by Alan Li
Sanguine or red chalk is typically used for drawings of the human figure, but it also lends itself well to rendering organic forms like this small cup nest. The nest was active earlier in the summer, but since by this point it had been vacated, I dislodged it from the white oak branch it was woven onto so I could examine it closely.
I began the drawing by placing the nest beside a north-facing window and rotating it to determine which angle presented the most compelling view with regard to light and shadow. Following that I took basic measurements and proceeded to draw the nest actual size onto a small sheet of cream-coloured printmaking paper. This thick paper is made from 100 percent cotton and has a subtle texture which readily accepts media such as pencil, charcoal, and ink.
Sanguine is available from various brands either as sticks or in pencil form. I chose to use a pencil that allows for dilution with water. By taking a brush that was damp rather than wet, I was able to soften the lines and gently blend the pigment using the fine tip of the brush. I used a white pencil to lighten the side of the nest that was receiving direct light, and applied opaque white gouache to bring out the finishing highlights.
This small drawing will be part of the upcoming LUNA Toronto art show in the Weston Family Library at Toronto Botanical Garden. We’ll share more news about the show in the months ahead!