The Chocolate Brown Sketchbook

AFTER THE appropriately aubergine-coloured sketchbook that I used for our week in Greece, I’m starting a new pocket-sized sketchbook for urban excursions. At A6, about 4 x 6 inches, it’s no bigger than a chunky bar of chocolate and it has a chocolate-coloured banana paper cover.

A6 Pink Pig sketchbook

It’s literally a pocket-sized sketchbook and I’m trying to decide what would be the most portable form of colour to go with it.

This morning I took an ArtPen tin loaded with a selection of a dozen watercolour crayons but, for a subject like this anyway, they don’t work as well as watercolours. I try to mix an approximation for the grey of the sky by shading it with the lightest blue and ochre that my small selection of crayons allow.

I don’t find crayons anywhere near as versatile as watercolours. With watercolours you can add the smallest speck of ochre, crimson or blue to a grey mix to get the colour you’re after. You can then add water to get the tone or gradation of tones that you need.



It’s happened again; a Goldfinch hits the patio windows and lies senseless on the patio. Luckily by the time we’ve had breakfast it has gradually recovered, looked around and, though we didn’t see it go, flown off.

In the afternoon it’s a Wood Pigeon that hits the window, leaving a dusty outline of its wingspan and a powder puff impression of it’s breast. The Wood Pigeons do this fairly regularly but never seem to come to any harm.

The photograph is the impression of a bird that hit the patio windows 6 weeks ago. You can even see an eye-ring in this picture. It might have been another pigeon but the eye-ring reminds me of a Sparrowhawk.

On the morning that this appeared a smaller impression, perhaps a Goldfinch appeared on the other window.

When you see the two impressions together it looks to me as if both birds hit the window together, the hawk chasing the finch.

In this over-enhanced version you can speculate that the Goldfinch had been on the feeder and the Sparrowhawk had swooped over the hedge. A moment of drama captured in feather impressions.

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  1. a cat got our last goldfinch a few years ago, but in the winter we feed the sparrows (for miles around I think)..We get sparrowhawks frequently and we’ve learned to read the signs. We have a huge quince bush with inch long thorns that provides all the birds with protection. If they’re on top there’s a cat in the garden; if they’re in a big ball in the center the hawks here; if they’re all over the bush it’s clear. Twice hawks have been foolish enough to go into the bush. One got out after a minute, but one kept going and I know he had injuries from the thorns. There are decals you can put on the window to warn the birds of glass. My Mother’s Day present this morning was a single quail that walked all over the gazebo and sampled the food. There’s been so much building around the city that we don’t get the birds we used to. Too much habitat destruction.

    1. It looks as if the hawk and finch were so engrossed in acting out their parts in the food chain that I doubt if they’d have paid any attention to warning decals! We’ve tried leaving the curtains closed and the Wood Pigeons still blunder into the windows. More than Sparrowhawk ambush the thing that makes them careless is when they’re chasing each other around; the finches or the pigeons establishing their pecking orders.

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