Monday, April 15, 2019


Working mostly on the back feather of the bird, I shape and sculpt the form using washes of Sepia. The sides get a bit more work too and I extend the subtle darker feather fringing on the breast upwards slightly. The water gets a bit darker and also a few places here and there amongst the rocks. I plan to keep the foreground detail subdued so that most of the focus is on the middle distance. I'll take some time away from this painting and come back to it later to see if there is anything else I want to do but for now, I'm calling it finished. Watercolor on Bockingford paper, size is 22" x 15" (56cm x 38cm).

Friday, April 12, 2019


With most of the rocks complete, I turn my attention to the bird. Starting with the head, I darken the neck and work on the eye and bill - I find that if these areas are working out as expected, the rest of the bird seems to follow. There are some delicate feathers on the breast and flank that need careful painting, taking the time to keep the feather fringes lighter. Looking at Canada's in the field recently, I noticed that they are quite grey on the belly and the lightest area on the breast is just as it meets the darker part of the neck. I'm not sure that I will paint this bird as dark as the ones I saw though - as I mentioned earlier, I want to keep the feeling of bright sunlight dancing around the scene. To finish up the session, I add the brown base colors for the wing and darken the primary feathers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


I have been ignoring the bird for the moment and concentrating on the rocks and water. These areas have been slowly built up trying all the while to keep everything light and textured. The rocks have mostly been painted with a base color first then using a dry-brush technique, the form of each rock is shaped and darkened as necessary. I'll still need to do more before being totally happy with them but things are moving in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019


Using a combination of warm and cool colors, I slowly begin building up shapes and textures of the rocks keeping everything light and airy. Some of the ripples on the water are added along with the first washes on the head and neck of the bird. The darkest parts are the legs which are mostly in shade under the bird (the goose is standing on a submerged rock so the feet aren't visible) so I add them at this time - good to have the darkest darks in at this point so as to have something to compare tones against. Thus far, the painting is working how I wanted it to maintaining a good sense of light and shadow without getting too detailed.


Canada Geese often gather by lakes edges to rest and to preen. I noticed this bird at the nearby lake and wanted to do a portrait of it. The idea was to contrast the softness of the bird against the hard and textured rocks, all set against a watery background. The bird was in full sun so there was a lot of light bouncing around, I also wanted to capture this light effect in my painting. I decided I would have to approach this work slightly differently than how I usually do insofar as how I worked on each element of the painting. Working all over the paper without focusing on any one part would be the best way forward, then hopefully bring it all together at the end. As with all my larger watercolor paintings, I started with a detailed drawing of the complete scene. Next I'll be adding some basic washes of color.