Pigeons In The City

collage-and-pastels-of-pigeons-by-the-lochIn one of my recent blog posts, The Beauty In The Ordinary, I mentioned I was studying and sketching pigeons. It has been so much fun.

This past week I had to submit some of my work from this term to my art tutor since I’ve been following her online art course again.

It pushed me out of my comfort zone and has been instrumental in developing my skills in observation, perception and mark-making.

I’ve made sketches and drawings that I normally wouldn’t have, and some of them have been rather pleasing. And some not so, but that’s part of the process. With everything that I have done I have learnt something, honed a technique or a skill and challenged myself.

When I chose the Pigeon as my subject, I had a look in my RSPB Handbook of British Birds and discovered there are three different types of pigeon: rock dove or feral pigeon, wood pigeon and stock dove. Out of interest, I read that the collared dove and turtle dove belong to the same family. I then saw on the RSPB website that “[t]he wild rock dove has long been domesticated and ‘escaped’ to live wild as the familiar town pigeon.”

pastel-pencil-sketch-of-pigeons-in-a-treeI was particularly drawn to that rock dove, or feral pigeon, as they seem to come in different colours: some are blue, some are more black, and there are white and reddish brown ones, and so forth. They tend to stick together and not associate themselves with the wood pigeon, though once I did notice the wood pigeon with them and they seemed to tolerate each other; however, they didn’t interact. The wood pigeon was just amongst the feral ones, minding its own business (the business of eating of course). I would have to investigate this a bit more to be sure.

During the term we were encouraged to think about the focus of our chosen subject and what it was we wanted to convey. For me it’s such a delight to watch these birds, to be in nature and to try and capture their essence and how they make me feel. I also included focusing on the behaviour within the flocks of pigeons.

collage-of-pigeon-coming-into-landOne of my favourite bird artists, the late John Busby, seemed to be able to depict the birds’ characters. He often drew them in “situations” and interactions with each other and their surroundings. This inspired me.

My focus started off on the interaction between the pigeons and the more natural surroundings such as St Margaret’s Loch in Edinburgh (where I’d previously studied the herring gulls). But as I was out and about in the city, wandering around, I noticed the feral pigeons everywhere and really enjoyed the contrast between the cityscape and these birds. The straight lines versus the rounded forms so to speak. I had also captured a great photo of some pigeons on a rooftop and one “coming into land”. I loved it and explored that image in my art work.

Even though this term is over I will continue with my birds, and with pigeons from time to time. I’ll follow my inner creative impulse and curiosity and see where that takes me, too. I know I can trust that.

What inspires you in your surroundings? Birds, nature, patterns, colours? Let me know in the comments below!


All photos in this post are snapshots from my sketchbook or a separate drawing.

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