My 3rd and 4th grade students recently learned about artist John James Audubon's bird studies. If a bird had variations within its species, he would draw the bird multiple times to show the differences. For example, his cardinal artwork shows both the male and female, as they are different colors.
We looked at many different parrots before drawing ours, just like Audubon studied many of his birds. After seeing several different parrots, we made a list of the colors we saw. Then, we started drawing the parrot based on one photograph. But, as we got to each detail (the face; the feet; the tail), we looked at a different parrot to see more details. Lastly, the students colored their bird however they liked, using our list of parrot colors for reference.
In this lesson, the students worked from many photographs instead of just one. This was a positive experience, because when students were upset that their parrot was too fat; had too small of a beak; didn't have a long enough tail; etc., I was able to point out that some parrots look that way! This drawing method helped the students stay positive. (Usually it's my most talented students that are most critical of their artwork, so when someone is concerned their work isn't "right" or isn't "good enough", they usually need positive feedback, not correction in their drawing skills.)
The artwork was sketched in pencil, colored in crayon, and the background was painted with blue liquid watercolors.