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Earlier this month, I was privileged to be able to take Linda Feltner’s 3 day workshop, “Drawing Birds”, at the Morton Arboretum.  What a wonderful opportunity to study under such a knowledgeable instructor and fantastic artist.  To see more of her work, check out her website,  www.lindafeltner.com .

We started from the inside out with skeletons so that we could understand how birds were put together and then relate that to what we see on the outside.  I drew a quick sketch of a pigeon skeleton that was in the room in order to remember what I was learning.

Pigeon skeleton © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Pigeon skeleton
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Bird skulls are also interesting as we don’t generally see where the beak intersects with the skull-especially in owls.

Barn Owl skull © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Barn Owl skull
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

Skull sketch © 2014 Karen A Johnson

Skull sketch
© 2014 Karen A Johnson

We drew lots of quick sketches from photos that were projected on a screen in order to practice seeing what’s important in birds-beaks, feet and markings.

Comparing angles and using lines to get the shapes right and foreshortening exercises were covered and after two days of drawing we were “ready” to sketch from live birds.  Not that one is ever ready, but we plunged in anyways!  Our models were from SOAR-Inc, Save Our American Raptors.  They sent us a knowledgeable handler with a beautiful short-eared owl, two screech owls and her own personal parrots as well.  The owls were unable to return to the wild after being injured and are used to educate the public.

I’d never seen a short-eared owl before and was mesmerized by his bright yellow eyes.  He moved quite a bit more than the screech owls and I will admit to taking more time to photograph him than sketch him.  All in all, it was a truly memorable weekend and a great learning experience.