From My Sketchbook Pages: Bird Watching

I have been noticing a lot of birds hanging out in our crabapple tree over the past wintery month.

robin close-up

I recently borrowed a telephoto lens from a friend, so I’ve been practicing taking close-up pictures during my birdwatching pastime.cedar waxwings

The crabapples must be just the right ripeness because I’ve seen a lot of robins (robins here in winter?), cedar waxwings, and chickadees, the latter of which are usually around here in winter. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen many cardinals in awhile.


It’s fun to observe things going on in nature, especially when it’s too cold to be outside exploring, so I like to capture those moments in my sketchbook while practicing my illustration style.

sketchbook page bird drawings

sketchbook page birdwatching

I started out with a pencil sketch and then added color. For this illustration, I broke out my set of Inktense watercolor pencils, which I haven’t used in a couple years. I love how you can control the vibrancy of the color with these pencils, different other watercolor mediums, by drawing in color with the pencil first and then going over those areas with a wet brush. You can make things really pop or you can get a more washed–out look. I really love using the Niji Waterbrushes because they are portable, in that they hold water in the handle. I also like the fine-tipped brush, which works well for me on more detailed illustrations like this.

inktense watercolor pencils

This is definitely one of my more favorite sketchbook pages, which is great motivation to do more illustrations like this!


Art Cards 2011 – Week 12

Last week, Michelle and I swapped cards to celebrate the first day of Spring.

She received my package so I’m excited to be able to share what I made for her. I was inspired by a photo she shared recently of a ribbon of daffodils growing across a field. Daffodils are such a cheerful flower, usually the first to bloom in my part of the world. Since I was mailing this little card to Michelle, I really wanted to created a postcard image. I found a piece of paper in my craft stash that had stamps all over it, and I saved one of those air mail stickers from another package I received from her.

I also found inspiration from one of my favorite spring flowers that will be blooming soon, crocuses, along with some lyrics from a Bob Dylan song that I know hold a special place in her heart.

The entire lyrics say “just to dance beneath the diamond sky, with one hand waving free, silhouetted by the sea, let me forget about today until tomorrow.”

I have to admit I was happy with how these turned out, so I made a duplicate set to have in my own journal.

I also made a couple more cards for the new week.

I have been inspired by all the spring bulbs trying so hard to come back to life here even though our temperatures continue to be cold (30 degrees F). I drew an illustration of the first tulip leaves to come up, cut them out and pasted them on a bright blue background for a 3-dimensional effect. I found a Chinese proverb that was a fitting sentiment to use for my journaling.

More and more birds have been returning to our part of the world, especially the common grackles, who act like bullies of the birdfeeders in our yard. They are fun to watch, but they are noisy and eat everything. I loved illustrating one of them clucking away because of the beautiful irridescent blue and purple and black colors of the feathers.

I haven’t added a journal sentiment to this card yet. I want to add this saying “Birds return every spring like clockwork, but where is the clock” but I’m not sure how to make all that fit on this little card. You know me, I’ll figure it out!

Be sure to stop by our Flickr group to see what Michelle and Sandra have been doing on their fun art cards.