Bird Drawing Classes with John Muir Laws

Class Information

We are proud to announce that we have partnered with naturalist, artist and educator John Muir Laws to offer you a three class series covering the fundamentals of drawing birds.

Nature journaling and bird drawing offer a fresh new way to experience birds and familiar scenes around you. No prior experience drawing is required! All you need is internet access, a writing implement, some paper and the desire to learn. 

Register now for our Second Bird Drawing Series

Classes will take place over ZOOM Webinars and Facebook Live at 12 PM – 1:30 PM (PST) on every other Tuesday in September as follows:

Series 2

September 1 - How to Make Bird Drawings Come Alive: Do your bird drawings feel stiff or frozen? Unlock the life in your bird drawings by showing less and suggesting more. Learn advanced bird drawings techniques to help you simplify plumage and suggest detail with a few strokes. These techniques will bring more life to your birds and are essential for fast field sketching. Safety note, in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, all the birds we draw will be masked (masked duck, masked finch, masked bobby, masked lapwing etc.) Bring a pencil, paper, and a sense of humor!

Masked Shrike Worksheet

September 15 - Rotating Birds and Drawing them at all Angles: Say goodbye to static side views and draw birds every which way they land. A few basic visualization techniques will help you see the pose in the field and capture it on paper. In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we will be drawing birds found in Central and South America.

September 29 - Drawing Raptors and other Large Birds in Flight: In this class, we will combine two critical elements: a functional understanding of bird structure, and key principles of foreshortening. Be sure to print out and fold the paper bird models we will send you before the class. They will help you see, understand, and draw flying birds and help solve key points of confusion.

Birds in Flight Worksheet

Series 1


May 14th - How to Draw Garden Birds:  Learn how to capture the form and feeling of sparrows, warblers and other common songbirds with fast  and efficient lines. Learn key anatomical details to help you draw them accurately in the field or in the studio. 

May 21st - How to Draw Waterbirds: Learn the key foundation lines for drawing waterfowl and wading birds. Draw ducks in and out of the water and learn tricks to show the shape of long legs and necks on herons, egrets, and shorebirds. We will also study the way that feather groups overlap to simplify the plumage.

May 28th - How to Draw Raptors: Learn to draw hawks, eagles, and owls. In this workshop we will explore how to sketch perched raptors and learn to draw the birds from the front, side, and 3/4 view.

Class Recordings

The following YouTube playlist contains all class recordings! To select different classes, click on the playlist icon on the upper right-hand corner. 

Class Resources

Meet your Instructor

John (Jack) Muir Laws is a scientist, educator, and author, who helps people forge a deeper and more personal connection with nature through keeping illustrated nature journals and understanding science. His work intersects science, art, and mindfulness.

Trained as a wildlife biologist and an associate of the California Academy of Sciences, he observes the world with rigorous attention. He looks for mysteries, plays with ideas, and seeks connections in all he sees. Attention, observation, curiosity, and creative thinking are not gifts, but skills that grow with training and deliberate practice. As an educator and author, Jack teaches techniques and supports routines that develop these skills to make them a part of everyday.

He was given the 2020 Bay Nature Local Hero award for his work in environmental education. In 2009, he received the Terwilliger Environmental Award for outstanding service in Environmental Education. He is a 2010 TogetherGreen Conservation Leadership Fellow with the National Audubon Society. He was the 2011 artist for International Migratory Bird Day.

He has written and illustrated books about art and natural history including The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling (2016), The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds (2012), Sierra Birds: a Hiker’s Guide (2004), The Laws Guide to the Sierra Nevada (2007), and The Laws Pocket Guide Set to the San Francisco Bay Area (2009). 

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