Saturday, June 8, 2013

Birds in Art - Colored Pencil Drawings

"Bald Eagles" Colored Pencil

Birds have inhabited the earth for 160 million years. Incredibly, they represent a direct link to the last dinosaurs. Since the dawn of civilization, birds and their spectacular gift of flight have fascinated humans. The sheer diversity of their appearance, behavior and personality is astonishing. Prehistoric peoples featured them in culture as birds were often depicted symbolically in early cave paintings. It seems like artists have always appreciated their beauty because birds have appeared in masterpieces throughout the history of art.

Today, seeing birds has become so common and their songs so familiar, that sometimes their true existence is taken for granted. Avid birders now use high-powered binoculars and cameras to document rare sightings and check off life-lists. Their field guides are beautifully illustrated with great precision by talented draughtsmen, who meticulously render each and every feather. My artistic style is realist but I'm inclined to simplify details, strengthen colors and exaggerate the prominent features in order to capture the essence of a species.

Whether an artist is striving for photo-realism or a more abstract representation, I've found that colored pencils are well suited to handle either request. I prefer a restrained composition with subtle hues and soft edges to express a tranquil mood. Starting with a sheet of textured paper, I begin drawing the eyes first and work outwards from there. Next, using an impressionistic application, the color is built up patiently, through multiple, transparent layers. Finally, when completed, I hope my sincere enthusiasm for our feathered friends shows through and inspires others to appreciate birds as much as I do.

Osprey ~ Colored Pencil

Yellow-eyed Hawk ~ Colored Pencil

Stellar's Jay ~ Colored Pencil

Canada Goose ~ Colored Pencil

Mountain Bluebird ~ Colored Pencil

Great Horned Owl ~ Colored Pencil

Great Blue Heron ~ Colored Pencil

Golden Eagle ~ Colored Pencil

Red-winged Blackbird ~ Colored Pencil

10 comments:

  1. Beyond beautiful. You are truly quite talented. As a person who can't even draw a decent stick figure I am in awe. Congrats on your Blue Heron. I love listening to birds, but don't typically know which ones I'm listening to. I do like to watch them. In our neck of the woods, we see lots of cute little Gold Finches, Pretty Brightly colored Cardinals, and squawky Blue Jays.

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    1. Thank you Sandy, I was thrilled to be invited to contribute a drawing for CP Magazine. I've always enjoyed wildlife watching and birding in particular so drawing them seems to be a natural way to express my feelings about them.

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  2. The Canadian Goose is particularly striking to me. Photo-realism isn't necessary, but when an artist can get that close to life and then deviate, such as in using more solid colors here, it's very pleasant to my eyes.

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    1. I'm a realist for sure but I don't know if I have the skill to be a photo-realist. I like simplifying the details and using flat patches of color. A lot of it is probably natural distortions. I'm glad you like it.

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  3. Very cool! I'm impressed. Also, I think you're pushing the "limits" of colored pencil and its perception as being a "lesser" medium compared to the "classic" oil, etc.etc... I took a colored pencil class years ago and it was wonderful. I feel very inspired by your work.

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    1. Thanks Courtney, I don't know if I'm pushing the limits but the medium comes naturally to me. It was a great honor to be included in Ann's CP Magazine.

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  4. Beautiful work here Dan. Especially love the Bighorn Sheep and the Canada Goose, they are really lovely.

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    1. Thank you for checking in Deborah, it's an example of some of the stuff I like drawing. I hope your travels are going well. You guys are always off at some exotic locale.

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  5. Truly wonderful work Dan! Every one of them!

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    1. Thanks Sal, a collection of some of my favorites.

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