Puffin Practice

4:37 PM

Nearly Live Practice
of Sketching Puffins
Watercolor and Ink
Stillman and Birn Zeta Bound Sketchbook
5.5 x 8.5 inches
I am planning a trip to Acadia National Park towards the end of this summer and I have always, always, Always, ALWAYS wanted to see puffins in the wild.

When I stumbled across a couple of puffin cams here and here, it seemed like a good idea to get in some practice. The cams are not live yet, but they have several videos of the highlights and it's just like sketching from real life.

Just as I started to get a pose down, the bird would move or fly away. Sometimes, the video would change to a completely different location.


There is no "one" bird on the page. Instead, I used an eye from one bird, a beak or wing from another until I had "most" of the creature showing on the page. I even tried sketching from memory with limited success.

When I couldn't finish a pose, I'd start on some of the different body parts and that's how I managed to come up with a puffin body that's less than an inch and peg-legged—the creature moved before I could even get his feet sketched!

The nerve of some birds. ; •)

When doing this type of sketching I always (attempt to) approach the page with the thought that it will be an adventure and I may or may not have a finished page that I like, let alone love. And that's okay because it's more about what I can learn about my subject matter, strengthening my observation skill as well as my hand and eye coordination.

I gotta tell you, it was amazing fun! And time FLEW by! It was like being there and with the help of technology, I was! Just amazing. Without disturbing or threatening the habitat of these wonderful "little friars," I was able to enjoy sketching them.

There are a number of different cams that spotlight the lives of ospreys, eagles and other birds as well as bears, dogs and all manner of beasties that I intend to take advantage of when I'm wondering what I'm going to sketch or when I don't feel like braving Florida's high humidity and temperatures in the middle of summer.

Getting back to the puffins…they live in the park in the summer months and their summer runs from April to August. They'll have "puffed" before I get there.


I missed them in Alaska too. Apparently, I'm going to have to plan a Puffin Tour at some point if I'm ever going to see the cute little rascals for myself. They live most of their lives on the open sea only coming back to land to breed.

Did you know puffin swim using their wings to propel them through the water much as they do when they fly? Their feet as used as rudders. How cool is that?!

Did I mention that I really want to see puffins in the wild?

What bird or animal do you want to see in the wild with your eyes?

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3 Creative Thought(s)

  1. I love the puffin posts I see from time to time on birding blogs too Laure'. I invite you to quick check my current post http://dragonfly47.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/a-row-of-white-breasted-woodswallows.html for I think it's one you could turn into a sweet two-page art in your wonderful painterly style that I enjoy so ----I hope you might try it :)

  2. You undoubtedly got a more close up view on the videos than you would live, but I recommend that you see them live sometime! I have been fortunate to see puffins at Eastern Egg Rock in Maine numerous times and to spend a week each summer teaching at the Hog Island Audubon Camp, where Project Puffin is based. http://hogisland.audubon.org. I can't sketch on board the boat or I'll be sick, but it is exciting to see them fly out over the water or hanging out on the rocks. The videos you saw were probably set up by Project Puffin-- Steve Kress and his team are responsible for restoring puffins to the Maine coast!

  3. I love, love, love your puffins!!! Great idea with the puffin cams! I can't wait to hear about your trip.


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