Blackbird, watercolour  47 x 74 cm © Elizabeth Tyler
I have been fascinated by birds recently, I suppose because most of them are shy and unapproachable, this makes me want to get near enough to study them even more. Directly after each shower of rain this blackbird would walk around the garden looking for worms. It was so eager and concentrated that it chose to ignore me. I followed it around with my camera and photographed it at a low viewpoint with a  200mm lens. I took about 40 pictures of it before I was satisfied there would be enough reference material for a watercolour.  Although I mostly prefer to paint from life, it's not always possible and then I take photographs as reference. I never use anyone else's photographs as I feel the creative process must be my own right from the beginning.
In this watercolour I played around with the so called cauliflower effect that many artists try to avoid. This is what happens when you add water to a wet painted surface. The water pushes the pigment away as it spreads out.  The effect can be taken advantage of in certain subjects like this where it resembles feathers.


  1. The "cauliflower" effect worked beautifully in the bird's plumage. I admire your artistic "honesty" in using only your own images. And your leaves on the right are fabulous! [I'm having trouble with leaves right now - I'll have to go back to the drawing board, literally, and do some sketching.]

    1. Thank you! I'm glad you liked the leaves. Your comment inspired me to write a little more about the technique I used with the leaves. You can see the description on today's post. I hope this helps.

  2. This is such a fabulous watercolour - and so big!! I'm going through a bird theme at the moment and am planning to do a blackbird next using paynes grey and I love creating blooms so will probably use that technique although it certainly won't end up as wonderful as yours!!!

  3. You are amazing. Thanks for the EBook!
    Santa Fe, NM
    PS- you would love the light here in the American Southwest!