Monday, 23 November 2015

Robin in Watercolour : Seasonal Inspiration

 Robin appearing in watercolour
 The original model was posing in my garden this morning.

Painting a Robin in Watercolour

Its' that time of year when my Christmas card design should have been painted and sent to the printers long ago. I meant to paint my card design before I left for my USA workshop and book signing tour but there wasn't time as I was then working on my next book which had to go to my publishers before I left for my first flight.

So here I am , painting a Christmas scene and as I am enjoying the process so much I thought I would share it with my blog readers. That's you! Hi there. There is always something in life that urgently needs doing that gets in the way of what we really want to do at times. So I have abandoned everything to complete this card design and get it to the printers today.  

I hadn't really decided what to paint for my Christmas card this year until Rocky Robin followed me on my morning walk with Bailey. Rocky sings beautifully each morning as if to greet me. Bailey is more interested in sniffing around but I always take a few minutes to relax, unwind and appreciate the joy that this little bird seems to share. Oblivious to all that is going on in the world he sings his heart out.  And why not!


 If you want to join me take a clean piece of white paper and follow my step by step.


Stage 1.  Working From a Starting Point.

Step 1. Working from the eye as a starting point I begin to paint my robin in watercolour

 Start with the eye, leaving a little highlight,leave to dry then work away around the eye with an orange shade for the surrounding face area. Add the tiny sharp beak. The shape of my model was very round this morning as Rocky had fluffed up his feathers. But you can paint your robin to  look like one you have seen or have a photo of.

I painted the round shape by adding the back of my bird in turquoise and then I allowed violet to drip to form the little legs. These I attached to a branch with a hint of a line in water, letting the colour merge here.

 ( If you have my books please read the sections on working from a starting point !  ) 


 Stage  2.

This, as in any painting, is decided by personal choice. I wanted to add a background as Rocky was sat in hedgerow this morning with frosted fields in the distance. It was cold but the greenery in the foliage was stunning.  I added a hint of the wings and back of my robin keeping this section minus real detail or form at this point. Next, I added a few twigs leaving the top of them white to give the illusion of snow. This may be the only way I get a White Christmas by painting one,  so I enjoy creating my watercolour snow scene! I have worked green shades in the middle sections between the twigs allowing red to merge for hints of holly berries. I'm keeping the background  soft and less detailed. But will pick up a few holly leaves and darker berries later in the creative process. The  main point is that I am not  rushing this painting. I'm not in a race. I am not in a competition. I am painting just for me. Well that's not quite true. My friends and family always tell me they love my Christmas cards so I don't want to let them down.  I try to paint something that I know will make them smile each year.


 Rocky Robin sat on a twig with atmospheric hints of background foliage and berries.

Before adding any other detail I place my painting on my easel and take time to consider what to add next. As I mentioned so often on tour teaching workshops all over USA, when a painting goes right we love it so much that we don't want to put our brushes down. That's usually the point when we should to avoid over working!

So here is my painting so far on my easel.


 Robin painting on my easel so I can decide what to add next.

Stage 3.

Now I can easily see what is missing. The robin needs the addition of detail at the back of the head as the composition is very weak here. At least for me it is although the feeling of light looked fabulous minus the addition of further colour.

But I have continued with this painting. I have added a background colour that  works in harmony with the rest of the painting. I also placed foliage over one hard line of the twig going off the upper corner of the painting to soften it.


 Background added to define the back of the robins head using negative brushwork.
( Please read how to work  with negative shapes in the sections of my books that show you how to do this technique )

Stage 4.

Now I am adding detail to the berries in places and a few darks in between the foliage to add interest.
All that is left for me to do now is add the back of my robin. Just in a few places. And I can splatter white gouache if I wish to make it look like fresh snow is falling.



Adding darks to complete my painting, a gradual process, taking my time enjoying each touch of colour.


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One thing that everyone without fail has told me on all of my workshops whilst on tour. Is how much I give away, of myself, my time and my techniques. I want to. I love this. I love sharing. I love making others happy. Giving is the best gift of all and the messages I am reading from everyone who has loved my courses has made my heart sing, almost as beautifully as Rocky Robins' song.

Have fun painting, practise all the techniques you can to make your paintings shine and make others happy with what you do.

Happiness does make this world a beautiful place, one we should all cherish living in.

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4 comments:

Didi said...

Lovely Jean, as always. I am painting a similar scene but with a cardinal as the bird. Missed your workshop but hope to sign up for next year's. Happy Thanksgiving (do they celebrate this in Britain?). And wishing you a joyous Christmas season!
best, Didi

Helen Shingler said...

Oh Jean this is really wonderful! I love your style of painting and Robins are a real favourite of mine. I was actually thinking of painting one and hesitating over how to do it! Then I see your post on FB! Thank you so much for sharing I will definitely be trying this! With best wishes for the festive season!

Leona said...

Lovely little bird and as always thanks for your endless generosity in sharing your wealth of knowledge with your followers of this magical medium that captures you wholeheartedly for ever - ah bliss -

Betty Long said...

Jean: I just now read your blog about painting the robin. So lovely, as usual! Such a coincident, as I had only just looked at a fb friend's page and she had posted that if you see a robin it means someone you know is saying hello from heaven. 2 minutes later I looked at your painting. LOL