Category Archives: Watercolor Birds

“Western Tanagers”

“Western Tanagers”

Birds 6, 7, and 8 for my 15×30 Big Bird March (I did not blog about bird #5 as I did not like it). Is it fair to count three birds in one painting as three? My challenge, my rules, right? Ha! I have a workshop to teach and host this weekend, so I need to surge ahead of schedule. Click on the image to see a larger view in your browser. I painted on 140lb Saunders Waterford cold press paper.

We love seeing these beautiful Western Tanagers flashing past us in the Spring and Summer months. We managed to catch some photos of them in some evergreens. I often cannot distinguish the Tanager from the Oriole at a distance, the female especially. When we returned home, we compared the photos against “The Bird Book” and “The Google.” These guys (and gal) were definitely Western Tanagers. Real birders probably would not need to consult The Google?

I combined four photos to come up with the composition; one of the blurry tanager in the background, two for the female, and one for the main male in the foreground.

I painted wet-into-wet, using Pyrrol Scarlet, Hansa Yellow Medium, Phthalo Blue (GS) and Quinacridone Rose (all by Daniel Smith). I’m going to let the Youtube video of the painting stages suffice for the process description this time.

The painting is 7.5″x11″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 11″x14″ frame opening. Shipping $7 (if the painting does not need to be shipped, the shipping charge will be refunded). $185

Sun Conures Talkin’ Smack

“Sun Conures”

Painting #4 of my 15×30 Big Bird March challenge. “Sun Conures” is a 5.5″x7.5″ watercolor on 140lb Saunders Waterford cold press paper. Click on the image to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

I have had this photograph for about 10 years and have always wanted to paint it. I took the photo at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City. The birds were behind a cage, and the photo had lots of cast shadows from the fence. Challenge! I wanted them to appear to be in the wild.

I painted wet-into-wet directly (no pre-drawing) using Hansa Yellow Medium, New Gamboge, Perinone Orange, by Daniel Smith as well as Sap Green by Schminke and Ultramarine light by Holbein.

See the Youtube still-shot video below for visuals of painting stages as described.

I saturated the paper front and back, then used Viva paper towels to dab up most of the loose water. I began with the Hansa Yellow Medium and New Gamboge, painting the breasts and heads of the birds, leaving the eye and beak area on the left bird untouched. I added Perinone Orange to the heads and tails. Then added the Sap Green for the wings and tails. I lifted off the light side of the branch, then painted the dark under-shadows with blue and orange, letting all the colors mix on the paper. I used the same dark tone (with Ultramarine and orange) to paint the eyes and beaks.

After the paper had dried back enough to hold an edge, I used tea- to coffee-strength pigment to hint at background foliage and branches. I tried to just hint at the talons. I had to make up an additional branch for the right bird to hold (in the photo he was holding on to a metal bar with both its talon and beak).

I love the resulting colors and gestures of the birds. I feel like they are talking smack about me?

Only $95 for this original watercolor painting! The painting is 5.5″x7.5″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 8″x10″ frame opening. Shipping $7 (if the painting does not need to be shipped, the shipping charge will be refunded).

 

 

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Baby Robin – Sold!

“Baby Robin”

Just in time for Spring. Painting #3 of my 15×30 Big Bird March challenge. Click on the image to see a larger view in a new browser tab.

This little robin had just left the nest. I had been watching the robin family grow in our front honey locust tree over the previous month or so. Momma and poppa Robin were raising three babies. This baby Robin was the first to spread his (her?) wings. Baby Robin still had trouble with flight. He/she took a respite in our Impatiens pot right in front of me. I felt badly for scaring the poor little soul, but I am not sorry I was able to capture the scene.

I used the wet-in-wet method again. This time, though, I went in DIRECT – without a preliminary drawing. Doing a painting directly surely does make one pay attention to shapes not things.

I used New Gamboge, Transparent Pyrrol Orange and Quinacridone Rose by Daniel Smith, and Ultramarine Light by Holbein throughout the painting.  For the darks, I combined the Orange and Blue. I had a dilemma on which yellow to choose. Should I have used a cooler yellow to achieve some brighter greens?  Or do you like the warmer yellows that are more analogous to the orange in the bird’s breast? I went with the warmer yellow. Maybe I’ll paint this scene again and go the other way, just to do the test?

I quite like the little painting. I wonder whatever happened to Baby Robin? Robin families continued to build nests from year to year. Some years, the nests were built on precarious limbs, and the robin babies did not survive the winds. Or the neighborhood cats. This year, though, I witnessed all three babies fly away, once they found their wings. It made me extraordinarily happy.

This painting is for sale. $95 (Original Watercolor Painting 5.5″x7.5″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 8″x10″ frame opening). Shipping $7 if applicable (Shipping payment will be refunded if not required).

 

Flight Silhouette

“Flight Silhouette”

Painting #2 of my 15×30 Big Bird March challenge. “Flight Silhouette” is a 5.5″x7.5″ watercolor on 140lb Arches cold press paper. Click on the image for a larger view in a new browser tab.

I snapped a photo of a red-winged blackbird taking off from the branches of a Russian Olive tree while on my walk around the Empire Ranch golf course and the Carson River. My walk is a veritable bird sanctuary. I often see (and hear) yellow-headed blackbirds, geese galore, many feathers of ducks, red-wing blackbirds, robins, finches, wrens, swallows, starlings, hawks, magpies. It’s so fun to take the “big-guy” camera out and try to capture their activities.

This was a quick wet-into-wet painting. I used Hansa Yellow Light and Medium and Pyrrol Red by Daniel Smith and Ultramarine Light by Holbein.

I first did a light outline drawing of the main shapes, then saturated the paper front and back.

I hinted at the golf greens behind the tree and bird with yellow and blue in quick long strokes on a really wet surface with my large Lowe-Cornell #14 round brush. I added a tiny bit of red at the bottom of the painting as well, again with light, long side strokes of the brush. I left a little area above and to the right of the bird white and let the paint swim in gently. I added a few strokes of a dark blue/red/yellow mixture to give a sense of distant hazy branches.

I painted the silhouette of the bird and tree trunks with the same dark mix while still really wet, so I could get fuzzy edges (to imply movement).

After the paper had dried off to a damp state, I used short pull-push calligraphy strokes for the leaves, and light, pull calligraphy strokes for the thin branches. I changed the color composition for the leaves, skewing it sometimes red, sometimes, blue, sometimes green.

I thickened the paint and painted darks into the big branches and the bird, sometimes softening the edges.

Does it remind you of Halloween? Maybe it will be October in my theoretical bird calendar for 2021?

The painting is for sale, $95 (Original Watercolor Painting 5.5″x7.5″ in a custom white mat with a black core to fit a standard 8″x10″ frame opening). Shipping $7 if applicable (Shipping payment will be refunded if not required).

Goldfinch Dinner

Updated! “Goldfinch Dinner”

Onward with a new challenge for March; the 15×30 Big Bird March. “Goldfinch Dinner” is the first of the series. It is a watercolor 5.5″x7.5″ on 140lb Arches cold press. Click on the images to see a larger view in new browser tabs.

When we lived in Utah, these Lesser goldfinches would come in great flocks to feed on our back yard sunflower forest. We were thrilled to see them also in our new backyard in Nevada. Though, they like a variety of flower seedlings here. We have a lovely bouquet in our front yard each summer.

Front Yard Flowers

This little gal was painted wet-into-wet, using Hansa Yellow Light and Medium, Pyrrol Red and Phthalo Blue (GS), all by Daniel Smith.

Before saturating the paper, I masked off the highlights for the “rim-lighting” effect. After drying off the back of the paper, but leaving the front really wet, I painted the background, first. I put down the blue first, following quickly with red and letting them mix on the paper. I added some yellow as well for an overall gray background. While the paper was still very wet, I painted the whole flower shape and seed pod with the Hansa Yellow Light. I added red and blue to the sunflower center. I added blue and red to the seed pod to create the green. Phthalo and Hansa Yellow make a really bright green, so I had to tone it down a bit for the shadow areas.

I painted the gray feathers of the bird with a mix of phthalo blue and red, skewed more to the blue. I painted the breast of the bird with Hansa Yellow light.  I used the same gray mix for the head, beak and legs/feet. Although, I may have gone too dark on the legs/feet? The first layer I kept quite light. After the paper dried off some, I added some darker tones for the feathers and eyes. I mixed a muddy orange for the shadows on the breast and tail.

I worked the flower petals by adding Hansa Yellow Medium and pulling some of the red out of the center. I painted over the center several more times with strong red and blue pigment.

I dried the painting off with a blow dryer and removed the masking. I found those last tiny details with dark pigment, mostly using the red/blue dark mix. I took a lot of care around the beak and the seed pod. I like how I can see the backside of the beak, inside the mouth of the bird. I painted that first with pure Pyrrol red at tea-strength, then let some blue swim in at the edge.

I added some Pyrrol Red calligraphy strokes with my rigger brush, then signed the painting.

‘Tis a fun little painting to start off my Big Bird March challenge, don’t you think? My goal is to get looser as the month progresses.

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“Goldfinch Dinner” Stage 1

Update! I removed the white spike below the beak.

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Artist’s Reception

Wall of Art

I had a wonderful time celebrating with friends and family during my featured artists show at the Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in Carson City.

Five paintings went to new homes! More are ready to be adopted. The show will be up through August 3rd. I will be painting live at the gallery during the Carson City Wine Walk from 1-5pm on the final day. Come witness my denouement?

If you live far, far away and are not able to physically visit the gallery, Jeffery Pace, the gallery owner, takes call-in orders too! (775) 885-ARTS (2787). I would be happy to send you digital images and a price list of all the remaining paintings in the show.

Thank you to Dee, Joanie, Laura, Anette, and Betty for loving my paintings enough to take one home. I am most honored. All sold paintings are available for print-on-demand giclee print orders. Pricing depends on the requested print size. Taxes and shipping additional. To discuss send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

I appreciate all comments, suggestions, and questions. Thank you for stopping by.

“Solar Summer” 11″x11″ Watercolor – SOLD!

“Mrs. Cluck” Watercolor 5″x7″ – SOLD!

“High Desert Spring” 5×7 Watercolor – SOLD!

“White Roses” 7×5 Watercolor – SOLD!

“All in a Row” 11×7 Watercolor – SOLD!

 

Quail in the Bush – 20th Painting for June 20th

Quail in the Bush – Watercolor 5″x7″

This cute “Quail in the Bush” painting had to be another compromise with my competing painting requirements; challenge vs watercolor classes. He started as a demonstration for my community education watercolor class, where we are focusing on the fundamental topic of texture. This week we played with adding cheesecloth, alcohol, bleach, lifting, wax, scraping, and more, to watercolor pigment. After doing some texture inspiration studies, we did a “paint along” using a photo of a quail my husband and I saw on a walk the other morning, as our reference.

During the walk, we had our super zoomy lens on the camera. Those quail do scurry fast away from scary humans. With the zoomy telephoto lens, he didna even know we caught him in the act of being super silhouetted in the morning light.

Source Photo

I do not have images or video to illustrate the painting progression, as usual, so we’ll just have to rely on descriptive text this time.

To begin, we decided on a small format (5.5″x7.5″) Arches 140 lb cold press paper. We taped the edges all around, ’cause we knew we were gonna get wet! The only pre-drawing was a soft diagonal line to indicate the distinction between the foreground and the background. I like to set up elements on a diagonal to create a sense of movement. We also penciled in an oblong diamond shape for the quail placement. I could have done a better job of keeping the bird out of the center, but in the end, the plume is placed quite nicely at the golden mean cross-section of the whole composition. Nice! I wish I could say it was intentional. ha!

We used wax resist sticks to save some random twigs and dots for the highlights on the bushes, and to save the critical highlight on the back of the quail’s back and head.

We painted the background wet-into-wet. We wet the area above the diagonal line with clear water, then dried the paper back slightly. We caressed in some Ultramarine Light (Holbein), Hansa Yellow Deep (Daniel Smith) into the wet. We let some blue and yellow show independently but created soft blends of the two for a nice olive green blur.

After the background dried slightly, we puddled some blue, yellow and Pyrrol Red (Daniel Smith) into the bottom left corner, then pushed cheesecloth (with the strings “pulled about” for an organic look) into the wet paint. We dabbed strong pigment (all three colors) on top of the cheesecloth to make it “stick.”

We blew with a straw into the runny pigment, up and to the right to create some twigs and branch effects. We puddled the same mix of colors into the lower right of the painting and blew a bit more with the straw. We splattered with all three colors over all the foreground. Some of the splatters crept into the wet background, creating some unintended water bursts. It was tempting to “fix” them, but we just let them be.

We mixed up a strong (milky strength) dark pigment with the blue and red and painted in the dark mounds for the quail to rest. The wax application kept us from losing our highlights. So far, we just pretended the bird wasn’t even a part of the painting.

Stage 1 – Quail in the Bush

After drying the painting slightly, I painted the silhouette of the quail into the penciled diamond shape. I took care now to create the curves. I saved the bird’s plume for last. I tried to do it with just one “smush” calligraphy stroke, but I ended up doing it twice because I didn’t have a good paint load on the brush. Now the plume was too big. Sigh.

We added some hints of branches, twigs, and grasses on the shadow side of the white wax highlights. We dried back the painting again and added a darker middle to the quail plume. We scratched a little with a sharp knife to connect some of the “blobs” of wax.

That is where the class demonstration ended. We discussed removing the wax and softening some highlights.

After returning to my studio, I removed the wax by placing the painting face down on some Viva clothlike paper towels, put a lint-free cloth over the back and ironed the painting. The paper towel “sucks” the wax out of the paper. I have video of this process (with a different painting) posted on my Youtube channel, click the link Wax Resist Removal.

Also on my Youtube channel you can see my studio adjustments (Or just click the arrow below).

If you’re interested in purchasing this sweet little painting, it can be done for a mere $150 with frame.

This little guy will be dressed up in a frame and hanging on a gallery wall for my Featured Artist’s Show with Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in July 2019 (unless sold prior to the show). Artist’s reception July 18th from 4-7pm. I hope you can stop by?

If purchasing with a PayPal account or a credit/debit card through PayPal, you save a ton on shipping ($15). Check payers and those living outside of the continental U.S. will incur additional shipping charges. Nevada residents also have to pay sales tax.

I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.

Quail in the Bush $165 (w/ frame/mat)


 

16th Painting 30×30 Direct Watercolor Challenge – Mrs Cluck

Mrs. Cluck – Final Painting

Mrs. Cluck continues my efforts for the Facebook 30x30DirectWatercolor Challenge.

This is a small work created on Arches 140lb cold press, painted without any drawing and wet-into-wet. I used my #14 Lowe-Cornell round brush throughout. Pigments used are Raw Sienna Light, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red, Pyrrol Red and Cobalt Blue (all Daniel Smith).

Mrs. Cluck – 1st Stage

I saturated the paper, then dried it back with a towel (see previous blog posts). I began by painting the shadow side of the bird with Raw Sienna and Hansa Yellow Medium.

Mrs. Cluck  (Headless chicken) – 2nd Stage

I then found the bird by painting around with a background color, using the cobalt and pyrrol red, then dropping in some of the raw sienna as well. This created a silhouette of the main subject. In some places, I purposely let the yellow color bleed into the background color, in other areas I kept a white “reservoir” edge.

Mrs. Cluck (She found her head) – 3rd Stage

To find the chicken’s comb and wattle, I dropped in the Quinacridone Red while the yellow pigment was very wet. After hinting at the head wet-into-wet, I had to let the painting dry back a bit to the damp stage.

Mrs. Cluck – 4th Stage

After the paper was damp (not wet), I painted some darker shadow shapes in an around the chicken’s head.  I added some soft shadow indications in the feathers, legs, and feet.

Mrs. Cluck – Final Painting (Click on image for a larger view)

After the painting had dried some more to almost dry, I touched in some more shadow details to finish the painting.

Mrs. Cluck, 7.5″x5.5 watercolor.  If interested in purchasing this painting, it can be had for a mere $150 (with frame & mat). In July, “Mrs. Cluck” will be “goin’ to the show.” She will be a part of my featured artist show with Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in Carson City. Check payers and those who live far, far away will incur additional shipping charges. Taxes additional, where applicable.

Mrs. Cluck $150 (with frame & mat)


I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions.

Thank you for stopping by.

14th Painting 30×30 Direct Watercolor – Finch on a Fence

“Oh my goodness! How cute is that Finch?”

“Finch on a Fence” – Fixed a bit

This little guy flitted to a white fence just as my husband and I were walking past with our extra zoomer lens on the Canon Rebel SLR camera at the ready.

“Good Catch!” Now the debate. Is it a House Wren or a House Finch? I just cannot tell. I’m going with a House Finch, because I want the title to be, “Finch on a Fence” <smile>

Continuing with my Facebook group’s 30×30 Direct Watercolor Challenge, I painted this wet-into-wet without any pre-drawing. It is a small 5.5″x7.5″ little guy. It is actually probably very close to the size of the bird itself.

“How did you DO that wet-into-wet without a drawing?” you ask.

Well, I like to saturate the paper, then dry it back with a towel, so I can hold an edge, but still have soft watery blends of color. See previous blog posts on that process.

For this painting, I used my #14 Lowe-Cornell round brush on Arches 140lb cold press watercolor paper.

I mixed up a green tone using Hansa Yellow Medium and Phthalo Blue (GS) both by Daniel Smith.

Finch on a Fence – 1st Sta

I painted around the shape of the bird and fence, leaving them both white. I caressed in a bit of the blue and yellow to the pre-mixed green, just to avoid letting the green get lonesome. I had also pre-mixed my “black” using Pyrrol Red and Phthalo blue, so I caressed in a bit of that to the green too, to knock back the intensity a bit.

After creating the white silhouette, I painted the shadow shapes on the bird’s body, letting the dark bleed into the wet green background. I left a few random white sparkles, plus a very deliberate white highlight in the eye.

Finch on a Fench – Stage Two

I really enjoy how the dark gray bled into the background green, giving the sense of the wind ruffling his feathers. I then carefully put in the bright Pyrrol Red on the top of the head and on the breast. I added a bit of Perinone Orange to keep the red really bright and intense.

I painted in the legs and talons, taking care to make the forward leg darker compared to the back leg. I carefully measured the length of the talons against the bird’s body, so I didn’t make them too small. Birds have BIG feet, man!

I weakened the gray mix and hinted at the white

Finch on a Fence – Stage 3

fence on top and on the front. I liked the cast shadow from the Bird’s tail, which I painted with a weakened phthalo blue and a bit of muddy gray the same strength. I was quite happy with the painting at this stage. And it would have been a completely bona fide wet-into-wet one- go-at-it painting. But alas! One of the house critics came by and offered that the background was pretty boring.

“Yeah, I know. It is.” So, when the painting had reached the damp, almost dry stage, I added hints of foliage behind the white fence. I signed it with my calligraphy brush, because dang it, if I can’t find my rigger brush!

Voila! My cuter than a dang bug’s ear (though, is a bug’s ear really cute? I mean, how do we know that? Intellectually, my brain thinks a bug’s ear would not be cute?) “Finch on a Fence” watercolor painting for the day.

If interested in purchasing this painting, click the “Add to Cart” button below. For a short time, this painting will be available for $150 (with black frame and white black core mat). Shipping $15.00 to Continental U.S. customers, paying with PayPal or a credit/debit card only. Check payments and faraway folks will pay additional shipping charges. Taxes additional, where applicable.

After July 8th, this little fellow is “goin’ to the show!” at Artsy Fartsy Art Gallery in Carson City. Artist’s reception July 18th from 4-7pm.

Finch on a Fench – Final painting

Finch on a Fench, $150 (with frame & mat)

Don’t forget to subscribe to this artist’s blog.. so educational.. and a little bit entertaining to boot! If I do say so myself.I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.

 

 

9th & 10th Paintings for Challenge – Yellow Headed Blackbirds

Yellow-Headed Blackbird One

Today I couldn’t resist my yellow-headed blackbird friend. He and I had a conversation on my walk the other day. I don’t know if he was pleased to see me. I think he thought I might threaten his nest. Have you ever heard these birds? Man, do they like to screech! But they also have a cute chirp when you get close to have a “talk.”

I painted him twice. No pre-drawing for either rendition. I quite like both outcomes. I know tomorrow is going to be a busy day. I start teaching my watercolor class at Western Nevada College. I thought I’d better paint two paintings today, just in case I don’t have time tomorrow.

Yellow-Headed Blackbird Too

For the first study, I waxed off the white wing tips, then saturated the paper front and back. While the paper was “cooking in the water,” I prepared my paints in the palette: I used Hansa Yellow Medium and Deep for the light areas of the head, and Raw Sienna Light for the yellow shadow areas (all Daniel Smith). I mixed Ultramarine Light (Holbein) with Pyrrol Transparent Orange (Daniel Smith) for the darks on the body. For the background and trees, I added Cascade Green (Daniel Smith). I also used all the bird colors in the background to promote harmony.

For the second study, I used the same color combinations, but my process was different. I wetted the background area but kept paper where I wanted the bird dry. I did not use wax for the wing tips. I dropped in weak blue and green while the paper was wet and puddly and let the paint swim around and blend on the paper. I then dried the paper back to damp before working on the bird itself.

I like both paintings. I think the second is more accurate proportions, but I like the softness of the first study. What do you think?

I have video clips for both paintings. I may edit them someday. Stay tuned!

If you are interested in purchasing either of these paintings ($150 for top painting, which is framed, or $100 for bottom painting with mat only), I have included a convenient Buy Now button below <smile>. PayPal is my credit card processor. You do NOT need a PayPal account to purchase, just a valid credit or debit card.

Both paintings are 5×5″x7.5″ on 140lb Arches cold press paper. Under the “Choose Painting” options; “One” is the first image, “Too” is the second painting.

Both paintings will be delivered via the USPS postal service. Shipping cost is $15 only if purchased via PayPal checkout (Check payments will incur additional shipping charges). Taxes are additional, where applicable. If the unframed painting is purchased, the shipping charge is only $4.50 and the customer will be refunded extra charges via PayPal).


Choose Painting



I appreciate all comments, questions and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by.