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Ornery Hornbill


If you are at all like me you feel like you are on the go all the time. When you do get a chance to sit down with your sketchbook to produce a polished piece you feel ecstatic....but also a tad rushed. We need to slow down, or at least I do. I will walk you through mistakes that became glaringly obvious after I had already put paint to the paper.

1. My original drawing. I did only a couple of studies and did not take good notes. I sketched this hornbill at the zoo. These birds live in Africa so it is not as if I can run out of the house, go to my local nature preserve and sketch some more. My style is nature and wildlife art so I want to be as accurate as possible. While I used pictures as references it became clear my drawing may not have been as accurate as it could be. Next time I will do as many sketches as I can, take a lot of notes.

2.Trying a new technique on untested paper. I sometimes like to do a watercolor under painting then put colored pencil on top. Because I knew there was going to be a lot of detail I thought doing it this way may be faster. The problem was I had never done it on cold press paper before. The tooth of the cold press was shallower than what I had been using. It wasn't long until I had laid too much color down and the wing especially started to look muddy. I think I may have salvaged it some....but not quite.

3. Know the basic anatomy of the subject you are drawing. For me this just meant I know that the feathers of a bird are grouped and they have several distinct groups on their face, I knew that and I still displayed them poorly, or wrong. which leads me to my last point....

4. SLOW DOWN! Again if you are like me you have a job, a family with a kid or kids, a lot is vying for your time! You just want to be able to put your preferred medium to the paper and make a beautiful drawing. If you do not take the time to get the drawing correct, the proportions, the anatomy, the placement on the paper you may end up frustrated and feeling like "I am not an artist, I don't even know why I try to do this, blah blah." Sound familiar? Most of us say this to ourselves too much. It is a learning experience, take it as such. There is nothing else that you do as a hobby, or that you have learned that you have not felt this way but you kept going, why? Because it was worth it. This will be too so stop reading and go create something beautiful.