Let’s Paint a Baby Robin!

Oh Boy! Remember the photo of the little baby robin that we took last week?

Let’s make a little painting of him so we can preserve his cute baby features. I decided to use Albrecht Durer Watercolor Pencils for baby robin on hot press 140lb. paper. I’ve never had much luck with watercolor pencils because they always seem to hold the scribble lines. I don’t really like that. Anyway Cathy Johnson, a wonderful artist, teacher and writer, recommends Albrecht Durers for their “buttery application” and wonderful soluble quality (less scribble lines). For the most part I like them, however apply too much water to some of the colors and you lose most of the color!
So let’s get started….

Step 1: Make a sketch on hot press 140lb. watercolor paper in pencil. I’m never concerned with exact # of feathers or their placement. Don’t stress yourself out with all that information. If I want a photo I’ll just take a picture…wait I did already…ha, ha, ha!

Step 2: I started with the bright yellow of his beak adding orange and brown to suggest depth inside. Next I took a dark gray color and sketched in his head and neck. Using medium blue and dark blue I drew on top of the gray. Remember to leave some white space for breathing room. Don’t go crazy and cover everything! In these few steps we are just drawing we are not applying water yet.

Step 3: Moving my way down and not using water yet, I am applying more colors in layers. Think lighter first and then darker after with white paper peeking through for the brightest light. I love his russet color belly.

Step 4: Oh hear comes the fun part! Take a clean wet brush and touch your lightest colors first. Important note: clean your brush several times!!! Do not touch one color and then the next without cleaning your brush, you will create mud.

Step 5:Now, I’m not satisfied with the contrast of my baby birdie, so I need a few more layers. Only do this when your first layer has completely dried. Sometimes you can layer with the same color and sometimes layer with a different color. He’s coming along now!

Step 6:Background….dun..dun..dunnnn! I know many of you struggle with backgrounds. How do I know? It’s a really popular search on search sites. People are not sure, “Should I do the background first? Should I do it last? Should it be detailed? Should it be simple?” Don’t stress over it! I usually do my background last but that’s not a golden rule. Sometimes I think, let me concentrate on the main subject first, because if I really screw that up, I won’t even have to worry about a background! Ha, Ha, Ha!
I also usually do not have a detailed background because I do not want it to be too distracting and take away from the subject.

In my photo little baby robin is on the ground with a whole bunch of maple seeds, leaves and such. I think it is too distracting, baby robin is too delicate to have all that “noise” in the back. I will do a simple brown background. It’s so simple I only used two colors, light brown and dark brown drown. Just lightly scribble it in and wet.

Baby Robin Love original watercolor

Step 7 Final: Here he is all done! I finished him off with a black micron pen to bring out his features. I know his color is a little exaggerated, he really wasn’t that blue…but I think the bright colors reflect his young personality. Young and fresh.

“Baby Robin Love”
image: 6.4X4.5

I hope you enjoyed seeing how the little baby robin was made with watercolor pencils!


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