featherBar-coded Bird

Tuesday, 28th June 2005

pheasantWhen I went down to open the greenhouse this morning, the pheasants were already down there, enjoying the sun, the female hunkered down on the concrete path, the male by the veg bed. They launched themselves and flew off over the hedge and into the meadow, grockling indignantly as they went. The female left this feather behind her, a left primary (this is the upper surface).

Tail, Bouffant, Slipstream . . .

As I drew it I found that keeping track of those similar looking dark bars was proving difficult. It wasn't easy to count '1, 2, 3 . . . ' from the quill end because the first two bars are indistinct, so where do you start counting? I looked for individual shapes and soon realised that I was giving each bar a nickname (which I would have instantly forgotten if I hadn't noticed I was doing it). I don't think I've ever seen this recommended as good practice when you're drawing - in fact you should do the opposite: NOT name things; you should look for abstract shapes, see the thing as it really is.

But astronomers recognise the random patterns of stars in the night sky by grouping them into mnemonic images - the constellations - so why not?

Broadband, Palmer, Tail, Bouffant, Slipstream . . . Next Page

Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk