Watercolor Songbird: Mountain Bluebird | Daniela Mellen | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Watercolor Songbird: Mountain Bluebird

teacher avatar Daniela Mellen, Artist & Author

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Class intro

    • 2. Class Supplies

    • 3. Using the Template

    • 4. First Layer

    • 5. Second Layer

    • 6. Third Layer

    • 7. The Branch

    • 8. The Branch Second Layer

    • 9. The Flowers

    • 10. Details

    • 11. Variations

    • 12. Class Wrap Up

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Paint a loose and colorful mountain bluebird in the first of my Watercolor Songbird Series. We'll practice techniques that can help beginning artists discover some secrets of working in the abstract to achieve recognizable illustrations.

Learn to use layers of similar colors and white space to trick the eye into seeing full images. Using three colors of blue, we'll create a textured body, indicative of feathers, to create this stunning bird. With simple, well placed shadows, and shapes, we'll create a focal point for our painting.

Using even more striking colors, we'll add an abstract floral background that complements our fine feathered friend. While working in abstract can be chalenging, we'll take a few steps to create beautiul contrasts that enrich our image and can be used as techniques for other projects.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniela Mellen

Artist & Author


I'm an artist and author living in coastal Florida and surrounded by plants, animals, marine life, and the warm sun - all things that inspire me.

I am drawn to creating things and love to get lost in projects. Each day is a opportunity to learn something new, build on existing skills, and branch out to new ones. I was formally trained as a educator which is my passion and incorporating art into teaching makes my life complete.

I upload art classes every Friday, here on Skillshare. You'll see handmade books, memory keeping, watercolor, acrylic paint, unique art supplies, and photography composition. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to seeing your work.

Check out my blog for additional info on my website danielamellen.com or my YouTube Channel for additional c... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Class intro: Hello. I'm Daniella Melon and author and artist here on skill Share. Today's class, the first in my watercolor songbird Siri's is inspired by the beautiful mountain bluebird, taking note off a coloring and shape of the striking, an unusual songbird, well, paying a loose and playful abstract version. We'll focus on the color, using three shades of blue to achieve a feathery texture on our bird. We'll also use the white of the paper as 1/4 color. A contrast to the brilliant blues. Well, the thought of creating abstract art can be daunting. We'll take some of the mystery out of it. Using simple shapes of the bird's body will add color and brushstrokes to create our images by shading parts of the bird, the parts that are deepest in color. We directly I to complete our image. We sort of trick the eye to connect shadows into boundaries. This makes our illustration indicative of a Bluebird will also add a simple floral background that hints of our birds singing his song. This intermediate watercolor project is created in steps to achieve brushstroke shapes that build on top of previous layers will use basic painting supplies like water color pigments and 140 found watercolor paper. I've included a template of a Leinart drawing of a bird and a background, which you can download and print onto a piece of copy paper. Use this as your template to make your pencil sketch, and I've also included a variation lesson. To further add to your image for your class project, create your own watercolor bluebird using step show, take a photo of your artwork and posted in the project section. Be sure to follow me here on skill share to get notified future classes and please consider leaving your review. Now let's get started with our mountain bluebird. 2. Class Supplies: for our watercolor songbird class, the Mountain Bluebird. You'll need the template, which you can find in the project section, just downloaded and printed onto a piece of copy paper. And in the next chapter, we'll go over using this. I have eight by 10 watercolor paper pencil eraser. I have three brushes, a four, a six and a one, my water color pigments and a jug for some water. I'll include a class supply list with specific pigments that I use, but any pigments can be used. The next chapter. We'll go over using the template. 3. Using the Template: to use the template, you can either refer to it and then freehand draw your image. Or you can take the template and cut it out, turning it into a stencil. Just cut around the major lines of the perimeter, and then we'll trace around this. So here I have the perimeter of my bird. With the flowers behind it, I cut off the end of the stem here just so that I could trace around it easier. So then I'll do my tracing. I'll carry the line out here to the edge of the paper of the little branch that he's on. And then when I remove that I have a very odd shape. So from here I'll go in and just cut around the bird, removing the flowers. So here I have the bird and the flowers just side by side it. And from here I'll go around and trace just the outline of the bird. I want the branch to go in front of the bird, and then I draw the wings, carry on the beak and make the double. I hear from here. I'll take a look at the flowers and I'll just follow the shapes here. They're gonna be very loose flowers. And then with my eraser, I'll go up and clean any marks that I don't like or alter the shape. At this point, you can modify your template as well. Changing the shape of the wings, the tail, etcetera. Just the next chapter will get started painting. 4. First Layer: for the first layer of our bluebird We're gonna work with Cerulean blue So taking my number six brush gonna make some of the cerulean blue to make a very light color Then I'll clean my brush in the water and I'm gonna paint the inside of the bird with the water. Basically, just the perimeter Gonna leave the center of the bird white dry paper Gotta paint very loosely. So I'm not worried about getting the entire area covered. I'm gonna leave the giant part of the I completely white and I'm not gonna touch the beak either. So basically, it's the stomach here that I'm gonna leave white. I added my witness to the paper and now will just absorb some of that very light color on my brush. And I'm just gonna drop in some of the color. It's very light and we're gonna work in layers. But I want to start with a little bit of a blue base for our bluebird. Same thing with the tail. And I'll go around the branch that we have here as well as the bird. They will come and mix a new color on the side. Here, I'll take some of my ultra marine blue and mixed that I'll mix that with a little cerulean blue. Put that on my brush again. Very light color. And I'm just gonna outline some of these spots here. The base of the wings and the tail because my papers still wet, the color's gonna bleed a little, And I'm looking for once again a very loose color on the tail. I'm gonna always pull down long strokes. Still leaving some of that light blue showing. Come on, you're here into the body. Just add some color, then adding more color to my brush. I'm gonna go around the head, kind of given an outline, not fully embracing the outline, but just some colors around here. I had a little to the shoulders. So there we have a bunch of colors by See any harsh lines, I'll come in with a wet brush. In this case, I'm gonna pick up some of my lightest, cerulean blue, and I'm just gonna add it here until it blends. Then I'm gonna let this layer completely dry. 5. Second Layer: Now that our first layer has dried going with my eraser and race the pencil marks around the exterior of the bird. I'll erase the first I the outer eye as well. So now I'm gonna take my number six brush, and I'm gonna mix more of that ultra marine blue and I'll take a little more of the cerulean and mixed that in. So I'm looking for just a little bit darker than our first time using it. And I'm gonna go in with a very sharp point. And I'm just gonna make little strokes. Just pulling the paint down again around the bottom of the wings and the tail. I'll make some areas thicker than the others. They'll go in on the tail, my darkest color closest to the branch And then because the tail splits, just gonna make a few spots pulling the pigment up or down. These long lines come over here to the base of the body. Gonna kind of pull it up a little, using my brush to make nice, sharp edges. And I'm gonna really focus on making it taller in the center of the body here, just like this. Come pull a little bit down to connect to the tail That all makes a little more of this color. So I have enough. So that's the Ultra Marine without just a little cerulean, and I'm gonna cop to the head, could make a little short strokes some areas. I'll have more pigment than others coming at the base of the head underneath the beak. And underneath that first, I that we did. So I'm kind of just following the marks we already made, leaving little strokes and some background showing through over here, I'm gonna just gradually make the stroke smaller. And then over here on this side of the eye, I'm gonna pull up, create a few more strokes, but a rinse off my brush. And so now it's gonna be just damp and clear, and I'll come in and blend some of these edges out. I still want some sharp edges, but I wanted to look very loose, so I'll leave it just like this, and we'll let this layer dry 6. Third Layer: Now that my layers dry again I'm gonna go in with my number six brush one once again And with take some of this Prussian blue So this is my darkest blue If I don't have three blues I'll take some blue and I'll add a little bit of orange to it and that will darken it up as well. So I'm gonna take my pressure in blue here, get a very sharp point And I'm just very lightly gonna make a little strokes on the area that we already colored in the darkest area So I'll start right here underneath the beak kind of create somewhat of a neckline. Then I'll go over here following the left of the bird, pull some more color so it creates a nice shadowing effect with three colors. We've already added we'll do the same thing over here underneath the bird again, pushing the color up for the body. And then I'm gonna leave a little gap and pull it down for the tail with the tail else. Try and stick to the outermost areas with this deep people blue and then just kind of create the feathery sh look by dragging long lines in the direction I wanted to go. Take a little more brush a little color on my brush again, a sharp point more pigment than water, and I'll make little strokes on the right hand side of the bird as well. Again, I'm creating those wings, pulling the color up, drawing the eye for here. It can add a little more of a wing again. Anytime I brush starts to get dull, the point I'll go in there. Add a little more pigment, twirl my brush to sharpen it. Come over here at a little more pigment can create the shape of that head and a little bit of the neck. I don't want a straight line, a swish, so just dabbing a little still creating a line. Gonna go this side of the beak where it meets the eye. Just dab my brush and slowly bring it above the eye as well. Take more of a point. Pull it up top here to create the shape of the head. Then I'll clean my brush. Remove a lot of the water, so now I should have very light pigment on my brush. You can always add a little pigment and roll it around to see how much I have. And I'm just gonna pull some color to finish that shape of the head on the bird because it's lighter. I can go in here and dab some color as well creates a nice blend from the darkest blue to our light blue. And then I'll just add a little bit of blue here, little shadow underneath the darkest areas, and I like this layer completely dry. 7. The Branch: So now we have three layers on our bird. We're gonna work on the stem here of the branch of the tree that the bird is sitting on. So once again, with number six brush gonna come in here, make sure I have water on my brush. Just add Clearwater to the branch area. Then I'm gonna go in here, grab a little sepia, make a sharp point with my brush and just on the bottom got a kind of create a line over most of the bottom. I'll skip some spots every now and again to keep the painting loose on the edge. Here, I want the color to fade out, so I'll take a clear brush and just pull that in. All that color gonna switch to my number four brush. Gonna take some of this burnt sienna. It was gonna drop in some spots of that as well. Make sure you have some water on that brush and I'll drop in some pigment clear off my brush and with my smallest brush, My number one not to sweat the brush and I'll go in there and blend out any edges. So this will be the first layer for our branch and we'll let this layer dry 8. The Branch Second Layer: So now to add a little more detail to the branch there, take my smallest brush my number one brushing my sepia that we used to add a little more pigment. So it's nice and dark and I'm gonna echo the looseness we have in our bird here. So with a sharp point and it a little bit slightly darker color, I'm just gonna make some dashes. And instead of going up and down like the tail of the bird, I'm gonna go left and right following the natural rise to our branch, come back in at a little more pigment to the already existing color that we mixed and just drop in some pigment to the spots. I just added, creates a little bit of a variation in color and depth here, but I'll rinse off my brush and do the same thing that with the burnt sienna, more pigment on my brush and just drop in some sections of color. I'm keeping the top of the branch for now. Un colored gotta switch to my number four brush and going with a clean, wet brush, and I'll just stamp in the top of this branch in some areas I'll have. I'll hit the color, the pigment. We just sat down and they will cause it to bleed a little bit. In other areas. I can go in and force it there. I like the way it looks. Were there some areas that are dry in some areas with the color that we just added, and I let this layer dry? 9. The Flowers: So now I want to work on the background a little bit. I'm gonna work on some of these flowers. The flowers are gonna be very loose, very abstract. And the contrast of the color is gonna be beautiful alongside the bird. So I'm gonna take some of this deep yellow to yellow with a little bit of orange, get a lot of pigment on my brush and then I'm gonna add flour on this side and a flower down here and to do the flower could've put my pigment of my brush to start from the outside just shy of the pencil marks we put down and I'm gonna just pull in some shapes. Some sees the shape of the letter C. I'll come down here and do the same thing. We'll have some overlap, pull the pigment down, Then I'll do the same thing here. I'll take some of this brilliant pink again. I'm gonna pull like, a little see here and there, right up to the bird. Then here I'm gonna take some of this purple and I'm gonna mix it with some of our ultra marine blue. It'll tone down that purple and tired and with the blue. We already have. Do the same thing. Make my rounded shapes okay, And then I'll drop into some wet pigment to create a little variation in the shape. Looking for a very loose abstract flower. I'll go back in to the colors already dropped flowers we've already made. Just drop in a few more pigments. Don't go back with my pink and do the same thing. Well, it's a little damp. If some areas have dried, I'll just go over them. That'll create highly intense area, and we'll let this layer dry. 10. Details: So now that that my flowers and leaves have dried go in with an eraser and erase any pencil marks that remain. Gotta keep the pencil marks on the bird for now, the I in the beak So know where to work A little bit of detail work on the bird itself Gonna mix and paint with my number six brush Make a little puddle of water here and I'll take some of that sepia and I'm gonna mix it with the Prussian blue When a lot of pigment and that creates a very dark image can add a little more sepia It's not quite black, but it's very dark and muddy Gonna take my number one brush so I can control my paint Turn my page to the side and I'm going to start with my eyeball I want to make a teardrop shape with a point closest to the back of the head here. So I'm gonna start by outlining my shape. I have my perimeter and I want to leave a highlight. If I mistakenly coloring in all the way, I can go over it with a white gel pen. For now, it's OK. I'm gonna take a very sharp point in my number one brush. And I'm gonna work on the beak. Very barely touching the paper. Go to create the area where the beak meets the skin of the bird. The face. So I make that kind of triangle, pull the color just underneath that bottom pencil mark a straight line right out. Do the same thing parallel to it on the top. Then I'm gonna take my paint. And I'm not gonna make a straight line connecting those two. But I'm gonna pull some pigment, leaving a little bit of white highlights to that pencil to that point. And I'll do the same thing on the bottom here. And when I flip it over, I have a beak. But it's not a solid triangle of color. I can go in with my sharp point. I think there's too much space in between the top of the bottom. Just drop in a little more pigment a little bit at a time, then while I have this color could make a nice sharp point on my brush, and I'm gonna create little legs. So I'm gonna just create lines, but almost connect one line here from the body a little thicker at the body. And then I'm gonna create little three or four little claws and I'll do the same thing on the other side again. Little figure at the body and pull the leg down. I'm just stabbing the brush. I don't want a perfectly straight line anywhere. Then once again with a very sharp brush, I'm gonna go in here barely touched the paper and just dab creating a little bit of a shadow, not making a straight line, just dabbing some marks. I'll do the same thing at the base here of the wing going up, and I'll do it on this side as well. It's gonna dry a little bit lighter, but it is gonna create a little more of a definition. I'll come over here and inside this thick area. Oh, I had a little more shading as well as the top here. The last place I want to create a little definition is the tail gonna pull some color down and just dab a little bit underneath here to create a little bit of a shadow in with my brush. In a very sharp point, just gonna pull somewhat over here to make a perimeter. I'm not gonna pull full lines just here to create the feathers of the tail. Gonna go in one more time with a very super sharp point on my brush. This is completely optional. And I'm just gonna start adding a little bit of color here. A little shadow underneath the eye. I'll go in and a little more here. Just a few spots here and there. The only thing I really want to focus on is that Bluebird might do a little appear. And there we have our bluebird. 11. Variations: Now you have some options as well. You can leave it just like this or we can do some spatter. And I like the idea of spatter, particularly using the colors that we have from the background because our flowers are very loose and the only thing that has a lot of detail is our bird. We can take those colors that we used and just Sprinkle a little color. Or we could take some water, make a few little dabs of water on our paper, and that will help those colors that we Sprinkle Run a little more. So start with the yellow. Take that deep yellow, get it nice and wet and with my brush just gonna put a few spatters here and there. Then I'll go in with my pink do the same and lastly will mix that purple again and do that . So that was some purple and some ultra Marine Pick that up on my brush and and a few spatters think I'm gonna use a little bit of this Cerulean blue could create a spatter just to tie in the blue from our bluebird. And there we have our mountain Bluebird 12. Class Wrap Up: So here we have our songbird are Mountain Bluebird. We have very abstract background, very abstract bird. And yet it's the focus because we outlined it and we use far more layers than we did on any other part of the peace. We connected everything by with the branch here having the same looseness as the bird and the background as well. The spatter is optional, and it kind of just ties the whole image together, I hope. Youll try your hand at a mountain bluebird and post your work in the project section. Be sure to follow me here on skill share to get notified of future classes and please consider leaving a review. Thanks for watching.