Inktober – Day 2 Suit

“Chickadees look like they are wearing little suits,” Charlotte exclaimed earlier this week as she watched our favorite little birds at our feeders. I knew then that was perfect for today. I used one of her photos as my source file. What a great example of one of the sweetest daily joys in my world.

So this morning I was thinking about how I wanted to render this (with a broad brush, as it turned out) when I heard a thump on the livingroom window. Ugh. Not yet out of bed and a bird hits the window. I padded out to look through the window over the tell tale shoulder of my cat as she stared intently down on the deck below where she was seated. Ugh again, a chickadee?!!

No way. Not today!

And they never hit the windows (which have film and stickers on them to stop this mistaken behavior.)

It was laying on its side and I was sure it was dead, then I realized that its little body was panting. Unlocking the back door, I slipped out hoping the neighbors were not noticing my jammies, and picked it up, sniffling. Carrying it tenderly inside, I put it into a dark shoe box, which is best for this type of injury, and said a prayer.

This was not the day for this, I thought sourly.

For the next 2 hours I went about the business of the morning and also threw open all the windows in hope that the little fella’s last hours were at least full of normal life sounds.

When I finally went to check on his status, having not heard a sound, I realize a miracle had occurred!

I did not even get his box lid open (back out on the deck) 2 inches before he had zipped out so fast I only saw a blur. A happy little bird, flying as straight as a bouncy little chickadee can fly. Thank you, Jesus!

Hope and Healing! A perfect moment for the both of us this morning.

And then I inked my picture full of much joy.

Sketching Birds

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This has been the year for sketching the birds I am photographing and spending time watching all the youngsters figure out their big new world. I started last fall doing the above types of 5 second sketches.

I like to use ink for the initial sketches because it forces me to capture their essence without overworking and overthinking it. Perfection is not the aim and ink is always full of lines that can not be erased, so that forces my letting go of the OCD side of my personality.


This month I started spending a little more energy on the initial sketch then adding various views of the same bird in pencil.  We have had so many Downy Woodpecker babies this year that I decided to catalog them to see who sticks around. Did you know that you can tell them apart by their head stripes? It has been fun and very illuminating to learn about these individuals visiting my feeder.

Note: I have been naming them only because it is easier to talk about them with a name versus – “you know, that one with the squiggly stripe…”

Weekly Sketchbook


The only way to get to know a subject is to study it. Over the years I have taken copious photos of hummingbird moths, but until I started doing these fast sketches, I don’t know that I really had seen them. Gorgeous little creatures about the size of the end of your thumb.

My favorite pen for fast sketches is the Micron 05. I am branching out and trying others too. It is amazing how awkward that can feel.


I also used a Copic brush this week for the chickadees below. It has been a long time. I have some work to do with that tool to get back to some level of comfort.


Weekly Sketchbook – Winter Birds


An exercise in “seeing”. I call these my 5 second sketches and am challenging myself to do them daily.

In using a Micron pen, it keeps me from attempting to perfect the sketch and just move on.

I am studying Indiana backyard birds that winter over for some oil painting I am working on.

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