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

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


Continuing experiments with acrylic paints.  I have been using matte medium, since I don’t like the sheen and plastic-feel of acrylics.  I could use Acrylic gouache, but I am not wild about the lack of intensity of the colors in most acrylic gouache – and there is the cost.  Why is acrylic gouache so darned expensive???

Threesome - acrylic painting 18" x 24" by Serena Fenton
Threesome – acrylic painting 18″ x 24″

Dense Foliage and Wildlife

Summer in the South means that everything is green and thriving.  I grew up on the desert, dodging tumbleweeds and squinting into the glare.  The richness and color of a Southern summer just amazes me.

Southern Summer - gouache painting by Serena Fenton
Southern Summer – gouache painting by Serena Fenton

Here’s Looking at You, Kid

Bluebird fantasy landscape.  This is what happens when you watch your bird feeders for too long..  The birds are no longer worried about me.  They just watch right back.

Looking at You - gouache painting by Serena Fenton
Looking at You – gouache painting, 4″x 4″


For the second year in a row, we have bluebirds nesting in a house attached to the outside of our screened deck.  They are great birds to watch, particularly the way their color changes in the sunlight.

Bluebird - gouache painting by Serena Fenton
Bluebird – gouache painting

Kingfisher in the Rain

Well, it’s not actually raining in the painting, but it has been raining here for 5 days straight, which is odd since I am neither in Seattle nor London.  The good news is that I have gotten a lot of painting done while being stuck inside.  This is the first of a series of 8″ x 8″ paintings in gouache.

Kingfisher - gouache painting by Serena Fenton
Kingfisher – gouache painting

Tropical Fantasy

Life just gets busy.  I have been working on a new series of paintings this past month.  All of them are watercolor birds with gouache patterned backgrounds.

Tropical Fantasy - watercolor and gouache painting by Serena Fenton
Tropical Fantasy – watercolor and gouache painting

Gouache is not the easiest medium to take up.  Trying to blend gouache tends to give chalky, stiff messes.  But I am finding that I am enjoying creating bold patterened backgrounds, which are in contrast to the more realistic bid paintings.  This bird is a bit of a fantasy.  I started out with a flicker and then just went astray with hte colored feathers.

Blue Jay

The blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird in the family Corvidae, native to North America – there are lots in my yard in the winter

Blue Jay - watercolor
Blue Jay – watercolor

Owl and the Pusssycat

#InkTober Day 4, although it has a bit more watercolor than ink.  Let’s just say that the ink was quite deliberate; especially I am still waiting for some truly waterproof carbon ink for my fountain pens to arrive in Chapel Hill from China.  Meanwhile, I am using dip pens and not waterproof ink, applied after the watercolor has dried.

The Owl and The Pussycat - watercolor and ink by Serena Fenton
The Owl and The Pussycat – watercolor and ink

Summer Reflections

Small collection of summer reflections in Carrboro, NC

Summer reflections - ink drawing by Serena Fenton
Summer reflections – ink drawing

On the Window Ledge

I keep an assortment of things that makes me happy on the window ledge above the kitchen sink.

On the window ledge - watercolor by Serena Fenton
On the window ledge – watercolor

Rogues Gallery of Cats

It’s a Rogues Gallery of Cats.  Who knows what they are really up to!  Even though it is June, not December, I am wishing for santa baby to bring me a wide format scanner, as this image is only about 2/3 of the painting.  There is a landscape on the bottom that had to be cropped out.

sigh  To be continued….

Rogues Gallery of Cats - watercolor and ink by Serena Fenton
Rogues Gallery of Cats – watercolor and ink