Oh boy! Spring is finally here, the birds are chirping like crazy, and I can’t get enough of the very common house sparrow!
Here is the beautiful Ms. Sparrow. Not the best most clearest picture…I admit, but watch how we turn a lemon into lemon aid! Come on….it’s not as hard as you think…you can do this.
So let’s have some nature fun by learning how to paint the female sparrow using watercolors….
Step 1: I am using 140lb cold press watercolor paper (6×4). Make a quick graphite sketch, but instead of drawing the feeder make some branches.
Step 2: Wet the paper just around the sparrow. Do not wet the sparrow. Think of everything we do in layers. The first layer is cerulean blue. While it is wet paint a darker blue (cobalt) around the sparrow and around the branches. Load a small brush with alizarin crimson and flick it at the paper. Because the paper is still wet, our alizarin splatter grows into large circles. Clean your brush and take some cobalt and make more splatter, try not to get any on the sparrow. When the paper is almost dry but still wet, take a rigger brush and some sepia brown and paint in thin branches. Let everything dry.
Step 3: Now let’s work on the bird. Remember, watercolors work best in layers…lightest colors go first, darker/stronger colors last. The head and back is a diluted burnt sienna. The tail feather is burnt sienna, sepia, and cobalt blue…makes a nice gray color. For the beak, I used pure yellow, but this will be covered up later and won’t look so stark. I also touched some of that yellow on the side of the right wing. Let dry.
Step 4: When everything is dry, take sepia brown and paint the back and wing allowing some of the previous lighter layer to show through. Skip around a little.
Step 5: Take some burnt sienna and paint the head going around they eye and white eye stripe. Using our gray mixture, paint on top of the beak, under the chin, and the breast.
Step 6: Just another dark layer. Using sepia brown and payne’s gray, paint the individual feathers leaving white space on the edge of each feather. Don’t forget tail feathers too. Using a tiny rigger brush and that same dark color, paint the eye leaving the center white for reflection. She’s coming alive!!!
Step 7 Final: For the branches, use our gray mixture, paint lighter on the top of the branches and darker on the bottom of the branches. You know I love that micron pen, so when everything was dry I outlined the sparrow and the branches. Made more sepia splatter around the bird and finally, I used white gouache to outline the feathers on the sparrow and to highlight the top of the branches. Is that cheating? Not if you make the rules 😉
What is our female house sparrow doing? She is enjoying the warm air, she is listening to her mate call for her, she is thinking about future eggs.
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I hope you enjoyed this free step by step watercolor lesson on how to paint a female house sparrow.
Very nice – soft and gentle like the dawning Spring.
I think lady sparrow has her head cocked listening for spring. Lovely.
simply awesome……as soon as i get time i am going 2 paint it:)
Thank you so much for these tutorials, Christine! You are so inspiring! I paint a lot with watercolors and I’m considering using pastels on top of them but I’m not very good at it, even though I love the 3-D results you get.
Thanks Ann! Keep up the good work and play, play, play. You may want to check into Richard McKinley. He does a lot of pastel over watercolor and his work is gorgeous! Have fun!