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European Robin in Pastel

Today, I bring you the end of the Birds in Pastel series, with a painting of a European robin. I chose to paint a European robin because of their colorful plumage. Our typical robins in the U.S. are not as pretty as the European variety, in my opinion. The European robin has beautiful feathers of bright orange on the breast surrounded by lovely tones of blue. Their back feathers are that of olive green and brown, and they have a white underbelly. What a wonderful complimentary color scheme and perfect to depict in pastel.

The European robin was painted on a 6″x8″ black UArt pastel board with a limited palette of soft pastels. Since robins love water, I painted this little guy next to a puddle. Perhaps he’s about to take a bath?

European robin

Robins have a funny shaped body, don’t they? They are so fat as birds go; probably because they eat too many worms and bugs! What I love about robins is how they take a bath after they’ve eaten and before they go to bed each night. I think that’s so cute. What I don’t love about them, is they start singing at 3:30 in the morning in the spring and summer. Our local robins migrate and come back in the spring, so that gives me winter as a break from being awaken early in the morning by a robin.

There is one more bird I may paint in this series, and that’s a Western Flycatcher. For now, Im going to switch over to landscapes. This was a really fun series to do and I liked painting the feathers on the birds most of all. I learned if I stroke a pastel stick upwards it makes a perfect feather. I also learned if I get too much pastel on the paper it becomes hard to manipulate and so now I lay it in and call it good. Once is good enough!

Thank you for your interest in my work and I look forward to bringing you more. Until next time ~ much Love, ~ Rhonda

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Song Sparrow in Pastel

This week I painted a Song Sparrow in pastel as a continuation of the Birds in Pastel series. Song Sparrows are one of many species of Sparrow. We have an abundance of Sparrows visit the bird feeder everyday and they sing such happy songs! They take great delight in knocking seeds out of the feeder so their friends can eat too! Those birds that don’t fit on the feeder eat the seeds that fall to the ground. It’s a great idea for the birds, but not so much for us; the feeder ends up empty way too soon! I think since they are typically a ground forager, the knocking seeds to the ground is something they just do because they’d rather eat on the ground. That’s pretty smart if you ask me.

Song Sparrow in Pastel

Song Sparrow in Pastel was painted on 9″x12″ green Pastel Mat paper with soft pastels. My palette consisted of muted cool greens and purples for the background, juxtaposed with the rich warm tones for the foreground. Since the species isn’t very colorful I used vibrant colors to surround the bird to make him sort of pop.

I used my own photo reference for this piece which I was lucky enough to get very close to the Sparrow before he flew away. He might have been an old bird because I felt like I could almost touch him if I moved slowly. He just sat there on the edge of the deck as if he didn’t see me. Or perhaps they are just not that afraid of people, because my husband was able to get very close to a Sparrow sitting at the feeder a few weeks ago:

Song Sparrow at the Feeder

This Sparrow might be a little female. She was sleeping on the feeder when my husband came upon her. I thought about using this photo as a reference but then decided it wasn’t interesting enough. The bird feeder hangs on the side of the greenhouse and adds a bit of whimsy to the area.

Well that’s all I have to share for now. I completed another bird pastel yesterday and will share soon.I’ll give you a little hint of what it is….Blue and Orange feathers. Can you guess what it is? Thanks for stopping by! As always, much Love ~ Rhonda

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“Standing Guard” Pastel

“Standing Guard” is the next painting in the Birds in Pastel series. This new painting showcases a beautiful Buff Brahma rooster standing guard while a female eats her crumble.

The photo reference I used for “Standing Guard” is by a photographer on the website Pixabay named Klimkin. He takes beautiful photos and the Pixaby site allows free use of photos as long as the photographer is given credit. So be sure and give Klimkin a visit!

I sketched out my design in a sketchbook beforehand to get a sense of my values and palette colors. This practice helps me greatly in working out the composition first and foremost. I decided to omit a few of the foreground items in the original photo to give emphasis to these beautiful birds. I used graphite for the notan sketch then moved to watercolors to get a sense of hues for the piece.

Sketchbook notes for "Standing Guard"

I am happy with the overall outcome, and love the vibrant colors of the buff Brahma chickens, which the pastels were a perfect medium to depict their beauty.

Standing Guard Pastel
“Standing Guard”

(The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original painting.)

I love chickens and used to own three Buff Orpington hens. I raised them from week-old chicks and had so much fun with these sweet docile chickens. Their names were Barbie Q. Chicken, Rose T. Chicken and Fry D. Chicken. Get it? Anyway, in our neighborhood we’re not allowed to have chickens, but we got some anyway and put them discreetly in the backyard. We have wild turkeys running loose already, so what’s the diff?

Well, all was going well and we were getting three eggs a day and then I realized I was now confined to home and couldn’t leave to go on vacation! Someone has to gather eggs daily to keep the hens from becoming broody, or worse, eating their eggs! Since we weren’t technically allowed to have chickens I couldn’t very well ask a neighbor to take care of them should we want to go out of town.

I kept up the care of my sweet girls all summer and stayed home. No big deal. Then one day one of the chickens decided she was a rooster and began to make loud calls every morning. This was not going to go well if one of the neighbors complained, even though the wild turkeys roaming the neighborhood are just as loud. But I felt guilty and so we gave them away to a local farm.

I miss my girls. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted and the fresh eggs were so delicious! But, I was free from the confinement of home and they were well cared for in their new farm home. The new owners gave us free eggs every week which was very cool. Here’s one of the girls:

Barbie Q. Chicken Buff Orpington
Barbie Q. Chicken

My husband wants us to have chickens again, but I don’t think we will. The neighborhood is growing with a lot of new people building homes and I feel we need to stick to the rules of “no farm animals” allowed. But hey, a cat can be considered a farm animal as well as a dog, right? And as I said there are herds of wild turkeys roaming around so what harm can having a couple chickens bring? But then I’d be back to square one of not being able to go out of town, so that’s a big No to the chickens!

I have a few more birds I want to paint in this series; a sparrow and a robin and then I think this series will be finished for awhile. My attention will turn to landscapes and sunsets in pastel for the next two series. I’m enjoying working on a series since I’ve never done so before. I’ve always just painted whatever my attention was on that day, but working in a series is keeping me disciplined and motivated.

Thanks for stopping in and until next time, much Love! ~ Rhonda

  • Red Cardinal
  • Blue Jay in the Forest Pastel
  • Back Capped Chickadee Pastel
  • Black Capped Chickadee in the Snow
  • Hummingbird and Lilacs
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Blue chested Hummingbird
  • Standing Guard Pastel
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Black Capped Chickadee in the Snow

In continuing with the “Birds in Pastel” Series , here is the second pastel bird painting, “Black Capped Chickadee in the Snow”. I created two pastel paintings of these birds because they are so cute! Chickadees are very prevalent in the winter, hence they are portrayed on snow covered branches. Flocks of Chickadees fly in and out of the pine trees hiding sunflower seeds they’ve taken from the bird feeder. They make the cutest chirping sounds signaling their joy in gathering sunflower seeds and hiding them. Sometimes I think it’s a waste of time because they never seem to go back and get their hidden stash. Usually a squirrel will come along and find the hidden sunflower seeds in the tree bark, and then the score is Squirrel 1, Chickadee 0.

Black Capped Chickadee in Snow Pastel
“Black Capped Chickadee in the Snow”

{The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original painting.}

This pastel was painted on Pastel Mat paper using soft pastels in cool tones to give the viewer a sense of cold temperatures and snow quietly falling on the Black Capped Chickadee.

I had a lot of fun painting the snow on the branches, but when it came time to add the falling snow, I was a bit hesitant. My dilemma on both paintings was how to portray falling snow, and not have it disappear against the white of the Chickadee. So I opted for a few snowflakes on the bird and the rest were just allowed to fall freely wherever I placed a mark. Here’s the first painting I shared in the previous post of a Black Capped Chickadee in the Snow with a warm tone color palette:

Back Capped Chickadee Pastel

Both paintings are different, and can stand alone as separate paintings, yet both look nice displayed together. They will be framed with the same frame style, most likely a white frame.

Next time, I will share a totally different bird species and he won’t be in the snow! Here’s a hint, blue is the color. Can you guess what type of bird I painted? Thanks for stopping by. Until next time ~ much love! Rhonda

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Birds in Pastel Series

The New Year always brings me opportunities for change, not only personally but creatively. I’ve decided to commit this year to the study and practice of pastels, and let the oil paints take a rest. So, I’ve been working on a “Birds in Pastel” series, as my first course of study, because birds are at the top of my list when it comes to my favorite animals.

I have owned parakeets and a love bird back in the day, and nowadays I just admire all the birds that visit our bird feeder each day. In the spring I put out four hummingbird feeders and have an abundance of beautiful hummingbirds!

I decided to make my second pastel a Black Capped Chickadee, because there are so many of these sweet little birds visiting the feeder right now. They fly in quickly, take a sunflower seed from the feeder, then fly to a nearby area to hide the seed in the bark of a pine tree.

The first pastel in the birds in pastel series was the Red Cardinal showcased in my previous post. I was super pleased how it turned out and it was perfect for the Christmas season. Now, perfect for winter are the Black Capped Chickadees! So here’s my second painting in the series, “Black Capped Chickadee”:

Back Capped Chickadee, Birds in Pastel Series
“Black Capped Chickadee”

{The Tamarack Mountain Studio watermark is not on the original.}

“Black Capped Chickadee” was done on pastel mat paper with soft pastel. I chose a muted palette to convey the quietness of winter. I’m really enjoying the tactile character of this medium and the immediacy of vibrant color on the paper. It’s sometimes hard for me to stop working on a piece cause its just so enjoyable to swipe pastel across the paper!

I painted two Chickadees for my “Birds in Pastel” series and will share the second one in the next post. I’m thinking they will look great together as a set when framed.

Thanks for stopping by! Much Love ~ Rhonda