Cedar waxwing colored pencil drawing

Cedar waxwing colored pencil drawing by Allspice Abounds

Cedar waxwings are such striking birds!  Last spring I started to get interested in bird watching (you know, yet another old lady hobby to add to my list).  🙂  It was my first spring in Minnesota, and I learned that we are located right along the Mississippi Flyway, which means many opportunities to see a diverse array of beautiful birds during their seasonal migration.  Plus, my new neighborhood has a lot more trees and other vegetation than my old neighborhood in Massachusetts (which was much more urban), so I have seeing birds left and right.  It has been awesome!  I am definitely still a bird-watching novice, but I’ve been enjoying the learning process.

Cedar waxwing drawing in progress by Allspice Abounds

My partner’s mother, Marilyn, is an experienced birder, and she has been helping me get up to speed.  Last week she dropped off this little magazine, Birds & Blooms, which was really fun to flip through.  (Note that all deliveries from Marilyn now involve contact-less doorstep drop-offs, and we wave at each other through the window!)  One bird in the magazine really caught my eye – this stunning cedar waxwing.  I have never seen one in real life, but the woman who submitted this photo to the magazine said more than 50 of them stopped by her house one day!  If only I were so lucky!!

Cedar waxwing progress collage by Allspice Abounds

Since my quick pencil sketch the other day had me thinking more about sketching, I decided to bust out all my colored pencils in an effort to replicate this intriguing bird.  To start, I used a portable light box to trace the outline of the bird directly from the original image.  Full disclosure: My first attempt involved free-handing the outline of the bird, and it did not go well!  I feel like tracing the outline is cheating a bit, but at this point in my drawing journey (i.e., super novice level), I figured it wasn’t a big deal.  🙂   All the color placement was free-handed, working with the original image right next to me as I went along.

Cedar waxwing with reference image by Allspice Abounds

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome!  The finished sketch looks fairly similar to the original image, and it actually looks like a bird!  I’m particularly pleased with the face, although I think my attempts at foliage could use some work.  Truth be told, I was planning to add a lot more foliage to replicate the original image more closely, but after I saw how crappy my leaves were turning out, I abandoned ship.  I was then left with the burning question: Where is the rest of the bird’s tail??  Do I just leave it out or attempt to draw it in behind the branch?  Since the tail isn’t shown in the original image, and I didn’t know what it was supposed to look like, I left it out.  We can just use our imaginations, right?  🙂

Cedar waxwing face detail by Allspice Abounds

Overall this exercise in colored pencil drawing was really fun and rewarding.  I hope you enjoy this little bird as much as I do!  Check out my Pencil & Paper gallery for other sketches I’ve done.

Pencils: Prismacolor Premier colored pencils: Box set of 36, portrait set, and various other colors I purchased individually from my local art supply store.  Paper: Stillman & Birn alpha series sketchbook paper.

4 thoughts on “Cedar waxwing colored pencil drawing

  1. You can kind of see the tail in the original picture, though it’s mostly obscured by leaves. It goes more or less straight down along the branch.

    This is pretty nice – actually your posts are inspiring me to pick up a drawing pad again 😊


    • I hope you do it! Drawing can be so relaxing, especially if you let go of your expectations and just see where it takes you. I am clearly a beginner, but it’s fun to try things! 🙂


  2. LOL I had to laugh at the “old lady hobby” portion… definitely feel that way sometimes ! Your drawing is so colorful and I think you did a great job!! Keep up the good work and thanks for brightening my day!


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