Delving into Color
Updated: Apr 6, 2019
My desk of late has been scattered with a rainbow array of pencils. You'd be surprised how many colors the "least colorful" birds hide within their plumage. My latest style begins with an underlay of pen for the darkest areas followed by layer upon soft layer of colored pencil.
For this Marsh Wren I went with a field guide-esque style with crisp borders and a side view. These little guys are always fun to find blending with fall colors in November as they chatter in patches of cattails or phragmites.
As obsessed as I often become with sparrows and their subtle textures and colors, I've been trying to think up some brighter subjects. The local wrens don't stray far from sparrows from a design point of view. I soon found out however, that orioles are definitely brighter. I delved into some pencils I'm pretty sure I've never used on a bird before.
This flashy Altamira Oriole from a trip to Texas a year ago fit the bill perfectly.
A splash of color was welcome but didn't hold me for long as I was soon up to my neck in browns, ochres, and blacks again. A sparrow had pulled me in again, but this time it sported the relative flashiness of the Ammodramus genus. I was lucky enough to have had the privilege to enjoy a LeConte's at close range at the turn of the new year, and this bird provided me with plenty of future study material.
There isn't much I appreciate more than the subtlety of a LeConte's Sparrow mousing through dried grass clumps or a Fox Sparrow kicking up crisp fall leaves. It's definitely the little things.