Monday, June 26, 2017

The Hummingbirds Just Won't Hold Still

Why should I feel discouraged
Why should the shadows come
Why should my heart feel lonely
And long for heaven and home

When Jesus is my portion
A constant friend is he
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches over me

Practicing in my sketchbook
This powerful verse was written over 100 years ago by Civilla Durfee Martin (1866-1948).  Civilla was born in Nova Scotia and died in Atlanta, Ga. The poem “His Eye is on the Sparrow” was written in 1905 and has become one of the most influential gospel hymns and has been sung.

A Journal page dedicated to sparrows

Last week I was completely obsessed with drawing these tiny little song birds.  I didn't realize how many varieties of sparrows there are in the world and some time online researching trying to just determine what breed is the most common here in the Las Vegas area.  I finally concluded that I think they are Brewer's Sparrows.  They have dark beaks and the males have dark brown heads and throat.

It wasn't just pencils and pen this week that were busy creating feathers but I also decided to grab up my paintbrushes and have some fun with this little acrylic piece a small sparrow on a stump surrounded by black eyed susans and tall grass.  This is on an 8 x 8 gallery wrapped canvas.

All this sparrow drawing and painting helped me prepare for my biggest sparrow challenge of the week.  This 5 x 18 color pencil painting took me longer than I thought it would.  Each day I added another sparrow to my fence and then decided that some tall wildflowers added to the composition.  To get ready for this drawing I spent sometime sketching and painting sparrows.  I even dedicated a page to them in my artistic journal book and took pictures of the color pencil process on one of the birds to share here with you.

"Early Morning Flock Talk"- 5 x 18" original colored pencil painting

Here I have my rough sketch done in 4H pencil so that it is very lightly drawn out.  I used a light tan color and filled in almost the entire bird except for where I felt there were going to be white feathers or very dark areas.  My main concern here is to get rid of as much white paper as I can with the lightest color that is found on the feathers.  Don't worry if you cover up more than you want to because later the mechanical eraser does wonders with pulling off the waxy lead.

This second progress photo shows that I have used my Marvy LePen black to draw in the fine details of his face.  I have also added a darker shade of brown to the face and wings.  I always am amazed at just how much difference there is in a piece of art when you add the eyes.  The eyes are certainly the most important part of a face.

The third picture taken of my work in progress shows that I'm using the black Prismacolor to block in the chest feathers and the area around the eyes and beak.  I've also used this very lightly to add some contrast and shadows in the area of the chest feathers.

Using color pencils is really all about layers and as I work around the bird I just keep adding more and more colors to bring out the feathers and the detail.  I am really hooked on the way that outlining my subject with a black line gives it a more illustrated look.  I love the combination of the fine detail and the illustrated comic look.  I think it makes each element pop in the composition and so for now that is the style that I am going for.  So in this picture you can see I have now outlined the whole bird and the fence post.

On my next progression shot I show you one of my favorite color pencil tools and that is my battery operated Derwent eraser.  This eraser is amazing and I love the effects I can get with it on feathers and areas that I want texture not to mention cleaning up spots where I got a little carried away with my coloring.

With all the erasing you can really produce a lot of debris on your paper and rather than using your hand to brush off the bits of rubber missed with paper and colored wax, you want to use a brush.  I love this Langnickel 2" Large Area Artist brush for that.  The bristles are very soft but think enough that it does a great job cleaning up my paper with out smudging the colors.  I got this particular brush as part of a drawing set I ordered from pencil artist Darrel Tank (5 Pencil method).  I don't think he sells supplies anymore but I'm sure you can find this same brush at Cheap Joes or at Blicks.

As I am coming to the very last of the details, I often grab my white Reminisce gel pen to brighten the highlight of the eye or spots of white where I want the the brightest highlights to be.

In my completed piece that I titled "Early Morning Flock Talk",  this particular sparrow is number 2 in the line of 5 feathered friends.  

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