American Kestrel – Pen and Ink

My hobby is birding. I’m frequently asked by birding friends if I draw and paint birds. Without making eye contact, I whisper a response. Not really.

Well, once in a while, I do draw birds. This drawing of an American Kestrel, our smallest falcon, was done with a traditional dipping pen and India ink.

Near the end of a long walk on Toronto’s Leslie Street Spit, a landfill site that has evolved into an internationally important birding area, I noticed a male Kestrel perched in a tree. It suddenly dropped to the ground and then quickly returned to it’s perch with a plump Meadow Vole in it’s clutches.

I’m not a photographer but I managed to get a decent shot with my point and shoot digital camera. The American Kestrel is a beautiful and colourful bird but I enjoyed the challenge of drawing it with black ink. I used cross-hatching to develop the values and the patterns in the plumage. The final drawing bears little resemblance to the colour photograph that inspired it. Interpretation, editing and simplification were all necessary to capture the essence of this elegant and lethal little hunter.


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10 Responses to “American Kestrel – Pen and Ink”

  1. William Brisland Says:

    Yet another masterpiece Barry, you are a constant inspiration to me.

  2. Leslie Cadeau Says:

    Lovely, Merry Christmas.

  3. Scott Cooper Says:

    Very nice, I always enjoy your pen and ink work. Strong composition, good light/dark patterning. My only quibble would be with the the little fly-away v-shaped branch on the right; it doesn’t seem quite connected to the rest of the drawing.

  4. Carol King Says:

    Very nice Barry. I like the composition with the bird surrounded by branches.

  5. Laird Saunderson Says:

    Merry Christmas to you Barry ..and thank you so much for so generously sharing all your classes and information with your devoted followers.

    Liz, Pat and Ann have got me back in the fold painting again and I do love it ..not really the result but the process that is so fun ..

    I am sure we will all join you for a trip next year ..we are “ripe” for the picking!

    Fond regards.


  6. Elizabeth Jay Says:

    Great drawing Barry. You got the spirit of that bird.
    Here’s to many more ornithological drawings.
    Happy Christmas and a great 2013.
    Elizabeth Jay

  7. northpenninegallery Says:

    Always an inspiration.

  8. Sue McKee Says:

    You draw beautifully. I love receiving examples of your work. Sue McKee

  9. Sandra Florence Says:

    Hi Barry – Love your work as usual. Coincidentally I became familiar with the Kestrel for the first time earlier this year at the annual Birding Festival held in McGregor Provincial Park just south of Port Elgin. Wild Ontario put on a show there and brought along a red tailed hawk, a great horned owl and a beautiful little kestrel. WO described their habits and now I see them all the time when I’m driving along. They are alway by themselves on the overhead wires and are easy to spot. If you’re interested in birding you might want to check out this Festival – it’s a big deal and attracts people from all over. Happy holidays! Sandra (PS – tried to attach a close up of Bitsy – hope it works!)

    Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2012 15:35:34 +0000 To:

  10. Linda Halcomb Says:

    Great composition and drawing. I love the frame you built with the branches. You always teach me so much.

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