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This spring, so far, house sparrows have constructed nests in my cottage mailbox and in a quart Mason jar in our garage. When it comes to selecting a site to raise their young, they seem to favor recycling. I drew this little male in Prismacolor pencil, starting with a basic sketch in dark umber and then adding layers of color on top. Here he is in three stages:

Basic sketch, first in 2B drawing pencil then in dark umber Prismacolor. The dark umber creates a nicely shaded “underdrawing” with shadows and other details already in place, ready for layers of color to be added on top.

Now I begin to add thin layers of color — yellow ochre, terra cotta, dark brown — to build rich tones for feather patterns and also for the surface of the clay flowerpot perch. Though it sounds a bit odd, the warm gray on the sparrow’s belly is a blend of peach and sky blue.

The final details are added with a dark umber Prismacolor Verithin pencil (the harder lead holds a very sharp point, compared to the pigment-rich regular Prismacolor). Hooray! All done.