Sunday, November 29, 2009

Work-In-Progress: Close-up of Barn Swallow

It has been some time since I worked in graphite, and it is a pleasure to return to it.  Even more than that, it has been about three decades (yes, three decades) since my previous bird drawings.  It may have been one of those serendipitous events that I was recently asked to provide one or two bird drawings for an upcoming gallery I am thoroughly enjoying the subject matter, and may not have made the decision myself to revisit it.

I love birds.  LOVE birds.  Who would have thought?  I was raised by an avid bird watcher, who provided lengthy commentary on every purple-crested-what-cha-ma-call-it known to man.  My father made sure that I knew more bird species by age twelve than most persons learn in their entire lifetime.  And I in turn was a typical, rather contentious, and very bored young person, with much bigger fish to fry than learning bird species!

Or so I thought.  In spite of myself I learned, and through my adulthood I have become just as fascinated with birds as is my father.  Consequently I have gone on to bore my son even more than my father did me, and who knows?  Maybe someday my son and I will have a riveting conversation about the migration patterns of the elusive gray catbird................Okay, alright; I won't hold my breath on that one!  I'd settle for him not remembering his mom as the nut he discovered standing outside the kitchen window one frigid winter morning, unmoving, frozen in position with seed-filled hand raised high.  (And I'll have you know it only took two ten-minute 'statue sessions', on two consecutive days, to get those chickadees to feed out of my hand -- it was amazing!)  I was absolutely awestruck when I held a stunned American Kestral, who then took flight from my hands -- and I still try to save every fallen or seemingly abandoned baby bird who's path I cross.

Thankyou Dad.        


  1. Oh Lynda, what a beautiful post and wonderful drawing. Birds touch the soul on so many levels.

    I'll always remember the time, many years ago, I held a hummingbird in my hands. He was trapped between the two panes of glass on a lowered window. He was light as air and jettisoned like a tiny rocket from my hands toward the sky.

  2. Lynda, I love the drawing you are working on! It says "close up" so I am curious how big it is, and what the rest of the space is? I love the expression of the swallow, and with the beak shape I can tell it's a juvenile.

    I also really enjoyed your description of learning about birds from your Dad. How heartwarming. You know, at your urging, I tried handfeeding the chickadees, but it didn't work. They eyed me closely, but in the end they couldn't make the leap. I just must not have your aura!

  3. What a delightful read, Lynda! And to get chickadees to feed from your hand. Soooo cool.

    You are doing some amazing blog posts. I love it! Thank you for all of your sharing.

  4. Lovely drawing Linda. I love the swallows who come to visit us in summer. They scoot about like fighters planes and the babies are just a joy to watch. I, like you was entranced by a beautiful Kestral. He had escaped from his owner and ended up perched on our roof still wearing his traces. Armed with garden gloves and a piece of chicken I stood in the garden with my arm outstretched...heart pounding. He landed on my hand as if he had known me all his life, a moment I shall never forget. A neighbour called the sspca and they came for him and eventually tracked down his very relieved owner.

  5. I loved reading this post!
    I agree that birds add so much music and beauty to our lives. We have many birds near our house, including some trumpeter swans nesting in a lagoon close to our home. I love all the birds' songs I hear. Wish I knew more about them. Perhaps next year I will go to some Audubon Club meetings.
    Thanks for sharing.

  6. I really appreciate everyone's comments and stories -- birds are certainly a loved species!

    Denny, I can't even imagine what it must have been like to hold such a tiny thing. You reminded me of the time I literally scaled the inside of our barn wall, about 30 feet above the mow to the uppermost window, to save a starling that had gotten himself into a similar predicament as your hummingbird. I was petrified, but couldn't stand to know he had died up there!

    Oh yes Debbi; just call me the "bird whisperer". Hahahaha. Or maybe Michigan chickadees are friendlier than Massachusetts chickadees! : ) Yes, it is a juvenile as you are aware; he and his siblings (I presume) allowed me to get about 4 feet from them with my camera last summer.

    Elizabeth, what a great story! That must have been so exhiliarating! Kestrals are such stunning birds, especially when viewed up-close. I've often thought falconry would be fascinating to get involved in.

    Dee, thanks so much.......And I predict that (if Holly reads the post) someday soon you are going to look our your window one cold morning, and there will be HOLLY..........frozen in position with her seed-filled hand raised high! lololol.

    If my plans remain the same Barb, my next bird piece will be a rather different perspective (from the oft portrayed swan on the water's surface) of a trumpeter swan. Thanks so much.

  7. Lynda~ I made a mistake on the birds on my balancing act painting...they are black capped chickadees, not nuthatches as I stated. You'd think I'd know better, after all I painted them!

  8. Hi Lynda, what a cutie...I love barn swallows. We always had lots of them on the farm where I grew up. My Dad never liked how they built their nests over top of his machinery. A poop covered tractor seat wasn't his idea of a good thing.

    Chickadees in Canada (at least here in Ottawa) are friendly - they like being fed by hand! :-) I too love birds - I have the books, the bird call CDs, bought the T shirt. Okay, not the T shirt, but my studio is filled with nests - I am in bird nest collecting addiction recovery - there is no more room so I had to stop. Now if I would just stop bringing home snake skins, skulls, antlers, bee hives, leaves, feathers, bones...

  9. Hi Lynda,

    I enjoyed reading your blog. We just came back from Tanzania. You would love the birdlife in Central Afria. It was an incredible trip on many levels.

    I will become a follower on your blog. Just have to figure out how to do that!


  10. Denny - I hope you don't mind that I am amused by that; it sounds so like something I would do! Now that you mention it, the body types of the birds in your painting ARE just like chickadees.

    Teresa, what a coincidence: I am in bird nest collecting addiction recovery too!! And our chickadees here seem quite friendly as well -- less so the downy wooodpeckers, but I think had I kept at it a couple more days I would have had them eating out of my hand also.......they were so close! Ha ha ha....yes, REAL farmers are often not that thrilled with barn swallows! (As opposed to me; NOT a real farmer!)

    Jan, what an amazing trip that must have been! Welcome to my blog. I too was a little confused about the 'follower' issue, but if you click on the little "follow" logo above the pics of the followers on any blog you want to follow, it should walk you thru it. It is very easy. Welcome home!

  11. thisa really is a wonderful drawing. You should do a lot more of this style. Really liked your last post of the horse. Wonderful work