Draw A Bird Day – Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Happy Draw-A-Bird-Day! Thanks to Tony LePrieur for permission to use his photo of a male Audubon subspecies Yellow-rumped Warbler as a reference. The photo was published in a Birds Calgary blog post titled Birds of Bridlewood and Carburn Park. As Bob Lefebvre noted, the other subspecies, Myrtle, is more commonly seen in Calgary. I saw many in juvenile plumage but only two adult males in breeding plumage, which I only succeeded in photographing in parts, as they darted through leafy bushes. I’ve glimpsed a few male Myrtles in Edmonton too. They breed here. And right now, a few of them are singing way up high in the tree tops. Male Myrtles have white throats while male Audubons have yellow throats.

My actual drawing is of a non-existent Orange-rumped Warbler. I accidentally discovered that two layers of medium yellow marker (Crayola) look almost orange. And then I made the almost-orange definitely orange by streaking it through with light orange. To make the orange turn yellow, I used Photoshop to “suck out” the reddishness.

My fun, little challenge while drawing this bird was to draw it without a grid or ruler. Instead, I did a series of sketches until I had a better sense of how the body parts fit together: their relative positions and lengths, and the approximate slopes of the different lines. I found it hard to do with a horizontal drawing surface and vertical reference (my laptop screen) because the viewing perspectives are different. But it was fun to play with drawing without measurements.


  1. Superbe ! Le rendu final est très chouette et c’est une bonne idée de montrer l’évolution au fur et à mesure ! Et tu arrives à faire trois fois le même dessin sur la même feuille, je crois bien que j’en suis incapable ! 🙂

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  2. “Orange-rumped Warbler”…hahaha! You’re hilarious! You ended up with a splendid piece…I love it! 💛 Thanks for not calling it “butterbutt.” That drives my son nuts. LOL!

    I’ve never drawn with a grid before though that’s what my dad had tried to teach me back when I was a teen. I should try it!

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    • Oh, I could have called it orangecheesebutt! Not cool. I like the yellow heart! 🙂

      Your quick drawings have awesome proportions. But if you ever do have trouble with proportions (maybe one of your nemesis animal drawings?) or if you want to draw something really big from a small reference, grids are awesome. The only unfortunate thing about them is that they need to be erased… which is not so awful. And for a detailed area, like a face, you can make a smaller grid within the main grid! Did your dad draw and paint?

      I love your otter illustration! (I think it is an otter… I don’t know otters or seals or sea lions very well.) Is it barking up the wrong algae?

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      • Orangecheesebutt…hahaha! I think you should submit a name change request to the committee that names birds. 😉

        My dad dabbled and painting and drawing…mostly he did Chinese ink painting. He was pretty good but he was always too chicken (I think) to take it to the next level (or maybe too busy holding down two jobs) and try to exhibit or sell his work. It’s too bad.

        Thanks! It’s a sea lion because it’s supposed to be barking up the wrong “tree”. 😉 But I don’t really know the difference between seals and sea lions either. I looked it up a few months ago for another reason but promptly forgot. My pathetic excuse for a memory…LOL!

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        • Sounds like your dad was quite busy… I see where you got that from :-). It must be hard to be the artist one wants to be while having two jobs. Cool that he inspired you!

          I looked up differences between seals and sea lions. They are quite closely related. But their front flippers and ears are different. And sea lions are much louder. So, to rephrase, your barking sea lion is awesome!!!

          Sorry for the late response. I’ve been a bit spaced out from blogging this summer.

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          • I hear ya…I’ve not been keeping up with blog-reading at all. I’ve really missed yours. I can’t seem to get WP to load properly at home (and it seems to eat a huge chunk of our allowable usage/bandwidth) either. Blah.

            Thank you, dear! Miss you!

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            • Sorry to hear your internet connection is not so swell. You’re missing out on so much!!! Oh well, there are some benefits, but hopefully you will get awesome internet sooner than later.

              I am enjoying your Chinese painting, especially the latest bamboo experiments. They really show the importance of mastering brushstrokes. So beautiful how you can vary the tones in one stroke. What is the brush-loading secret your dad shared with you? Your grebe’s fluffy butt is awesome. They have the best fluffy butts! 🙂

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              • LOL! They do have great fluffy butts, don’t they? The brush loading technique is not so secret: you load the brush with a lot of water, then dip the tip into the ink and let it wick upward. This makes the tip part dark and it gradually lightens up through the hairs. When you press down with the bush, it should show this gradation. It’s a matter of figuring out how much water to saturate the brush with and there is no science to it. You just have to do a bazillion times with each brush to get a feel for it. I’m not even at a few hundred times yet, so I’m not very good at it. 😀

                Thank you for the compliment, my dear! xo

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                • Thanks for the brush technique explanation, Teresa. It makes sense. I’ll try to get around to trying it out one of these days. I did buy black, water-soluble ink a while back, but I haven’t opened it yet. I’ll try to remember “a few hundred times” and not get too frustrated. 🙂


  3. This little warbler has great presence and immediacy. There’s a stitched look to the drawing that I find very appealing, too. The way you tacked it this time – by sketching out how the body parts relate to one another – makes a lot of sense, and clearly, it worked – I don’t see any body parts that are off balance! 😉

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    • Lol! I’m glad you didn’t find any out of balance body parts. I like your “stitched” observation. I didn’t notice that but now I do. Interesting! The different patterns do kind of come together like a quilt. And the dots and lines look a bit like thread. 🙂

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  4. Magnifique, le premier ressemble trait pour trait au souvenir que je m’en faisais ! Quand au second, j’aimerais bien le croiser un de ces quatre 🙂 Ces couleurs lui vont super bien, tout comme son ptit nom d’ailleurs 🙂 T’es douée dis-donc 🙂

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