The wren and the robin

The wren and the robin

So a new day and a new painting, sitting here in this showery, October weather looking out at the different birds coming and going from my bird feeder, I can't help but be inspired by them. I love to paint birds and they have been good for me too, this year I was asked by the RSPB to provide images for their illustrated bird calendar

So on a wet and windy day in Devon I decided to indulge myself and paint 2 of my favourite birds, a wren and a robin

I began by sketching them onto an A4 piece of Bockingford watercolour paper



I began with the wren, masking out very carefully the little white markings on his wings with masking fluid, and then carefully painting his eye. I use very small 00 brushes for this.I leave a small unpainted area on the paper to add light to his little eye too. Look very carefully and build it up in layers. It takes practice, but it does bring the little wren to life.



Next I painted the beak, and moved onto the body. I like to work wet in wet, dropping the colours in , starting with the lightest first. Trust yourself and paint what you see...I am using yellow ochre as a base, and dropping in cerulean blue and my purply colour made from cobalt blue and cadmium red.



Then I move onto the brown feathers, using burnt umber, raw sienna, and some yellow ochre for the lightest parts. Let your brush follow the shape of the bird and the feathers, I like edges to get lost, and to add shadow with some darker patches, don't get too bogged down in the detail, let the watercolour work it's magic.



Now the finishing touches on the wren , add the darkest dark areas, the legs and some splatters



I want my birds to be surrounded by something I added a branch using yellow ochre, with burnt umber dropped into the wet paint on the shaded side.

Then some freestyle ivy, this is fun after the detail of the wren. I start with a lemon yellow , then drop different greens into it and see what happens



Then I start on the robin, the same process as with the wren really, starting with the eye

But when it comes to a robin's feathers you need to be brave, I do the under colours all in one go , so you have the shading on the white of the robin and the blues too.

It looks a bit funny but stick with it.



Now to add the deeper colours and the details on the wings



And so I have my 2 little birds, nestled in the ivy, add more greens and branches if you want, I wanted this time to create some context 



So now all that remains is to rub of my pencil marks and the masking fluid with an eraser 

Happy painting x





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I would love to purchase this print of the Robin and the Wren. Please indulge me as I share with you. My daughter is overdue with a baby girl that many months ago they named Lucille Wren. Tomorrow, July 29th, my daughter has a schedules induction due to the baby being overdue.

Now, the rest of this story. My sister-in-law, Robin, passed away earlier this week and her birthday is tomorrow. So, we can’t help but to believe there is divine intervention in that Robin and Wren will share the same birthday as well as the fact that they both share the name of beautiful birds. My husband’s mother was a bird lover as was Robin, this her name.

The day after we lost our sweet Robin, it hit is that Wren was also the name of a bird so we googled Robin and wren and the first thing we saw was this print.

Is it possible to purchase a small size of this print that we would be honored to place in Wren’s nursery?

Sandra Reeves

Your have an amazing talent, you see how beautiful and delicat those birds are and you can express than. OI’m super inpressed.
I always envry somebody (but only in a good meanning) so much talent. My soul wants to show the inside, but my hands do not. Too bad.

wer ruft an (

Hi, another idea that I’ve found seems to work quite well, is to draw lightly with a pale water soluble pencil such as a graphitint, then the lines mostly seem to dissolve away by themselves.


Hi Carrie, I use a 2b pencil, I don’t press too hard and I rub the lines out at the end, it seems to work for me. Have fun with your painting x

Rachel Toll

Hi Rachel,
I love your work, and have brought a lovely rabbit of yours in the past. My aim is to one day be a good artist.
Can I ask you a question, how do you use a pencil to sketch and then now see the pencil line? Whenever I use a pencil I can see it through the paint.
Thank you for your advice. X


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