Drawing more birds

Click on thumbnails above to see larger images

In my previous post I wrote about John Muir Laws book, The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. Imagine how happy I was to find that he also has organized The Nature Journal Club, a monthly meet up and workshops series. I went to my first one last month, at one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, the Palo Alto Baylands. It was so much fun, with people of all ages and abilities there to keenly observe the birds and landscape.

Honestly, I could go out anytime and draw or paint, and I often do. But there’s something about being with a group of people all focused on the same thing that makes it ever so much more satisfying. And you can learn by sharing observations and techniques, stories and jokes.

If you live in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll consider coming out for the next Sunday outing, or one of the weekday workshops. But if you don’t live in the Bay, I hope you’ll organize your own Nature Journal Club where you live.

Palo Alto Airport
Pencil Sketch

The Nature Journal Club is free, but donations are welcome and encouraged.  During a time when our natural world is beleaguered unto the point of disappearance, if people will get outside and really see the world so that they feel close to it, perhaps we’ll find a way to make a healthy world as important as development.


Drawing birds

Book coverI recently discovered The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds, by John Muir Laws. It is an excellent book, and I recommend it if you’re looking to learn how to draw birds. He has terrific instruction on things like drawing feathers, birds in flight, and field sketching.

Laws is a very good bird and nature artist, but the focus of this book is to give up on the idea of pretty pictures and really look at what you’re drawing. He believes that by studying nature in order to draw it, you change yourself, saying in the first chapter of this book,  “As you grow in patient observation, the world will open and you will be changed forever.”

I agree with him. After drawing, I see things more clearly. After plein air painting, colors shout and announce themselves. One of the great joys of drawing is the act of studying, the process of slowing down enough to really look at what you’re seeing. I’m not going to say that it’s meditative, because for me, there’s a pulse of excitement when I’m really looking at something and able to co-ordinate my hand enough to get my observations down on paper. My heart beats with each line, and my mind seems to sparkle and tingle. Seriously? Better than any drug or drink.

Try it!


One last night of rest

Yesterday the last of my nieces flew north to her own home. I miss the girls terribly, and I long for the days when they were just a short hop away. Aunties get empty-nest syndrome too.

It’s been a busy holiday season, and with family visiting and holiday parties (music galore!), I’ve ignored this blog, as well as my artwork. And I have to tell you, I haven’t been sleeping well. As I’ve said here before, if I don’t draw every day, I get very twitchy.

Today I spent time easing back into work, not worrying about getting anything right I  simply enjoyed the feeling of chalk spreading across the paper, and suddenly I discovered this little bird.

I’ll have one more night of winter’s rest and laziness, and then tomorrow?

Easel time!