Meadowlark Drawing

Meadowlark - pencil drawing with model by Serena Fenton
Meadowlark – pencil drawing with model

For the final day of the bird drawing class, we were lucky enough to have access to mounted birds from the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  Some of these were absolutely gorgeous.  A few were moth eaten or had been passed around to a few too many people. The dates on these specimens went back decades.  But having a bird that will sit still while you draw is a real thrill.

Look at the back claws on this baby! The name, meadowlark, sounds so pastoral, but those claws bring to mind cockfighting.  Perhaps the birds just need a really strong anchor on a branch on windy days?

The course was drawing, not painting.  Imagine how much fun this would be in full color.  I took several snapshots and am hoping to move on to the watercolors of him/her soon.

meadowlark-feet (detail)
meadowlark-feet (detail)


Bird Feet

Bird foot studies in pencil by Serena Fenton
Bird foot studies in pencil

Another from my class series in obsessive bird drawing.  This time – how to draw bird feet.  Learned many things:

  • The number of toes per foot are not constant from species to species
  • The scales on the feet, particularly those of raptors, help to hold the prey
  • There skin on the bottom and the top of the feet is markedly different
  • The toe that goes out in back can work similarly to a thumb to provide an opposable grasp

Having access to the stuffed birds is fantastic.  They are a loan from the NC Museum of Sciences.  The best reference though come from John Muir Laws in his many tutorials in drawing birds

Armatures for Papier-mâché circus dogs

Armatures for Papier-mâché circus dogs by Serena Fenton
Armatures for Papier-mâché circus dogs

Building tiny armatures of wire, tin foil and masking tape for papier-mâché circus dogs.

This new found passion began a few weeks back when I discovered myself without power during Hurricane Matthew, but recalling directions on how to cover plastic and styrofoam Dollar Store pumpkins with papier-mâché, I started wrapping some old pumpkins and cats’ heads in papier-mâché.  That was the most fun that I have had in ages.

Now, following directions in a great book, How to Make Tiny Paper Mache Dogs, I have started to make dogs to my own design.



New Found Humility

For the past few weeks, I have been taking a bird drawing class at our local botanical Gardens.  I have never taken a botanical class before.  Back when I got my degree in art ed, the focus was on abstract.  Being figurative was regarded as a sure sign of  repressed creativity.  I recall one painting professor who would hold all night painting sessions so that we could learn to ‘paint loose’.  His true preferred painting technique was to throw paint at the canvas.

It has been a huge surprise to find myself in a drawing course where the focus is on being really, really really tight.  Last week we focused on wings and feet.  Below is one of my wings.  We were encouraged to count and number the feather so that we got each one correct and in the right place.  All that I can say is that there are a boatload of feathers just on one wing!

Teal wing, pencil on paper by Serena Fenton
Teal wing, pencil on paper

Giddyup, Kitty!

Giddyup - ink drawing by Serena Fenton 3" x 8"
Giddyup – ink drawing 3″ x 8″

It’s a late start to #inktober this year. I did a bit of playing with vectorizing the image, which lets me play with the line quality on the computer! It’s also the only time that I’ve used Adobe Illustrator and not wanted to slap the computer.