Painting James's Robin

Painting James's Robin

It is that time of year....nights are drawing in and Bonfire night has come and gone. It feels like a time to batten down the hatches and cosy up inside, but when we do venture outside there is so much to see. I think robins especially catch our eye in what can be a grey landscape, that flash of colour in winter is so welcome. So when yesterday on Facebook James showed me pictures he had taken of a very curious little robin I knew I wanted to paint him.

I thought this little watercolour may evolve as I worked on it and I thought it might be helpful to share my process with you

Firstly I printed off a copy of the photo, 


and sketched out the robin and some of the branches.

Then I started with the eye, 




I paint the lightest colour first, in this case yellow ochre and leave a patch of white. I am using small brushes that come to a good point so I can be in control of where the paint goes, watch out for any drips of water as they can ruin these small precise bits.



next I use a darker colour I think this is raw sienna and paint the section again but letting some of the yellow shine through.

I really look at the eye and see how I can bring it alive, so I add darker tones and some blue to reflect the sky



The eye takes some time as does the beak. I want these to 'anchor' the painting so whatever I do next ,it still looks real.


I make a start on the 'red breast' and paint the yellows first, then the orangy red,



I am painting more quickly now as I want the colours to blend with each other. Robins have a lot of blue in them and purples too. . Paint what you see not what you think is there, 



Now I have a decision to make about the background . I could leave it white , or I could paint it as it is or I could add a snowy scene......



Remember when you are the artist it is all up to you x


  • Annie

    Great to see how the painting developed. Yes, i too liked the comment ‘paint what you see’ , that is sometimes the ‘hard’ bit. Love the finished painting.

  • James

    It’s always such a pleasure to see an artist work from start to end and this blog post shows us (and even better explains) how you achieve such fabtastic results. I particularly liked the comment you made about painting what you see and not what you think is there. Having dabbled in quite a few artistic mediums in my past, it’s quite surpirising what colours and tones can be found where you would least expect them.

    Readng this and seeing that very curious little Robin painted so beautifully has been a genuine pleasure!

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