Woodpeckers in Watercolor

Downy Woodpecker - Woodpeckers in WatercolorThis past weekend was warm and that brought many birds to my backyard. Among them were both Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, Tufted titmice, American robins, Black-capped Chickadees, Blue jays, Song sparrows, and Juncos. I thought it would be fun to paint a few woodpeckers since you have to admire a bird that can bang its head on a hard tree then fly away unaffected.

The first woodpecker is the Downy. A good way to tell the difference between a Downy and a Hairy is the beak. The Downy’s beak is much smaller. I used indigo blue and burnt sienna for background with just a touch of burnt umber on the bottom to create the ground. The black feathers were created using the same colors in a stronger mix. A touch of white gouache was added at the end to strengthen the highlights.

Woodpecker - Woodpeckers in WatercolorThe second woodpecker is called the Lesser-spotted and is not native to the US. My palette consisted of sap green, yellow ochre, indigo blue, burnt umber, and alizarin crimson. I painted this fellow in a similar method to the one above using the wet into wet technique for the background. I created the mossy texture at the bottom with a 1″ chip brush. Barely dampen the bristles of the chip brush then dip them into your paint and dab the pigment onto the paper. If the bristles are splayed and wonky it works even better.

With just a few basic supplies you can paint your own woodpeckers. I hope you try this and please share your work. Until next time…Cheers!


P.S. Both of these paintings are available in my shop.