Bird Tree

November 6th, 2010

For day 6 of Art Every Day Month, I wasn't sure what was ahead when I sat down to make art. Looking around I saw a photo of birds in flight and wanted to draw the bird shapes, so I started out there. The idea for the tree just popped into my head as I was drawing. I was imagining a tree made up of birds instead of leaves and then in the fall, each branch would release its bird as it would its leaves. This would be the moment of release.

Then I remembered something I wanted to try. In a class at Squam I took with Diana Fayt (an amazing ceramicist), she taught a method of drawing that involved drawing with graphite, going over it with oil pastels and then making the drawing more clear with turpenoid. The smell of turpenoid makes me feel sick after awhile, so I wanted to see if it might work at all with water soluble pastels. I knew water might smudge the graphite, but I figured it was worth a shot.

I drew the image first in graphite, then put a wash of the pastels over it. It did smudge a bit and get lighter, but not too bad. And it gave a nice soft effect. I went back into it some more with pencil, leaving some parts soft and faded and some parts darker. I like it. It's about 10"x14" with graphite and Caran d'ache watersoluble pastels.

34 Responses

Leah, I love this! That moment of taking flight…the tree itself seeming to bend and reach from its roots to support the soaring.

Lovely, soft wash of colors.

The relationship dance between the horizontal and vertical worlds.


This seems like a very Leah piece. (Which means sensitive, profound, and loveable.)

Love the concept. Very “fall”. Interesting to see how seasons influence our art. I´m all flowery & butterflyery now. :)

ow wow Leah, I am a huge fan of your paintings and every time I come here i often say, I’d love this painting in my hallway wall.

And every single one is beautiful and this one is just outstanding-again! Kind of contradicting myself there… either that or there is a lot of standing going on… ok, I have a weird sense of humor today, I know.

We have very spectacular weather here in Ireland today. And the trees are dispensing their leaves in big flocks of swirling yellow and red twirlers, way up high into the skies with strong gusts of wind that are tugging at everything. The birds have a tough time making headway against the it and yet I like to believe they are enjoying it. And in it’s waning sort of autumn way where everything seems limp and dying there is a vibrant energy everywhere. For me your painting captures that so beautifully.

xx Ines

P sorry for the lengthy post, I’m in NaNoWriMo land…

Ah, I love it. “…the moment of release…”

I particularly like this because I can feel the wind lifting the birds. Lovely work, Leah!

Leah, A twist of the trunk, the wind, the birds, beautiful blues… just lovely work.

i love your bird tree. especially as i sit here and watch the breeze blowing leaves off the trees on our street…i find myself imagining what if those leaves were all birds. :)

Beautiful work!

Leah – I love this! It so soft, flowing, gentle and peaceful. I think it captures exactly how natural releasing can be.

I love the idea of birds as leaves! It’s beautiful! I’d put this on my wall.

I love the whimsy in this piece – fantastic

I love trees so, like this one, many of your paintings are a hit with me. The way the birds are captured at the moment of take off leaves me with a feeling of freedom, happiness and peace. I also enjoyed learning how you created this painting.

Kat :-)

This is so soft and peaceful. Love it!

love the movement you mimicked in the tree and the flight of birds

this is so cool.. a tree with birds instead of leaves.. LOVE IT

I love the melancholy feel of this one.

Leah.. this one turned out beautiful. I love the blues, grays, … the overall feel.

Beautiful image and concept. The migrating flocks of birds here have almost acted like this lately. I was riding my bike around a farmers field and the trees around it each had different kinds of birds who almost looked like they were erupting from the trees when they came in for a turn to feed.

The graphite/soluable pastel combo is interesting also. Wonder if Citro-solv would work as a replacement dis-solver? I sense and experiment coming on….

Oh Leah, this is so beautiful.

This is a lovely image and execution! And thank you for explaining your technique!

What an interesting concept for this piece… beautiful.

This is wonderful. I have to admit, I like the turpenoid a lot better than turpentine, which is what I used the first time with oil pastels. You did a great job and it looks like the graphite held up quite well without any sealer or fixative, either. Love this piece.

Leah, this is beautiful.

I love everything about this Leah – from the idea of the birds let go to the sharing of your thought and creative process. Never heard of Turpenoid – sounds like something from a Star Wars film! If it smells the same as turps then I agree with you sense of smell too!

LOL — in my obsession with trees these days, I envisioned the same idea myself, but didn’t try it because I’m not confident in my bird drawings. You captured it beautifully!

love the dreamy effect here. anything with trees and birds is just ok by me ♥

It is mystical, this one. The smudgy quality, just slightly, seems to make it even moreso.

You are such an inspiration with your playfulness. Love it!

Leah, this is beautiful. I especially appreciated the description of how you created this soft feel. I have never seen water soluble pastels – I would love to try them. This challenge is such a great opportunity to work and learn from such great artists. By the way … do any men participate? I have yet to see one

You get the best work when you just play with different techniques. I love the softness and freedom in this piece.

TK, There have been more men in past years of AEDM. I know there’s at least one gentleman participating this year (Rodrigo) whose work is on Flickr.

It’s so beautiful. Poetic without words.

Leah, you always have such graceful paintings.

I love this. It shows how beautiful quite simple images can be, though the idea behind the picture is not simple – it is fantastical and inspiring!

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