Two for joy

Two for joy

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post, lots has been going on and sometimes I just get too caught up in painting that I just forget to take photos. Anyway given the dreadful weather we've been having ( my heart goes out to anyone caught up in the floods) I have had plenty of time to hunker down in my little studio and paint away. This piece is a difficult one, but don't be put off, have a look and see what you can do, if you want to do something simpler there are plenty of other blogs to get you started.

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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Sorry, mistyped on phone keypad


thankyou for sharing your technique Rachael, I too love black and white in anything, but animals and birds especially. I have Magpie and his family who delight in bombing my very large kitchen window…I will attempt your method of capturing them


Such lovely work everytime!
Thank you for blogs






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