Creative Projects Drawing

Flying Colours

I recently came across a wonderful little book called “Birds of Europe” by John Gould. He was an ornithologist in the 1800’s and his wife Elizabeth, an artist. Together, they documented and illustrated hundreds of birds and other fauna, some referenced in Darwin’s famous “On the Origin of Species”. The hand coloured lithographs in my little book are exquisite, and immediately made me want to try my hand at drawing birds.

Elizabeth Gould’s beautiful use of lithography

As someone who is a total beginner using colour, I decided not to start too fancy, and to simply try replicate some bird lithograph illustrations using colour pencils, blending colours by layering them little by little.

Then I watched a little YouTube video on blending techniques and decided to try a solvent. I came up with the following results, using a textured mixed-media paper.

I’ve got a long road to go, but the experimenting was a lot of fun, and it’s definitely motivated me to continue my exploration into the world of birds, and of colour pencils.


Original parrot lithograph from Iconographie des perroquets non figurs dans les publications de Levaillante et de M. Bourjot, compiled by Charles de Souance (1823-1896) and plates by E. Blanchard and J. Daverne, printed by Juliot of Tours

Original Himalayan Monal lithograph from A century of birds from the Himalaya Mountains.John Gould, London, 1831.

Original toucan lithograph from A Monograph of the Ramphastidae, or Family of Toucans, illustrated by Edward Lear, et al, text by John Gould and Richard Owen. C. Hullmandel, London, 1833-35.