Cooperative Subjects

If you’ve ever tried sketching birds, you know that they are terrible models. Few will stay put for more than a few seconds. As soon as pencil meets paper they’ve struck a new pose. Except for gulls! Head to the coast – or to many vacant parking lots – and gulls will loudly greet you and serve as cooperative subjects. Among my favorites is the raucous laughing gull with its smooth black head. Next to ordinary herring gulls, laughing gulls seem far more distinguished. But all gulls make good models. Next time you’re at the beach, bring a sketchbook along and give gulls a try.

Warming up- Gesture sketches or contour sketches are often done in 10, 20, and 30 second intervals. That’s about all you’ll get for a single gull sketch. But birds often return to similar poses, so you can pick up where you left off.

Warming up- Gesture sketches or contour sketches are often done in 10, 20, and 30 second intervals. That’s about all you’ll get for a single gull sketch. But birds often return to similar poses, so you can pick up where you left off.

White on White- White birds on white paper can be a challenge. I’ve added a bit of sky and skim of shadow to give shape to these gulls.

White on White- White birds on white paper can be a challenge. I’ve added a bit of sky and skim of shadow to give shape to these gulls.

White on toned paper- I did this more careful drawing with pencil, colored pencils on Strathmore 80lb toned tan paper glued into my sketchbook. Toned paper is really great for white subjects like gulls.

White on Toned Paper- Quick sketches inform longer drawings like this one. Done with pencil and colored pencils on Strathmore 80lb toned tan paper glued into my sketchbook. Toned paper is really great for white subjects like gulls.

Click any of the above sketches to view them larger.

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17 thoughts on “Cooperative Subjects

  1. I just love your work. Thank you for sharing, Jean. I painted a bird in flight for Day 1 of World Watercolor Month today…….never thought I would be able to do that when I started. Now, I see work like yours and think the same thing. So there’s hope! Have a wonderful holiday weekend.

  2. What wonderful subjects you have, I love all of the sketches and am particularly in love with the sketch on toned paper…stunning. Thank you for sharing, now if I could just convince the neighborhood birds to hold still like your gulls…lol.

    • Thanks Chris! I get a little nervous before jumping in to sketches like this (maybe its the perfectionist in me not wanting to mess up), but once I get going I enjoy it. Working fast does make for lively sketches.

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