I have always enjoyed drawing. It's one of my most pleasurable memories of childhood. Today, using
an Derwent pencils (5B - 8B), I begin to study the form of animals by quickly sketching them. These
sketches may range from 4 minutes to 14 minutes, as I attempt to capture what is important about
If an animal remains sitting or standing for this period, I may sketch it from life. But since I focus on
movement, I find it helpfull to record the movements first with video, then "pause" it while sketching.
Most of the sketches I do never become paintings. Instead sketching is a means of not only under-
standing form, but also of keeping my drawing skills sharpened. Like any other exercise (physical or
mental) it takes daily repetition.
Before gettng out the paints each day, I select a species and open my computer files for a half-hour
"work-out.". The monitor image is my reference. Setting a timer for 5 minutes, I start drawing,
completing each study before the beep of the alarm goes off. Immediately I move on to the next image,
working non-stop for the next 30 minutes until I've nearly filled up a sheet of paper.
A single quick-sketch of an Inca Dove landing
Nuthatch balancing on a branch
Chickadee taking off
The highlights on the upper wing were made by a few strokes of a kneaded eraser.
With a little more time (10 - 15 minutes) I sometimes develop the sketch by adding
shading & highlights. Here a Solitary Sandpiper is shown in flight.
I used the broad side of the pencil for this sketch of a Hummingbird.
The number at the right side refers to the image file ID# in my computer.
If a sketch seems to offer potential for becoming a painting, this info
helps me find it again later.
This is from a series of Tufted Puffin sketchs I did one morning, bearing down heavier
on the pencil than usual - hence the darker lines.
I made dozens of sketches of albatross before beginning the painting "Royal Albatross Approaching Land"
(see Painting Gallery). The sketch shown here is a grouping of my favorites done for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art
Museum's collection of drawings. I had made these sketches on seperate sheets of paper, so I first had to transfer
them to this sheet by rubbing, laying down faint outlines on the paper to serve as guidelines as I re-drew each using
the computer monitor for reference.
When conveying motion in a painting I like to get familiar with a bird from all angles. Like a sculptor I feel that I
should know what it looks like when turned 360 degrees.
A close-up from the above group sketch.