R is for Rose-breasted Grosbeak (by request)

rosebreasted grosbeak 02162015

https://charleymckelvy.wordpress.com/ asked for a rose-breasted grosbeak and here it is!  I hope you enjoy it, Charley.

For anyone looking to get started in watercolor on a budget, I highly recommend these watercolor cards, available from Dick Blick online at this link:  http://www.dickblick.com/products/strathmore-watercolor-cards/  I got this idea from The Frugal Crafter, and really, you can’t beat the price of about 35 cents apiece, including the envelope!  (I’m a Dick Blick addict, but I’m in a recovery program….)

This took about an hour and a half, including the underdrawing done in graphite.  Before drawing every day, the drawing would have probably taken about three hours, much frustration, and I may have given up in despair before even trying the watercolor.

I had no idea how to mix the vermilion color on the breast, but luckily Derwent solved that problem for me, because they make a deep vermilion watercolor pencil that was the perfect shade.  I only had to mix with a bit of Payne’s grey to get some of the shading.

Things I learned:

  1. Probably a good idea to do a rough sketch on scrap paper of a new bird before trying to paint it.  Maybe I’d have got the proportions a bit better that way.
  2. Sap green (M Graham) makes a fantastic background, but only a teeny teeny bit of paint is needed.  (I hate to wash paint down the drain.)
  3. I need to study composition!  But I need to improve my drawing and painting first, I guess.  Can anyone recommend a good book on composition?
  4. I really do miss watercolor.  It’s more time consuming than colored pencil, but it just does things no other medium I’ve tried does.  It dances!  And what’s better than dancing?

Tomorrow, I’ll be drawing a souvenir from the best place in the world.  (That’s me-speak for the beaches of North Carolina.)  Hope to see you then.  Friday’s a’coming!

22 thoughts on “R is for Rose-breasted Grosbeak (by request)

    1. I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks so much for your kind words. Do you have any of these birds in your image catalog? I wouldn’t mind taking another shot at it, and I could just send the card off to you when I’m finished, if you like.


    1. It is fun. And the nice thing is, you can open up for requests, but you don’t have to draw everything suggested. Just use the ones you feel. I’ve been lucky with most of the suggestions. I can’t really draw things I don’t feel.


  1. I didn’t even know this was watercolour at first, you really got some rich colours going.

    I don’t know any books specifically on composition, but the rule of thirds is good to remember. If you place the bird slightly lower rather than the middle it should help. Or if this isn’t precious to you try cropping the painting until it looks pleasing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t ever throw watercolor paint down the drain. Not because it’s bad for the drain (LOL) but because all you need to do is let it dry naturally, and when you want to use it again just spray it lightly with a little water. Presto, ready to use. Same goes for watercolor paint that’s been sitting in the tube too long and got hard. Just cut the tube away and put the chunks in one of the wells in your watercolor palette, add a bit of water and you’re ready to use. And by the way, thanks for the follow on my blog. If you have any questions feel free to drop a line!


    1. Thanks! I’d actually resorted to using a kitchen saucer because all of my palettes have paint in them from projects because I didn’t wanna rinse those either (and we’re talking small amounts of paint, I think I need to get over this lol)…..I agree with you, I totally reuse dried paint as much as possible. Thanks for your comment and offer of assistance. Your work is truly beautiful. Anytime a painting looks like a photograph on screen, in my opinion, that’s a win. Beautiful stuff over on your blog. I’m glad to have found you and looking forward to your updates!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Don’t obsess over making hyper-realistic paintings at this point. Just keep on doing what you’re doing–drawing a lot, training your eye for composition, and playing with as much color as you can so you can see how colors work together and how you can mix them. You may find this hard to believe, but I only use a dozen colors and I mix everything from those colors. Saves a lot of room on that crowded palette!

        Liked by 1 person

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