An Avocet using just 5 colours.

An Avocet using just 5 colours.

In this blog I will try to explain as clearly as possible how I painted an avocet and his reflection so hopefully if you want to you can have a go yourself. I know following step by step guides can be difficult and to be honest , much of what I do has come with a lot of practice , so don't be too hard on yourself if it doesn't go as well as you'd like first time around, the process of painting should be a challenge but it should be fun too.



Draw your birds and try to give yourself as much information as you need, draw in the reflections as a guide too.


I start with the eye and the beak. I paint the eye, very carefully remembering where the light is going to be reflected in it . I am using a small number of colours for the whole painting . The eye is just cerulean blue, indigo and sepia/ indigo mixed to create the darkest colour.

The beak is first painted in cerulean blue and then indigo to to add the darks, you can see the blue coming trough to show the light reflected on the beak too. Little details add to the realism



What I am trying to show here is the shadow under the neck. I wet the paper and then drop in colour firstly cerulean blue for the lighter shadow and then cad. red and cobalt blue mixed for the darker shadow. If you let it bleed wet in wet onto the paper it gives the illusion of a feathery surface on the bird.



Now this part may look scary, but trust me, paint the top of the head in cerulean blue ( I know I know, it's suppost to be black) then while wet drop in paynes grey.



now using a damp clean bush take out some of the colour and the blue should show through, giving a lovely shine to the to of his head.



Now using the same colours as on his neck, I add some detail to the birds wings.


Then the 'black' parts using paynes grey , and a touch of browny red too 


The last part of the bird is the legs. I use cerulean blue and add darker tones with indigo, I also add a touch of burnt umber to the cerulean blue so they look just the right shade. Look carefully there are details on those long legs you might want to get right.


Now I carefully paint the reflections using indigo. Where I want it lighter I use a clean damp brush and create the ripply effect. I also draw very faint circles with the bush and leave white paper between the lines to show the ripples of the water


Finally I add some sky and splashes to show a bit of context and movement all in indigo


Have a go you might surprise yourself x

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Thank you so much! I’m going to try this one. Your instructions were spot on I think.

Donna Knisley

Is this piece of art for sale?

Cindy McNeill

Wonderful and so pretty – thank you for sharing your steps with us !

G Ben

I love this one, birds are my passion to paint, thank you by sharing this bird, I try this one!


Just fantastic and so simple! Got to have a go at this one day soon. I love it’s simplicity. Yet natural look. You are pure talent Rachel and I love all your work 👍🥰

Wendy Edwards

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