Drawing In The Moment, Mistakes and All

12:02 PM

Swallow Tailed Kite
Ink in Stillman & Birn Zeta Sketchbook
8.5 x 5.5 inches
Back in the spring while out and about on errands, I happen to glance up and see the most beautiful, acrobatic show put on by a couple of sea gulls. I had never noticed gulls being so graceful before! They would dive and hang out on the thermals before falling away and gliding around in slow, flowing twirls and twists.

They combined grace, ballet and acrobatics into a beautiful dance.

As I continued to watch, I noticed their tails were odd. Finally, I caught a glance of one from almost straight above me and I noticed the swallow shape of the tail feathers.

By the time I realized they weren't gulls at all, they were too far away for me to see any real detail and I didn't even bother to reach for my sketchbook. I did, however, make myself a promise that if I saw them again, I'd be ready!

Last week, I happened across another one! According to my brothers these kites have been around for a while—it was me who was missing!

Anyway, I grabbed my sketchbook and a black pen. My first attempt is at the bottom and just line work. You can see where I struggled to get the shape right of the wing. I didn't get it quite long enough with my first drawn line and tried again. Also, the area where the tail and body meet is not quite right.

Mind you, this guy wasn't just sitting still. S/he was doing cartwheels in the sky while I attempted my sketching.

My second attempt was better, though still not right. The tail shape still isn't working quite right and her/his neck is odd. (Many of my inaccurate lines are covered by the black wash of ink.)

My third attempt was a side view and s/he was gone before I could blink. I attempted to go on from memory and realized it was a lost cause.

My last attempt was the tail at the top of the page. Since I knew I wasn't getting that area right, I focused in on just that area.

Then…s/he was gone. Too far away for me to see much more than a speck.

Arriving home, I pulled out my Pentel Color Brush and painted in the wings and tail on two of the line drawings. I added the title only to realize this morning I had it wrong!


I used my white Sharpie Marker, but the ink bled and now I have a nice gray smudge.

Still, it was fun attempting to capture this gorgeous creature in my sketchbook. I knew before I started the page that chances were good great it wasn't going to be a "pretty" page, that it would be full of "mistakes" as I'd never drawn a kite before.

I decided it was more important to me to get the bird down on paper and I'd figure out the mistakes later. But you can bet the next time I see them I'm gonna try again!

You can learn more about swallow-tailed kites here.

Have you taken any chances with your sketchbook lately?

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7 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Laure - so glad you shared this sketch page...trying to capture birds moving about is so tough. Like you I try..definitely not great either. It does teach one to observe quickly (LOL)! Have a great day and thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks, Debbie! Birds definitely present challenges…like all living creatures!

  2. Thanks for the post. Are we going to learn how to sketch these birdies during Winter Interrupted. ;-)

    1. Yes, ma'am! There's plenty of bird life at the beach and hopefully a few will make it onto our pages.

  3. Love your post - you are so 'real'! You set a great example about just giving it a try .... rather than leaving the page blank.

  4. Wow - great to see these birds, and your sketches are a nice memory of what you saw and experienced!

  5. Good for you! i.e. jumping in and trying to capture a bird that you are not familiar with. I'm always surprised how much harder it is to draw a species I've never drawn before.


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