Drawing Challenge Day 2 – Draw a bird

This was my second attempt at drawing a hummingbird as part of my first 30-day drawing challenge. I never thought I had any talent for drawing “real life” things. With abstract art, no one can possibly say what your shapes were supposed to look like. Realism is not so forgiving. If your proportions or perspective are off, the mistake will be glaring and cringe-inducing, right? So why even try unless you’re willing to put in thousands of hours learning the craft? Well, that’s what challenges are for – taking absurd risks!

Micron pens in Rhodia notepad, 2017. Margaret Trias.

So, I was incredibly surprised that I was able to free-hand draw decent looking hummingbird after only one false start. This is undoubtedly a hummingbird. The head might be misshapen, the body a little wobbly, and there are some questionable choices in shading here and there. But you know what? I think it has style. I love that outstretched wing, and even the feathers. Who knows if hummingbird wings look anything like that? Unless you’re an avid birder, you’d probably have to look it up. But that isn’t the point. The point is that I’ve conveyed my idea. My idea of a tiny weightless bird, his outstretched wings, and the magic of being able to stop time and look at a hummingbird in mid-flight: something that isn’t even possible in reality. I like it.

I wish I could show you more of my process here, including my first attempt. But I just can’t bring myself to post it on this so-far elegant looking blog. Ugh! That’s how terrible it was. My mistake was following one of those step-by-step tutorials for how to draw a bird, one line at a time. Do those sorts of things ever work for anyone? You end up a slave to someone else’s lines and woe betide anyone who dares stray from the exact curve as illustrated. It looks so easy! And yet, you will fail, miserably. I don’t know. I’m not giving up on learning via tutorials – the internet is so full of them, there’s gotta be something to it.

OK, fine. I’ll post my first attempt. I really do want to lay it all out there on this blog, for any other aspiring artists out there. See? This is how bad it was. If this is where you’re at, there’s hope! It won’t be like this forever, I promise.

Ce n’est pas un oiseau…

So how did I move beyond this? I did a google image search for “hummingbird” just to get the idea of a hummingbird more solidly at the forefront of my mind. The image I used for inspiration was this one:

Kyle Peron

I mainly used this image for ideas about shading (darken the back wing and under the neck and back) and shape of the tail. But beyond that, I just let my own lines flow where my mind’s eye guided them. Ah…. So much better!

So there’s still enormous room for improvement, but I’m going to keep moving through the challenge and hopefully come back to drawing birds many many more times.