Last-Minute Gift Idea for a Creative New Year's Resolution: Bird Drawing Guide
Christmas is fast approaching, and before you know it, New Year’s Eve will be staring you down. Instead of committing yourself to the same tired resolutions, try something new and creative. Here’s one idea: Learn how to draw birds. To make sure you follow through, ask Santa for a little encouragement in the form of a new book, The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds. Author John Muir Laws provides detailed but accessible instructions that will help you channel your inner Roger Tory Peterson.
Leena Khanzode, a California-based physician, can attest to the joys of avian sketching, as well as Laws’s helpful instruction—she and her 10-year-old daughter Mitali have both taken lessons from him. Under his tutelage and encouragement, “I think I’ve not only become a better bird sketcher, I’ve become a better birder,” she told me when I was reporting for this story from our November-December issue. “I’ve started looking at things very differently. I’ve started looking at the details.” Enjoy these images by Leena, Mitali, as well as a few others who have taken a gander at Laws’s book. For more gift ideas, visit Audubon's Holiday Gift Guide.
Charlene Ruiz, National Audubon's receptionist and administrative assistant, has a background in visual arts and drew the cardinal above after perusing Laws's book. She says, "It's a great guide for beginners and helps you accurately define proportion and position your drawing by using simple shapes and angles. Laws' step-by-step process is easy to follow and understand. While I have very little experience drawing birds, they are fascinating subjects and his instruction certainly helps you artistically explore their beauty."
Former Audubon intern Justine Hausheer also browsed sample pages from Laws’ book (see a few here) to learn some tricks. She admits that she started drawing this chickadee (left) without first establishing its head and body shapes and sizes, which Law recommends. “The most valuable drawing tip I learned from the book is to be patient and sketch accurately proportioned body and wing lines before diving into detail,” she says. Hausheer will have the chance to learn a lot more in a few days—the book is "wrapped under the Christmas tree."