Let’s Paint a White Throated Sparrow!

Well, I fell in love with these little suckers ever since I saw them the other day. So let’s paint them in watercolors before they’re gone…

Step 1: Start with a simple sketch in graphite. Don’t worry if every shape and line is not perfect. You aren’t obligated to stay in the lines….ever! This isn’t work, this is play.

Step 2:Here I started with a pale blue-gray wash for the belly. I added a darker blue for shadow (under his white throat patch, mid-belly, under-belly, and under his wing. Remember to keep a few highlighted spots bare, allowing the white of the paper to show through. If you do, your painting will not feel “flat” but will have a breath of life and a light feeling to it.

Step 3: While the belly was drying, I started to work on his wing. A light olive green- brown color is the foundation and a more red-brown is added on top. But remember…always keeps some white spots open! Next, I added a few stripes on his head. The color I used is a mixture of blue, green, and red. It only looks black. If you use black straight from a tube of paint, it will always look dull and flat. If you mix the colors together however, you will be surprised at how deep it looks!

Step 4:POW! Let’s add some dimension! It’s as easy as a brush stroke! In this step I added the famous yellow spot on his head. Also, a dark brown to his wing. If your edges seem too hard, while wet, take a clean brush and soften those edges with clean water.

Step 5:For the background, I wanted to represent the pine needles without going crazy on every single needle! I painted blotches of green and while wet, I took the edge of my paint brush and scraped needles into the paper. What happens next is that the green watercolor pigment seeps into the grooves making darker lines…so easy!

Step 6:I forgot one thing when painting his eye! If you do not leave a little white to represent glistening in the eye, your subject will appear dead. What can I do now that his eye is totally black already? No worries, just take an xacto blade and scrape out a little section of light! Nothing to it!

Step 7 Final:Here is the final painting. Gracing me with a visit, my white-throated friend is now forever honored in his very own watercolor painting.

I hope you enjoyed this step by step watercolor demonstration of the white throated sparrow!


  1. Very nice. Have you ever considered a fan brush for pine needles? I wonder if that’d work…I’ll have to play with it sometime…

  2. Lana: Good idea about the fan brush, I have a bristle one, maybe I need a softer sable one for watercolors…oh what a good excuse to go to the art supply store!!! Thanks Lana! 🙂 Let’s go shopping!

  3. …lovely watercolor of the White-throated Sparrow!! Very pretty…they have such a beautiful song in the spring. Your blog is fun…I enjoy watching your paintings come to life.

  4. Love the painting! White throated sparrows are one of my favorite birds here in winter.

    Also, congrats on being picked as a guest blogger on Birdchick!!

  5. Alan: Thank you!!! Their little yellow spot makes me smile! Thanks for the congrats! I was so excited, I started jumping up and down at work when I found out…I love Birdchick 😀

  6. Amazing i cant stop painting it.Even I also do mistake like this(where u forgot to leave white space)but this is a nice idea:)

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