He’s becoming a regular, arriving after the bossy cardinal couple and before the mourning doves. Red-bellied woodpeckers are year-round residents here, and apparently they have a hearty appetite for seeds. “My” woodpecker is a male, easily recognized by his red cowl. Females display a red patch only on the backs of their necks. (Despite their name, you can watch these birds for hours and never catch a glimpse of their red-tinged belly feathers. But the bold black-and-white bars on their wings and their bright caps make it easy to identify them anyway. Bon apetit, Mr. Woodpecker.)
What do you get when you combine figure drawing, plant/animal/insect sketches, basic watercolor techniques, drawing natural habitat — then season the mixture with fairy tale illustration? An interactive online course called Draw & Paint Fairies in Nature, which begins next week. There are still a few places left in this work-at-your-own-pace, personally guided drawing adventure. Here’s the sequence of our 10 lessons — the “Draw” segment of each is done in students’ sketchbooks, and the “Paint” segment is done in simple watercolor with a bit of colored pencil:
Lesson 1: Where do fairies come from? Draw: Val’s four-step sketch technique, infant proportions, simple facial features, sketch exercise. Paint: Using gouache, making skin tones, glazing and lifting color, baby fairy project.
Lesson 2: How do fairies fly? Draw: Toddler proportions, drawing different kinds of wings, sketch exercise. Paint: Very young fairy in flight.
Lesson 3: Why do fairies love flowers? Draw: Six-year-old proportions, drawing favorite flowers, sketch exercise. Paint: Garden fairy child.
Lesson 4: What do fairies wear? Draw: Older child proportions, creating clothing from nature, creating clothing for fairy royalty, drawing fabric, drawing fairy hats and caps, sketch exercise. Paint: Your own fairy finery.
Lesson 5: Where do fairies live? Draw: Teen proportions, sketching fairy habitats, sketch exercise. Paint: A fairy at home.
Lesson 6: Why do birds allow fairies to ride on their backs? Draw: Adult female fairy proportions, drawing birds, drawing the seated figure, sketch exercise. Paint: Fairy riding a favorite bird.
Lesson 7: Who are the fairies’ other friends? Draw: Adult male fairy proportions, drawing small woodland creatures, sketch exercise. Paint: Fairy with a furry friend of your choice.
Lesson 8: Can fairies live in the water? Draw: Water sprites and naiads, drawing fins and scales, sketch exercise. Paint: Water sprite painted over a toned color wash, a trick for creating bubbles, creating very unusual skin tones.
Lesson 9: Are fairies always young? Draw: Older adult proportions and features, how to show age and wisdom, how to draw gray or white hair, sketch exercise. Paint: A fairy godmother.
Lesson 10: Are all fairies good? Draw: Expressive faces and actions – how to show a sly or mischievous nature, how to tell a story with your drawing, sketch exercise. Paint: A trickster fairy.
I love drawing the texture of an orange peel. It requires a very light touch and some time spent looking deeply at surface light and shadow. These studies in pencil are a preliminary to a color illustration that will combine all four. Can you name them all? (The answers are at the end of this post.)
The first sketch is a satsuma. The second is a satsuma, partially peeled. The third is a Meyer lemon. The fourth is a pair of kumquats. Now I’m hungry.
…and just in time for spring planting, here’s my first printable garden calendar page. (I’ll have April ready to post in a few days.) This is my little gift to the world, and I will gladly send a pdf file, as each new page is completed, to anyone who asks. March is ready for you this very minute, so drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org . Enjoy!
‘Ruby Red’ Swiss chard, with its crinkled leaves and richly colored stems, is almost as much fun to draw as it is to eat. This year, instead of the traditional pot of New Year collards simmering on the stove, our first supper of 2012 was a chard and feta pie, incorporating ingredients from our winter garden. I love chard’s delicate spinach flavor and its prolific growing habit — plus, those lovely leaves are packed with Vitamins A, K, C and protein. And did I mention that fairies like it, as well?
This little drawing is colored pencil on acid-free vellum cardstock. Brilliant white with a smooth surface and a little more heft than drawing paper, premium cardstock makes a terrific sketching medium. Try it — you’ll be pleased.