Heroic Herons

A short post today, inspired by time spent watching a preening grey heron this weekend on the Water of Leith. After sitting down to draw the bird, I would thoroughly recommend ‘heron-watching’ as a way to spend some quality time. The way in which they can morph from stumpy, mango-bodied birds to tall, snake-like creatures is incredible. The particular bird that I was watching must have been an adult in breeding plumage as the decorative feathers which hang from its front were very prominent. I have since learnt that heron’s beaks turn from yellow to partly reddish during the breeding season – I’ll be looking out for that from now on.

This is a page from my sketchbook – the drawing (hopefully) gives a sense of the preening movement  of the birds and you can see my attempt to capture the long feathers which it was trying to reach under with its beak. .


I was able to make a few sketchy drawings which turned into this painting in progress at the studio: Image

It felt very satisfying to immediately spend some time translating what I had just seen into colours and forms on the paper. Watch this space to see how the piece develops.

And to finish, some more heron images for you, firstly a sheet of egret sketches by Italian 15th century artist, Pisanello.


The birds strong features lend themselves very well to this book cover by the mid-twentieth century artists Clifford and Rosemary Ellis:

the heron, c and r ellis

A bold charcoal drawing by Greg Poole, which really captures something of the gangly strength of the heron:

mull - heron & otter

And finally an old drawing of mine which went on to inspire my Night Heron screen print:

arran sketchbook page heron


About flyingcreature

I'm a Cumbrian born painter and printmaker based in Scotland. My work is inspired by British nature. I studied on the Foundation Course at Leith School of Art in 2003 before going on to take the MA Fine Art degree at Edinburgh College of Art and Edinburgh University graduating in 2008. I now make my work from my studio in Coburg House and teach drawing, painting and printmaking at Leith School of Art and around Scotland.
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