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#11 Magpie

'Magpie' oil on canvas board 6x6"

I am finding that love painting birds! They have their own personalities, I think its in the eyes... and are prehistoric... with those claws and beaks they can look intimidating, and are extremely protective.

Magpies have a bad reputation, stealing shiny things, being unlucky... it's a shame as they are stunning birds and I may be wrong, but seem to be part of the crow family? We all know I love a crow.

Black and white has been the theme toady and I found yesterdays exercise helpful with the tones and colour values. It's always good to come back to those exercises sometimes. It takes practice... as this is a daily painting challenge for me to improve my skills why not apply the values to a black and white painting.

I do do the rhyme whenever I see magpies.. one for sorrow, two for joy....etc. I used to get really hung up about seeing one on its own and often made whoever I was with to look at it too! thus cancelling the rhyme. Have I done that today? Maybe... we are all looking at it now so ..

The Magpies are also my football team, my dad was a Gordie, my nan, my uncle, my older cousins, I would love to hear my dad talk 'Gordie' he did not do it very often but still had the twang from leaving Newcastle as a small child. We are doing well in the league and dad would be over the moon, so that's a nod to him today too.

I have a workshop tomorrow and a busy Sunday, also with classes paperwork and prep to do over the next few days. My daily paintings may now become sporadic but I do hope to carry on painting some. I feel a shift in how I'm applying the paint... confidence is back. Oil paint is amazing.... for sure.

oh btw.. are you watching 'Painting Birds with Jim Moir?' (Vic Reeves) Sky Arts, love it. He's quite a good painter and I'm loving his birds too :)


I should mention black. I never paint with black or teach my learners or students to paint with it. It's not a colour it's a hue. This means it is made up of lots of other colours.

I make my own blacks.

I usually paint with only 4 colours. Cad Red, Cad yellow, Ultramarine and White. From these colours you can make any colour, and I mean any, yellow ochre, crimson, rose madder etc.

I do tend to add yellow ochre, burnt umber and burnt sienna from a tube if Im feeling lazy. Recently I have enjoyed painting with lemon yellow which is really good for highlights, a softer alternative to white.

This is across all mediums I paint with, watercolours (no grey's, make my own), acrylics and oils.

Black is flat from a tube. It produces a flat area that does not relate to anything else in the painting, it also flatterns colours when colour mixing.

By making my own black I can control the black, have blue black which the magpie is painted in, but if you notice on the tail I have used a red black in the feathers...

Look into blacks and how other artists use them, it is a whole new world and it will improve your painting in leaps and bounds.

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