52 birds

52 birds

I’ve had a little less time the past couple weeks, so it was a perfect time to break from the more detailed bird illustrations I’ve been doing and spend some time on some simpler illustrations I have been meaning to do.

On my Instagram account, a follower commented that she hates it when people call gulls “seagulls.” I hadn’t realized that there is actually no bird called a “seagull.” They are all different kinds of gulls. Because I’m terrible at gull identification, I wanted to take some time to illustrate the different types. Certainly taking the time to STOP, look, and illustrate each of these birds helps me to really remember the differences! So far I have illustrated four gulls:



I had wanted to take a trip to San Diego last month, but had to put it off for a major deadline. I hope to get out there fairly soon, and by the time I make it out, I want to have illustrated all the gulls of North America. Then I’ll put my identification skills to the test! So far I am learning that the gulls differ in size, beak color, eye color, leg color, and white/gray/black coloring.

Eventually I would like to add even more details to these gulls, but for now, the simplicity of this project is a perfect fit for my time. When I have all the different gulls, I’ll put together a poster or a pocket guide or something fun!


52 birds

Today I chose to illustrate one of my favorite birds, the double crested cormorant. There is a tree near my house that is full of these in the summer. Today I was able to take a closer look at photos of them and realized they have a very unique eye, and very distinct and interesting feathers on their wings. I loved that their bodies are black/blue/green iridescent while their wings are a warm gray, with great details in the feathers. I sought to capture all of this while making this illustration. double-crested-cormorant-620px

Each week, I share my new birds on instagram, but I feel that instagram doesn’t give a sense of the details that are in each illustration, so today I also shared this zoomed in detail shot. The double crested cormorant was fun to illustrate, and I think I may print a large version of this for display in my home!

52 birds

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.