Flying into autumn, (painting a pheasant)

Flying into autumn, (painting a pheasant)

Autumn is really upon us and the colours here in Mid Deon are hotting up. I am not built for action or adventure, but a good stomp through the countryside, gets my heart beating and my creative juices flowing. The colours recently have just been glorious, and the trees are beginning to pop!


These are 2 of my favourite trees, that are at the top of the lane I walk everyday, it's strange how trees or views can become familiar 'friends' , I never tire of looking at them , but on a day like yesterday, with the sun on them and the land just warming up. They looked magnificent.

Glancing left across the fields to Colebrooke, the church spire was emerging through the mist, and the autumn sun was making an appearance.

But I do walk further afield, and it is a joy to see new views, be inspired by everything I see. As we walked down an ancient bridleway we we surprised by numerous pheasants , erupting from the hedgerow. Their colours perfectly matching the autumn hues around them

Today I have resurrected an old blog on an early pheasant painting , I hope you enjoy it , as I get on with my ever growing Christmas workload, commissions to be finished !

I have seen some incredible watercolours of pheasants over the years , and I have tried to paint them myself but not with much success. So what to do? The only thing I can do and that is try and try again. I am not there yet but each painting is a step along the way. Fridays are usually a day for me to paint something I want to so here is my latest attempt at a pheasant.

Step 1 




Step 2 


Paint in the tighter details so the eye, the beak, and the colour around the head


Step 3 



Now I need to concentrate. I have pondered on why I find these birds so tricky and on reflection it is their many patterns. I am not a painter who likes to paint every feather or pattern but it needs to 'read' as a pheasant . The body is full of patterns and colour and I need to find a way around it.

Step 4



So now I am carefully trying to create the patterns in my own style. I want to evoke movement as here in Devon I am always seeing pheasants flying out of the hedges. beautiful flashes of colour. I drop colour in wet in wet and see what evolves.

Step 5



I add lights and darks , splashes and splatters. There are lost edges and crisp edges. I am relatively happy, a step along my journey....I am sure I return to this subject again.

And I have here are some other pheasants I have tried painting since


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This is beautiful! Love your work. Was just curious what watercolor pigments you used for your pheasant painting?

April Lynn Farnham

Thank you so much for this, it was really helpful. Mine’s not as good as yours but I’m pleased with it!. Cant attach photo!

Susan Kourea

Thank you so much for this. I am currently trying to paint a rooster and the struggle is real. I feel like my strokes are so forced and I just want a natural flow. Your pheasant is beautiful! Sure wish you were closer, but as I am across the pond in Tennessee, studying under you wouldn’t be possible. I just love your work!!

Cheryl Haley

I love the way you have achieved movement in the head area, they always strike me a busy birds, and I think you have caught that. Love your blogs, so inspiring.

Lynne Mitchell

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