Thursday, December 10, 2020

Female Flicker


12/6/20 female flicker at our suet feeder

Whenever I’ve studied life drawing of either human models or animals, the same question comes up in one form or another: Is the life of the being visible in the drawing? One life-drawing instructor put it this way: “Is there bone, muscle, fat and blood under that skin? Is the model breathing? Or are you drawing a mannequin?”

I’ve sketched flickers many times now during the four years that we’ve had a feeder. The sketch shown here that I made last Sunday is the first time I feel satisfied that I captured the gesture well – that the life of this bird is visible. I think some sketches may have captured the proportions or details adequately, but something was missing, and the result might have been a drawing of a taxidermy specimen (even this one, the only time I worked from a photo). Nature artist and instructor John Muir Laws could probably tell me, but I haven’t done it successfully or consistently enough to know what I did right this time – or how I can repeat it. Just more practice, I guess.


  1. How close is the feeder to you when you're sketching? I know I can never see the details on birds so I haven't really tried sketching them. You did well!

    1. Our feeders are maybe 10 or 12 feet away from the kitchen window, so I have a pretty good view! We also keep a pair of binoculars by the window, but I don't use them while sketching. I have observed the birds through the binocs at other times, though, and that has helped with drawing later.


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