Watercolor is an astonishing medium. Beginning with spatters and splashes, and using only two colors — Pyrrole Orange and Phthalo Blue — it’s only a short, happy journey to a completed hen. This is the warm-up project for Lesson 5 in my online course, Birds in Watercolor and Beyond. Watch the video all the way through and print the pdf pages that appear below the screen before you begin painting. Enjoy!


L5 Hen Progression

L5 Texture Sampler

Chicken Reference 1

Chicken Reference 2

Your preliminary sketch can be very simple — no need for detail. The watercolor will provide surface textures and shading. Here’s what my sketch looked like…

L5 chicken sketch


…and here’s the finished Little Black Hen:

L5 Little Black Hen



In Part 2, we’ll employ an unusual method for moving paint across the paper’s surface: blowing short, sharp puffs of air that push the color away. Feel free to use as much or as little of this free-flowing wind power as you wish, depending on the final effect you want. The bird in this image, for example, uses much more of the technique than our video demo bird does:

L5 Spatter Bird

Watch the video all the way through and download the pdf reference images before you begin painting.

Reference – Raven

Reference – Crow 1

Reference – Crow 2