Black Woodpecker

Black woodpecker on a pink tree. hrm.

I must confess, I suck at backgrounds. It’s not that I can’t do them. I just don’t. I lose interest. I don’t care. It can’t hold my attention once the star is in place. Using old drawings as a base for this project solves that problem for the most part. But when you’re drawing a bird on a tree, it is really hard to get around that whole “tree” thing. I just gave up and let it be pink.

oh well. He’s a bird in a land made of candy. mmmm…. candy….

Black-necked Aracari

This is a type of toucan with a black and white beak.

I didn’t want to draw the side view of the toco toucan because that bird is so well known – I mean, the toco is the Fruit Loops bird. It is a bizarre looking bird, and it would be hard to draw without reverting to just drawing a cartoon (and singing the stupid jingle. Yes, TV has me that well trained. Argh). That’s why I chose this toucan relative instead. I have no preconceived notions about Aracaris.

And I like the inquisitive look on this guy’s face.


Of the birds I have done so far, this one is the most like a classic naturalist illustration or bird guide. In some ways that’s good, and in some ways that’s bad.

I think it comes down to that distinction between pure art and purposeful art. Scientific art is purposeful. It becomes illustrative because it’s trying to teach someone something. Therefore, it loses the honor of being “art for art’s sake.” In many circles, purposeful art is a thing to be disdained. I disagree.

I make these birds so that I can learn about them. I’m not trying to be the next Audobon. I’m just selfishly learning everything I can about bird structure. So that’s my excuse. 

Double-wattled Cassowary

Pretty much anything with a wattle is going to be fun to draw, and this guy did not disappoint. He has bumps on the side of his head, wrinkly blue skin, a lumpy red throat, and a big ol’ casque on his crown. So many fun lines to draw.

I worry sometimes that the scale of these drawings is forcing me to edit or condense detail to fit within a 5×6 in box. But I can’t imagine putting up 365 pages of letter-sized paper on my walls – I’d run out of room in one month.

Oh the shame…

I missed a day. Three months into the bird-a-day project and I missed a day.

It’s my own damned fault. I spent all of yesterday with my new obsession: knitting. And somewhere at the end of the day, while getting ready for a party, I realized that nowhere in that time did I draw a bird.

AND I have been so stressed at work that I partied hearty. I drank three yummy lemon things in a row, and then danced like crazy. I came home well past midnight and passed out. This morning I woke up, woozy, at 9 a.m. with the private shame of knowing that I let a day go by without making time for my art project.

Now I am drawing two birds. Which is technically cheating. BUT to mark this mistake, I will draw the same bird twice – a head portrait and a full body image. so at the very least, it will be a purposeful adjustment to the mistake.


Common Swift

Success! Ever since the Canary, I have been hoping to duplicate my success with the Puffbird. This bird provided the perfect opportunity: black, even feathers tipped with a fringe of white, and a sharp profile.

Swifts are somewhat similar to swallows, it seems, in their ability to hang out in narrow house eaves and little cracks in cliff walls.

Crested Tinamou

I had fun making the texture of his feathers.

The one weird thing about working with charcoal: it kicks up dust everywhere. After doing this bird, I blew my nose and it was a very wrong color mixture of the black, brown and white charcoal I used in this drawing. I know, really sexy, right?