Bird Count

bird contact pageThe bird thing started this past winter.

I had been doing most of my illustration digitally using a stylus and tablet for the past few years and before that my main medium was brush and acrylic paint on canvas. Some time in late February I decided to try something new and I started drawing with pen and ink on watercolor paper.

Around that same time I had an idea for a picture book that involved birds.

I thought, I should learn how to draw birds in this new medium.

Now, the best way to learn how to draw something is to draw it.

It felt good to be learning something new. I knew very little about working with pen and ink but that knowledge was a lot compared to what I knew about birds.

I started with the most common bird at my feeder, the chickadee, one of the handful of birds I can confidently identify.chickadee 2

Getting the hang of using the dip pen took a little while to get used to. I fooled around with the pen on dry paper and wet paper. I tried using a little ink, then a lot of ink. I used an ink wash with some soft brushes. I added a bit of watercolor.

Then I drew it again and again until I felt like the little guy looked like an actual bird.

Next I did the titmouse, then the cardinal, the woodpecker and one by one the usual gang at the bird feeder including squirrels, bunnies.squirrel bunny

All this trial and error drawing was leading to a fat stack of bumpy watercolor paper with birds painted on both sides of the paper and on any free white space.

I had been posting on Instagram my progress and friends were starting to ask me, “What’s the deal with the birds?”. I have answered them by muddling through my explanation about the children’s book which is only the beginning of the answer.

The truth is I really like drawing the birds. I want to draw more birds. I want to learn more about birds. I think this feeling must be akin to what bird watchers experience when they first start.

I never understood the fascination. I couldn’t understand how people could spend their free time and money just looking at birds.

I get it now. There is something magical and otherworldly going on with these creatures that is so different from our human existence that goes on unnoticed most of the time.

I notice now.