Hello Duck !

Hello Duck !

Today sees my lovely son turn 19, he's grown up while I have tried to build my watercolour career. He's now in his first year at university and studying maths, he has always done what he enjoys and has no interest whatsoever in art. However he does know that it is possible to make a living doing something you love, I hope my enthusiasm for what I do has rubbed off on him a little.

I am now back from my lovely holiday, filled with fresh sea air and ocean inspiration.


however it has also meant back to work, getting on with commissions and thinking about plans for new pieces. Glastonbury on the computer helped...

So my blog this week is a subject I have told you about before, but a subject people seem to enjoy 

How to paint a duck, it's never easy painting something white, the trick is to paint the colours you see reflected in the white, and the shadows on the feathers.

Firstly , find a duck, a handsome duck you'd like to paint, a duck with a character.

Sketch out the shape and the important details you want to capture.

Then I do the fun bits the feet and the beak. I paint from light to dark. Indian Yellow first, then cadmium orange and then a burnt sienna.

Look carefully for the details. that's the 'wow' factor in this piece.


Use smaller brushes to add the smaller details, the hole in the beak, the lightest colour on the beak is actually the white of the paper and that's made lighter by adding as darker tones as you dare around it. 

Then add the small eye, with a touch of a highlight as always.

Then get out your bigger brushes and wet the whole of the duck's body.

then drop in some yellow ochre, all wet in wet.

Cerulean Blue, and my shadowy colour made with cadmium red and cobalt blue.

Let everything dry and settle and go back in with the shadow colour where you want more emphasis.

Finally the duck's shadow grounds her on the page. 


Happy quacking !!

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This white duck is a subject close to my heart! 70 years ago I was growing up in the Netherlands. Of course with lots of water around, our home on the edge of a lake. I was very observing of the wild life around us at different seasons. One Spring day I noticed this mother duck pecking and dunking her little yellow fluff ball, all the other newborns were mottled browns and yellow. They were accepted but not this one poor solid yellow one. It continually tried to swim after the siblings but the mother would turn and peck at it again. After some time it climbed on the bank and I grabbed it, knowing it was not going to be accepted. I ran home and asked my mother to rake care of it, I had to run and try to be at school on time. I had taken care of other orphaned or injured birds and this baby duck lived to grow up a handsome white duck, with a little curl in his tail, a drake. Never interested in leaving, after his daily swimming, he’d waddled back home. He would not have lived 13 years returning to the wild, was not scared of people, or people walking with dogs…


Yes, thank you for continuing to describe and show your process, including the step-by-step photos as the masterpiece comes to life. It’s always a treat to see what surrounds you in your studio – the jar of water, the paint and brushes, and the window with nearby greenery on the other side.

Nicole in Canada

I painted one of your ducks a bit ago and it was so very satisfying and lots of fun! I am definitely going to give this one a go too! Thank you so much Rachel for sharing your passion with us! You are truly my favourite watercolour artist…for both your method and your use of colour. You create magic with paint and paper!

Lesley Larose

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