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.
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!!
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.
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? 🙂
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.