Kittiwakes nesting on Dunbar castle

I post these sketches of nesting kittiwakes for completeness and my own reflection.

This was Sunday, the first day of the seabird painting course. It was drizzling intermittently. I realise this was the first full day I had ever spent just drawing birds.

I struggled, balancing an umbrella against a stack of lobster creels, holding it against the wind. My bulk teetered on a ridiculously small folding stool. I was swearing under my breath as I dropped one thing then another.

I found it hard to really look, fiddling with binoculars and putting them down to draw. Then I used a scope with my left eye, trying to draw using my right. Neither was satisfactory. I just could not retain the image long enough in my mind to draw from it.

I used my familiar pair of acrylic inks, paynes grey and sepia, topped off with a simple layer of sap green. I tried drawing directly with the brush. OK, these are sketches of moving birds, but as the week went on, I saw what others can achieve in watercolour in outdoor conditions. There is a mile to go here …

Later in the week, comparing my crude pencil sketches with those by other participants, I realised I shade with diagonal lines only. There is no subtlety, no building of shapes of through blocks of tone. Well … this is called learning.

By the time I attempted this last sketch, rain closed play. You might just make out the birds nesting amid the rain spattered inked wall.

The next day was rather better.

8 responses to “Kittiwakes nesting on Dunbar castle

  1. These are great field sketches. And you shouldn’t pay any attention to what others may be doing. You don’t know how much time they spend practicing their loose sketches. I think you should try to pull out the birds in that last one, in studio, using your gouache and charcoal techniques.

    • HI, and thanks
      I do know how much time they spent and its a great deal more than I have done. I am not down hearted about this. On reflection, I feel better about these sketches than I did. That’s the value of the blog to me. Rather, I realised there is a great deal to learn but its achievable. I hate to tell you but there is the rest of the week’s sketches still to come. The flying kittiwakes in the previous post were drawn on the same site but at the end of the week when I felt more relaxed and looser.

  2. Nice drawings! Especially the last pencil sketch; it has something really special going on. The rain gave the last watercolor some really cool textures. I agree with the other post about trying to pull something out of it.

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