Beautiful Beginning

When I am drawing a bird’s nest, I am always mindful that the birds who built it have given me a beautiful beginning. The woven strips of bark, grass, pine needles, twigs and finer nesting materials lend themselves to lovely lines. I love rebuilding the nest on paper, strand by strand, picking out patterns and adding darks until the bird’s creation takes shape again in ink. I plan to add watercolor to this, but I thought I’d share it now to give you a sense of this beginning stage.


Gray Catbird Nest

14 Comments on “Beautiful Beginning

  1. Fun to see your beginning. I realize when looking at this that I do not add enough black ink in the shadows before beginning the watercolor part. Thank you! Very instructive. I hope your watercolor post will show the stages of your painting as well. I look forward to your blog posts and very much enjoy them. One day perhaps I’ll be able to come to one of your workshops as well.

    • Hi Sharyn- Glad this was helpful. I don’t always add a full range of darks in ink and you don’t have to. You can do it with watercolor instead. It just depends on how much drawing you want to do and what balance you want to strike between drawing and painting. The important thing, I think, is to get a good range of light to dark in the nest.

  2. I also enjoy painting bird’s nests with watercolor. I love the detail you used with your graphite. The edges are sharp and clear. I usually just start with my watercolors w/o sketching first. I will have to try your method. The sketch is lovely and gives the impression of a loosely built and well used nest. Thanks for sharing

    Most of the nests I find are in the trees and bushes in my neighborhood; they are abandoned so I never know what bird had been nesting in it. It’s amazing too see all the building materials of debris, branches, twigs, straw, leaves, lichen, plastics and grasses the birds use to build their nests. It’s almost more fun searching for the nests, trying to figure out who lived in it then actually painting it.

    • This is sketched directly in ink using a Micron 01 black pen, no pencil. I don’t always get this detailed before painting, but it seemed like the thing to do this time. I have a couple of field guides to nests, which helped me figure this one out. I love finding them AND drawing/painting them!

  3. You must have incredible patience! This looks very “zen” to me. Love the busy, chaotic feeling that somehow resolves itself into order.

    • Thanks Laure- There is a bit of patience and care that goes into it, but it’s relaxed at the same time. You don’t have to get every strand exact for it to work.

    • Thanks Laura! I have always loved to draw and consider it the foundation for everything else I do. But I love color too much leave the ink alone most of the time.

  4. Such a beautiful drawing. I can’t wait to see what you do with watercolor.
    I have a small collection of nests….mostly city birds. My favorite is one found in our local park when we lived in San Francisco. It’s a robin’s nest which included a fortune from a fortune cookie woven in the grasses!

  5. Pingback: Beautiful Ending | Drawn In

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