Nuthatch painted with watercolours (Sitta Europaea)
The Nuthatch with its intimidating sharp beak is part of the watercolour sketch series. The bird is a lethal companion on the bird feeder, the other birds steer clear of this dominating bird. I have seen the Nuthatch pierce another bird with its sharp beak and it wasn’t pleasant, but I appreciate for the Nuthatch it’s about survival.
The Nuthatch has striking features and in the woodland, you might mistake their drumming sound for Woodpeckers. It is not quite as loud as a Woodpecker, but they do use their beaks like the Woodpecker, drumming on the trunks of trees.
Painting a Nuthatch with watercolour
First I mixed four watercolour palettes, an orange, a blue, a brown and a black mix. I started painting with a pale orange wash on the the Nuthatch under body. I let each layer dry and then paint another layer. Each layer build up would be closer to the main body of the bird. I also used the orange mix to paint the feet. Once the layers had dried I used the smaller brush to apply short brushstrokes of a stronger orange mix to create feather movement.
Next I began painting the back and wing feathers with the blue watercolour mix. It was a pale blue mix. Again I build layers of watercolour wash to add depth to the colour. I also used the blue mix to paint the beak, creating highlights.
Next I used the black mix as a pale wash to create the grey tone to the Nuthatch feathers. I added more pale black wash to the wings. I let the layers dry to see the effect before adding more wash. Then I used a stronger black mix to paint the detail on the wings, the beak and then the eye and the distinctive band across the eye.
Finally I used the brown mix for the branch , using short brushstrokes to create texture on the branch.
No white paint, the paper is the white
It is interesting to note the white under the Nuthatch eye looks whiter than the paper and yet it is the paper. I do not use white paint. Therefore I have to leave areas unpainted, to represent the white. So in essence I am painting everything, but the white areas. I have to think in advance of painting, which areas I want to preserve. So they represent the white in the painting.