The birds are returning, and this sunny morning when I filled the feeders I heard quite the chorus of mourning doves. They’ve always inhabited my trees, and now while they are still bare I can see birds clustered in each of them—especially as they watch me with the seed headed for each feeder.
The mourning doves tend to settle in one place for a while, commune with each other, sing for a while, then sit quietly as they consider moving off to do something else.
These doves are waiting in the maple tree outside my bedroom window, a scene I often see and always enjoy.
The branches of the ancient maple tree vary in texture and even color, the larger branches and trunk carrying old gnarled scars from years of storms; this tree has been my guardian since I moved into this house and is very, very old. The details of the branches and twigs were so inspiring to me and I visualized a large, detailed pencil drawing, even imagining my pencil drawing the darker edges, blending the smooth areas and sketching detail in the rough areas to create the shadows.
Still, it was the doves who led me to the beauty of the scene and it was only a matter of time and lots of reference photos before I decided exactly which one I wanted to draw.
The scene I finally chose to draw was a bright overcast day when a snowfall had melted from the branches, leaving them a little wet and more colorful than usual with the little bits of moss that collect on the undersides, and the shadows are muted and soft.
I chose to create this drawing in pencil for the simple clarity of line and the delicacy of shadow. Pencil was my first medium and one I return to regularly with a comforting familiarity, losing myself in the variety of lines and textures a simple graphite pencil can achieve, and so it was with this drawing.
I added very slight watercolor washes to show the bird’s breast tarnish and the contrast of blue on the upper feathers, and the slight gather of moss on the tree branch. Loving the pencil, I still wanted to give the birds and branches dimension against the flat white background. Well I remember my hesitance with the first washes of color, holding the brush, filled with paint, away from the sketch, afraid to begin for fear either my idea of adding color wouldn’t be successful or I would simply screw up this pencil drawing I’d spent three weeks drawing. Eventually, I got over it, and it worked out just as I had visualized.
I sold the original to a loving home, but have a quality giclee matted and framed.
The signed giclee print is 18″ wide x 12″ high, matted with a 4″ tan acid-free marble mat 1″ matte black wood frame, framed size 18″ x 24″. The backing is acid-free foam core and the glass is premium clear glass.
You can find this print in my Etsy shop.