Sunday, October 4, 2009

A splash of color

Anna's Hummingbird with Hummingbird Sage
graphite and colored pencil on 300 series smooth Bristol, 9x12 in. 

Just finished this morning, this is several "firsts" for me:  first time working on Bristol paper; first time drawing a bird; first time I've ever incorporated elements from different sources to form a drawing.  The reference photo for the bird was one of the subjects on WC's "weekly drawing thread", and I knew I just had to draw him.  I also knew that a standard graphite drawing wasn't going to be particularly eye-catching, so I decided to add just a splash of color using a few layers of Prismacolors to bring attention to his glorious throat feathers.  I also did some quick charcoal sketches of a zebra and koala that I posted there, but aren't worth posting here.  

After I finished the bird, I was quite pleased with the way it turned out; it's by far the most detailed drawing I've done in over 15 years.  However, it was just a "bird on paper", and essentially nothing more than an illustration.  The photo was superb; tack-sharp and with excellent bokeh (artistically pleasing background blur in a photo), but I felt that wouldn't translate so well to the drawing, as it would likely obscure the wing detail and shape.  So, this morning, I decided that adding a botanical food source of the species might be fun and add some interest to the drawing - in this case, "hummingbird sage" [Salvia spathacea].  It is a composite drawing; I had one photo that I used for the actual plant; another to make sure the plant was in scale to the bird, and another to use for lighting.   Looking at the photo of the drawing, I think I need to go in and darken up the foliage a bit.

Other neat facts about Anna's hummingbird:
- habitat is all along the west coast, including AK, and as far east as southern NM
- eats insects as well as nectar
- can be mistaken for ruby-throated hummingbird; the white splash behind the eye is indicative
- males perform a singing and dramatic diving ritual to attract a mate


  1. Sonya, the hummingbird is gorgeous ~ you're right, it's not like anything I've ever seen you do before! ~Rox

  2. There is something very special in this.

  3. This is beautiful. I've never seen a drawing that captured an Anna's hummingbird so well and accurately. I was wondering if you would be okay if I brought this in to a tattoo artist so they could use it as inspiration for my first tattoo. I've been trying to find a design for an Anna's hummingbird that I really loved for a long time, and I absolutely love your drawing. I totally understand if you would rather I not use it.

  4. Hi Wayana,

    I didn't see any way to contact you directly, but you're more than welcome to use my drawing for a tattoo reference; the original photo I used isn't mine to begin with.


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