Robin painted in Winter Evening Sunlight (Erithacus rubecula)
The Robin with its red breast really stands out against the white snowy landscape. They are the one bird I see flitting about in the garden, when snow is on the ground. The Robin seems to display an optimism, looking down, head moving side to side, at the frozen ground. As if waiting for the thaw or worms to wriggle through. The only time I see the Robin on the bird feeders, is on very cold frosty days, when the ground is frozen hard.
They seem to be synonymous with winter, their red breast adding colour and warmth to cold days. They chirp merrily in the garden, especially as the sunsets, as if announcing the end of another day.
Painting a Robin
Before I began painting, I drew a Robin, based upon the Robins I see perched on the overhead lines, as they watch the evening sunlight disappear. The pink and purple tones of the Robin come alive in the evening sunlight. So not just a redbreast Robin.
Initially I painted an underlying pale yellow wash on the bird’s chest. This would give the chest a warm undertone. Then I started painting the orange/ red chest of the bird, using small brushstrokes to show the flecks of feathers. I used an orange watercolour mix for the first layers of paint on the chest.
Painting a birds feathers
You can see in the above photo the small brush I painted with. I was able to create small flecks of paint to represent the feathers of the Robin. I started with pale washes of purple for the feathers nearest the red chest. These feathers are more grey than purple, but in the warm tones of evening sunlight, these colours look more purple in hue. I added more layers of purple wash to build depth of colour.
Next I painted the feet with the purple mix, making it a stronger mix. With a stronger mix I could achieve more definition. I then created a grey mix from the purple palette and used this to paint under the chest of the bird. I left areas unpainted to represent the white feathers of the bird
Finally I created a brown mix with a pink tone. I started to paint the wing of the Robin with this mix. I also used pale washes of purple on the wing.
Once the layers were dry I used the darker purple mix to outline the beak and to add lines to the wing. This mix also added more defintion to under the wing and to the feet. I used the brown mix to paint the claws.
The Robin painting is complete, all the pink and purple tones highlighted by the winter evening sunlight are on display.