Another school year is nearly over ,my 2 are growing up fast , we are muddling our way through 'the teenage' years. The next six weeks will see them at home wanting lifts here, there and everywhere. While I try to fit my watercolours in amongst the chaos that is family life with teenagers. My studio really comes into it's own at these times ,a haven to paint my paintings and write my blogs. 

I wanted to share with you today a painting of a heron , just taking off. I love to try to portray movement in my work. I think watercolour does this well, it is a very 'fluid' medium and you can play around with it, so here is my heron in stages.....

I always sketch out my subject so I know the proportions are right.


Now for the detail in the head, there isn't a lot of room to get your teeth into with this one, so be careful. Start with the lightest colours and work your way methodically to the darker ones , try to keep the colours bright , so let the yellow dry before adding the blue as it will merge together. I used Indian yellow in this  and indigo  ( for the dark blue) .

Now keep going down the neck of the bird. There is a dark blue stripe which I paint by dropping the indigo into a slightly damp paper, so you also get the effect of feathers.

At this point I am only using Indigo



Now I am at the point to do the real focal point of this painting the large wing, in mid flight.

Wet the whole wing and flick some water around too in the direction of flight. This means that when you paint the wing some paint will bleed into the extra flicks and create some extra movement. 

I under painted the wing with cerulean blue and purple. 



Now i can go in with Indigo again. Mix the indigo so it is concentrated, then it will be dark in the bird, I then use a small brush to paint the wings and let it merge n the wet paper, it will then create the patterns and marks i need to give the impression of the wing. If you do this on dry paper it all looks a bit stilted , and there won't be so many dynamic marks. Have a practice on some scrap paper , as I know it all seems a bit scary, the fun bit is that you can't ever control watercolour , but the more you do the more you understand the chaos.



Then while the wing is drying I can move down the legs, and paint them in a similar way to the head, the difference is to splatter the very end so it merges with the ( yet to be painted) water. 


I painted the water with water and yet more indigo, dropping the indigo onto the wet paper. Letting the patterns emerge and trying to think of waves and watery movements, I also splattered the paint to create splashes .

Finally I painted the far wing in a similar way to the larger one, let the water and paint create the movement you are after, and then have fun. I like to splatter a bit of white acrylic around at the end too, then walk away. Let it all settle and have a good look.

You can make small changes, add some shadows or extra splashes, but essentially I like watercolour to be spontaneous, it is a huge flurry of activity that totally engrosses me and then it is done


Herons are a good subject to try as there aren't to many colours to get lost in, have a go and let your watercolours soar x

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Hi Rachel – my mother passed away recently and she always told me she would come back as a blue heron. Is this painting, or a print of it, for sale? I live in the US. Thank you!
Harle Wehde

Harle Wehde

Would it be possible to get a jpeg of this? I want to print it for decal for pottery

Christine Vogler

This is absolutely beautiful. I would love to purchase a print if possible. I’m in the US. Such a stunning piece.


Superb! Multumesc, Rachel!


Dear Rachel,
Thanks so much for your tuto, so generously displayed . I really seek to paint watercolor the way you ‘’ think ’’ it , loose everytime an adventure .dare to cope W ith the eventful failure . so marvelous as well ( I stopped pain’tin’g for years ) I’m back now .
So Rachel
You’re an angel
Thanks again the best to you
May .

May Bern

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