The nest – shape, structure, proportion

In the last impulse we discussed the egg, and if we deal with eggs, then of course the nest is not too far away. If the egg is laid by birds, it needs protection. And this protection is precisely the nest.
The word nest comes from the pre-Germanic word “Nizdo”, which means “settlement”. It’s also related to the Latin term “nidus” – the nest. “Nest” is the name given to various constructions made by different species of animals; they are used either for sleeping, living, or breeding. Most birds build clutch nests, which are designed to be suitable for taking care of the hatchlings.

First the nest protects the eggs and then the chicks that hack from them. Without a nest, the eggs would roll away and break. This is especially the case with eagles. Eagles built their nests not so much for the brood itself, but rather so that the eggs don’t roll away. It’s the same with storks. After hatching, the young are fed in the nest and the nest is used until they fly out.
But not only birds build nests, other animals do too. Fish, for example, make foam nests, insects also build nests. A very well-known nest, if you can put it that way, is the honeycomb, and with ants we have ant nests. But we are particularly interested in the bird’s nest, which is visually and graphically very appealing to us artists.

What does a nest consist of? Depending on the bird species, different materials are used. Usually the birds gather small twigs, straw, hay, and dry grasses and build a nest with them. Some birds even use animal hair to make the nest quite soft. Of course, nests are very vulnerable to being plundered by other animals, so it’s interesting to look at where and how the nests are built. You’ll see that they’re built in a way that on the one hand they give support to this coming load with the chicks and the bird parents. When four or five young birds have hatched and the mother sitting in the nest to brood, and the father comes to feed the mother and sits on the nest, it must withstand a certain weight. On the other hand, it must be difficult or impossible to reach for other animals that are predators and want to raid the nests. Thus, there’s a lot of different shapes, depending on how the nest is built and where it’s built. One example is the swallows’ nests, which are built with loam and are usually found in the corners of walls. The swallows can therefore only go to areas with enough unspoiled paths where puddles form, from which they then collect the softened clay. Only inside the nest they add straws and grasses they find.

Nests have undergone a great cultural evolution and have metaphorical meaning. The term nest is often used metaphorically to mean safety and comfort. For a pleasant homeliness, for a community that provides security and warmth, for families, communities, congregations, groups, where there is a loving, nice, warm atmosphere in which we feel secure. Rooms designed in a certain way sometimes feel as if they were a nest, too.

There’s also a very famous architectural nest, the National Stadium in Beijing. It opened in 2008 as the Olympic Stadium for the Beijing Summer Games and is commonly known as “nest” or “bird’s nest”. Many contemporary artists have dealt with the nest, using the shape of the nest, addressing the theme of security and warmth, or even criticizing the non-existent warmth and security in our society.

At Easter, there’s this beautiful custom of arranging and hiding Easter eggs, Easter bunnies or small gifts in an Easter nest, so that children search for it with much enthusiasm. The Easter nest, too, is a symbol of security, warmth, and closeness. In the anticipation of Easter, it reminds us of spring, of the resurrection, of all the Easter mysteries that exist in our folk culture and are cherished as a custom every year.

The challenge for drawing is to work purely linear. Think of all the possible things animals gather to build a nest. They’re all just lines. You will use these lines to build a nest by drawing. These lines are concentrated and wonderfully strong. Just try making a nest. Naturally, the nest is round. Keep in mind that this nest, these lines that make up your nest, occupy a certain place on the sheet of paper. Be conscious of the fact that you have only one nest per sheet. Not five nests, just one.

And this one needs the right place. Just as the bird looks for the right place, so that the predators don’t destroy the nest or steal the eggs, you look for the right place on your drawing sheet. You build this nest in your first drawing. No extras, just the nest. In the second drawing it gets a little more difficult because it’ll require proportions, big and small. These are always new challenges in each drawing. For the second exercise, draw a nest and an egg or even several eggs. And the eggs are in proportion to the nest. For that, you must understand that it’s not an ostrich egg in a swallow’s nest.
You could draw an ostrich egg, but then it would take a huge nest to make that egg look small in proportion. The same principle applies to the nest of a blackbird or a titmouse. These are small nests and very small eggs. Sometimes they’re speckled, sometimes even bluish, all of them a bit different. The important thing is the size of the egg in relation to the size of the nest.

Remember the matchstick exercise. Again, we’re dealing with these proportions of size by which you create tension in your drawing. It’s very important that the shape of the egg has a reference point, which is the nest. This is a bit of a challenge, but you’ll succeed. In any case, I wish you a lot of leisure and a lot of joy in this drawing challenge and in this very beautiful motif, because it reminds you continuously of warmth, of security and of new life. Delve into this beautiful theme!