This year, an illustrator I admire, Stephanie Fizer Coleman, decided to illustrate one bird per week so that by the end of the year, she would have 52 bird illustrations. Each week, she shares her work on Instagram. I love birds and I have needed a creative project that is just for me for a while, so this was perfect timing for me to invite myself to join in on Stephanie’s challenge.
Back when I was in college, I took a bird watching course. I remember the week before the course started, walking home from campus and looking at the birds around me, wondering what they were. Almost like hearing another language, all these birds seemed foreign to me, nameless. But I knew that within a week’s time, my course would start, and slowly I’d learn to identify the birds around me. This course changed my life in that it has made me watch. Now, almost ten years later, I still watch, wherever I go. This awareness of birds has become second nature to me.
It is also something that I am trying to foster in my children. In our minivan, we each have a pair of binoculars so that we are ready at all times for adventure. As my young children see birds, I also teach them the species so that they learn early in life to identify the common birds around us.
As a focus for my project this year, I’d like to illustrate only birds in my area of Utah, and only birds that I have personally seen and identified. I am not looking to illustrate only the most beautiful birds, but rather take a closer look at some of the most common birds around us. As much as I love watching for birds, I must also admit that I am amateur at best. I have a lot to learn, and look forward to increasing my knowledge about these birds as I illustrate them throughout the year.
To start out my project, I have been focusing on black birds, playing with texture, subtle tones, and iridescence.