Watching Baby Birds

The other day, we discovered some newly-born baby birds! Our garden borders with a farm via a little brook on which we get the occasional ducks and moorhens. Under the ledge of our walkway along this bridge laid some eggs which finally hatched with baby moorhens. How cute is that! So cute that even the farmer’s dog noticed and began barking with glee. And of course Little One was so mesmerized by the whole situation, jumping up and down with joy. And what a kawaii watercolor painting that would make, I thought, and hence I got my sketchbook out and painted away…

Pencil Sketch

On my Strathmore’s Visual Journal for Watercolor, I began drawing my ideas in pencil. There’s Little One in her (going to be) pink jumpsuit bouncing up and down all excited watching the moorhens and the five babies. Reason why I have two adult moorhens is that they were seen hanging out together in the nest area with the babies, and I am not sure which one is the mother. Perhaps they both had the babies and are sharing the joy together, who knows! And in the background is the farmer’s little dog who happened to be passing by the path across the brook. How about a little bark too?

Painting the Background First

When painting, it is always easier to paint the background first so you don’t have to struggle with having to go around the painted subjects later on. And adding the background afterwards always looks too obvious. A disadvantage of this, though, is that you might change your mind about the background color when you paint your subjects as we see later on. For the sky, I went for a blue from one of my Dr. Ph Martin’s Hydrus Liquid Watercolor. A little goes a long way as you need to dilute it with some anyway as it’s highly concentrated. I also tried to finish up some of the leftover watercolor sitting in the mixing dish from a previous painting. Some yellow ochre from Winsor & Newton’s pans were also used for nest area. So far so good!

Painting Further

For the rest, I primarily used my pan of Kuretake Gansai Tambi which are the traditional Japanese watercolors derived from natural dyes. The vibrance of pigments is quite amazing. Just for Little One’s dress, though, I went for a pastel pink shade from Holbein’s tube of watercolor. The color of the nesting area, though was changed; I went to the brook and noticed that the area was based on long grass and hence decided to make it green instead. Not to worry, I glazed over the outer area with the remaining blue from the Hydrus liquid watercolor and was able to scrape some remaining colors from the mixing dish from a previous painting. Rather than use a marker, I used a thin brush for the eyes and the caption “Woof” this time.

Colored Pencils

Looks great so far but I felt the painting could do with a bit more enhancement. And enter some colored pencils for this! I used both aquarelle pencils (Fabian Castell’s) and wax pencils (Holbein’s and Caran D’ache) just to emphasize the outlines more and briefly introduce some shading to add some dimension. For the eyes of the birds I went for the smaller white Uni Posca pen and white gel pen too. Now that’s better!

Another cute little painting featuring animals again along with Little One! So much fun experimenting with various forms of watercolors (liquid, pans and tubes). The colored pencils came in handy, something I like combining with watercolors. And this is my first painting out of the Baby Bird project, and I am definitely looking forward for more. Little One and the neighbor doggy are meanwhile enjoying being featured in another painting again and seeing the newborn birds. “Let’s see more baby birds!”, she squeals.

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