Behind the art #1 : The Bird postcards

Welcome to the first ever “Behind the art”, a series where I talk about the ideas, the process and the story behind a specific work of mine.

Today, we are going to be looking at my bird postcard series which I drew back in July as a challenge to myself.

It consists of 8 polychromos pencil drawings of jackdaws & rooks on watercolour postcard paper.

About Jackdaws & Rooks

Jackdaws have been coming on my balcony ever since I moved into this apartment. Before I cam to Ireland, I had never heard of them !

After seeing them almost every single day, they really grew on me and soon became a regular subject in my drawings and one of my favourite birds.

They still come everyday to check if we have left out some fruits for them and I am always trying to snap a perfect picture or film them while they’re doing something cute.

Recently, rooks have started showing up too. They are a little more shy so they do not hang out on the balcony for too long but when they do show up it is a sight to behold.

They are so much bigger than the jackdaws and their face makes them look so serious.

I used to be a bit scared of them but the more they came, the more I could look at them. Once I noticed that their long feathers made it look like they’re wearing a dress, I couldn’t be scared anymore !

As I grew very fond of these birds, I thought that I could try and use my art to help show their true beauty to everyone since they are often seen as scary more than anything else.

They are beautiful birds and their black feathers are perfect but I know that they can look scary to people that don’t really know them ( and the many stereotypes/stories/superstitions out there are not helping ).

I hope that my use of colours can help people realize that they are actually really cute birds and so clever. That is why I still went with black eyes because their eyes hold so much beauty and are a clear reflection of their intelligence.

How it all started

At the start of July, I had decided to start sketching out rooks for a change as my sketchbook had become full of jackdaws.

Just as for my jackdaw sketches (left), I went with my trustworthy violet and purple violet polychromos pencils. However, this time, since the rooks have a different type of beak, I needed another colour to add a bit more life to them.

I went for a middle phthalo blue at first but I ended up adding four other shades of blue to help with the shadows and add depth to their feathers.

I am loving this colour combination and I will probably keep doing more colourful sketches like these in the future.

What I used to make the postcards

For these postcards, I used a pad of A6 watercolour paper (300gsm) from Daler & Rowney that have a postcard layout printed at the back.

I wasn’t too sure about it at first as the paper has some grain to it and I usually use my pencils on smoother paper. The first few steps of the drawing process did send me on a tiny self-doubt spiral but I eventually realized that it was actually perfect.

It gave a really nice texture to my drawing and I am kind of thinking of doing another themed series of postcards.

The pencils I used were the Faber-Castell polychromos pencils. I worked with 2 shades of purple, 5 different shades of blue and a black one.

And once I was done I slightly sprayed them with fixative to avoid smudges.

Each postcard took a little over an hour and a half for me to complete.

I am not quite sure of the exact time as the process was spread out over a week and I would sometimes I only work a few minutes at a time or with one colour on three postcards at once.

It was quite a long process for such small drawings but I think it was necessary for the amount of details and the quality I was aiming for.

I was a bit scared at times of overworking them, especially since I knew they were going to my shop so they had to be *perfect*. But in the end they turned out quite amazing and I am very proud of them.

The process

Rooks process

Jackdaws process

Before / After

The bird postcards

This project was both a lot of work & a lot of fun. The finished postcards all look so much more detailed than planned and they are beautiful.

I was always scared that by drawing the same birds over and over they would all end up looking the same. However, these 8 birds look nothing like each other, even the ones that are in a similar posture.

Their eyes each tell a different story and have a unique magic to them. And although they all look so serious, I find that the purple and blue tones help make them feel a little less scary and bring out their best features.

When I look at them, I feel warm inside in spite of the cold tones I used which do not have to always rhyme with sadness or melancholy as one might think.

Purple is actually a perfect mix of the calm of the colour blue and the fierceness of the colour red which is what makes these birds so interesting to look at.

Purple is also a colour that evokes royalty, wisdom, mystery and magic which are all characteristics that these birds hold ( at least in my mind 😉 ).

I like to think that these colours actually do exist behind the black & grey tones of their feathers. In fact, I often see jackdaws with blueish reflections on some of their feathers which you would probably not expect when looking at a black bird !

I am proud of each and every one of these and I am filled with joy at the thought of another person appreciating them enough to be investing their hard-earned money in them and welcoming them to their home.

I have already sold 2 out of the 8 postcards that I have made which is quite amazing ! And for the moment, the rest of them are patiently waiting for their new home in their individual glassine bags…

Now it’s time for your comments.

If you enjoyed this please leave a like/subscribe and if you want to leave a comment, that would be lovely as well !

Let me know if there is anything else that you would like to know about these postcards or if you would like me to add something more to these posts in the future.

Thank you for reading ♥

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