Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sketching Birds in Watercolour




Robin - watercolour & mapping pen

With both Katherine Making a Mark and Toni A Spattering painting and drawing beautiful bird studies from their own photographs, I have been very envious. My friend Catherine in Dorset has a new camera with a very long lens (as well as being taller than I) so I begged her to point it at a few birds. Bless her, she did!


Spotted Woodpecker - watercolour & mapping pen

In an effort to loosen up my watercolours I sketched these birds with a brush and added a few touches of ink at the end. It really does stop me fiddling and I'm quite pleased with the results. I'm going to leave my pencil at home and try this approach with some other subjects.

In Florence in December I stood and froze trying to sketch the Ponte Vecchio amongst a crowd of tourists. I was using my fountain pen and waterbrush loaded with an ink wash. Apart from the humiliation of not being able to draw a straight line in public, I wish I'd tried the watercolour brush painting approach. Maybe next time, when my teeth aren't chattering. I obviously don't have the Right Stuff for sketching outdoors in a northern winter. Probably my thin Australian blood.

Ponte Vecchio - Montblanc fountain pen & Pelikan Brilliant Brown ink

Pen & Ink

The house next door is about as far as I'm now prepared to venture in the cold.

27 comments:

Anita said...

What a sweet robin! I'm not sure i have ever seen a woodpecker. You are so brave sketching outside in that bustle in Florence in the depths of winter. Ponte Vecchio is such an amazing place - the jewellry is almost as gaudy there as it is in Saudi Arabia! And your house next door is lovely - that ink is a gorgeous colour.

Carol C said...

These are beautiful bird paintings and sketches!!! What is a mapping pen?

Robyn said...

Anita - Thanks. I love those tiny jewellery shops on the Ponte Vecchio - never bought anything there of course. The last two sketchs was motivated by my commitment to certain people to work en plein air - this was as far as I got :(

Carol - Thank you very much. A mapping pen is a small, fine and very flexible dip pen. You can make lovely flowing marks with them. I hated having to use them at school for drawing maps before fine felt tip pens were invented. They always seemed to spatter. Of course I now realise 'spatter' can be artistic ;)

Robyn said...

Did I say the last two sketches 'was' motivated! I guess HWEM will be along shortly to correct my English.

mARTa said...

The first bird painting is a tangible example of the art spirit within you. Isn't it wonderful when it pops out!!! I love your sketch of the ponte. I was immediately transported back to Firenze and my freezing sketch on that cold October day!

Robyn said...

Marta - This little robin spoke to me - it must be because we share a name. Maybe I'll come back as a robin - I've always wanted to be a bird.

I think the Ponte Vecchio sketch is awful - just goes to show even I can't destroy the magic memories of Florence! :)

Stacy said...

Wow Robyn, so much eye candy in this post. Your birds are wonderful, especially that chubby little robin. I love him. And your sketches are great too! I think I would freeze up sketching in a crowd whether it was cold or not!

Rose Welty said...

Your birds are excellent Robyn...

Toni said...

Now see you get this lovely lose freshness that I struggle with.

Me I get anal and have to do detail.
Thanks Robyn for the mention.

moreidlethoughts said...

I am so ashamed of my attempts! Sometimes, a switch in my brain is tripped and the brush does what I want, but it's a rare thing. Mostly, I have clunking big splotches.
And if not being "straight" bothers you, pop across to Pisa. It doesn't matter there! ;)

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Lovely - you've got the birdie bug too!

Your robin is quite gorgeous! I really do see you as a 'less is more' sort of painter.

Don't worry about the pen and ink sketching. Of course nobody can draw a straight line standing up - which is why I always sketch sitting down in cafes! (Even then my verticals lean! Thank goodness for the rotate function in Elements!!!)

Leslie said...

Robyn, I just love that painting of a robin! It is so fresh and lovely... same with the woodpecker. Wonderful!

Ana Tirolese said...

Your robin is precious! I really like it a lot, especially, the first one (top image) all round and sweet.

Laureline said...

Wonderful range of sketches today! Your birds are so well done---I can see why you're pleased. And the architectural ones are stunning and strong. The negative shapes on the second one are fabulous.

Lin said...

These are so GOOD, Robyn! LOVE the birds and your inks!!! I can't draw a straight line with a ruler -- promise .... there's something about my depth perception that causes a 'skew' of 'view' ...! LOL I do love that first bird -- so painterly and splashy!

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

You have spoilt us with this post - beautiful birds and Florence. I do so like the simplicity of the Robin and without a pencil line to start with, there is such purity in the work. Brave and so successful a technique. Glad you plan to use this method in the future.

Robyn said...

Stacy - I've just realised I not only share a name with the robin - we are both a little too chubby!

Rose - Thank you :)

Toni - I do intend to try to paint this robin more realistically. I mentioned you because I am in awe of your little bird watercolours!

Di - I bet if I sketched the tower at Pisa, it would be perpendicular!

Katherine - Many thanks and TY too to Photoshop for getting ride of some of the lean.

Leslie - Thank you. I love your rooster!

Ana - Thank you. I see you draw birds too.

Laura - Bless you. Now I'm congratulating myself on my negative shapes ;)

Lin - I thought I had better get out and get in some practise before I meet up with you to paint in Umbria! :)

Joan - Many thanks. You know how much I admire your lovely loose watercolours.

Joan said...

Robyn - I give you a lot of credit for standing out in the cold sketching the Ponte Vecchio!!!! You did a great job on the building and those birds are super!!!! Stay warm. Lately I've only been able to sketch outdoors if I'm sitting in my car. It's been much to cold to spend any time outside, although this weeking is supposed to be "springlike." I'll believe it when I see it, or feel it. lol

Judybec said...

lovely sketches Robyn-- I just adore your birds. The architectural sketches are beautiful too -- love the color ink!

df said...

I love the birds. The vibrant colors and looseness are great.

quirkyartist said...

But the house next door is fantastic.

Rock Kyndl said...

Nice collections of work.
The little bird drawing reminds me of my first morning of vacation waking up in Italy. These little birds were hopping around a lemon tree on the breakfast terrace and I was so struck by their roundness. They were little, beautiful feather balls.

Robyn said...

Joan - apologies for the delay in responding to you, it must be the cold freezing my brain cells. Thanks for your kind words, I have only been brave on a couple of occasions this winter. I'm not dedicated enough.

Judy - belated thanks to you too.

Dee - thank you! :)

Rock - Thank you for commenting and sharing what must be a fond memory of leisurely holiday breakfasts in Italy. I was delighted to discover your blog with all those awesome detailed sketches.

Anonymous said...

very nice work

Lindsay said...

The birds are beautiful! You have a very spontanious way of expressing their "bird"ness

Robyn said...

Hi Lindsay, I can't work out if yours is an old comment or you just looked at my birds today. Your words have really cheered me up and inspired me to get back to birds :)

Lindsay said...

Not old! Today Jan 16! 2010. Happy New Year.

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