Little Big Bird

Big Bird Doodlewash

My brain is still on retro toys, so for today’s Draw a Bird Day (started by the wonderful Laura at Create Art Everyday and now hosted by the awesome Kerfe and Nina over at Method Two Madness) we have a little plush version of Big Bird from Sesame Street. Rather unconventional entry, but he was one of my favorite characters when I was little. If anyone is wondering what kind of bird this is, let’s just say he’s a flightless eight-foot two-inch (249 cm) bright yellow talking bird of much-debated species.

I’ve always been fascinated when something gigantic like Big Bird is shrunk into a miniature form. From animal figurines to action figures, I loved anything made pocket-sized. Perhaps it was just how cute things got when scaled down this way, or perhaps it was because I could get more than one, without having to choose, for the same amount of my mother’s money. Either way, little big Big Bird was just really cool.

When I was a kid, I also like Big Bird’s best friend, Snuffleupagus, a large, hairy creature that looked like a woolly mammoth without the tusks. Back then, he was deemed Big Bird’s “imaginary” friend because adults couldn’t see him or he’d disappear before they showed up, which was super fun! This schtick was killed in the mid 80’s, though, when there was suddenly a concern that kids might not share important things with adults because of this. Which I find ridiculous, as would most kids, but unfortunately kids never get to weigh in on these decisions and they’re usually left to terrified adult brains.

I remember being excited when Big Bird finally got to star in his own big screen movie called, Follow That Bird. This was also the first-ever feature length Sesame Street film. It was a musical, too! My favorite part was when the Slease Brothers capture Big Bird, paint him blue, and put him in their carnival as “The Bluebird of Happiness.” Mostly because of the song he sings, “I’m So Blue,” which is the ‘sad ballad’ and always my favorite in any musical. And although it’s weird to admit it. I can still remember all the words.


About the Doodlewash

M. Graham watercolors: Azo Yellow, Dioxazine Purple, Ultramarine Blue, Pyrrol Red, Azo Orange, and Neutral Tint. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a 5″ x 8″ 140 lb. (300 gsm) Pentalic Aqua Journal

Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. 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!
63 Comments
  1. kirkistan 1 year ago

    Great image and great entry. I’d like to watch you put those colors on. I see yellow and blue and black and white all on the big bird’s body. How do you do that? Do you do a wash of yellow over everything and then go back over it with the other colors. I really like how you build up the fur (or, feathers, I suppose). You’ve really captured the awkward weirdness of that very large bird puppet. How do you get that color just under the wing? Sort of a grey and Yellow and black. Seems like I should know this already.

    • Author

      Thanks Kirk! I keep forgetting to add the little bit about what colors I used, so I just updated the post. Yes…for this I did a wash of yellow first over most of the bird…save some highlights for sparkle and dimension and the eyes. The legs and feet were a wash of orange first. I used purple and ultramarine blue for the initial shadows. Sometimes a mix of purple and yellow to get the grays in parts and sometimes a wash of Neutral Tint. I use the complimentary color in the shadows so they don’t get too flat. Just using Neutral Tint to darken will do that. I use it because I like high contrast images with lots of depth and can’t get as dark as I liked with colors alone. 😊

      • kirkistan 1 year ago

        Charlie, thanks very much for the explanation. Big bird stood out as particularly dimensional and I really liked how you did it. Sound like you are pretty patient with your watercolor. All this has to dry before the next wash, right? That’s were I get screwed up. I need to learn to wait. Big life lesson for me, I suppose.

      • Author

        Actually…I’m not patient at all!! Lol I will only let things dry sort of. What I do is work in a circle, so one part is drying and I move to another part, when I get back to an area to add a wash or more detail it’s “mostly dry” and I just go for it. This means I only get about 2 maybe three layers, before I’d have to really wait, so I don’t go any farther than that. I’m sure my colors would be cleaner if I used a hair dryer (which I’m considering getting a small one!) or had more time or patience, but that hasn’t happened yet. 😊

      • kirkistan 1 year ago

        I try to work in a circle too, but I still jump in too quickly. Your layers make for great images.

      • Author

        Awww thanks! Appreciate that Kirk!

  2. artandmoondreams 1 year ago

    Wonderful painting, fantastic detail…just want to hug it! Thank you for sharing this delightful portrait.

    • Author

      Thanks so much Haunani! 💕😃 Sort of an unconventional subject matter. Hehe… But I like little objects like this! 😊

  3. cindy knoke 1 year ago

    So so cure!

  4. Really great big bird. I too loved that Snufalupagus was imaginary! We took the kids last year to a Beaches Resort. It has a Sesame Street element to it, but my kids are too old, so we didn’t really pay attention to it. But one day there was a parade passing through the pool area and there was Big Bird! Finally got to meet him in my forties. ha ha

    • Author

      Thanks, Eileen!! 💕😃Haha!! Better late than never! That’s so cool! I still have never met Big Bird in person. 😊 hehe…one day though. It’s still on the list!

  5. Kari 1 year ago

    I love Sesame Street characters. When my son was around 18 months old, we started watching Sesame Street DVDs. After hundreds of hours of the show and the DVD’s, I can’t watch Elmo anymore.. The doodlewash is fantastic..

    • Author

      Thanks Kari!! ❤️😃Haha! Elmo was all the rage until that darn Tickle Me Elmo doll…he was just a background character before he got so ticklish I think! lol

  6. Charlie, this is freaking amazing. What a perfect entry for DABD! Thanks also for linking back to me. You are a sweetheart and a real talent! O’Bro of Arty Wonderment! 😀 <3

  7. Teresa Robeson 1 year ago

    That is freakin’ brilliant to combine bird and toy together! And your Big Bird is super adorable! ❤️😊

  8. Teri C 1 year ago

    Love your big bird. He was so cute. Elmo was my fav. He would be fun to sketch…hint…

    • Author

      Hehe! Thanks Teri! I never had an Elmo doll… Was too old I think before he become popular as a toy. 😊 You should try an Elmo sketch!!! 😉👍🏻It would be brilliant!

      • Teri C 1 year ago

        Oh but my Elmo doll is at home. Maybe when I get back to Wisconsin.

      • Author

        Hehe…put it on the list of things to do there! 😉👍🏻

      • Teri C 1 year ago

        It is.

  9. Jacob 1 year ago

    The treats just keep on coming. I squealed (as butchly as possible) when I saw this, Charlie! I don’t think I ever watched Sesame Street as a child, but my sister had a thing for Elmo. I loved Big Bird!! Your doodlewash is stunning, the yellow… it’s Big Bird yellow! Oh I can’t even speak I’m smiling so much and so overjoyed by this I think I need a lye down <3<3

    • Author

      Haha!! I can totally hear your butch squeal!! Lol thanks so much, Jacob!! I’m glad you liked him. I wanted to play in Draw A Bird day, but just couldn’t get away from my toys. 😊 I still want to get back to baby animals though. Hehe Too much to doodlewash and too little time in a day!

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        I love him! When I first saw the title I assumed it was going to be something like a baby ostrich, and I was prepared to squeal at that too. (May I put in a late vote for a baby ostrich doodlewash?)

        Be it animal, toy, or animal toy, I eagerly await the next edition!

      • Author

        Awww thanks! And I don’t even know what a baby ostrich looks like. 😊Must google it! Hehe

      • Jacob 1 year ago

        To be honest, neither did I until I googled it wondering what you might have painted! But they’re cute!!

      • Author

        They are! I like the ones with a goofy smile! Lol

  10. Sharon Mann 1 year ago

    I love Big Bird and all the Muppets. You have captured fluffy feathered Big Bird perfectly. Thanks for choosing the Big Bird of the Day.

  11. Jill Holmes 1 year ago

    He’s perfect, Charlie! 🙂

  12. smartyscoop 1 year ago

    Great painting! I love the combinations of pen and watercolor to create the “plush” texture! Very nice!

  13. Rachel Murphree 1 year ago

    What a super rendering of this super bird. I always liked how sweet he was–one of my favs on the street. Great doodlewash!

  14. Jill Kuhn 1 year ago

    Love your doodlewash of Big (little) Bird, Charlie! 😍 YAY! So glad you participated in Draw A Bird Day in your own wonderful way! 👍🎉🎨

  15. memadtwo 1 year ago

    They watered down Sesame Street a lot; as with everything else the PC Police became heavily involved, not to mention the ever-shifting childraising norms. I have a friend who is convinced that rap music was born in the early days of the show…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ehFz4OPn0Q

    • Author

      Oh my! Lol…Rap music too? Haha…awesome video!! Yeah… So weird how times have changed. I miss the days when things were always about to “harm” you in some way. 😉

      • memadtwo 1 year ago

        It does connect, right? Yes, we are so busy protecting ourselves, we sometimes forget to have fun!

  16. Jodi 1 year ago

    In true Charlie O fashion a perfect bird for drawabirdday! Well done buddy. You are brilliant! Lllooooovvve it!

    • Author

      Awww thanks Jodi! ❤️😃 hehe…it’s fun going down memory lane and this is the only bird I could think of that I was into! 😊lol

      • Jodi 1 year ago

        Oh to have a 5 second glimpse into the mind of Charlie O! Oh what I would give! 🙂 <3

      • Author

        Any more than 5 seconds might be terrifying! It’s pretty weird in there😊lol

      • Jodi 1 year ago

        Lol!!!!!

  17. Misti 1 year ago

    your work is always a pleasure to look at .

  18. Cathe 1 year ago

    I love the connect to Draw a Bird Day, a true Charlie moment to turn to Big Bird. You’ve created a very handsome big bird…Big Bird. I love where this month has traveled so far, super upbeat and fun!

    Oh pack your warmies, Monday in MN is going to be cold. I think the high today is 8 degrees today and tomorrow is suppose to be 3 degrees. I guess MN feels it needs to treat you to the true polar vortex…sorry (blah).

    • Author

      Thanks Cathe!! 💕😃 Glad you liked my little Big Bird! Hehe… And yes!! It’s going to be insanely cold there from what I’ve seen!! I’ve been assured I’ll mainly be in the little hamster tubes you have there, so hopefully it will be okay. 😳😊hehe… too bad we couldn’t meet for coffee! Hope you have safe travels to NYC!

  19. Phil Cooper 1 year ago

    LOVE this painting of Big Bird, I’m a big fan 😊

  20. Susan Feniak 1 year ago

    Who doesn’t love Big Bird? Well done. 🙂

  21. That Aussie Geek 1 year ago

    I hate it when the do-gooders start messing with shows because of all the potential harm they might do. I remember guns in ET and Han shooting first and the only people I want to harm are the people who are so concerned I’m damaged by those things. Kids are so much smarter than adults give them credit for. As for Sesame Street, what does it say about me that my favourite character was Oscar? 😉

    • Author

      Hehe…hmmm… Are you a grouch? In your defense though Big Bird and Oscar were played by the same guy. 😉 And yeah… I agree…. adults are sometimes a little dumb when compared to kids. Lol

  22. I love your little Big Bird! I think he may be a cross between an ostrich and a penguin and a canary. Maybe. Excellent yellow. And the texture is so huggable! Any plans to paint Snuffleupagus in the future?

  23. […] And speaking of yellow birds, Charlie O at Doodlewash managed to keep to both the bird theme, and his January journey through his childhood toys. http://doodlewash.com/2016/01/08/little-big-bird/ […]

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