08 Aug 2017Mont Marte Blog
Easy Paint

Create an easy watercolour bird painting

In this lesson we explore some of the many effects that can be achieved with watercolour. Wet in wet, washes, masking and spattering are all given a brief introduction. The watercolours used are from the 18 piece Mont Marte Watercolour Travel Set. This lesson looks harder than it is to tackle and this video will guide you every step of the way. Grab your materials and let's get into it!

Step 1. Transferring the bird.

The first step is to transfer the image of the bird on page 5 of this PDF. This can be done by shading the backside of the image sheet with a 6B pencil. Position the sheet image side up. Tape it into the desired position onto an A3 sized sheet (from a 300gsm pad). Using a 2H pencil, retrace the outline of the bird. Remove the sheet and re do the line work.

Step 2. Painting in the background.

Firstly dampen the background area with clean water, this will stop any hard edges of colour when the paint is dropped into it. The background is made up of 4 colours moving from left to right roughly transitioning into one another. These colours are Purple, Crimson, Orange and Yellow. Start with the Purple in the top right hand corner. This should take up 1/5 of the background. Next drop some Crimson ajacent to the Purple, followed by Orange and in the existing area drop in the Yellow. Let these colours all meld together and slowly dry. While this is drying take the printout of the bird and profile and cut it to the outline of the bird. Using Blue Tac, apply this profile over the bird. This will act as a sort of mask. Once the mask is adhered into position dip a Hog Bristle Brush into the paint and flick the paint off with your finger. This will cause many many flecks of paint to cover the sheet. Follow the colours of the first coat, or in other words, Purple over Purple, Crimson over Crimson etc.

Step 3. Painting the Bird.

The bird is not really painted as such, colours are dropped into the area and how they react with one another is what gives the bird its painterly look. So the first step is to paint the bird shape in with water. Do this in the same way as the background was done. Be quite liberal with the water but keep to the outline as we require that ‘meniscus’ to contain the watercolour as it is dropped in. I have chosen 3 colours to drop in; Yellow Green, Mid Green and Turquoise. Start with the Yellow Green as that is the lightest then the Mid Green followed by the Turquoise.

Step 4. Detailing the bird.

We will be leaving the bird loosely painted but still need to detail some elements. The detail elements to add are; a) Paint the perch branch in with Yellow Ochre. Whilst the branch is still wet lay Burnt Umber into the Underside. b) Paint half the iris in with Burnt Umber. c) Paint the beak in Grey. Darken the underside with Black. d) Paint around the eye with dark Grey and paint the pupil in with Black. e) Paint the legs in with Grey and lay Black into the shadow.

5. Finishing the background

The last thing to do is to lay in the tangle of branches in the background. Refer to the last image in the PDF for guidance. These can be done with Black paint. Use a rigger brush. Remember the golden rule to always finish the stroke so it is thinner at the end point.

Material List

  • Plastic Brush Washer Signature
  • Watercolour Pad German Paper Premium A3 300gsm 12 Sheet
  • Watercolour Travel Set Signature 19pc
  • Artist Watercolour Brush Premium Traditional Mop 4

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