What I learned while drawing Herring Gulls

Herring gulls are fascinating marauding predators, commonplace pirates, stealing eggs and chicks.  On Fidra, we were invading their space, the gulls’  territory.  They barked defence calls.  Occasionally, they flew low on our heads …

In this sketch, there are construction lines as I sought the proportions and imagined the relationships between the bones beneath the feathers. I tried to use tone to show how the skull seems to sit distinctly above the neck, more like our own perhaps and very unlike the sleeker serpentine transition in gannets or cormorants.

Close view of herring gull

Close view of herring gull

Lesson 1.: I worked in pencil on a large cartridge paper sketchpad and added watercolour wash as an afterthought.   To really exploit the liveliness of paint, I need better paper with sizing and bite.

Herring gull sketches

Herring gull sketches

Lesson 2: I work as if the drawing is the final product (even if I edit it later as in previous posts).  Bad drawings are a disappointment to be abandoned.  Printmaker Kittie produced a large simple drawing of a herring gull that I much admired.  It was immediately apparent that her drawing will serve as the source for printed work.  It seems that drawing for another medium imposes a discipline that gives the artist a particular eye when working in the field.

Herring gull sketches

Herring gull sketches

3 responses to “What I learned while drawing Herring Gulls

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