Tiny Baby Birds

Baby Birds Cardinal Father Feeding Inktober Watercolor Illustration

For our Doodlewash prompt of “Bird,” paired with the Inktober prompt of “Frail,” I ended up with a cardinal about to feed some tiny babies. Baby birds always seem so vulnerable, and in the case of the cardinals, they’re cared for and fed by both mom and dad. I learned this because I got a little sidetracked, as I’m often prone to do, watching videos of baby birds being fed and it’s totally fascinating. And, equally bizarre to see a full grown bird jam its beak into the surprisingly large open mouth of the baby. Our little dog Phineas has been feeling under the weather recently, and Philippe often fusses over him. I asked Philippe if he’d chew food and spit it into his mouth if that would make him feel better. He just shrugged as if to say, “of course, he’s my baby.” I was deeply touched and mortified in fairly equal parts. Thankfully, we don’t have to feed our babies this way, whether human or furry, but I was impressed by the efficiency of the cardinal’s feeding ritual. With three hungry mouths to feed, he never once seemed overwhelmed.     

I’m truly having a blast this month with my extra-inky approach and think it just might continue moving forward. There’s often such a wonderful difference between the ink and color versions and I’ve been liking them both for different reasons.

Baby Birds Cardinal Father Feeding Inktober 2019 Illustration

Best of all, I’ve been pushing myself entirely out of the nest that is my comfort zone this month. So far out, in fact, that I’m not quite sure what my comfort zone is at the present moment, and it feels amazing! For instance, while watching all of those videos, I decided to make a quick scribble of the birds that ended up becoming my final sketch. The tree and leaves are simply imagined, and I then built a nest out of various lines as I imagined a cardinal might with leaves and twigs. It’s still not a drawing that took me hours, as ever, since I will likely never develop that level of patience. But, I’m rather enjoying the effect and pleased with this more illustrative scribble, doodle, color approach.

Tonight, Philippe has a work event so it’s just me, Phineas, and my glass of wine. I think Phineas is feeling better tonight as he’s back to sniffing disapproval at everything and wandering about aimlessly. He’s not very happy, though, that Philippe isn’t home as he demands routine and hates when things happen out of sync. In many ways, I think I’ve been quite similar when it comes to my art. I adore my little nightly ritual. What’s changed is that instead of descending on a prompt for the day in the very moment I begin sketching, I think about it more. These days, I’m trying to be a bit more mindful. I don’t have a minute longer to sketch and paint, but I now start my day imagining what I might sketch and paint. I create the image in my mind. In order to actually make it now, I have to use tons of various references and bits of imagination. I realized I have the skill to DO this now, thanks to all of the things I’ve already sketched in the last four years. Yep, most from photo references, which I still happily endorse as a way to learn and see. Equally, that approach has given me a way to create content for an Activity Book series that invites people to draw and paint in their style, not mine. But we can and should always be inspired by what others create. This is why it’s so fun to be a creative person. Throughout history, we’ve always taken little bits of ideas and techniques from various places, eagerly waiting for that next morsel of tasty inspiration, like tiny baby birds.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Gold Ochre,Quinacridone Red, Vermilion, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen (Broad Nib) with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Baby Birds Cardinal Father Feeding Inktober Watercolor Illustration Sketchbook Detail
Recommended4 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
24 Comments
  1. Karen Fortier 1 month ago

    Great family of cardinals Charlie! I’m glad that you are enjoying challenging yourself artistically. It’s scary but fun.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Karen! 😃💕Yeah, it’s pretty scary… I’m trying things I always shied away from, but each one makes me more confident to try again!

  2. Sandra Strait 1 month ago

    You might be dismayed, and Philippe practical about it, but I suspect Phineas would love eating pre-chewed food. As much as I love dogs, they can be disgusting at times, lol. I love the way you’re stretching out. It’s almost as fun as experimenting myself!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Sandra! 😃💕 hehe… this month has been fun. Great excuse to get outside my comfort zone. That said, I won’t be chewing food for Phineas anytime soon… that’s still far outside my comfort zone! lol

  3. Walter F Pierluissi 1 month ago

    Nice, I do love Cardinals a lot…. I can see them in my backyard, here in Indiana…. Nicely done Charlie.

    • Mary Roff 1 month ago

      Beautiful painting!! Not easy to step out of our comfort zone but what fun when we do!!

      • Author
        Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

        Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 And so true! I’m having a blast tearing up my comfort zone this month! lol

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Walt! 😃💕 Thrilled you enjoyed them!

  4. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 1 month ago

    So cute!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  5. Stephanie Louise 1 month ago

    Lovely painting of baby birds. It’s very adorable and heartwarming.

  6. Lisa 1 month ago

    I love cardinals. I go a long way back as a bird watcher, and feeder. Yet, I can still be surprised. One wintry day in the 90s, I was looking out the front window at my sunflower seed feeder when a few cardinals showed up. Nothing unusual about that, but then more came, and more. I had around 30 cardinals in my front yard! They were eating from the feeders, and spilled seed on the ground and taking turns waiting on in the trees for their turn. Most of them were males, so it was a red confetti of birds. I have a good camera and lens, so I got pictures. And then they continued to show up all winter, and every winter since so long as there is snow on the ground. Here is a link to one photo with 14 cardinals in my maple tree.

  7. Loan Anh Pham 1 month ago

    They’re really lovely, Charlie🥰. I’ve nervoused a little bit when imagining there are 3 large open mouths waiting for me at the same time 😂 hehe

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks so much, Loan! 😃💕And so true!!! I thought the same thing. I think that’s why I painted my cardinal in the foreground with of a “Seriously?” look. lol

  8. memadtwo 1 month ago

    Good choice Charlie. I don’t see too many cardinals these days but I hear them all the time. (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Kerfe! 😃💕 Glad you liked this! I love cardinals… we have quite a few that appear here.

  9. smzang 1 month ago

    On this one, the black ink version is my fav. It is so awesome. It reminds me of the woodcut illustrations in old books. Love it!!

    As for the’ bird method’ of feeding Phineas in time of sickness…I think you better check with Phineas on that. He might not find it as precious as we humans do.
    (I think it’s totally precious that Philippe answered as he did without hesitation)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 1 month ago

      Thanks, Sarah! 😃💕 Yeah, I agree. I liked the ink version best on this one as well. It’s been fun this month as each stand alone, so it’s like getting two illustrations in one! And yeah, Philippe is a sweety… Phineas is on his lap as I’m typing this. Those two are quite a pair!

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