April 8th is Draw A Bird Day. In 1943, 7 year old Dorie Cooper visited her uncle, who had been wounded in the war, in a veteran’s ward of a hospital in England. Hoping to cheer him up, she asked him to draw a bird. On her following visits, other wounded soldiers also joined in drawing birds and in a few months, the ward’s walls were fully decorated with bird drawings. Dorie died when she was only 10 years old, and afterwards those who knew her celebrated her birthday, April 8th, by drawing birds. Now, people all over the world draw birds to express joy on this day. You can find more info on the the official dabday site.
I learned about this day from Laura at Create Art Everyday and she learned about it from M.R. Emberson at A-wing and A-way. Laura inspired me and a few other WordPress bird-lovers and artists to draw birds on April 8th last year. And then she inspired us to draw birds on the 8th of every month too. M.R. Emberson writes about the many connections between birds and human society and his wife, J.M. Landin, illustrates each essay with beautiful pen, ink and watercolour birds (she also has her own art and science blog at RedNewtGallery). Kerfe and Nina now host the monthly Draw A Bird Day and you can check out last month’s round up on their blog Method Two Madness. Charlie at Doodlewash is celebrating “official days” with pen, ink and watercolour paintings throughout the month of April and has invited people to join him.
My April bird is a Coppersmith Barbet from a photograph in Audubon’s book “Bird – The Definitive Visual Guide”. It is my first drawing with my new set of 60 Polychromos colour pencils. I picked the Coppersmith Barbet because of his multi-coloured feathers. The colouring took many hours, which I spread out over a few months, a couple of hours here and there. When I moved homes in late February, I put the drawing aside for a few weeks. To find the colour pencils I had been working with, I examined the pencils in the box to find those that were a bit shorter than the others. Since then, when I work on multi-day colour pencil drawings, I keep the pencils I’m using separate and bound with a rubber band.
The “paper-version” of my drawing has a white background. The background foliage in the digital version was created with Photoshop – cropped from a photo, blurred and given a rough pastel filter. My husband J was the initial motivator behind the jazzy background. He loved the drawing but thought the white background was missing a little “je ne sais quoi”. So he added different backgrounds in Photoshop – plain light-grey, a jungle and some mountains. I was thrilled with the jungle and mountains and asked if he could think of a third fun background.
Outer space is fun!