watercolour bird

for this exercise, i wanted to work with watercolour… and i was in the mood to try painting a bird.

16hx12w.in, egg tempera and gold leaf on masonite.

1st attempt

I pulled a reference photo, with the goal of only using water colour and completed a first attempt.

there is a very heavy dark shadow covering a large portion of the bird and i wasn’t entirely sure how to proceed. so i stopped and thought i should check out some other artists work.

YouTube Channel: Louise De Masi

channel review

after watching a few videos from this channel, i was ready to give it another go. what a difference it makes to take a step back and remind myself of watercolour painting techniques before diving in.

i absolutely love this style, for the subject of birds. this artist pulled images from unsplash as well for her art (in the videos i saw). i enjoy hearing about the entire process from beginning to end. as an artist, i see value in that.

i have subscribed because i feel like Louise De Masi is a great instructor and enjoyable to watch.

i would recommend to anyone interested in learning watercolour to watch real time footage of an artist working with the medium. this was the first channel i’ve seen real time footage of watercolour.

it is so deceiving when i’ve only ever seen sped up footage of the process. i’ve been over-correcting and not fully understanding how important it is to learn how to work with the flow of the water. it takes time for each layer to dry and until it does, the paint continues moving.

rather than allowing the layer to fully dry, i’m doubting myself and start editing before it’s ready.

reference photo

I would advocate for adding unsplash (https://unsplash.com/) to your library of reference imagery. because these are “freely-usable images” according to their documentation. there are so many detailed images of so many subjects to choose from.

i searched for birds and copied them over to my PLEX media server. i created a new folder for “Photos” > “Birds” and placed all the downloads from unsplash into this folder.

Photo by Delaney Van on Unsplash

[my setup: workspace photo]

My media server setup.
Now i can display the reference image through my ROKU device.


it would be nice if unsplash had an app (compatible with TV devices, ROKU) just to search and display images from their library. i’ve seen randomized screensaver apps for this, but not something where you can choose the image to display. there are many online artists who use unsplash as reference and i think others would find it useful as well.

the next step:

“pull back” the scence. bring the image into photoshop (A4 size) and have the bird behind a window.

why A4 size?

the short answer: it’s the largest size that my current printer can print (other than typical 8.5″x11″).

i’m not ready to invest in a new printer. my current printer is of typical printer quality, ink is expensive. at some point i would like to own an artist’s quality printer… and i will need to do my research to ensure i’m investing wisely. so, while i can’t elevate the quality of my printer, i can elevate the quality of paper i use. i am interested in producing my work on handmade paper. folding an A4 size page in half looks like it may be a better ratio to work with than typical 8.5″ x 11″. i think that using a slightly different ratio is a subtle difference that could contribute to a distinctive style.

“pull back” define:

why behind a window?

as i was painting the birds initially, i began envisioning this bird sitting outside my window. as i was editing the footage, it sparked the idea to continue working with this image to produce the next. so the goal here, is to produce a finished piece.

and then the project concept came to me, to continue creating finished pieces while pulling back the perception a step for each piece… starting with this bird.

leave your thoughts or questions here...