Facing my nemesis ( or painting a pheasant in 5 steps)

Facing my nemesis ( or painting a pheasant in 5 steps)

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.


  • Cheryl Haley

    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!!

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  • Lynne Mitchell

    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.

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