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. .
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:
A bold charcoal drawing by Greg Poole, which really captures something of the gangly strength of the heron:
And finally an old drawing of mine which went on to inspire my Night Heron screen print: