Birds at the Bronx Zoo

I met with my sketching group in the World of Birds exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. I was especially excited about this trip because I was going back to a Stillman and Birn Epsilon book that I'd only done two sketches in previously, so it was like starting a new book. For awhile I got sidetracked and worked in way too many sketchbooks simultaneously. Finally, I exerted my willpower and narrowed the field, so in the past couple of months, I finished off three of them by consolidating my efforts in one book at a time.

It's been especially hard to let go of the last one I finished --- a Stillman and Birn Alpha hardbound book that I really loved. I did a lot of experimenting and mixed media-growing in that book, and liked what was coming out of it. I wasn't sure where this new Epsilon book was heading. But then I thought about the fact that I treated the Alpha book like a playground. It did well with a mixed media approach and I enjoyed that, so it gave me the chance to grow in that direction. It wasn't long before I remembered how much I love the feel of pen and ink and dry media on this Epsilon surface. I expect that I'll be doing a lot of drawing in the near future!

In the meantime, I prepared about 10 two-page spreads with acrylic washes and borders to see how the paper would respond in comparison to the Alpha. To my surprise, it did just fine. I think I'll not only be able to use a similar approach in this Epsilon book, but I'll like it even more for my dry media.

This page was a bit problematic because I didn't dilute the acrylic paint enough on the background wash, and the transparent watercolor did not want to adhere to the shiny smooth acrylic surface. I fought with the acrylic/watercolor combination a bit on this sketch above. The sketch was done with Noodler's North African Violet ink in a Pilot Plumix italic calligraphy pen. That is a washable ink, and I let it wash into the watercolor at will, and wrote in the species names with the same pen/ink combination.


  1. I'm going up to NYC next weekend, and you're inspiring me to go sketching at the zoo!

  2. Definitely go sketch at the zoo! It's great!

  3. All your Bronx zoo bird paintings are really nice. Great pages for your journal.