Magpies in flight

Magpies in flight

 Sitting in my studio today looking out at the Spring sunshine, wit a spring in my step. I had some lovely news at the end of last week, I have had one of my paintings accepted into the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour Exhibition in London. It has long been an ambition to get into this exhibition and after trying for a few years , to be accepted is a real thrill. I am not saying that these exhibitions are the only thing that matters, but for someone like me , who is self taught, and not particularly a part of the 'arty' world , it means I must be doing something right. Hooray for my Humble Bee, that succeeded where other's of mine haven't 



I have also tried to get out and about between showers and enjoy Mid Devon


and riverside walks.

Today's piece is a difficult one, but good fun to have a go at. But if it feels too far out of your comfort zone then start on another blog , there are plenty more to choose from.

I love the iridescence of magpies, I love painting animals that are black and white and I love birds, so it was a real treat to paint a pair of magpies.

Firstly I sketched them out 

This isn't a great photo, but try and find birds that work well together, that look right on the paper. If you don't like your sketch you will never like your painting so it's worth taking time getting it right, however impatient you are to get painting.

Then as always I start on the detail, the eyes and the beak.

I use a mixture of cerulean blue, purple ( blues mixed with reds) to make darker shadows. look where the light hits and keep that bit white ( using the paper). Use small brushes that mean you can really get the detail right. I like to have some sharp detail in a piece and then some looser bits so you get a contrast, and watercolour can do it's thing!!

Now to start on the body, painting in those colours, those feathers. I don't have the patience to paint every detail, I underpaint in phthalo blue, then while it is wet I add paynes grey as the black tone. 

I keep this going as I paint almost all the bird.The blues and greens and purples add the highlights.

Now be careful where you want to keep him white , I also add splashes of water and let the paint run into them, To add the feeling of movement, I want these birds to look alive!

Now a move onto bird number 2, and as with the first bird I start with the detail, and get looser and looser. Remember it takes time and practice to get the details right.

Then to paint the wings and the body, mixing the vivid colours with the paynes grey and some splatters and splashes for good measure.


I love to paint like this, but it takes time to get it right. Have a go, but don't be too hard on yourself, let the watercolour run around a bit and respond to what it does. Don't be too constrained by your pencil lines, have fun and remember every painting is useful, a step on  the road to getting to where you want to be.It's taken me years and years to get to here and I still get annoyed and frustrated with my brushes from time to time.

Watercolour is magic, but it takes a lifetime to master its illusions !

Have fun x

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I always look on your Thursday blog for news and inspiration and this is THE Thursday I have been waiting to read for a long time. Congratulations! you deserve the accolade.

Judith lawrence

Congratulations on your success!


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