Drawing Pinyon Jays

John Muir “Jack” Laws shares his use of the watercolor media on drawings. Jack will present his approach to drawing birds and give us an introduction to color application using watercolor paint. Students may follow along with the color demonstration, or watch, learn, and apply color to their bird sketch later. This workshop also focuses on Pinyon Jays – those iconic birds of the West often detected far in the distance by their nasal calls that sound like a corvid party. You may have seen them in the pinyon pine and juniper woodlands that dot many Nevada mountains, but did you know that Pinyon Jay populations have decreased by about 80% over the past century? Lahontan Audubon has teamed up with the Great Basin Bird Observatory to monitor our local Pinyon Jay populations.

Some color notes from the chat session: Use Cyan or Pthalo Blue for the bright blue in the Pinyon Jay’s cheek and forehead. Think of this bird as a gray bird with blue highlights. Mixing cyan + magenta makes blue. To make this grayer, add brown. Blue + brown can make black if you don’t have black in your palette. Jack uses mixed media paper but prefers a closed binding, vs. spiral binding for the field because it’s sturdier. He uses a Pentel Aquash paintbrush you can fill with water and an old sock with the toes cut off on the wrist of his non-dominant hand to clean his brush in the field. Start with gray (Jack uses Shadow Violet by Daniel Smith watercolor) for contour shadows. Start with lighter colors and then move to darker colors. Add opaque white for highlights when the paint is dry. White pencil works. It’s fast and easy to use. “STOP before you overwork it” says Jack.

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