A tangle in the brush. Strips of woven grape vine and grass. A downy mass of cattails bound with sedges and reeds. No matter where I find them or what they’re made of, I simply find bird nests irresistible. I have been drawing and painting bird nests weekly since November, in part because I’ve been teaching a class on The Art of the Bird, but also because I love the challenge and the beauty of painting nests. So, today, you get a gallery of nests…enjoy! (Click any image to view larger.)
1. Collecting on Paper- These nests are in the collection of the Pember Museum of Natural History, which recently reopened after months of pandemic closure. I spent two hours in front a single glass case, pen in hand, and could easily have gone another two.
2. Vireo- Using ink and watercolor is my favorite approach to rendering a nest. It gives me the satisfaction of drawing and a solid roadmap for adding color.
3. Marsh wren- I did the all watercolor nest as part of a class demonstration. Afterward, I decided to do it again using ink first. Which do you prefer?
4. Black chinned hummingbird- This was another class demonstration with a simpler nest to help participants work on making nests dimensional with light and shadow.
5. Red-winged blackbird- The larger strands of a blackbird’s nest make it easier to weave with paint.
6. A single egg- When my cousin asked me to paint a nest with a single blue egg to celebrate the birth of her first grandchild, I gladly accepted. I did two versions– one with ink and one without– to offer her a choice of styles. And while the due date has come and gone, I’m happy to say that the nest was delivered on time.