I began this exercise by drawing some studies of one of our dogs – a very rewarding subject! I’d expected that this would probably be the animal I chose to place in the landscape for this project as I had drawn him many times and loved the image. However, one icy, very misty winter’s morning we went for a walk in Claremont Landscape Gardens. It was so cold that the lake was beginning to ice over and we stood watching the birds, flying over the ice and landing. There were gulls, doves, ducks, all flying and landing or simply standing on the ice. Even though it was cold, the sun was streaming over the lake and many of the doves were just standing on the lake, completely still, enjoying the warmth! They were perfectly posed for drawing!
On the spot, I could only capture lines with the pencil – there was too much activity to draw shapes. But it was the beauty of these ‘lines of flight’ which I wanted to try to express. I took lots of photos as well and worked with these in the studio. It would have been easy to simply reproduce the shapes of the birds either standing or in flight but I wanted to try to capture the movement, the energy, the atmosphere! Back in the studio I took a very large piece of paper and stuck it to the wall and holding the pencil at the far tip and with my eyes closed I filled the paper with the lines and shapes I could see. This produced a freedom which was needed to express what I wanted to say.
The mark making was important in capturing the movement of the birds…no hard outlines, but allowing the lines to express movement and flight!