Sunday, September 27, 2009


This is a sketchbook page of moorhen studies drawn from digital photographs taken on a recent walk along the Worcs. Birmingham canal. They are based on images from several photographs and the beauty of digital images as reference for wildlife is that you can zoom in to individual birds and observe visually useful details.

Charles Tunnicliffe did hundreds of notes like this in sketchbooks some of which were published a few years ago and were very popular - he compiled his from life returning each evening to make more refined compositional studies from notes made in the field. I think it's a practice worth following even if the starting point is a digital photograph. To catch the life of any living creature it's prudent to make some preliminary sketches rather than to go straight in and try to produce a finished painting.

Incidentally the drawings were made with a 2b Carbon Pencil and for the colourwork I used Caran D'Ache Neoart watersoluble wax crayons. I'm trying these out and I've created washes by taking the colour off the crayon with a wet brush just as you would from a cake of watercolour. As a bonus you can also draw with them - see the seed heads of the rushes.

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