Highlights and Reflections

Drawing of a Kokaburra done on coloured paper with coloured pencils.

I’ve recently finished the two drawings here. These provided very different challenges for me. The kookaburra I did on coloured paper, as there was a substantial amount of white included.  However, once you start really looking at your subject, you realise that the amount of actual white is really quite minimal. One of my favourite artists on Instagram is Sally Edmonds and she has done a great white egret on a white background, so it’s certainly possible and very effective. 

I am still on a very steep learning curve and needed to try out some coloured paper. The swan was the first and I then discovered that my white pencils aren’t particularly white on grey paper. However, they are white enough and I had already purchased a lovely white gel pen that just gives that last little highlight to make a picture or even a bird sing a bit, (see the Kookaburra’s eye).  It was lovely to draw and although I really struggled with the beak, I always do, I was pleased-ish with the result.  

Great Crested Grebe drawing done with coloured pencils.
Great Crested Grebe

The Great Crested Grebe presented a much more difficult problem. The reflection.  The swan reflection was not particularly clear and the water wasn’t still, but the grebe was reflected but with the main body foreshortened and the head distorted but you can still tell it’s a grebe. I had already started the initial drawing when I realised this. Perhaps I should show a bit more awareness really?  Anyway, I had started and kept looking at the reflected head and getting more and more anxious. It looked horrible. It looked difficult. I felt close to tears.

As usual with drawing challenges I’ve learned to leave it a while and go back. I left it for 48 hours. Somehow, on reviewing it, I could see the shape and see how to do it. I can’t tell you what the difference was other than time, but what had seemed insurmountable on Thursday afternoon was eminently doable by Saturday.  I’ve always been a great believer in allowing my own subconscious to work things out. I do occasionally have a very busy night’s sleep with ideas or solutions mulling about in-between and during sleep and dreams.  I can only presume that the ‘back room’ team had taken a look and presented me with a solution. 

This is not a new phenomenon and there is lots of examples of others finding solutions when asleep. Some significant scientific breakthroughs have been achieved from prompts experienced in dreams.  


  1. My sister gave my boys a wooden puzzle. We love puzzles, and admittedly, we are quite good at them. This one, in all its simplicity, really confounded us. We wracked our brains for hours each day for what seemed the better part of a week. One night, I woke up from a deep sleep and saw in my minds eye the solution. I got up (must have been 2am) took the puzzle from their room, and solved it in one shot. I am amazed at the power of the subconscious.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Lisa, I do love your drawings! I think the reflection is very real, and I also believe in ‘sleeping on it’ to find a solution without having to force the head into battle. However, I also try to achieve this during the day too, just by being in contact with nature and ‘losing myself’ in a tree, its branches, leaves etc. The solution just seems to come then. I like the white on white and I think it works because to me, the ‘white’ isn’t really pure white, but you can see the blues, greys, ochres, purples etc. in it too.
    Idea: I wonder if you’re going to put your drawings on Etsy too…(good luck!).


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