October 8, 2018

My good friend Kevin has cockatiels as pets — Pitiful and Shemp — and I had the pleasure of bird-sitting them a couple of times. I fell in love right away. Especially with Pitiful, who made me late for work one morning when he jumped on my shoulder and I couldn’t get him off. As you can see from this picture, I wasn’t that mad about it.


I liked Shemp too, but he wasn’t as friendly with me, this rando human that he didn’t know. But Pitiful would eagerly hop onto my hand and whistle songs.

The only other experience I had with birds was when I was five and my mom got two parakeets. The day she got them we were sitting on our porch with their cage and I thought it would be a great idea to let them stretch their wings. So I opened up the cage and away they flew. Forever. We’d had them for like 2 hours. If memory serves, Mom was way cool about it.

Luckily I learned from that experience, and 30+ years later when Kevin let me take care of his cockatiels I managed to keep them in the house.


Pitiful earned his name years ago when Kevin found him in a dry canal and he looked so…well, pitiful.

The last time I bird-sat I got this great photo of him. He seemed to know that I was trying to take a picture and cocked his head in the most flirty adorable pose.

He could look at you like he wanted to know all about you.


Sadly, he passed away just a few weeks after this picture was taken. Kevin was obviously heartbroken. Pitiful had been a wonderful pet to him for 24 years.

I was also very sad, and wanted to do something to commemorate this sweet little bird, so I decided to make Kevin a picture to remember him by.

I used the photo I took for reference, but I guess all those big head caricatures I’ve been doing lately sort of seeped into my subconscious cuz Pity’s head and beak ended up a bit out of proportion. I kinda like that though. It shows how smiley he was. 🙂

I used alcohol-based studio brush markers to color him in. I have a tendency to go too dark too soon when I use these markers, and I was afraid that would happen here. Pitiful’s upper torso is actually a darker grey, but I held back a bit out of fear of ruining it.

For the background I wanted to do something kinda abstract so I made some rays of cerulean shooting out from behind him. Then I used some bottle cap stamps that I had made to add some random purplish shapes.

I like how the shape right above his head sort of looks like a bird in flight.

I found a really cool metal frame at Michael’s that sort of looked like a birdcage. I put the drawing in it and I gave it to Kevin on his birthday.

I was a little worried that he might think it was a drawing of Shemp, his other cockatiel. (Not to be bird-racist, but they do look a lot alike.) But he didn’t. When Kevin unwrapped the picture he looked at it for a little while and then quietly said, “I miss him.”

I do too.

One comment

  1. What a touching story.

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