Let’s Paint the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak!

Remember my lovely visitor Mr. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak? Well I think you will be surprised at how easy he is to paint! No really, it will be easy..I promise.

Here is our reference picture:

Let’s do what we love to do best…paint nature! When life deals you a crappy hand and things aren’t going your way, escape in art. Paint your way out of a bad mood. Not that you’re in a bad mood…but just in case it happens, here is your release…

Step 1: Make a rough sketch on 140lb watercolor paper (this will be a watercolor painting). Never fret about exact lines. If you want exact, take a picture. We want artistic style…your personal artistic style and that will surely come out on it’s own. Remember this isn’t work, this is play!

Step 2: With a gray-blue watercolor paint, paint the belly, under the wing, and the shadow of the beak. Remember to leave spots white, don’t cover everything! We need to breath.

Step 3: Make a “black” watercolor mixture out of indigo blue, crimson, and green. In this picture the paint was not totally dry (above the beak is shiny and that is why) but you can see some purple and you can see some spots that look blue. We want that! If you use a black watercolor from a tube of paint you will not get that kind of variation. Everything will look one color and lifeless.

Step 4: OH YEAH…HERE WE GO! Drop that red color that he’s known for! He looks like a rose-breasted grosbeak already and we only did 4 steps!!!
Notice the eye in this step looks rounder than step 3. That’s because I took a clean bristle brush with water and went over that eye to make it smooth and not jagged. Sooo easy! I’m having so much fun, how about you?
Now, look at his claws. They aren’t perfect. In my picture they arn’t perfect either. Should I throw this painting in the trash because it’s not “perfect”? HECK NO! People who need to be perfect all the time scare me anyway! I’m representing his claws with my artistic license! I’m happy.

Step 5: Here I filled in his eye and beak. His “black” body got another coat to make him even darker. Don’t forget, watercolor always dries lighter, you may need several layers.

Step 6:The background….dun, dun, DUNNN! I wanted a loose and suggestive background. In my reference picture he is sitting at my bird feeder. However, I wanted him a more natural setting. I totallymade this background up! I wet the paper, painted some blue for the sky, while wet, added a few twigs and green leaves. See, you can do it too! You don’t have to stick to the script. Improvisation in art is very acceptable.

Step 7 Final: I added a little black micron pen #3 for added pop! He’s looking right at you!

“Mr. Rose-Breasted Grosbeak”
image: 6.5×4.5

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step watercolor demonstration on how to paint a rose-breasted grosbeak!


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