Sketches from the Cube, Bird Nerd Edition

Remember Sketches from the Cube? The little game I play where I complete 100 sketches of something at the office during my lunch break?

My first was a series of 100 faces back in 2016. In 2017 I completed the Flora edition, where I finished 100 contour sketches of florals based on photos from a wildflower guide.

This time I chose birds. Why? Because:

  1. I had an old day calendar devoted to them with 365 images to choose from.
  2. I'm a self-confessed bird nerd.
  3. I'd never tried drawing birds before, I wanted to know if I could do it.
Birds on my cubicle wall in the late afternoon sun.

Birds on my cubicle wall in the late afternoon sun.

The tools

  • one mix media sketchbook with 7"x10" sheets of 98lb/160g paper
  • one black Sharpie (I used a black gel pen for a while when my Sharpie ran out)
  • one old bird lover's day calendar

The process

  • pull a blank sheet from my sketchbook and gently tear it in quarters, creating four 3 1/2"x5" pieces
  • flip through the pages of my day calendar and choose an image that speaks to me
  • sketch it quickly, no fuss
  • add a background or setting*
  • repeat the process once more to create two sketches per sitting

* Sketching birds took more time than the florals and faces did. The birds were quick enough - though some were more intricate than others, but figuring out what kind of setting or background I wanted to draw around them was a real head-scratcher sometimes. On some days inspiration hit as I flipped through my calendar and saw a specific bird, on other days my imagination came up short and left me frustrated.

My oh-so-fancy setup. Always put a notepad underneath kids, so you don't make marks on your desk.

My oh-so-fancy setup. Always put a notepad underneath kids, so you don't make marks on your desk.

The results

  • 100 bird drawings, sketched one sitting at a time
  • a pleasantly surprising revelation that I can draw birds
  • the discovery that I enjoy creating patterns as backgrounds and have a fondness for drawing birds wearing hats
  • increased confidence in my ability to draw and meet a set goal

The takeaways

The takeaways are consistent with those experienced during my Flora and Faces series:

  1. You don't need fancy tools to make art.
  2. You don't need a lot of time to make art (two sketches took me about 1/2 hour to complete).
  3. You don't have to be super precise in your markings to draw a bird that looks like a bird. Scribble with confidence!
  4. Regular practice leads to progress.
  5. That being said, there will be "off" days.
  6. Pinning art on your cubicle wall is a good conversation starter.
  7. Completing 100 instances of something builds confidence.
  8. Bringing an art practice to the office reminds you that you are more than your day job.

I wasn't sold on this series when I first started it. It was harder than the floral drawings and the images looked a lot "heavier" on my cubicle wall, I thought 100 might be too much. This series also took longer to finish than the other two, work was busy and I didn't always take the time to sketch. But I persisted.

I'm glad I did.

I'm already starting to toy with ideas for a fourth series, but will let it percolate for a while. Perhaps you'll join in when the time comes?

In the meantime I leave you with a few favourite sketches.

I drew these as we approached the Holiday season.