Own Your Encore

My Encore Excursions

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Winter Color Icon

Cardinals do not migrate so you can spot them year-round. However, some find it easier to spot them in winter because of their color.


Red is an iconic color of Christmas and the Great Northern Cardinal is an iconic winter bird in many areas of the United States making this red bird the subject of Color Week 49 … we love a bird that uses COLOR to stand out!

I have seen the Great Northern Cardinal in winter during a birding tour, they do stand out even on a sunny day in Texas. The bright warm red used in this watercolor bird portrait is Cadmium Scarlet, shadows are Quinacrodone Coral with Ultramarine and Jane’s Gray. We know these colors from posts earlier in the year.

These cardinals live year around mainly in the Eastern half of the United States

So how do these birds stay so bright red. The brightest coloration comes from naturally occurring ‘carotenoids’ in their diet, this helps to create yellow, orange and red coloration. In cardinals,  the carotenoid results in pigmentation on the surface of the feathers, not within the deeper layers. The cardinals with the best color feed on fruits and berries with carotenoids among other things and the best and favorite are those bright red `Dogwood Berries’.

In January 2021 I started ‘Color Week’, a personal goal to weekly explore a color history or curiosity.

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Color of a Crow

In our class this past Saturday we learned to layer colors to achieve a dark color bird without using all black washes.

Our Crow Model

This crow starts with Cobalt, Ultramarine and Quinacrodone Violet. Finished with Joe Z Warm.

This following crow started with Prussian Blue and Lavender

A Cormorant for practice

A crow sketch from photo



Birds Class

Session #2. Color values, painting the eye / Goldfinch

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A sketching friend was enrolled in a ‘Birds’ watercolor class and every week she shared her work and talked about the tips from Ian…

Ian de Hoog

Recently I followed along with a couple of his demos and really like his style of teaching and techniques.  I am now enrolled in his next class and looking forward to learning how to capture the nature of birds.

Birds are not botanical … but I am going to add a botanical feature that represents the bird habitat so each bird will fit into my ‘botanical year’

with a botanical!

These are my follow along sketches made from his instagram demo postings.