Drawing a Barnacle Goose on a Rainy Afternoon

  • Faber-Castell Black Polychromo Pemcil
  • Pilot Custom Heritage Fountain Pen
  • Watercolor Brush
  • Fountain Pen Brush
  • Iroshizuku Take-Sumi Ink
  • Fabriano Mixed Media Paper
Late evening rain and nearby trains in the background. Thrown open balcony door invites rushing waves of sound and vibration embracing the fullness of water waltzing over the Earth. Pleasant guests watching from a polite distance as I settle to draw a Barnacle Goose in fountain pen and  washes of ink. 

 I hope this day finds you well. 

My name is Luis. 

Enjoy this video demonstration of a rare visitor to New York City 

About the Barnacle Goose

Rare to see in Northeast. Barnacle geese common along shorelines of Greenland, wintering on the colder Northwestern edges of Europe. There have been few observations of these cookies and cream painted geese flying to North America.

A single Barnacle Goose made an appearance last winter in Central Park, New York City. Found on a softball field among a grand gathering of Canadian Geese. Left in peace. Speculation was similarity in behavior but smaller bird convinced the territorial Canadian Geese it was no threat. 

Drawing the Barnacle Goose

Through the top. Back. Feathers arranged. One wing on the far side folded over. Wing on the near side open. I begin to draw a Barnacle Goose. 

Moving through shapes and forms. Draw the outside contour. Passing through and around the forms of this goose. I place angles where neck and the head bob down. Preening secondary feathers on the left wing. Beautiful black, white and gray painted patterns. 

Combining the line and shapes. Feathers on the back. Knitted shingles on a roof. Consider where my pen could bring character to the shapes, edges and contours. Camber underneath the opposing wing. Indicating the curls and cupping over streams of air to fly. 

Black tips of the tail. Black underside. Challenging to clarify. Unlike the underside. Belly. Rump, Layered primaries, the secondary feathers with markings folded on top of each other. Tail feathers emerge. 


I don’t like to spend much time with pencil. I get the idea and give myself options. Loose maps within the composition. Drawing with pen is then a freeing experience.

Drawing straight in pen is fun in sketchbooks. There’s always the next page. Disasters don’t seem so disastrous. The drawings are for me. I’m the audience. It’s wonderful. 

Fountain pen. Alternate sweeping and angular lines. Character of the line this Pilot Custom Heritage achieves for me. When I draw birds the goal isn’t to match field guide listings. Composition, aesthetic design of a candid moment inform my choices . 

Head and bill. I avoid defining the tip of the bill. Diving underneath in between those feathers it disappears.

Edge of the wing. Looking for shapes. Emphasizing repetition of lines. Stacked layers in the wing. Distinguish the mantle behind and around towards the back. 

What are called coverts. Layered sections  leading to edges of wings. Scales. Plated armor. 

Rain persists beyond the balcony, Place two small saucers filling one with water. I use a luscious Silver Black Velvet Voyager watercolor brush. Perfect for ink and washes.

I don’t honor all of my lines. Brush loaded with water offers new decisions. Chances to come back and put down different lines next to those from earlier. Now accented with tone and value.

Wrapping up this third layer.  Colored pencil, fountain pen and washes. Not ideal weight but Fabriano mixed media paper holds up.

Fountain brush pen. Kuretake sable fountain brush pen. Straight into wet. Watercolor wet on wet technique where ink melts into paper beneath. I contrast with sumi-e strokes. Dry brush textures.

The fountain brush pen is a writing tool. Not a watercolor brush for this drawing it’s both. Create  one shape between beak, eye going into crown. Clearly determine the wing, primaries and markings.

I finish the drawing with marks from my fountain pen. The rain continues but I call this drawing done.

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Barnacle Goose on a Rainy Afternoon – fountain pen, brush and ink wash over black colored pencil

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