if you follow my work, you will already know that I enjoy painting birds, today I thought I would be as detailed as possible in showing you how to paint a goldfinch. They are glorious birds, almost too exotic to belong in the UK but we enjoy them all the same, the bright flash of colour on these soggy early summer days is uplifting.

I begin as always by planning my work, decide what you need to do and in which order you are going to do it.

I start with a sketch 


Then I look at the markings on the bird and decide I will use some masking fluid to preserve the white markings on the wings

I use a paper clip as a tool to apply the masking fluid

Then I start with the eye, I use a very small good quality brush that holds a lot of paint but comes to sharp point. The first colour I use in the eye is yellow ochre, I leave a white spot in the eye. 

Next I use a tiny spot of cerulean blue 

Now the colours get darker , Burnt umber on it's own and then sepia mixed with indigo for the darkest hue. Can you see where the pupil has gone in and I darken all around the eye ball. Then I add a dark circle around the eye , always looking at the reference, in reality this is millimeters wide, but I like the eye to sparkle. 

Now I can move onto the beak.

I have used a very weak pink wash with a touch of yellow in it. I have used the white of the paper to be the highlights on the beak , then added the darker areas with a cobalt blue mixed with cadmium red.

Now the fun bit ....the red. 

But that's yellow ( I hear you cry) yes I start with Indian yellow then drop bright red into it 

So much fun

Work wet in wet darkening some areas and keeping others for the highlights.

Now I use Paynes Grey for that 'black' areas around the eye and beak.


Next I wet the head area , not too wet ( just enough) and drop in the Payne's Grey and where it bleeds a bit into the water , it looks like feathers. This is why I love watercolour, it's magic! I also add a bit of cobalt blue and cadmium red as some shading in the white area.



Now onto the rest of the body , I used Indian yellow for the yellow on the wings , and burnt umber and yellow ochre with a touch of raw sienna for the brown colour, ad payne's grey for the black with a touch of cerulean blue.

Make sure you note the darker areas and the lighter ones, and don't get too wet as you might end up with a muddy puddle. I know from experience.

Then I paint under the feathers, using left over paint in my palette, and darkening it with my shadow colour cobalt blue and cadmium red.

I also start on the leaves and branches  , first with yellow ochre then with burnt umber, and finally adding light and dark greens to the leaves. 


Finally I like to add some splashes and splatters so it doesn't look too static, and  my Goldfinch is done


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Very wonderful Thank you


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Thanks a lot for sharing!!! love your details and free hand!


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Beautiful :) thank you for sharing the process!


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