When I’m pressed for art time, I like to come up with a subject that I can work on in short takes over several days. Such has been the case lately, so I decided to revisit a sketchbook page that I did several years ago. In 2014, I painted a number of chickadees on a single journal page using pencil and watercolor. I’ve always liked that page, so I decided repeat it— this time on toned paper using only a pen and a bit of white colored pencil for highlights. This exercise is a good one for trying to capture different poses and for getting the basics of the bird down without too much fuss.
Tips and Techniques– Chickadees are common songsters, but they don’t sit still for long. Practice drawing them quickly from photos and you’ll be better prepared for sketching them from life. Give yourself a time limit; see what you can do in 3 to 5 minutes per bird. Add a few more minutes for shading or finer details if needed. I used toned paper, but you could use drawing paper or watercolor paper with a touch of color for shading and dimension.
Chickadees are my favorite bird. I’ve sketched hundreds. You sure do the poses beautifully, and capture their expression. I love the toned paper effect. I could stare at this page all day. But I think I’ll watch my chickadees out the window for now. 😊
I find them challenging to sketch because they are so fleeting. You rarely get even a few seconds at the feeder. If you haven’t used toned paper, I recommend trying it for your next chickadee sketches.
The page has a terrific graphic quality, Jean. Chickadees – gotta love those little guys!
Great chickadees! Do you have a particular white pencil that you like for toned paper?
I’ve tried all kinds of white pens, pencils waxed crayons, etc. and I don’t love any of them. BUT, I used a Canan d’Ache permanent color white colored pencil for this and it was fine for this purpose. I also have Windsor and Newton permanent white gouache, which is quite good. I recently bought a Dr.Ph.Martin Bombay white India ink, which I have yet to test. Fingers crossed!
These are just wonderful, Jean, and what a challenge these little birds are! SO fast…
Love you work…I paint garden birds and love it…live in Maine…where is Hog Island?
Hi Susan- Thanks! Hog Island is near Damariscotta (mid-coast). It’s only a short distance from the mainland. Check it out: http://hogisland.audubon.org
Beautiful sketches, Jean :-). You captured the chickadees’ adorable chickadeeness. My first quick sketch of a chickadee didn’t look adorable at all so I gave up on drawing chickadees for a while. I tried again a couple of weeks ago and had better results. And then I saw this post and now I’m motivated to draw a few more. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration!
So glad to inspire you to do more. Sometimes I need to take a break, too, from challenging subjects and then come back around to them with a fresh perspective or more experience. I’m enjoying your artwork too!
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