Stock Doves & Wood Pigeons

The fields behind my house are currently still stubble, although they have been sprayed so the weed seeds are much reduced; I’m not sure what the birds and deer are eating but they are foraging on something!

I love Stock Doves, but I only discovered what they were a few months ago, as I had always assumed that they were Wood Pigeons, and it wasn’t until I produced the Birds of Rye Harbour and we spotted a few pigeons-with-no-white-on-them that I clocked they were different. Amazing isn’t it, how we go through life sometimes…

They are so beautiful, with such classy plumage. The soft blue-grey trimmed in black around the tail and wings is stunning as they take off as a flock, very different from the clapping wings and heavy take-off of Wood Pigeons.

I have been busy with a lot of domestic and work stuff recently, and was feeling almost a desperate urge to paint and draw. So I grabbed all my things from the art room and sprawled my media across the dining table and looked up some dove and pigeon resources. I have been so focussed on gouache and quick field sketching it was bliss to stick on a podcast and spend ages with coloured pencils, water-soluble graphite, oil pastels (not used those for years) and immerse myself in the physical act of making art. I wanted to do a page for the Nature Notebook but without being too drawn to make something for a project; the whole point of this was to relax and enjoy the process. I am definitely a process artist and sometimes producing illustrations means I miss out on the mark-making and creativity as they have to be functional and stay within a format. So, here are my investigations and experiments:

I so enjoyed myself! I couldn’t get the green right with the oil pastels, but I used Pastelmat which was really nice. I used to visit Cornelissen by the British Museum and pick up some pretty pastels which took my fancy; I miss those trips! I am a bit heavy handed with both oil and soft pastels so the results are never very accomplished but I do love using them. The Derwent Inktense and soluble pencils were also great, although I prefer the effect of them in the Grey Book rather than the Cappuccino sketchbook (both Hahnemühle). I used photos I found on Instagram and in field guides, as a problem with searching for “Stock Dove images” online means you get stock images of doves which wasn’t quite what I was after…!

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