Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Drawing the Great Blue Heron

Okay, for those of you interested in how I create my drawings (for the rest of you, just yawn and click 'next')...

Except for high school art classes (waving hello to my former art table workmate, Bon Bon from phantom kitty!), I am not schooled in the least.  No training; no technique.  Many years ago, I used to paint with watercolor, tempura, and then acrylics.  These days, colored pencil (and sometimes magic marker) is my preferred medium.  Art is just a hobby, and this is my method of going about it.

I cannot draw from my head.  I need another drawing, painting or photograph to model after.  Magazines, calendars, and bird I.D. guides have all supplied material in the past.  Lately, I've been using photographs, both from bloggers and gleaned from the web.  I usually print a couple of different sized enlargements for color and detail.
Photo credit:  Brian King at heyBJK Outdoors
Then comes the plain pencil outline and basic interior features.  I've found that if I don't put in enough aspects of the subject in this first step, as I add layers, I often lose those details under colored pencil, so I try to add enough definition to the basic 'bones'.  And, yes, I've been known to 'cheat' and trace the outline shape to save time and frustration, because eraser is both my friend and foe.  Too heavy on the pencil lines creates problems later; too light and I blow over details I wish I had later.
Mechanical pencil and eraser - leftover tools from my accountant days.  Oh, and the paper I'm using to draw on?  A former boss's stationery with the letterhead cut off.  My pencil sharpener?  A Mary Kay eyeliner sharpener from my long-gone makeup days.  Yeah, I recycle...
After the drawing's skeleton is prepared, I always lay down the lightest colors first.  Even white pencil gets laid in place to keep those areas from getting besmirched by other colors later on.

Yellow, peach and white - I'm about 40 minutes into the process here.
Next, I start in with some of the softer but deeper tones.
The beginning of blues and grays - about an hour into it here.
So after about an hour's work, I stopped for the night.  One thing I've learned, if I push too hard or get tired, I'll mess up, so I work in spurts - sometimes only 15-20 minutes at a time.  And if I'm not 'inspired', I keep the pencils down.

The next day, I continued working in blues, grays, silvers, blacks and whites.  After another hour and a half, the GBH has started to take shape.  Keeping feathers light and airy was my biggest challenge on this bird.

Add another half hour and begin to throw the browns and olives of the stump into the drawing...
About 3 hours in now.
I didn't draw at all the next day or two.  Just didn't 'feel it' so left it alone.  I have a tendency to go dark and heavy with my pencils, so I need to be in the right mood or the drawing will get too dark too quickly and some of the detail will be lost.

The third drawing day consisted of another hour and a half of work to finish out the stump, water and shadows.  Again, I drew in phases, not all at once.

After pencil and eraser, 15 different colored pencils, about 4 1/2 hours of actual drawing time completed in fits and starts over about a 5 day span, and some matting and framing, the Great Blue Heron drawing is considered finished.
Each drawing is different.  Some take more colors and more time; some take less.  Magic markers yield brighter results but are trickier to control than colored pencils.   This is just how one of my monthly creations took shape.  If you want to see all of the drawings I've given away thus far, click the 'My Giveaways' tab under my header photo.

If you haven't entered this month's giveaway yet, please click here to enter if you're interested in winning this drawing.  Thanks!

117 comments:

Crissi said...

Wow, beautiful work!
♥Crissi♥

Jill said...

Thank you for giving us this inside look to your fantastic creation! I absolutely marvel at the details in this GBH. The winner will be VERY lucky!

Catherine said...

A self taught artist. Even more fantastic I think!!
Awesome!
xo Catherine

CameraCruise said...

Thanks for sharing how you create your fantastic drawing.
You're so talented!
Mette

Dan Huber said...

Wonderful artwork, and I love seeing the process.

Tammy said...

I'm so glad you created this post! You are very gifted and I love seeing the progression of the work. Your love for your subject shines through :)

Paula said...

I'm tellin' ya, gal~ you're amazing! :)
Thanks for taking us through your process~ I love to see how other people create!

Sheeps and Peeps Farm said...

Thank you for giving us a peek inside your creative process. Your drawings are beautiful!

Ellie said...

Thanks for sharing how you go about producing your lovely pictures.
I was amazed how you managed to keep those feathers so light - I can't draw to save myself.
You are a very talented artist.

Gail said...

You are very talented.

You see a bird of beauty, I see a thief!!! These are the worst/best birds for catching bullfrogs and the good size fish we use for food.

They have also carried water plants into our ponds and water ways that have never been there before, clinging to their athletically long legs from other water places they have hunted.

Your art is beautiful but you can have all our Herons if you like.

Comment1 said...

That looks really great. I love how you use all sorts of bits and bobs you've collected over the years! When I was doing art in school I fell in love with pastels. My hands were filthy by the end, but it was great smearing on piles of colour.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Love. love. love this post, Theresa!! Seeing your process is amazing. Kind of like the long process of watercolor for me, only much more skilled!! Your work is absolutely beautiful. I told you that these feathers are incredible!! Made Mr. Heron pass Mr. Hawk in LOVE-it-status. ;)

Also, really enjoyed learning more about you. blessings ~ tanna

Roan said...

I was amazed by the pencil drawing. You are very talented!

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

I love seeing the process! You certainly have talent :-)

Kathy said...

I admire your talent. I can't even draw a good-looking stickman!

Sall's Country Life said...

Such Talent! EEk Gaad! One can understand where you find your inspiration, with all the wildlife and beautiful countryside surrounding you and your nine sided house! But talent is something that needs to be encouraged and utilized to master the kind of art you put out! Excellent work, Theresa! I can't remember if I already entered or not (I tend not to enter drawings cause I never win anyway,how's that for attitude?) So, please enter me and I'll think positive about it this time and hope for GBH to come home to South Dakota!!

Larry Ostby said...

Pretty incredible T. Your self taught talents are incredible. Thanks for sharing.

Mike said...

Nice of you to share your process. I tried to click (next) but, couldn't find the link. lol.

Thanks for sharing the info. It's beautimus.

Liesl said...

Awesome post Theresa! You are very,very gifted! Ilove that you are self taught too! This sketch is stunning!

Sandra said...

you are so talented, he is just gorgeous. i am loving this one. and have my fingers crossed i win him. thanks for showing us the process, i would not even know how to start much less finish

Nancy said...

You captured him beautifully with your talented hands....

It was enlighting to read about your process...I love seeing the details of how you work.....

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

YOu have a lot of talent to achieve such beauty. If I were to try,no one would recognize the bird. LOL

Susan said...

I loved reading how you go about your beautiful drawings. It's inspired me to pick up my pencils again :D)

Pix at Under the Oaks said...

Tex you are amazing. Loved hearing about how you work.

Montanagirl said...

It is really impressive artwork. I used to draw a lot when I was a kid, but somewhere along the way, I lost interest as other priorities in my life took over. You a a terrific artist!

Lynne said...

I totally enjoyed hearing your school art beginnings, self taught process, steps of pencil, color, enhancement. (saved to read again . . .)

The detail you create in your drawings is amazing . . .

Love, love, love what you accomplish!

Very talented . . .

SweetMarie said...

I'm so glad you shared this with us! It didn't take any fancy tools, just your God given talent! And you are truly one talented artist!
Have a great day Theresa!

Candy C. said...

Great tutorial, thanks for taking us through the process! :)

thesedaysofmine.com said...

Amazing, Theresa,
Drawing talent was bestowed upon many in my family, including my son, but it totally eluded me.
I'm in awe.

Samantha said...

I'm astounded by your talent..loved seeing the process!

Dicky Bird said...

Really good post - you are very talented!

Melodie said...

You are gifted! It is amazing the work that goes in to your art!

Liz said...

WOW Teresa! You have such a wonderful gift. I would need a photo to go by too, but I would never gain an end result like that.
Brilliant and looks exactly like the original!
The winner will be extremely blessed to have this work of art.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

awesome!!
my hat's off to you, teresa!

you're sooo talented!

Margie said...

T, I thoroughly enjoyed this post. I always love to hear how artists do what they do for the final, glorious outcome. I really think this is my favorite and you clearly have a natural talent. Oh, and also, I don't believe outlining or tracing is cheating. Most artists have a "way" of getting things down, be it adding a grid to their canvases and subject matter, whatever. I, for one, am not good at perspective, and need all the help I can get. After that, look out, LOL! In talking to different artists over time, I find that many cannot draw from their heads and use reference material too. Love this artsy fartsy talk!

Rebecca said...

Wow! What a talent/gift... Thanks for sharing :)

Ginger said...

Not only how to create your drawings step by step is a talent, but also knowing when to walk away from the drawing for awhile.
Thanks for your great insight...now back to my stick drawings! ;-)

Barbara said...

You make it seem so easy, but you truly work magic with those pencils!

Dawn said...

Art.Class! Can I bring my kiddos to you? That's quite a process. And amazing work.

parker said...

Creative and talented! Neat process you have created to achieve these wonderful drawings!

Kim said...

I have to use a grid to draw such detail. You have quite a talent! I always look forward to what you next one would be.

Manzanita said...

Really interesting. When being born, you got in the right artistic line and I got in the Disney Ride Line.

I never could figure out why one needed school for art or dancing if someone has been given the talent.You could teach the instructor a thing or two. (or more :) )

Rohrerbot said...

You definitely have a gift. You don't need a degree to have talent. Very nice post on the technique behind your artwork. I think it's stunning. I could never do something like this. I do it with my camera and eye through photos, but to draw like you do...no:) Crossing my fingers on this contest:)

holdingmoments said...

A lot of work and effort into your creations. And you give them away!

You are a top lady for sure.

Pricilla said...

I have so much respect for artistic talent like yours

MTWaggin said...

I love your work! Colored pencil/marker and pastels are some of my favorite mediums (to look at and purchase I can't draw worth squat). I love that you shared how your work comes together. You are exteremely generous to give it away as well.

Rose said...

I really enjoyed seeing the process! I really love your creations...

Farm Girl said...

Oh I loved this tutorial. It amazes me that you didn't go to art school but just for the love of drawing. I have spent so much of my time running kids to art classes and while they still draw and are creative like that, I just love watching how you get your subjects on paper.
I barely can draw a box so I enjoy watching other people create.
Thanks,

KAT said...

Great informative post about how you get from a black sheet of paper to an awesome picture that will be treasured for all time. You are super talented and a super lady also. I like your down to earth tell it like it really is - style. I will keep trying to be the owner of one of your fabulous bird pictures but do you ever sell them like on "etsy.com" or anywhere? you should do that.

-KAT-

Trey said...

It really is amazing!!! You are awesome with this!

joo said...

Wow, I'm impressed! Great work!

bailey-road.com said...

It's a beautiful drawing. Thanks for sharing the process.

Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing the progress of a drawing.

islandwonder said...

Wow! I wish I could do that.

ShySongbird said...

Oh I did enjoy that, Theresa!! I wonder why it is that art thrills and fascinates me so much yet I don't seem to be able to do it myself :-( Maybe a lot more confidence and experimentation is the answer or maybe (she says sadly) we are not all blessed with that ability. You have no idea how much I long to be able to do it.

A thoroughly interesting post... I loved it!!!! You are one very talented lady.

Charade said...

What an interesting process. And I'm so glad you included time spent as well as the step-backs. It's amazing what you create in relatively small bundles of time - very inspirational.

I just saw your giveaway from last May, and that Cardinal just stole my heart. Luckily I get to see them flitting about my yard in both the city and the country.

Giga said...

Jak się ma zdolności, to taka praca to przyjemność.Pozdrawiam.*** How is the capacity, then such work is a pleasure. Yours.

Randy said...

Awesome post! I like that you shared your process.

Robin said...

T, thanks for the tour! Very interesting! I've always wanted to draw, but have absolutely no talent when it comes to that! My daughter is very talented. Guess it must have skipped a generation!
Your art is wonderful!

Bruce Clark said...

For no formal training, Theresa, you are very very good!

Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

This is really fascinating!! I'm unable to draw a straight line with a ruler.

Ron said...

It looks like you have a technique to me. Those are great!

Julie G. said...

Fascinating! I can't believe that you have had no formal training. You definitely have an artists eye! Beautiful work! I attended art school and have a degree in painting and drawing. Like you, I prefer the colored pencils. Once our house is built and I have more time, I hope to pick up my prismacolor pencils again. It was fun to read about your drawing process!

Mom of M&Ms said...

the composition of your behind the scene photos are beautiful... art in and of themselves...

and I still want to win!!!

Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

I loved seeing how you create these beautiful drawings! I'm in awe of your talent! Thanks for sharing.

Madge @ The View From Right Here said...

Love that you're self-taught! I was a self-taught artist too... did watercolors for years, sold many. My photography used to be just my support for my paintings, but eventually I quiet painting and now just shoot!

Judy said...

Wow, you are one talented woman! Beautiful!

Michelle said...

You are incredibly talented.

Shaun_ShutterBug said...

what a corker, many thanks for explaining how you do these stunning drawings.... not just a talented photographer ;)

Bob Bushell said...

That is bbbbbbbbeautiful Theresa.

Tracey from ⓽ said...

Beautiful work! Thanks for letting us know your process. It is interesting to see how other artists work.

pattisjarrett said...

Thanks for sharing your workflow. I'm always curious about a work-in-progress. I don't know how you find the time with all you do! Do you sleep? :)Great job, on ALL your drawings.

Reena Walkling said...

Loved seeing how you create! I used to do a lot of drawing in HS...loved art class. Someday I hope to take it up again ... who knows!
I love your heron ... just awesome T!

laurak@forestwalkart said...

very nice!!!!! wow...and VERY impressive!! what a talented artist...but we already knew that from all your fantastic sketches!!! thanks for sharing your step-by-steps!!
beautiful art!!

Deb said...

that was fun Tex..I'm glad you shared your techniques...I'm gonna share with my Mom...she loves to draw and paint...

barbara l. hale said...

Impressive process. There is definitely some native talent there though. You do wonderful work. Thanks for the "tutorial."

Andrew said...

A wonderful post..
You have a beautiful talent..

Hilda R.B said...

Wow, you are a great artist!!!
Thanks for sharing.
Hug from Hilda

Tanya said...

wow, you do awesome work and i really enjoyed the tutorial...i've always wanted to take an art class, painting mostly....one day!

Eva Ason said...

I absolutely love this drawing - great work! And thank you for sharing how you work. I use both my head and a picture when I draw, it depends on the image. The meeces are all made our of my head.
I love the colors in this heron drawing ^_^
Have a lovely day!

Eva

Michaele said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I have often wondered how you do it. Thanks again.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Incredible natural talent combined with practice -- genius!

Breathtaking said...

Such a good post which may inspire
others to try coloured pencil work.
You are so gifted,and generous for sharing.

Inger said...

Talent cannot be denied. Thanks for sharing how you make your drawings, how careful you must be, and how patient.

A Quiet Corner said...

I too wondered and thought you must use photos. You are a true talent, T!...:)JP

Paula said...

First let me say I admire the fact that you recycle. Your post about your art was very interesting to me.

Rita said...

LOVE seeing and hearing about your step-by-step process. Lovely job on the heron. Whoever wins this will be lucky, indeed! :)

wildlifewatcher said...

Hi TexWisGirl, Thanks for the micro-mini art seminar! You are quite talented! I so like those drawings of yours! You also have a great talent as a photographer - especially so of the wildlife! Have an especially nice day tomorrow!

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

I am not expert in drawing, but I do sketch once in a while. And, I cannot sketch without a model or picture, interesting you are the same like that. But your drawing is just beyond my skills, great outcome !!! Have a nice day and Happy Valentines day !

SouthCoast Guy said...

verrrrry cool!!! Thanks for sharing

rainfield61 said...

It was an ugly duckling in the beginning.

Kerri said...

Awesome talent my friend! Thanks for sharing the process!

Tammy said...

Outstanding work! Very cool to see your work in process.

heyBJK said...

No matter how you get to the end result, it's impressive work! What's even better is that your art makes crappy photographers look better. It's a win all the way around!

Posie Patchwork said...

You may be untrained but you are AMAZING!! Love Posie

bj said...

This is soooo awesome...awesome in the fact that it took such a short time for you to turn out this magnificent bird drawing. I am in awe....the winner of this masterpiece is going to be MIGHTY blessed.....and happy. :)
xo bj

Chatty Crone said...

Thanks for walking us through that - very interesting work. sandie

Gillian Olson said...

Thanks for sharing the details of your artwork. I can't draw from my head either, also need a detailed picture and different angles so I know what I am seeing.
The process you use, preserving the lights first is similar to watercolour.
A beautiful result.

Southwest Arkie said...

Beautiful! My best friend is a self taught artist and I admire the dedication it takes from start to finish- a lot more to it than one would think.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi There, Just stopping by to say HI.... Hope you had a great Valentine's Day. We had a great trip--but it's nice to get home. I'm trying to catch up on some blog posts...

You may not be 'schooled'--but you have TONS and TONS of talent... Gorgeous, Theresa.

Hugs,
Betsy

Pat Tillett said...

Wow! That is amazing! I have zero talent in this area! You are REALLY good...

Martha Z said...

You are very talented!

Angela said...

Wow! That is just incredible to get to see how you drew it! I love it! And you know you have REAL TALENT! Awesome!

Chip Allen said...

You've got a great talent! I have trouble drawing stick figures despite 3 years of art in high school.Of course, I was also taking auto shop and that gave me access to sheet metal, cutting torches and welding equipment so I did a lot of metal sculpting while "recycling" junk cars.

Linda R said...

Oh my gosh.. That is so amazing. Very impressive...

Hugs, Linda

Fjällripan said...

Amazing work, you are so talanted!

eileeninmd said...

Theresa, your drawings are wonderful. You are talented. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

ladyfi said...

Wow - that is an amazing drawing! You're very gifted.

R.Ramakrishnan said...

You are a truly wonderful artist.

georgettesullins said...

Oh thank you for the lesson. I can imagine several sittings to complete a work is very good advice...not to force things and keep it fresh. This one is absolutely beautiful. You are very talented.

ksdoolittle said...

I would love to be able to create with pencil and paper like you do. The best it gets is little squares on graph paper, figuring out quilt designs. Oh, well.

Carole M. said...

I really enjoyed seeing your approach to drawing this heron. Visual like this makes it so easy to watch over your shoulder now and see all the wonderful detail happening. A fabulous result.

(GBS) NewsFromTheHill said...

Terrific post! I'm in awe! Seriously had my jaw hanging open looking at the progress on the heron and seeing it take shape. WOW!
Grace

wayside wanderer said...

LOVE this post!!! FABULOUS. It really is something to see the steps you go through. I am so impressed, and thrilled to see this. I'm going to share this with my dd for her to see. Wonderful...and thank you! =)

LB @ Bullets And Biscuits said...

See! I knew you was a high tech redneck with your Mary Kay pencil sharpener ;)

Michelle Renee said...

Amazing...the only type of bird I can draw is a stick bird. And even that doesn't turn out right!!!

bon bon said...

*waves back* ha! awesome post!! (sorry i'm a week late in getting to it. some friend, huh?) this is timely too because i'm having to draw again in design class. we are doing a b/w (pencil, pen, ink) recreation of a photo. and i completely understand where you're coming from. without a reference, i'd be lost. really interesting, deary, and beautifully done as always!!

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