Christmas Robin in Watercolour
How funny that my series of bird paintings this Christmas are leading me to so many almost forgotten memories. Like the painting above that I have just completed. I have been working on a few experiments recently using many different techniques that are new to me. In fact many I am simply making up. I teach workshops all over the world now and on each course I often state that not everything in art, or working in watercolour as a medium, has been discovered. So I am playing with many ideas right now and loving the results whether they work or not. In fact the ideas that don't work often lead me to better experiments and outcomes. We do learn far more from our mistakes than from things that go right and thats' the same in all walks of life. But back to my robin painting!
As I am the main bird feeder while my husband is recovering from surgery I am having to fill several bird feeders with all manner of goodies for the variety of birds that visit our garden. But we also have a special little visitor daily, in the form of a very tame robin. No ordinary bird food for this little fellow. Oh no. My husband buys special bags of meal worms for this tiny chap and he even has his own table and feeding station, which we can see from our living room window. Believe me, if I am late feeding this little bird he lets me know! And so does my husband by asking me if I have fed his robin yet. Two males against one female? I don't stand a chance!
But I have been enjoying watching our robin and after painting the sweet wren yesterday I couldn't resist painting our robin today in a similar background setting. As both of these birds seem to love the same hedge and wall with ivy covering it.
While I was painting the foliage in my new composition my mind slipped back to a time when I was teaching watercolour workshops in Dubai. I was painting a beautiful composition of orchids one day while sat in a group of professional artists. I busily painted the negative spaces in my watercolour to form the background and leaves. One artist stopped to watch me paint, and then another from the group watched as my dark colour additions made my white orchid leap into life. " I wish I could do that" said one artist whom I greatly admired. I stopped painting and looked up, saying " You must be joking, you are a far better artist than I am". In turn she laughed and told me I had no idea how talented I am. I remember her telling me this years ago and my sitting there thinking she was being polite. I was flattered but of course didn't believe that this was anything but a truly sweet compliment.
But now, years later, I am saying exactly the same thing to artists on my own workshops when I teach. This year I would love to have been given a new shade of colour for every time I have said it. I am constantly meeting people who haven't a clue how brilliantly talented they are. And many newer artists actually hold themselves back by not believing in their own ability. Yes. I meet many new painters who are going to be far better artists than I am and I meet many who already are far more talented.
But isn't that the joy in painting?
The journey not the destination?
I watched this little robin this morning and he watched me in return. I thought about how small he is. I am small too, very small in this huge art world. But I like to think the robin and I both sing beautifully from our hearts. He sings the most gorgeous bird song. I sing via colour from my brushstrokes. To anyone, like the robin, who will listen!
My robin painting.
I painted the wash first for this new composition and in all honesty, this wash was just a wash. Not intended for any subject when I created it but it looked perfect to add a little robin in the lower corner and so I did. I made the leaves work by painting around the negative spaces. Leaves are falling daily so only holly and ivy leaves are showing in this particular area of my garden. And twigs which are looking bare. I added these too and I also added the black berries of the ivy which gave more interest to my scene.
This week I have painted many berries. Rose hips, mistletoe, holly and now ivy berries.
What next I wonder!
Below is the uncropped version of my painting but you can see more detail in the cropped version above.
"A Christmas Robin"
Artists Tip for the Day?
Believe in yourself.
1) Don't hold yourself back from painting by having a lack of confidence.
2) Remember that everyone was a beginner once.
3) If you have been painting the same thing in a similar way for a long time, try something new.
4) Most importantly, enjoy creating. Otherwise it becomes a chore and there are enough things we have to do in life, without making painting one of them!