manufacture paper like this?” Then, to my amazement, Lucia Leyfield holds up a pad of Daler-Rowney cartridge paper. I raced right over to Amazon. Mine will be here in a day or two.

That made me smile, as well. I was delighted that my somber, gray morning was brightened by a bit of colorful art. Making bird doodles can be fun, and even though I didn’t “complete” the project by creating an actual greeting card, I did what I needed to do. Plus, I know how to use what I’ve learned. I will be able to create lots of doodles, lots of stickers, lots of cards!

I’m having a very good day now, and I wish you and yours a happy day, too! Miss Chicken sends her greetings!

NOTE: Being in such a bright, cheerful mood, I did come back to the studio later to make a little “bird doodle” card using a few of Leyfield’s stickers and bits of scrapbook paper. I left it on the table for my husband to find. He was delighted with it — and so was I. I even did the hand-lettering and it looks good! All in all, this was a very successful project for me, and right now that was what I needed more than anything. It was enough to get me out of my “art funk” and make me smile again. Art should make us smile, remember!

 

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