Watercolor Red Cardinal - Painting a Winter Bird with snow | Kellie Chasse | Skillshare

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Watercolor Red Cardinal - Painting a Winter Bird with snow

teacher avatar Kellie Chasse, Sharing Art with 100,000 students & counting!

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.

      Intro Cardinal


    • 2.

      Materials needed


    • 3.

      Sketching your bird


    • 4.

      Painting the beak


    • 5.

      Painting the body of your bird


    • 6.

      Painting the bark\branch


    • 7.

      Adding more details to the head


    • 8.

      Adding finer details and feathers


    • 9.

      Final details adding snow


    • 10.



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About This Class

Mini Class:  Watercolor Painting

Cardinals are a shy bird but they say it all with their bold red statement. They are one of my very favorite winter birds. They say when you see them it's a visitor from heaven.

I've broken the class content into easy, manageable steps even for beginners in watercolors, yet there are techniques for the experienced artist too!

We will learn several important concepts like how to use layers successfully, and skills using wet-in-wet and blending techniques along with some finer details to create feathers.

We will add some snow using white gouache. This painting is a bit more challenging than the two mentioned above, so if you are ready to gain more advanced beginner skills let's jump in!

If you like this class, please leave a review that will help this class reach more students.


  • Watch me sketch in the drawing and follow along or print the finished outline which is attached as a PDF under the Class Project.
  • We'll cover a wet in wet style, learning how to easily add layers of wash
  • Learn to create soft flowing feathers using a small fine detail brush
  • Create fun and easy snow by using gouache
  • Please don't forget to post your projects below, I can't wait to see them! 

| FOLLOW ME by clicking the BLUE FOLLOW BUTTON above. |

To see what's coming up next as well as some Time lapse demos.

See you in Class,


Meet Your Teacher

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Kellie Chasse

Sharing Art with 100,000 students & counting!


🦋 kelliechassefineart.com 




"Watercolor Exploration - Painting Colorful Birch Trees"

Loose easy enough for beginners / Practice experimenting with colors!

Here's the Link: https://skl.sh/467RQf5

Sharing my new favorite watercolor Brushes for Beginners! 


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Level: Intermediate

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1. Intro Cardinal: Hi, I'm Kelly Chassis. I'm a full time artist and online instructor, and today I'd like to show you how to paint a cardinal in the winter using watercolors. Cardinals are such a shy bird, but they really say it all with their bold red statement on there, one of my very favorite winter birds here in Maine, so have broken this class down into really easy, manageable steps, even for beginners and watercolor. Yet there are still some techniques for you artists that have a little bit more experience , so hopefully you'll learn some things Here, too. We will learn several important concepts, like how the layer successfully in use skills such as wet and wet techniques and blending techniques along with some finer details to create some feathers on do. We will add some snow similar to the winter tree seen and the holly Berries classes that I had just recently done over the winter, using some whitewash. So this painting is a little bit more challenging, So if you're ready to gain a little bit more advanced beginner skills, let's go ahead and jump in 2. Materials needed : four materials for this winter scene. You will need obviously watercolor paper, and I'm going to recommend that you use at least £140 cold press. It just works a little bit better with a wet on wet background. I'm using the art easa watercolor pad for this. It's great for warm up paintings if you're sketching or journaling. This is like a perfect little watercolor paper. It's pretty thick, so it holds the water quite well. You'll notice this is on a spiral binder, and it does have perforated edges on here so you can bend that and take your painting right out and move on to the next one, Which makes it really nice. What color cards Air? Another option. Strathmore has some really nice ones that come. A pre made the do is fold them, and they also have envelopes to go with them. So if you want, this is a holiday card. This is this is another great one to use. You will need watercolor paints. I chose to use my Windsor Newton artist quality paints. You can also use Cotman or really any type of pan paint. You can also use the two paints. But just keep in mind that the two paints air a little bit higher pigments and might work a little bit differently with the amount of water that you'll be using for this. Do you need a sketch pencil and you'll need a couple of brushes? No, it's not important. With size round works best, you just need a larger one and a small one. For some details, you will need some whitewash. This is by Windsor Newton, and it comes in a tube form, so it's nice and sick, and then you will need some water, and I would advise I only have one cup here, but if you don't want to change your water out often, two cups of water works even better that we can use one for clean one for dirty, especially when you're using wash so over ready. The next step will get started here with the sketch 3. Sketching your bird: I'm really excited to show you here how to create a really easy cardinal. And we're gonna start out by lightly sketching and you can follow along with me if you'd like. Or you can also just print out the pdf that I have attached here for you. But I would recommend that you give it a try Freehand first, and that will only help you in the future. And your drawing skills will only improve. The more that you do it, I always recommend that you go ahead and at least try to sketch it out. And I started with the eye and then just a really light circle for the head and an old shape for the body. And then the beach shape is almost like a little heart shaped here, and getting this sketch down is pretty important when you're first starting, especially with things like birds means you want to get that shape before you start to actually do your painting or else you confined a year. I could be off the beat could be off, and it's a little bit harder to adjust. Once you've started painting, you can take things out of put things back in but will be using some black washing, this one, which is more opaque. So it's a little harder to get back to those really light shades. When you're using a Morro Peak medium and blacks with watercolor, you can create your own blacks. Of course, by using um, many different ways, I like to use black and a lot of my paintings, and I will you a lot of black wash. But it will also create my own black using ultra Marine blue and either like burnt Sienna, raw Sienna, Romberg, something like that. And you can get some really lovely shades of black by doing it that way. So I got the wing in here and got a little dark shed underneath the beak. And then we're just gonna very quickly sketch in a little branch here that he's sitting on . Look at that I shaped and just a little bit darker. So, you know, lose it when she started to paint. And then we'll separate that peak out just a little bit more here can making that almost that little heart shaped at the top here and there we have it pretty simple, real easy sketch. Not a whole lot of details to this, and next will be beginning with our beak 4. Painting the beak: So you may notice they don't have a tail on this little cardinal. And that's because I plan to crop the very bottom of my painting when I go to frame it. So if you want to add a tale of yours is up a little higher, make sure you put your tail in there. Otherwise, the actual photograph that I was looking at his tail was actually up anyway behind him, so you couldn't see it. So I'm going to start here mixing a little bit of some orange of on my brush and you'll notice that I'm not adding a lot of water to this. I'm going with a fairly deep, deep color here. And then just gonna tap in a little bit of that bright red in here just to give us another little shade of color is they do have a little bit of red in their in their orange beaks. And now I'm going Teoh, let this dry. Was this take a little bit off here on the top? So what I'm doing, I was removing a little bit of that paint while it's still wet and I'm taking my brush, I'm wiping it off And then I'm pulling out that pain just to give a little bit of highlight on the top here. The key to that is making sure that you wipe that up. We wipe that off onto paper towel or some things that you have a nice dry brush and you can see that heart shaped really well. Now that ship it out will be I'm gonna grab my blow dryer and we're just gonna blow dry this really quick to make sure that this is nice and dry before we move on to the next step and again, you can always let this air drive. He'd rather if you've been picking my other classes, you'll know that I'm using all of the same supplies as my last two courses, which is the holly Berries, the snow as well as the tree with the snow. So we're gonna add some snow to this one as well at the very end. So this is a Siris of three quick and easy paintings that were doing 5. Painting the body of your bird: So for next step. Once Thebe has dried, we're gonna just wet in the area with a very light Washington. See, I'm using a very small brush here, so we're not going to get this completely saturated. But we want it wet enough so that your color is going to move. So make sure that you get the entire area, start with just the head and then you can just drop in the color. So I went from Clearwater. I went to my pigment, and then I just dropped in the color. And this will give you a really nice, smooth transition. And then if you want to do a few little feathers here and there just to give yourself the idea of the shape of this head once we have the feathers in here, what it's going to look like now because this is has a lot of water and not using a lot of pigment. This is almost turning a light very light red or almost a pink. So when a deep in that up just a little bit by adding another darker red to that, you can see how I'm just dropping that in right on top where it's already wet and letting those colors just blend. And I'm holding now, moving my hand up a little bit on my brush and making this flicking motion to get those feathers the shape of those feathers out. You don't want those to thick, so you want to use the very tip of your brush as you lift up and flick your wrist, and it will give you a little bit smaller feathers as you lift up. And then we're gonna move down and do the same thing in this bottom part here, adding just water. I have really a color on my brush, so I'm not renting it off completely because it's going to use the same color, and then we'll add again like we did with the head, a deeper shade to this. I'm working extremely fast. If you are a new painter, this could be a challenge for you. But, um, if you want to try this one a couple of times, I would recommend that you give this a try by doing this very quickly, letting the washes do the work for you. As I said, this is only about a 20 minute painting, so We're doing this fairly quick. I've done many cardinals before with a lot more detail, but for this one, we're doing a fast, short warmup type painting. So when I add just a little orange to that's, I want a few different shades of color to this and again because I know what it's all just gonna blend and go where it wants to go. If you are brand new toe watercolor. One thing that I want to mention here is that your paints will only go where there's water , and that is the reason why I like to start from the head and work down through the body. And once that area is wet, those colors will blend on your paper, and that's not gonna go anywhere. There is no water so dry paper that's not gonna spread out. So keep that in mind as you wet the area. Your pain is going to go to those areas that you have already previously added water to. Now, the key to working fast with this is making sure that it's going to continue to blend. If you do this slow, then your paint mace begin to derive before you get those other tones and there are those other values. So again, try to work quick and, you know, challenge yourself to do this one fast, and you could always take it a little slower of the second time if you'd like to get a little bit more detail in there. 6. Painting the bark\branch: see all those for a next separately, painting branches in a mixing up a couple different colors of brown For this one, if you are again, knew the watercolor. You don't have this full kit. You have something very basic. No need to worry. It's not really about the color brown just basically about using light and dark. So in order to make a brand a little bit darker, I'm using, like the Seanna Rossi Anna. Here you could add a little bit of burn. Number two is. You could add a little bit of ultra marine blue to deep it in a little bit and play with your colors and see what other types of values that you can get by just mixing a little bit . But the key is you want to have a basic brown and add some light and some dark to that color to give you ah, more of a realistic look. We went out a little bit of the ultra Marine blue to this, and you can see how this darkens that dark that gets now, whereas these raw Sienna or the Bernstein up at the top is quite light and again because this is what you can continue to add some more darker values underneath. If you want and and build that up a little bit, we can extend that. I don't worry if your branches and perfectly straight these branches are not straight. You look at a tree there, very crooked, and I like to add a little bit the darker values on the underneath, just where the shadow, maybe, or at the corners where the the bark meats and another old branch in here is. Well, you don't need to again go into a lot of detail for this. We're not actually creating the Bargor doing just a very simple wash for this seeing go ahead and derived this and will be moving on to our next up. Since we're painting this in layers, we really want to make sure that both of the last two sets that we've done the cardinal with a red and also the bark would make sure those air both completely dry before moving on to our next step or else that will bleed into other areas 7. Adding more details to the head: Now that we have the first washed down, we're going to start adding some details. I want to show you the difference between regular black, which is watercolor black, more transparent. We're gonna try some wash and a little bit. We're just gonna put the I in here making sure leave a little bit of that whitespace and then holding your brush. Ah, a little bit closer than what we were prior. We're doing the feathers. We want to get a little bit of feathers in here with that darker shade and in trying toe hold my brush at an angle, the feathers would be growing. And normally I would take it and start from the beach and move out. But I was gonna fill this exists is again the under washer. We're gonna ADM or the feather details afterwards. We just want to get a little bit darker value in here. Number one angle this unders. We want to follow the breast here as we bring those feathers around in the same direction, sitting in Lotus will be moving my hand as I go around. It's easier freakin take your picture and just turn it as you put in some of those feathers . I looks mad. That little bit of feather of over is I hear when a Philippine just a little bit just give that little bit of highlight in there. Let me see if I can get a closer view for you and then using the very tip of my barrage. Just darkening that line in between the beak and then just a few little feathers in here can using the tip of the brush, making sure that those lines are quite fine. You don't want to have a whole lot of paint on your brush with this. You don't want really wet just a little bit and you'll get a finer line. You can also switch to a little bit smaller brush here if you'd like. When then we're gonna add just a few more little strokes in here with the feathers. Moral eyelashes there spread that. I just a little bit. He looks like he was very angry, and you'll notice things will change. Depending on where that I is placed on where the white of the eyes placed and how much black you have around there, you can really change out the expression on your bird and I'm gonna shorten. That beats a little bit, a little bit darker. You had a few more feathers in here? No, Mina, switch back to the red that we had first you used. And we're gonna add a few more strokes in here with a little bit deeper value than we had before and adding a few more of the feathers. And this is how you can go a really happy with the details or you can keep it light. So I'm just using a little bit darker shade that we currently have there. And I'm just bringing out those little feathers again, following the direction that the feathers woodland. So if you need to spin your painting around, you can do that. And then he can get very large or very fluffy very quickly. So, um, start with your feather slowly and gradually add them. You want to cover basically a little pieces here and there of your whole birds to give a little bit of detail again. And because we're doing a very short, quick demo painting here, you don't want to have too much detail this point. But again, if you want to work on this bird a little bit longer. You can always throw in more feathers and get a little bit more detailed as you go at this point, if it starts to get to later, you may find that the bird is too wet and your paints will no longer star showing you separate lines or separate feathers. Eso You may want to blow dry in between. If you want to add a few more layers, you can add a couple of different colors if you want, but we're gonna keep it very simple again. So I'm gonna just go ahead and blow dry this now and then we'll add some final details. 8. Adding finer details and feathers: now I'm gonna have you use some whitewash. You could also use white ink. You could use a gel pen, anything that's going to create white over your watercolor, anything that's more opaque. So we're gonna be using the white wash again if you've taken Mother. Two classes were using this for both of those. You can also use white acrylic paint, But remember, you cannot react activated. So when you put it down there, you can't soften it. You can't lighten it. You can't take it off. Um, so the washes something. It's really nice to use in place of masking fluid if you want to put your whites and after the fact to rather than masking things out. And this gives you that opportunity to be able to maneuver your painting a little bit shaped a little bit differently, and I really like using washing. There's, ah, I think more, more folks are beginning to use squash because it was not a traditional watercolor planned . I think it's Ah um, being used a lot more than they used Teoh. So you can see I'm using a very fine detail brush for this one, and I'm trying to just add this and very lightly. Now you can see that the white is quite stark. Depending on how much water you add to your wash, you can soften those lines. And as they begin to dry, they will fade a little bit. Almost becomes a like Ray Joe, depending on what you like. If you like those bright whites, you can go a little thicker. If you want a little bit lighter a little bit more watery, you can add more water to that. I'm gonna add a little bit more of a highlight in here in the eye, and then we're gonna go back. And with a little bit of black, that's just to soften. That was just a little bit too bright. And you could get the little dots and around the eye that way on. I like this little bright white right in here just to give it a little highlight. If you find that your whites a little bit too much, you can go back with a little bit of red and soften those a little bit more so again you can play with us for a really long time. I'm really trying not to put all of my details in there because I'm a very detailed artist , usually. So for me, it's harder to actually leave it a little bit less detailed. One of the things I love about alcohol inks actually is because it's helped me. Really. Ah, get a little bit less detailed with my watercolors. I'm trying to do some quick paintings specially for warm up paintings, and then I can leave the details for something that I'm spending a lot more time on, and it just is a really nice way. Teoh. Be able Teoh grow as an artist, anything. So if you haven't tried alcohol eggs, I have a number of classes for alcohol ings. I highly recommend that you give that a try. It's great to if you want to do more abstract type paintings, it doesn't have to be anything in particular. But, uh, it's a really fun way to loosen up your water color. So if you are were very tight with your water colors, it's ah, it's a nice thing to try. So I am just continuing to add a few more of the feathers in here again, adding a little bit more black. This is not the good wash here. This is just regular black at this point, And you could see I have the blag wash in the right hand corner right here. So this is a little bit starker. Dark, black again. You can do the same thing with this as you do with the white. If you add more water to it becomes more transparent and less opaque. If you want that really dark, rich, black, the black washes. Wonderful to use for that. You'll see I can I can mix news both to I think I'm just working on that. I trying to make him look a little bit happier and having a few more those feathers in here . So for the last part, we're gonna use a little bit more white wash. We're gonna add some snow. If you wanted to keep this more of a summer scene, you could always add some leaves to these branches instead of using the wash for snow 9. Final details adding snow: So now we're going to add a little bit of white wash on here to create some snow. So if you've watched my other classes, the winter trees also the Holly Berry, we're going to use that same technique. So we're gonna wet, are brushed lightly and go into some whitewash, making sure that it's not too thick and not too thin. If it's too thin, meaning if I add too much water, too big wash. It will become very translucent or transparent, and it won't be as bright star quite. If it's too thick, it will be almost like a toothpaste, and we'll dry heart on your watercolor. So you want to make sure it's almost like the consistency of a house. Paint a very thick, soupy house paint and a tap that in anywhere you want little bit of snow, and then you conflict the brush to add a little bit snow on top of your bird. You could also put a little bit on its big may be on the top of his hand. You could make little piles of snow, works best when there is a color. So on the bird itself and on the branches works best. Another thing to keep in mind is you don't want to go over an area too much because if you go over, for example, where the red on the bird is and you tap that washing their too much, it will start to turn paint. It will lift that read out from underneath from the same thing with the park. So just be careful not to overwork that dried in between if you need to. So I'm gonna drive this and finish it up on. You could always use a little bit of a black Sharpie if you wanted to put a few little flying details in there, especially have have a hard time with making your feathers with a brush. A very fine line. Black Sharpie works wonderful. Plus, you can take that piece of scrap paper in practice on the side before you actually in some of that black area, and it gives some really nice little fine, feathery little details around where the beak is that we have a couple little stragglers that stick out here and there cause they're not perfect and they can touch up a little bit of the beak. Hera's well and also on the bark. If you want to play a little bit more texture in your bark, you get out a little bit of that black in there as well. And then finally, I always signed my work. You can also sign it on the mat if you'd rather do it there. But I always sign it always. I like to date it to you on the back, and that way I always go back to look to see what I have accomplished throughout the year. 10. Outro : So thanks so much for joining me, and I'd love to see your class project. So I'd like to do is go ahead and print out that pdf were Feel free to go ahead and take the materials and sketch it yourself if you want to give that a go, and if not, that's not a problem. But like I said in the class, if you can challenge yourself to sketch if you're not much of a draw, this is a great way to gain confidence in your drawing on. You could always go ahead and start with that, pdf yourself and then go ahead and try it a second time of sketching it on your own. If you are new to me, this is your first class with me. I'd love to have you follow music. Make sure that blue button and you'll see any new classes that come up in your future trying to do one a month so I would love to see your projects. Please make sure to post them down below. Don't be shy. We want to see them. We want to check them out. We want to see how you're doing, and if you want to tag me on Instagram. You are more than welcome to do that. I would love to see your projects poster there as well. And you could do that by tagging me at Kelly chassis underscore fine art. It would certainly appreciate if you have a chance to leave a review that lets other students know that this is a course that they might like to watch as well. Thanks so much. And I can't wait to see your projects.