Sunday, September 30, 2012

birds nest project : Alissa Duke

This is a small (8cm x 4 cm x 6cm) nest that I was given. I am not sure what bird it belonged to. It is from SouthEast Queensland, Australia. I have looked online today and not found an answer. I will go the the library and look into it and also maybe send a photo to the museum.
My project now is to explore methods of drawing this little birds nest. The ink version is ok. It is when I attempt to draw nests in watercolour pencil that I have problems.The problems are with the colour and shadow and line . and trying to find a method that suits my own style of drawing. I have three other birds nests at home to draw, and so I am keen to learn.. I  Thankfully Nature Artists group members (below) have provided me with some suggestions and guidance.

Karen Engelbretson: Book - America's Other Audubon" by Joy M. Kiser. Also, artist Wendy Brockman paints nests.
Mindy Lighthipe: Drawing Birds Tutorial
John Muir Laws
Antshrike Artist: Book calledAvian Architecture How Birds Design, Engineer, Build Book
Peter Goodfellow HB

Candace Millsop: Claudia Nice uses pen & ink w/watercolor and has several books and Cathy Johnson has really great books too! And one called Bird, Egg, Feather, Nest by Maryjo Koch

Susan Fox: You might google Alphonse Mucha to see how he handled the design of women's hair and think about how what he does relates the problem you're trying to solve.

Laura Gould I did a step by step record of a wrens nest I did late this past winter.


  1. I think the ink version is more than 'okay', it's beautiful, with a real sense of the hollowness of the structure. Beautiful marks.

  2. LOVE this, Alissa...I'm anxious to hear about your project. And sounds like you got some great suggestions!

  3. Thanks - Robyn, re-reading my words, I realised that my description of the ink version as "ok" is an understatement. I am very proud and pleased with it! (I was tempted to Edit my description).
    Kate - now the learning curve begins - how to use the features of watercolour pencils that I enjoy so much, on a drawing of an object with so many lines (no fur or feathers here!).

    1. Good, I'm glad you can see how cool it is! And yes, I'm looking forward to seeing how you handle this...fine details with WC pencils are tricky!

  4. Alissa, this is remarkable. So well executed. I have 5 nests that have been given to me (aren't our friends wonderful?) and I've been intimidated at the thought of trying to draw them. You've inspired me and I think they will be the next thing I try. thank you. I appreciate the good references, too.

    1. Thanks Paula. I have a few nests for a while and attempted to draw the, I can get the shape correct, but have not been able to portray the details and intricacies of these wonderful nature objects. (in my loose style

      I am approaching the drawing of nests as a project and not a one-off drawing. The first (here) is with my Lamy Safarai Joy ink pen.I am really pleased.

      I am also doing another drawing over a few days in watercolour pencil. I am doing this "before"I read all the advice and guidance. Even now I have learnt a few things and am making notes.

      Then I will begin to look through the websites. I have ordered some books online and from the library. There are some wonderful nest drawings and paintings, but some of them are very meticulous and fine, and that is not my style. But I also have to learnt about constructio of nests.

      I will let you what has been helpful to me and why

  5. This is a wonderful nest sketch. If the nest had been found near here I would suspect it had been built by some kind of vireo .... but I don't even know if you have vireos in Australia.

    1. Thank you Eva.
      I had a look online and vireo (I had never heard of them ) are not in Australia. I dont think it belongs to a wren or sparrow or finch . Perhaps a silver-eye, but it seems they weave them together with spiderweb and I can't see that. Nests are so intricate and amazing !


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