Tag Archives: how to paint a chickadee

Let’s Paint a Chickadee!

Chickadees are one of my most favorite birds. I don’t see them too much in the spring or summer, but rather they like to visit my feeder in autumn and especially in winter. Just recently two chickadees have visited my feeder everyday, several times a day. It is such a treat to watch these tiny balls of energy and hear their cheery tune!

So let’s learn how to paint the chickadee…


Step 1: I am using a 7×5 Ampersand Pastelbord. I made a quick sketch using a charcoal pencil.


Step 2: Today I am going to try something different. I am going to use complimentary colors for the underpainting. I’ve seen this before but never tried it. Using watercolors, I painted the sky orange. When the painting is finished the sky will be blue, therefore I used its complimentary color, orange. Using watercolors I also painted the twigs blue.


Step 3: Next I painted the chickadee with watercolors; burnt sienna for the belly, purple for the dark colors. Let this dry completely.


Step 4: After everything is dry, we are going to start painting the sky with pastels. I used the lightest blue for the edges and a medium blue for the center. I am using Rembrandt pastels. I don’t want to cover all of the orange, I want it to show through here and there.


Step 5: Still working on the sky, I painted the bottom a deeper blue/green. I took the medium blue and overlapped the edges and blended with my finger. I like the painterly affect, it seems to have a lot of movement.


Step 6: Now we are going to work on the chickadee. Rembrandt pastels never get really, really dark, so for the chickadee’s head I had to use a Unison dark blue. Looks great. Next I painted the belly a deep red/orange using Rembrandt pastels. The side of the chickadee is a medium red/orange.


Step 7: Using Rembrandt olive green pastel, I painted the top of his wing, the middle sides of his wing, and under his wing. A touch of olive for his body and a cream for highlights. I painted his butt a purple gray and the very bottom of his body. A light blue was painted under his eye and under his collar. Using that dark Unison blue I painted the middle of his wing and under his wing. A touch of dark purple was painted on the side of his head and chin for interest.


Step 8: In this step I painted his belly a light yellow and the very edge the lightest gray I had. I took that same light gray and painted his wing. For the twigs, I used a deep brown, the darkest brown Rembrandt pastel.


Step 9: I painted the twigs a whole bunch of colors: Olive green, purple, and medium gray. I also made blue twigs in the background. This represents distant twigs. I didn’t want any of my twigs in fine detail, even the close ones because they are not the main subject, the chickadee is the main focus and I do not want anything distracting the subject.


Winter Chickadee pastel

Step 10 Final: Unison pastels are very soft and buttery. They are great for highlights, not for your whole painting. They have the ability to make an instant pop with color. I used a Unison light yellow for the highlights on the chickadee: his head, bill, legs and tip of his tail feather. I also added some red in the twigs for extra pop! Notice I didn’t cover all of the orange under painting? I think it added warmth and life to our painting. Looks good!

“Winter Chickadee”

The original will be on sale at the LaGrange Art Gallery from November 12th thru December 31st. Prints can be purchased from Fine Art America:
Sell Art Online

I hope you enjoyed this free step by step demonstration on how to paint a chickadee bird!


Let’s Paint the Chickadee!

Oh BOY! Do you remember the other day when I had a tiny little chickadee visitor at my feeder? I love him so much that I want to try to capture his uplifting acrobatic personality right on watercolor paper! Here we go, let’s make a watercolor painting of the black-capped chickadee on cold press watercolor paper…

Step 1: I am going to make a chickadee montage painting. A montage is when you take several photos and put them together in one scene. I think displaying the chickadee’s playful poses will help convey his high spirited personality. When doing a montage, make sure you practice your layout on a separate piece of scratch paper. For a good compositional flow, I only chose the poses that would work well. Remember, your composition goal is to keep the viewer’s eye in the painting.

Step 2: I’m just going to concentrate on the big guy. I wet his belly with clean water. Then I loaded my brush with burnt sienna and touched the paper in several spots. I didn’t rub it in. I just lightly touched the paper and let the watercolor paint do its own thing. It’s fun to watch it run.

Step 3: Next, I made a gray mixture by mixing burnt sienna, indigo blue and a touch of sap green. Dilute the paint with water to get a lighter gray. Paint his back and tail, and a little bit under his “chin”. Don’t go crazy, let some paper show through, we don’t want to suffocate the poor thing.

Step 4: With a much less water diluted mixture of burnt sienna, indigo blue, and sap green, paint his black cap and black bib. Do not pre-wet the paper. Lay it down wet on dry (your paint is wet/your paper is dry). We want a strong concentration of paint and this time we do not want it to run all over the place.

Step 5: Taking that same dark mixture of paint, go around his wing and tail.

Step 6: The chickadee has a blue-gray color. First make sure everything is dry, then make a mixture of cobalt blue and a touch of burnt sienna and paint his back, tail, under his chin, and belly.

Step 7 Final: After everything is dry, make another dark “black” mixture and paint his head, beak, rim of wing, part of the tail and his claws. Can you see that I did not paint his whole head but left some of the original “black” showing? I also made a half circle suggesting his eye.

“Chickadee at My Feeder Montage”
I got you, you quick tiny happy thing! This chickadee grabs a seed, flies away, takes some suet, flies away, grabs another seed, flies away…over and over and over again!

image: 6.5×4.5
off white mat outside dimensions: 10×8
no frame

Click here to purchase, it will take you to the available watercolor page.

I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step watercolor demonstration on how to paint the black-capped chickadee.