Drawing and painting birds from life
I usually use photographs when I'm painting wildlife. It's easier as my subject doesn't move. I've always admired artists who can draw wildlife from life, although I couldn't imagine how they did it. So last week I went on a course in the Lake District to learn. I must admit to feeling quite intimidated by the idea of spending four days drawing real birds. And at times it was frustrating and challenging, as the birds would move part way through a sketch, and not return to their original position for ages - if at all!
But I started to get the hang of it, thanks to the patient teaching of our tutor, wildlife artist John Threlfall (whose paintings I love). He gave us techniques to help, like dividing the page into 4 and doing 4 different sketches of the same bird in different positions. When the bird moves, you start another sketch, then return to the original one once the bird moves back into the first position.
And the other people on the course were really supportive. By the end of the week we all produced some good drawings.
The course was run by the Field Studies Council, who do a lot of art courses. We stayed at the Blencathra Centre near Keswick, a stunning location.
So, now I plan to keep practicing drawing birds from life, and I want to use my sketches of mallard ducks on Derwentwater to create a silk painting without using photos. I might have to visit my local pond to do a few more sketches first!