Painting a swallow in flight

Painting a swallow in flight

Hi all it's Thursday so it must be time for a new blog. Today I posted a painting of swallows on my Facebook page. 

I am sitting in my garden studio looking out on all the weeds growing and seeing all the jobs in the garden I could be doing. But as usual for me painting takes priority , there has been a lot of discussion that during this quieter time, we are all taking more notice of birds, and nature. I think that painting really heightens your sense to colour , the more you paint the more you see of the world around you.

I walk up my lane every day taking note of everything



I take note of new flowers and things along the way 


And try to capture it with my phone camera

But today I thought was a day for swallows, there seem so many flying around the lanes this summer.

I begin with a sketch and then the eye.



I like the eye to be as precise as I can make it. I love painting eyes. I always try to show the light hitting the eye by leaving a dot of white. I use my smallest brushes in such a small space, and it takes practice.


Then I begin on the furthest wing.

This is lightly painted in a weak concentration of cobalt blue, then while it is still wet ( but not too wet ) I add the veins of the wing with cobalt blue mixed with cadmium red. 

This is about control, if you add too much water it all bleeds together, practise first on a scrap of paper.

Now I can finish the head, and beak, I am using lighter colours first and adding darker colours into the mix. You can see how the yellow shows through, also the darker area around the eye, 

Now the main wing of the painting 

Now this is mainly done in a mixture of cad red and cobalt blue, used in different strengths, be brave and careful. watch what is happening and stop when you are happy. I add splatters in the direction of flight.

I have also painted his little feet and then used masking fluid over the top so I can paint the body next.

I use the white of the paper for the highlights, then yellow and an orangy red brown to get darker, the tail feathers are painted in the same way as the main wing. I have added more splatters . I like to drop paint into the painting rather than use actual brush strokes. watercolour is all about controlling the water, which takes time to master. Have a go, and see where it takes you , especially as we can't go very far in reality at the moment, but our imaginations can fly high.


Now the swallows have returned lets hope the summer weather does too x



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Beautiful blog, just as I thought I was not as careful I let the watercolour in my painting merge more and didn’t define areas as much.
Thank you again for sharing how you paint its so helpful to me,you encourage me to keep on going, keep trying and keep creating. I shall never be a master but I enjoy trying 😊

Diane Hayward

Lovely… such a beautiful process❤️

Carole Gaines Gremillion

Fascinating thank you Rachel

Joy Munro

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