Painting Birds in watercolour

Glossy Cocky pair B1a


Workshop outline. 

The workshop begins with a study of different Wildlife artists such as Audubon, Lewin, Gould, Bauer, Cooper, Rowan, Harris Ching, Slater, Brockie, etc. A review of different media and styles, the effect of fashion and the impact of photography on styles of bird painting will follow from this.

We will do lots of sketching in different media and then detailed analysis of fur, feathers, feet and beaks from Skins and Mounted specimens. Photographs will be used extensively and I hope to have one or two live specimens but this cannot be guaranteed. Students can choose one or two species and concentrate exclusively on them or you may like to work on a wide variety, the choice is yours.

I will discuss how to use one species for reference for related but different species and also the importance of copyright - this includes photos SOMEONE WILL ALWAYS NOTICE if you copy. So, I will demonstrate how to use photos which are not your own and how to change your results.  

Habitat: We look at the importance of researching your subject, remember you are doing a portrait (of a bird or animal ) and if there is anything else in the portrait it needs to be correct.   You also need to consider the number of birds/ animals in a painting.   A row of male superb wrens looks very pretty but you would never see such a thing - they would all fight!.   Gender differences are important - your pair will need to be heterosexual (some animals are solitary except in breeding periods). Be Scientific. Some birds have strong relationships with particular plants - this can make your life easier if you know what they are. Avoiding " cutesy" paintings (unless that is what you want)

Backgrounds: They need to be accurate, but it doesn't have to be photo realistic and can be semi abstract or impressionistic. These are some of the areas I plan to cover in the workshop.


Daily program.

Classes start at 9.30am sharp and finish around 4.30pm.

Tea, Coffee and biscuits are provided during the workshop.

Lunch (usually 12:30 to 1:30pm) may be purchased at the nearby shops  or brought to class by students.

Please note:

  • That certain aspects of the planned program may be modified to suite the workshop.
  • The course fee is for tuition only and doesn't include materials, transport  or accommodation (if required).


Materials list.

  • Windsor and Newton artist quality watercolour paints 5 ml tubes
  • Cadmium Red          
  • Permanent Rose
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cerulean Blue
  • Plus extra colours, recommended brand for these is Maimeri
  • Pthalocyanine Green
  • Burnt Umber
  • White gouache (tube of)
  • Plus whatever other colours you wish to bring.
  • A sketchbook, A4 is fine   also some sheets of coloured paper (Canson is fine) just some pleasant neutral colours, both light and dark.
  • Watercolour paper, hot or cold pressed or a mixture of different types, try everything.
  • 3b pencil, kneadable rubber, sponge, rag
  • Masking fluid
  • Palette, could be just a ceramic plate
  • Brushes, a selection, but have one, preferably sable, with a good point, about size 3 for detail and especially for bird eyes.



 Copyright © Helen Fitzgerald 2017