Perching Birds #4: Yellow Warbler

Warblers: those ever elusive, but much beloved sprites of the tree tops; flitting about, dashing out and then back again, catching insects on the fly or just daring you to find them amidst the greenery. Capturing the yellow warbler on paper proved challenging, too. Perhaps it is because these perky little birds rarely sit still, so making them pose on paper seemed unnatural. Or maybe it’s that paint pales in comparison with the stunningly bright yellow of this warbler in sunshine. Nonetheless, #4 in my perching bird series is complete and, after several weeks of painting birds, I’m planning to turn my attention to other subjects for a while. (Click image to view larger.)

Tips and Techniques– Yellow can be a devilish color! It seems so light, yet, like other colors, there is a whole range of values from light to dark. Shadows on yellow are also tricky. They sometimes appear greenish or purple or gray. It’s easy to get murky laying shadows on yellow in watercolor. My advice when painting yellow (think daffodils, or lemons, or warblers), is to start lighter than you think. Leave the white of the paper for the brightest areas. Do a few washes to deepen values as needed. Experiment with different shadow tones on a separate test sheet– again, you may not need to go too dark to achieve variety and form.

18 thoughts on “Perching Birds #4: Yellow Warbler

  1. So pretty. We get these little beauties every year. I usually hear them first before I actually see them. You captured them beautifully. Thanks for the tip as always. I’ve ruined more than one sketch with yellow. This is good advice.

  2. Exquisite! Just yesterday I attempted to paint some yellow store bought tulips, not fully opened. Try as I might, my yellows became too intense, to quickly. This requires a slow process of allowing whites and building color with a patient hand.
    Thank you for the beauty of the yellow warbler!

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