Winging it: The Art of Hovering

“As a child, I dreamed that my bed could fly and glide and swoop and hover high over the countryside near my home while, snug and secure, I looked down in wonder at the great carpet of life that seemed so perfect beneath me.” ~ Michael Leunig, Australian cartoonist

What does it take to hover?
Hovering is suspending oneself in place in the air for a given period of time. Most of us probably think of a hummingbird when we picture a bird hovering, but other birds can hover under the right conditions. The reason why hummingbirds seem to be the only birds that hover is because they can fly in one place for many consecutive wing beats. They can even hover upside down, near a flower in a gust of wind, and at most angles. Their wings beat 50-80 times a second!

Drawing of an American Kestrel by Thomaston Grammar School Second Grader, 2020

Learn:  Birds of prey glide around in circles when they hunt. A kestrel is the only bird of prey that can hover. Unlike smaller hummingbirds, kestrels can’t beat their wings fast enough to keep them up. They face into the wind, “windhovering,” flutter their wings for a few seconds in position, and dive down to grab their prey in their talons.

Materials:  Paper, pencil, and/or colored pencils.

Mindset:  Observant. Imaginative.

Winging It  Day 4:  Hover over a Weed, a Plant, or a Flower

Start by watching this video of a hummingbird.

º As humans we hover in an entirely different way. We position ourselves near an object of interest and stay focused as observers.  Take a walk in a local park or stroll down the street. Find something growing  – and hover over it!

Check out flowers or even weeds.

We notice beautiful skunk cabbage, dandelions everywhere, forsythia blooming, tulips and daffodils. What do you see?

º Get your pencil and paper ready. Make your plant selection and choose a starting point to observe it. Follow along with your eye and your pencil on paper. Draw in slow motion. Notice every tiny twist and turn. Imagine that you are looking through a magnifier.

º After you get the shape of each leaf, petal, or bloom, notice how they are connected. Add details and color. Have fun with the process. Don’t expect it to look like a photograph. You are creating a work of art.

º Ask yourself, is my plant symmetrical?  What might my plant look like as it continues to grow?

º Draw an imaginary version of your plant or another natural object. Experiment with colors that don’t exist in the “real world” so that your drawing is a mix of the real and “magical.”

There is so much to notice when we stop to hover.  What will you discover about yourself as an artist and a burgeoning botanist?

With anticipation, Nancy, for the LEAPS’ Team


© Nancy Harris Frohlich 2020





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.