Song Thrush – painting their distinctive markings (Turdus philomelos)
Song Thrush a regular visitor to the garden, its distinctive markings making it instantly recognisable. The Song Thrush is smaller than the Mistle Thrush , which we also see in the garden. I usually hear the repeated Song of the bird, before I see it on the lawn in front of the studio. They are usually searching for snails and when they find one, they hop onto an old tree stump. Then they hold the snail in their beak and smash it against the stump. They are soon rewarded.
When there is a Song Thrush about, I usually see a Blackbird nearby as well. I have no idea why, but it seems to happen every time.
Three primary watercolour mixes to paint the Song Thrush
All the colours I use are created from primary transparent watercolours (red, yellow and blue) For this painting I used three palette watercolour mixes, a yellow, a green and a brown watercolour mix. I used two sable watercolour brushes as well.
First I painted yellow washes on the bird’s head, on the chest area, nearest the wing and finally the wing. I added several layers of yellow washes for a stronger tone. I let each layer dry before adding another.
Then I used the brown mix as a pale wash to paint the legs and feet of the bird. Then using the smaller brush I used the brown to paint short brushstrokes on the head, the back and the tail of the bird. The short brushstrokes gave movement to the birds feathers.
Next I created a darker brown mix using the pale brown palette mix. I used the darker mix to paint more definition around the eye and across the tail of the Song Thrush. Then using the same mix I painted the outline of the beak and the distinctive triangular markings on the chest of the Song Thrush.
Final stages of the painting
Next I used the dark brown mix to add more colour to the wing and then I used it to paint the shadows on the wings, tail and the chest. Using the smaller brush I created paint lines around the legs and feet for definition. I also painted the eye with a dry brush of brown, leaving a dot unpainted to highlight the eye.
Then I used the green mix to paint the branch. I added several layers, waiting for each layer to dry, before adding the next. When the final green wash had dried I added short brushstrokes of brown to create bark texture on the branch.
Finally I turned the dark brown mix into a red tone brown mix. I used this to add warmth to the wing and the head of the Song Thrush.