Winter Color

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

The northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) is a favorite North American backyard bird, especially in the winter landscape, because of the male’s bright red color; it’s also a popular visitor to bird feeders. These birds are particularly charming on very cold days: they fluff up like little balls with pointed caps.

Above, highlights on branches and at the top of the bird’s beak are protected first with frisket, which turns yellow when dry. Note that there are still wet, sticky parts in this photo.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

After loading a few brushes heavily with paint, I wet most of the paper and quickly apply pigment over the sketched shapes and the frisket. Then I lift any paint covering the bird with a damp brush while the paper is still wet.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Now on dry paper, the bird’s local color in its palest value is painted. Frisket stays in place.

All images ©Bivenne Staiger

Frisket is removed. The main shadows defining bird and stem forms are added next.

Red Charm, Watercolor, 11×15″ ©Bivenne Staiger, 2020

This was painted today in a few hours’ time.

9 thoughts on “Winter Color

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