Visual Journal Page 52: Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds remind me of my grandmother. She loved all things hummingbird, and had various trinkets, jewelry, window hangings, and decor that reflected her love. As a child I remember identifying her with hummingbirds because of these items and because of the feeder, set just outside her screened in porch, that attracted hummingbird after hummingbird. I still think of her, 13 years after her death, when a hummingbird flitters by.

When I moved into my house I couldn’t wait to hang my bird and hummingbird feeders to add some wildlife sightseeing to my backyard. I excitedly filled up my feeders and spent the day walking by my windows, periodically sneaking a peek, looking out for my winged visitors.

I was happy to see my bird feeder was getting a lot of attention, almost too much attention. I have to fill it up almost every other week just to keep up with the apparently starving birds that live in my neighborhood. However, the hummingbird feeder was not the case. I was disappointed after day one passed with no hummingbird sighting. Eventually day two and three came and went, followed by weeks, and even a couple of months.

Tired of continuously emptying, washing, and refilling my feeder for no apparent reason, I decided I would set it out one last time. If no hummingbirds came, I would have to declare it a lost cause. I set my feeder out one last time and forgot about it until one night when scenes of a single hummingbird discovering my feeder drifted into my dreams.

It was a lovely dream with a beautiful little bird and remnants of my grandmother. I woke in the morning in a good mood, ready to start the day. While finishing up some cleaning, out of nowhere Nick yelled at me to look outside, I quickly turned my head and out of the corner of my eye I caught my dream-turned-reality hummingbird flying away from my feeder.

Since that moment I have yet to see another hummingbird visit my feeder and I have slacked on my feeder filling chore. It still hangs outside of my window, empty, slightly dirty, and in need of the bright red liquid to fill it again. Although I am disappointed my hummingbird feeder wasn’t a success, the split second I saw the hummingbird was worth it all in the end. I like to imagine it was my grandmother, seeking me out, answering a dream, and stopping by to say hello.

I am pretty sure I dreamed you into existence…


  • Visual journal
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement
  • White paper
  • Pencil
  • Prisma colored pencils
  • Watercolor
  • Extra thin sharpie


To create this visual journal page I decided to create the hummingbird feeder out of watercolor, to reference the liquidy look of the red sugar water, and the hummingbird out of colored pencils, to contrast the feeder. I started with the feeder by looking up a picture online. Once I found one that looked like the one I had at home I began sketching it onto a white sheet of paper. It is always best to start with pencil first, because you can erase mistakes, and add materials once you are satisfied with the base drawing.

After my sketch was complete I went in with watercolor. I painted the browns of the copper top and stand on the bottom, then moved to the red of the flowers and liquid. As I painted the liquid I added a lot of water to give it more of a light, transparent look. I added a little more red and a hint of purple at the bottom to give it a sense of dimension. Once the painting was complete I let it dry, then cut it out.

Next, I moved onto the hummingbird. Once again I found a picture to reference first and created my pencil drawing. After I was satisfied with the drawing I began coloring it in. I chose a medium green colored and completely filled in the bird. Next I used darker greens to create shadows and pull out details in the wings and tail. Then I added lighter greens, yellows, and blues to pull out highlights. As I built up my colors I kept coloring in small circles and didn’t press down hard. Rather than trying to rush filling something in by adding one solid color try slowly building and layering different shades of one color. It creates a much more realistic and interesting end result.

After the hummingbird was complete I cut him out and glued him and the watercolor feeder down using rubber cement. When I looked at everything put together I decided to feeder wasn’t popping enough. To add detail back in I used a thin sharpie to scribble along the edge of the painting and in recessed areas to emphasize the shadows. To finish off the page I added the words along the crease using a thing sharpie.


Create a page about a lost cause.

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