Bird Illustration Challenge - Blue Tit

Thursday, July 30, 2015


So here's the next bird in my Bird Illustration Challenge, the Blue Tit. It's another common garden bird here in Ireland and also in the UK. It's quite a small bird but pretty noticeable in the garden because of it's blue cap. I took a few work-in-progress shots as I went along on this one, so I could share how I build up the illustration.


I already had the lime green oval painted, (I keep a stack of painted sheets, usually rectangles or ovals, just painted using leftover acrylic paint, they're a great starting point for an illustration so you're not facing a white sheet). So I sketched in the Blue Tit in a light (3H) pencil and some of the florals and foliage. Then I went over everything in white acrylic paint, this creates a great base and makes the colours more vibrant than if I painted directly over the lime green background. I added a little bit of stamping too.


When adding colour I started with the main focal point of the piece, the Blue Tit. I used this as my colour palette for the rest of the illustration, adding in the flowers and foliage to the background.


I try not to think about this part too much, I just listen to some music and try and let it flow as naturally as possible.


Once I finished the background I painted in the scalloped edge frame, I love this part and can't help adding it to most of my illustrations now!


And we're done! Next up I think is the Thrush or Blackbird! Let me know if you have a favourite garden bird you'd like to see me illustrate and I'll add it to my list! I'm sticking to birds from the UK and Ireland at the moment. Thanks for dropping by today, oh and I really appreciate your feedback and comments! : )


Bird Illustration Challenge

Monday, July 27, 2015


You might have noticed that I love birds, I really find them fascinating and yes I am a birdwatcher! We don't have to go far to see them, our kitchen window provides a perfect viewing point to appreciate them. Living in the countryside we get quite a range of visitors to the garden and more each year as the garden matures. As I'm trying to develop my illustration skills I decided to set myself a challenge to illustrate and paint as many birds as I can, starting with the locals!


One of my favourite birds is the Bullfinch, they have amazing markings and they're always easy to spot in the garden because of their bright orange-red breast. Usually the males have the more colourful plumage (to attract the females) and are more striking, so I chose to paint a male Bullfinch. I used acrylic paints this time on watercolour paper, I started with a loose sketch and incorporated a little stamping with some of my hand-carved stamps.


I love how he turned out and that's half the joy of the process of illustration for me, the not-knowing what it will look like, which is pretty exciting. I do love representational painting but it can get a bit boring for me sometimes. Next up on my Bird Illustration Challenge will be the adorable Blue Tit! Another of my favourite garden birds! : )


Enjoying the Summer!

Thursday, July 23, 2015


The summer is just flying by, the weather hasn't been wonderful here but we're making the most of it, a bit more sunshine would be nice though! It's a little more tricky to get work done with Isabelle on her holidays but I'm trying to keep a good balance going! Despite the weather there are lots of summer flowers blooming, which are perfect subject matter for some watercolour painting! Isabelle loves picking them with me too, Cosmos are one of my favourites along with sweet peas which are in abundance at the moment. I love having the sweet peas inside the house just for their amazing fragrance!


For sketching I like to arrange small bundles with contrasting textures, here I used a large white Cosmos (Purity) along with some of it's fern-like, feathery foliage and some yellow parsley flowers. I usually try a couple of different arrangements as well as drawing the individual flowers. I love drawing from life and it's nice to build up a body of reference material for later in the year, when there are no flowers.


We've had a lot more birds nesting in the garden this year, I think it's because the trees and shrubs are becoming more mature now and they have more cover. Apart from all the house martins, which are doing well, we've had swallows, sparrows, robins, starlings and green finches all with offspring in the garden. We also spotted these little guys with a nest on the ground!! under some rocks and old building materials. I'd never seen an active nest on the ground before, we watched to see what type of bird was tending the nest and it turned out to be a pied wagtail! I was a bit worried that the neighbours cat might get them but they all successfully fledged. We saw them around the garden when they were a little bigger still being brought food by their parents! Isabelle loved watching them. I took this photo with a zoom lens, so we didn't disturb them!

That's all for now, I hope you're enjoying the summer and nature wherever you are! : )