Inspiration from chooks

Chooks are irrepressible, despite the uncertainty of their lives. They give me inspiration.

Here’s a nature journal spread of our backyard flock that I completed last night.

In case you’re interested in doing some nature journaling yourself, here are the steps I used to create these pages. The first step was getting out there with the chooks and catching a very sketchy impression.

I drew this from life, not photos. But I took some photos as a guide for adding the colour, which I knew I’d be doing later, indoors.

See how many lines I’m using here to roughly describe the subject? Look at the outlines of the combs and the large flower – Lots of lines there, because I wasn’t happy with my first attempt.

I’m drawing with ink, so I can’t rub it out. I like the dark crispness of the ink line, and I don’t want to spend time rubbing it out, because that would take time away from drawing! I’m having fun just getting some impressions on the page.

Everyone’s drawing style is different. That’s what makes each person’s work unique. The important thing is not to judge yourself, or worry too much about a drawing that isn’t exactly like the subject. It’s fine to have wobbly lines. It’s also fine to be way off the subject. You are observing and playing and experimenting. There is no right or wrong.

Chooks tend to move all the time, so I needed to take a leap and guess at what I glimpsed in a moment. But have faith in yourself and just get it down. Go with it. Don’t judge.

Next I added some colour, using artist-quality coloured pencils (Faber Castell Polychromos). The journal is The Cappuccino Book by Hahnemuhle. I really enjoy using ink and coloured pencil on this paper.

I could have left the journal entry at any stage, but I kept adding more coloured pencil to get more vibrant colours, and also shading. Notice how by adding dark hues and shadows, this makes the birds seem to ‘pop out’ more from the page. I also re-drew some of the eyes and outlines in ink.

Lastly I added a story with text. But I could have just left the page without text, or just added the names of the birds. But I think this journal is becoming my ‘coronavirus’ journal, so I’m finding it interesting to add to the story as I go.

Even if you feel that your world has shrunk right now, you might find by looking closely and paying attention to the natural world, many new wonders can be discovered. Draw a pot plant! Draw a weed! Draw a bug!

If you glimpse a bird flying by, try to draw what it looked like from memory. Then enjoy adding some colour, and maybe a story. Or just write down your impressions of what’s going on in words – you don’t need to draw to journal.

Happy journaling! Have fun, play, explore and learn.

12 Responses

  1. Barry Parker-Webb
    | Reply

    Just love chickens. These look great. Regards Barry Parker-Webb

    • Paula Peeters
      | Reply

      Hey Barry great to hear from you. I hope you and the family are keeping well. How’s the painting going?

  2. Sue
    | Reply

    Such characters! I can see you’ve had fun doing this. Keep well! Sue

    • Paula Peeters
      | Reply

      Thanks Sue! Oh yes we must keep having fun – it’s an essential service 🙂

  3. Melanie Venz
    | Reply

    Will have to get the kidlets nature journalling the guinea pigs over the holidays (chook-less, alas). 🙂 Although my son seems especially taken by grass skinks Lampropholis delicata at present. Thanks for this, Paula.

    • Paula Peeters
      | Reply

      Oh yeah I’d really love to see some guinea pig journal pages! And there should be more drawings of skinks too. And what about that eel??? Take care and keep smiling 🙂

  4. Barbara Richardson
    | Reply

    Hi Paula, I love chooks too!! They all have their own unique characters. I had a visit from one of my neighbours new chooks the other day. The escape artist.. The neighbours had just brought some retired hens from an egg farm and this one was still settling in.
    Love your drawings, you capture their character wonderfully.
    Have fun… stay well.
    Barbara Richardson

    • Paula Peeters
      | Reply

      Thanks Barbara. But you know they’re just little dinosaurs with feathers? Maybe that’s why they have such attitude! Take care and keep smiling 🙂

  5. Rachel Derr
    | Reply

    Paula, You “Chook” drawings look great! Are “chook” birds the name for chicken in Australia or is that the name of the breed? My friend in Pennsylvania has chickens and now i need to have her send some pics of them for me to draw- because of your inspiring drawings!!
    I enjoy reading your blog-thanks for posting such great ones!!

    Keep well,
    Rachel- Wooster, Ohio

    • Paula Peeters
      | Reply

      Hi Rachel, thanks! Yes ‘chook’ is Australian slang for chicken, especially one kept in the backyard. (Is backyard another Australian term?? 🙂 ). So the term covers all breeds. And an old-fashioned Australian expression, wishing bad luck on someone, is ‘may your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down.’ (A dunny is a bathroom). Probably too much information, but there you go. Have fun with your chook drawings!

  6. Marie Bermingham
    | Reply

    Loved the chook journalling, Paula. Reminded me of my sister who came out of dreadful drought on her farm last month with one remaining chook as her only animal companion.

    • Paula Peeters
      | Reply

      Thank you! But what a sad story for your sister. That must be a very special chook.

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