When I first started sketching, a group of artist bloggers and myself would all post a sketch of a bird on the 8th day of each month, so I often put a bird prompt on this day. This original art gathering was a year-long extension of the actual Draw A Bird Day which takes place on April 8th. And from this experience, I realized I rather adore sketching birds! I’ve sketched quite a few on my journey, but thankfully nature has thousands to choose from each time. For today, I’ve chosen a couple of European bee-eaters as I was captivated by the colors. As the name suggests these are insectivorous creatures who enjoying eating all types of flying insects, but seem to find bees, wasps and hornets particularly yummy. Though they are visually lovely, not everyone is a fan. Particularly bee keepers, who have a warranted disdain for them since they devour over 250 bees a day. Even though bees are small, this still seems like an astounding number to me. And since they feed in the open, there are many stunning photos of them catching their prey in mid-flight. Until, of course, I stop to consider that they’re eating bugs, and then the little boy in me just scrunches up his face and says, “Ewww! Gross!”
Philippe is a huge fan of the original Jurassic Park movie and dinosaurs in general, so that’s another reason I enjoy birds since they are our living dinosaurs. And each time I consider it, I’m so incredibly thankful that they’ve shrunk in size since that time. What’s fun on a movie screen would be perfectly terrifying were it to land in your backyard. Though birdwatching would certainly become much easier and not even require binoculars. What I’ve found is that the most colorful birds, outside of a cardinal, are rather rare where I live. So, sketching them is a fun excuse to learn and discover different kinds of birds. A sort of virtual form of bird watching, which as many of you know, can easily distract me and it’s any wonder I manage to make a sketch at all. I try to stick with birds, but darn if those cute cat videos don’t lure me in every time. So, I quickly leave the video world and go back to just reading about birds, like I did when I was a kid. It’s fun to learn new things that just yesterday weren’t a part of my knowledge. That said, there’s only so much trivia one brain can hold, so I’m not sure how much of it I actually retain.
I’ve no idea if knowing a bit more about your subject matter makes it easier to sketch. But, I do know is that, for me at least, it makes the whole experience more well-rounded and fun! I get to gleefully be that little geeky kid I once was, and enjoy the fact that I’m still that little geek. That silly goofy kid who wanted to learn more about every single new thing he discovered. The one that felt the act of learning was an experience in itself. This is why I hold that little kid close to me as I sketch and paint each day. I often need to be reminded that the act of learning something is the very thing itself. The outcome isn’t nearly as important. As most of us now realize, when it comes to watercolor, there’s a certain lack of control and absolutely no guarantees. In truth, sometimes I think watercolor is in itself a commercial for just about any other medium. It’s unruly, we have limited attempts to paint on top of it, and we’re simply stuck with the end result. And that’s exactly the reason I adore it! If I knew that I could simply rework a painting for several years, like Da Vinci did with his oil painting of the Mona Lisa, I’d probably collapse in fear and frustration. Instead, I far prefer the spontaneous moment that happened only today as I made a little something just for the love of birds.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Vermillion, Indigo, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click Here!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!