A new robin in 7 easy steps

A new robin in 7 easy steps

Hi , and so we move into October. Here in the middle of the countryside, and sitting in my studio with large windows I feel privileged to watch the seasons come and go. The leaves are falling thick and fast , large apples hang on our trees. We vow every year to store more, make crumbles and press juice. In reality we shall make one or two nice puddings and leave the rest for the birds ( no bad thing) , making the most of each month as it comes and goes. 

I am having to pop my heater on again, the balmy summer days when I needed to open the windows and doors to get a breeze have gone. Warm socks, brisk walks and cosy fires are going to be the order of the day. I know I have time and space to paint every day, but if you have to snatch an hour here or there, make a nice nook for you to do your art. Maybe invest in a daylight bulb to help a bit as the days grow shorter. Daylight really is best for painting in, some evenings I just sketch a little or plan for the next piece.

Today I thought I would paint a robin for you ( again) , a smaller project to have a go at, and one you might like to try in time for Christmas, 

1.I sketch my robin, this one is on barbed wire and I painted that first. Then I began on the eye, I use cerulean blue and a very small brush. I paint the eye but leave a very small dot of white paper untouched. Then I add a darker blue ( indigo ) and go around the eye and finally my darkest colour indigo and sepia and I pop in a pupil.

2. Next I paint his beak , I just use cerulean blue and indigo for the darker shadow, 

3. Ok now you have to be brave. Wait for the beak and eye to dry, now I paint all the robin apart from the wing in one fell swoop. I wet the whole part, then add shadow colour and cerulean blue on the 'white' of the bird, a weak yellow ochre for the 'red breast' and some cerulean blue where the breast meets the brown around the head. The head is painted in a fairly weak burnt umber.

You see all done, but he looks a bit pale.

4.Next I add more colour to the red breast, using cadmium orange, red brown, burnt sienna, dropping it in where the shadows are, giving the robin some shape.

You see how much brighter he looks, working up in layers.

5.Now I need to add more colour to the brown, add shadow, using a mixture of cadmium red and cobalt blue. 

I also like to add a few splatters.

6. Now I can paint the wing on the left.

Using burnt umber and some yellow ochre. I leave some of the paper showing to to show light reflecting on the wing. When it dries I can go again with more burnt umber to pick out the lines of the different wings etc.

7.Finishing touches, add your darkest darks and any outer splatters and splashes you want to, now I might leave him a while and return later to see if anything really stands out as needing my attention. Take your time, do things in stages if it helps, and paint things that inspire you.

I hope we can all get out a bit and enjoy the new season or if the weather, or circumstances are keeping you indoors just now, why not pick up a paintbrush and have a go x


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I’m painting a Robin and holly this next week for Shop Arty and this was a helpful read . I’ll be putting my own interpretation on this subject . You can also check out my work on IG at al_kline_watercolors, thx . I love the ease of your interpretations!

Al Kline

How do you get your spatters so perfectly placed? He’s lovely, I’m enjoying watching the Robin in the garden, but not his morning territory calls!


I love seeing the progression of your work….water colors are my favorite!!! I recently chatted with you online about the swan print if you remember……I love your work….have two pieces here in North Carolina on the coast…..the old ladies going into the water at the beach….they just touch my heart because we all change…age and time has a way of doing that….I check in and enjoy your work regularly…hugs from across the pond!


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