Blackbirds Nest – abandoned in the hedgerow
Discovered the Blackbirds Nest in the hedgerow. We usually cut the hedging either before the birds nest or later once they’ve finished. Every year we have birds return to nest in the same places again. Under the garden store eaves, in the log store, in the hedges and the pheasants and partridges nest at the back of the studio.
Once nesting had finished we removed some old hedging and discovered this abandoned Blackbirds nest. Maybe something had spooked the blackbird, but all the eggs were intact. It is a beautifully constructed nest, which I decided to paint as a watercolour sketch.
Studying and drawing a birds nest
Firstly a birds nest can look complex, but you have to look at the general shape to start with. Birds nests are generally an oval shape, though I have seen some circular ones. Birds don’t make perfectly shaped nests, so paintings of nests shouldn’t be either.
Then I look at the materials to create the nest. This Blackbirds Nest was made of twigs, leaves, dried grasses and moss. The twigs and grasses had sharp, angular bends, where the bird had bent them round to form the nest. Also the strands stuck out on the edges of the nest.
So I drew an oval shape of grass strands, with thinner strands in the middle, becoming wider on the edges of the oval. I also created sharp angles in the strands and allowed them to stick out beyond the oval form.
Finally I drew the three blackbirds eggs in the middle.
Painting a birds nest
First I painted the blackbirds eggs, a pale blue with brown mottled markings. Then I mixed three colours for the strands of the Blackbirds Nest, a yellow, a red/ brown and a brown mix. I painted the dried grass strands, following the pencil lines created. Then I left areas next to the strands unpainted, this created the white strands in the nest. I don’t use white paint, the paper is the white.
I added more layers of paint to the nest strands and then finally painted the moss, between the strands. I used the red/ brown mix to add form to the moss.
In case you’re wondering, I buried the blackbirds eggs and placed the nest in another hedge. Maybe it will be used next year.