Friday, January 13, 2017

See Beautiful: With A Pencil

I'm always amazed by how drawing with a simple pencil opens my eyes to beauty. 

Here are two photos I took last year of Oona, the female rhinoceros hornbill at the Virginia Zoo. She's a remarkable bird and has a quieter, more sedate personality than her mate.

It was only when I started to draw her portrait that I noticed in real detail how beautiful she is:

  • the sheen of her soft feathers,
  • the brilliant orange-red inside her beak
  • her long eyelashes (modified feathers)
  • her rosy eye shadow
  • the delicate way the tips of her beak meet


 Ryobi is far more energetic, curious, and playful than Oona. I've spent hours watching these two, and I'm probably anthropomorphizing, but Ryobi seem to annoy Oona with his antics. He often wants to perch beside her, but she'll fly across the aviary as if to say, "I need some space, mister!"

 Ryobi makes good use of the toys provided in the aviary.
Ryobi's charm is one of the most beautiful things about him:
  • his alert gaze at visitors,
  • the brilliant ruby color of his eyes,
  • his magnificent plumage in flight,
  • his interest in his world - toys, food, Oona, passers-by
  • the way he holds his beak in a smile

I don't get these drawings right all the time, of course! I haven't done justice to Ryobi's casque and will have to go back and enlarge it. 
I'm hoping to put some of the beauty of these birds into an oil painting once the drawings are finished.
Rhinoceros hornbills live in Asian tropical forests along with moon bears and orangutans. Until their forest habitat is safe from burning for palm oil plantations, we risk losing these beautiful birds. For now though, there is hope as more people become aware of the threat and take action. That's beautiful too.


  1. WOW! definitely see the beautiful smile :-) Learn something today. Happy Seeing Beauty. Golden Woofs, SUGAR

    1. Thank you Sugar and thank you for hosting the hop!

  2. I see the smile too! I love your drawings. Beautiful!

    1. Thank you KB, I'm eager to finish them so I can start painting!

  3. your drawing is great and we love this super beautiful berd :o)

    1. Thank you so much, these birds are two of my favorites. It is hoped that they will mate and produce chicks, but so far they haven't. If they do I'll be able to write a post about their incredible nesting habits, very strange and interesting.

  4. Great drawings - can't wait to see the finished product! It is amazing, all the details you notice when trying to draw/paint something. Love that bright orange color in her mouth!


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