Lincoln's Sparrow - Graphite Drawing

May 2, 2014

For my latest Texas bird drawing, I present the 8 x 6" graphite/pencil drawing of Lincoln's Sparrow. 18 Texas birds drawn... 659 to go... !

I decided to document the entire drawing process on this one. Sometimes I start with the bird first, and then move on to the background. For this particular drawing, I started with the background first... leaving the bird for last. Here is a quick compilation time lapse I made from the beginning...

Step One: Compositional Layout Sketch
Light sketch with a dark 3B graphite. I never press hard with this graphite in the layout phase, as it will leave it's permanent mark... however, I typically don't use a lighter graphite in this phase as I like to actually see what I am working with...

Step Two: Beginning of Background
Adding values in 3H and H graphite. I sort of just eyeball where my fuzzy background light spots go... always keeping the overall composition in mind.

Step Three: More Background Detailing
Adding even darker values in HB graphite. In this phase, I start to add graphite in what I call "firework sketching"... sort of zig-zaggy yet rotating around a constantly moving center point as I move along. 

Step Four: Final Background 
Adding the final darkest values in 6B graphite.
Step Five: Final Branch and Beginning of Bird Details 
Going back to a lighter 2H graphite, I begin to block in the details of the bird... eye, prominent markings, general direction of feathers and outline. For me... it's all about the eye... and that magical moment when the drawing comes alive... !

All the final and darkest details of the bird are in place... enjoy!

On a quick side note... in a conversation with my sister Karen who is also a birder... we found that according to this 2012 updated PDF list by the American Birding Association (ABA), there are 914 bird species in the United States (I thought there would be more honestly)... and I am already planning on drawing a total of 653 of them from Texas alone... that is more two-thirds of them! Why do I do these things to myself?!

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