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This is one of the few paintings I have done on Arches 140lb hot pressed paper. I wanted to contrast the wet-in-wet blurry look of the background and try to bring out the detail of the bird. I find this paper allows each brush stroke to show and once the color is applied it stays. I haven’t worked with it nearly enough, as yet, to get a real “feel” for it, and want to devote some time to this challenge in the future.


  1. I love they way you capture nature, animals, birds, etc…thanks for sharing your new stuff so often…I enjoy coming here..

    • Thank-you, Tracey. My favorite subjects are the animals. I love looking at them. Hope I can keep up on the sharing frequently part. There are periods of time I just don’t feel like painting but haven’t hit one of those spells, lately. I enjoy your blog, also. I dub it “art of Indiana”.

  2. I love this painting which makes me want to try birds in the future.I have been thinking about it for a while now. The blooms lend itself well to the blurriness in the background. Well done, Leslie!

    • Thank-you, Raji. I didn’t try birds for a long time because I feared I wouldn’t be able to render feathers adequately. Later I learned I only had to put down what I saw and that the form and the lights and darks of it would take care of that. I think birds lend themselves really well to watercolor. Have fun doing one.

    • severnyproductions
    • Posted August 29, 2009 at 6:49 pm
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    the painting really shows well on this paper. can i buy it from any art supplier i have an idea for a future project

    • Thanks, Kokot. If your art supply store doesn’t sell Arches 140lb Hot press watercolor paper, check Dick Blick and Cheap Joes. They are both on line. I know Dick Blick ships about anywhere. They both carry this paper.

  3. The bird came out great. Not my favorite paper but you used it well.

    • Hi Bill, thanks for saying I used it well. I agree about not favorite paper; it is challenging to work on.

  4. Hey Leslie – I love this painting – the background is stunning the bird is pure mastery – mooi man – Arches hot pressed is great if you know how to use it isnt it. I have been trying to work too big on it and find it gets out of control – I have done figures on a full sheet which were a bit hectic. How big is this?

    • Hi Stephen. This is 12 x 16. Thank-you for liking it. I think hot press paper doesn’t have the forgiveness that coldpress does. I need a plan when I work on hot press. Full sheets of this paper would be intimidating to me.

  5. Leslie, what a wonderful painting. Your shadows/trees/backround evokes reality while giving it ‘your’ quality.
    I recently viewed many photos and some paintings of birds–and I’m always struck by how often they’re rendered like ‘stick’ figures rather than living creatures. Your feathered friend looks alert and as if its deciding ‘what’s next’. grins

    • Thank-you for this 47. You made my day. I’m beginning to see birds as something I haven’t payed much attention to. They are such fragile beings. I’m trying to give the ones I’m drawn to a being, a character. Somehow it has to come from their bodies because the thing we humans look at are eyes and birds’ eyes, alone, don’t carry their being. It’s as if they carry everything of their soul in their whole persona. Don’t know for sure cause I’m still working on it.

      • Leslie, yes, birds do require some paying attention to, in order to ‘get’ more than being able to ID their kind.
        If there are ‘resident’ birds, even a little flock of sparrows can be good–actually great–because if you pay them some mind–their personalities do emerge via their ‘chatter’—and if you can start to ‘find’ individuality in your local birds–then, I would think you could put their personality into your art and make them more than feathers and bones. I bet YOU CAN.

  6. “I wanted to contrast the wet-in-wet blurry look of the background and try to bring out the detail of the bird.”

    Well you certainly did achieve that. Very successfully – the background is wonderful and the bird’s feathered breast is beautifully worked…as is the branch and the bird’s feet. Really lovely Leslie.

  7. This is a beauty. The bird is rendered flawlessly and that background! WOW! It’s what every watercolorist dreams of! I’ve never used hot pressed paper and based on what you described I don’t think I’m ready for it. But clearly, you are! I love this painting!

    • Thank-you, Carol. I need to work with hot press more. I’ve tried others that didn’t turn out so hot. You might surprise yourself.I think we all have papers that suit how we like to work.

  8. So this is a Mockingbird! (“To kill a mockingbird”). I like it. I think you succeeded in bringing out the detail of the bird 🙂

    • Thank-you, Shiraz. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of my favorite books. Have you read it or seen the movie? Nice sculpture work you have posted!

        • shirazale
        • Posted September 1, 2009 at 3:31 am
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        Thanks! I’ve read it (in english ha-ha 🙂 Didn’t know there’s a movie. Thank you for the comment!

  9. This is gorgeous, Leslie! I love how the bird’s belly flows with the background to the left. The detail on him is amazing, too!

  10. I just love this!

    • Thanks, Deva. You inspired me to keep working on birds with your swan photo.

    • heatherslalaland
    • Posted September 5, 2009 at 5:45 pm
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    Beautiful job on this. I especially love that background – the strokes and the colours. Brilliantly done!

    • Hi Heather. Thanks for taking time out of your busy school schedule to visit!

  11. Wonderful painting Leslie!!!

    • Thanks, Martin. I need to try another piece on hot pressed paper again in the near future. Love the figure you just posted!

  12. I like this one the best.

  13. The bird really looks real and lively. You really captured the essence of the bird in this painting.

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