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I saw a robin on Saturday. He was dining on some fruit from my flowering pear tree.  I was totally under the assumption that robins migrate and that their return heralds the arrival of spring. Well, I guess not. I googled robin and found that they can and are often here year round. The difference is that they are not hopping around on our lawns looking for worms and insects, but in the thickets and pine trees and feeding off the fruit of fruit bearing trees and shrubs. The one I saw followed this plan to a tee. He fed and flew off not once touching ground. So, I guess spring will arrive when we see them once again hopping around on the ground and not feeding in trees.

I’m still experimenting with the limited palette listed on the previous post. For this one, I used burnt sienna, transparent yellow, winsor green (blue shade), and diox violet. I tried a new paper. This is on 300 lb  saunders waterford cold press.  Nice paper for detail work.

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58 Comments

  1. Wow! I absolutely love the vibrance of this painting.It is an unusual vantage viewpoint for birds – on ground that is.

    • Thank-you, Raji. All summer these souls hop around my yard. They are really quite fun to watch because their hopping is almost like a dance. They also have a funny way of looking around by craning their neck and kind of opening their wings some and pointing them at the ground.

  2. hi Leslie, the robins are definately here in winter. interestingly these robins look different from the ones we have here (there is a photo of one on my blog) and i thought there was only one type. lovely work!

    • Hi Rahina, I am glad I am not the only one that learned something new about the robin since you found out there are different varieties. At least you knew they were here in winter.LOL Thank-you for the comment.

  3. Beautiful birds.I like those colors a lot.
    Good job,Leslie 😉
    Once again you surprise me with something beautiful.

    Have a wonderful time,my friend! 🙂

  4. Leslie san, how beautiful the birds are! How lively!
    They are just about to move,it seems to me.
    Last week I saw pheasants moving around out of the bushes, but they were walking in a modest way.
    Spring is gradually coming closer and closer in Akita, Japan.
    Your lovely picture makes me think of the coming spring.
    Thank you very much.

    Best regards,

    Hidenori Hiruta

    • Thank-you, Hiruta San. What a wonderful thing to say. I like your description of the pheasants moving around modestly. That is how they often look. You are a master of word.

  5. It’s wonderful. I love Robins. Usually we see them all year around here, but you have to look for them in winter. They come around sometimes when I throw out small pieces of bread on the snow, though… 🙂

    • You know, I can honestly say that I think I wasn’t very alert in years previous. I may have noticed a robin in a late March snow storm and felt sorry for it. But, I know I have not noticed one in January before. Thank-you, Camilla for the comment and the visit!

  6. What a beautiful painting. We have trees in our backyard and a few in our front yard, so when it gets warm enough, the birds chirp at night and in the morning. The first morning we hear the birds chirp, we know it’s starting to get warm. 😀 Thank you, Leslie!

    • Hi Tacy! Yes, I love those first sounds of the birds! Summer is a noisy and rambunctious time. Thank-you for your kind comment.
      On another note. Friday’s almost here. Saw you were going to a party. Have fun!

  7. Lovely painting. I like how that fellow in the front is watching you. I haven’t seen any robins up here. Lots of jays and little birds.

    • Thank-you, Yousei. …Chuckling… That is the pose they take if they are hunting on my lawn and I walk out on the patio in the AM. They stare at me as if to say, “Not one step closer. We are working here.”

      • LOL. That is exactly what it looks like. Sigh. I can hardly wait for spring. You?

      • Spring is always an energizing time as long as we don’t get those torrential type rains as last year. I want it slow and steady so my sump pump can keep up.

      • LOL. I know what you mean. Our previous house’s basement flooded one spring. Lost so many things because growing up in south Texas, there were no basements–woefully unprepared. Yes, nice and slow, evenly spaced rains and gorgeous flowers!

  8. What a cheering picture! I like this limited palette experiment. I played with Tertiary colours worked my way around the wheeel and tried to use unusual colour combinations in some of my experiments. I must admit to never having drawn or tried to draw an animal or a bird – perhaps I should have a go. I think some people, like yourself just have a gift for this though, all your work is good. There’s nothing like a good paper is there! I can’t bear to draw on the first page of any journal or sketchbook though – don’t know why, strange. Look forward to the return of these robins – and more from you!

    • Hi Lynda. I’ll bet you could do a fantastical bird of collage and fan-fare! I see you painting and collaging a “Phoenix”. I’m serious. Thank-you for the visit and comment!

  9. Leslie, this is really beautiful! I love the posture of each of the birds. The one with his head down and slightly turned, is especially good! I also love the splattery background!

    • Thanks, Beth. I tried to choose poses that I see them take, most frequently, here. Thanks on the splatter comment. 🙂

    • All things nice..
    • Posted January 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    One of my favourite birds 🙂

    All things nice…

    • Me too! I always feel as though they are my neighbors when they nest in one of my trees.

  10. I was always told a few stayed in the southern Indiana area but most flew south. So, the minute I see a robin I get pretty excited, anything to move winter along! Beautiful painting, love the splatter and grass, along with the spring colors. You’re cheering me up already!

    • I, like you, thought the same thing. Today it’s 25 degrees, the wind is blowing and it is snowing. So, my robin that I saw must have come out of his thicket because he was very hungry and had to have some of those berries. I haven’t seen him again. Oh well, next week we will find out how many more weeks of winter. Ground Hog’s Day! lol Thank-you for the comment, Ryan.

  11. It is always a pleasant surprise waiting at your blog! 🙂 For some reason Bloglines didn’t inform me of a new post, and I just came in to check what’s happening… These two are so cheerful! 🙂 Thank you!

    I have a question about the white blades of grass. Did you save the white blades, or masked them, or is it gouache? Or some other method I can’t think of? Inquiring mind want to know.

    • The white blades of grass were liquid frisket. I then painted background with varying values of transparent yellow and used liquid frisket again for the yellow blades and then worked the background greens and burnt sienna. Last I put the darker green blades in. I haven’t worked with frisket very much. I try to incorporate it when I can. Still learning, also. Oh. I like titanium white watercolor by American Journey from cheap Joe’s better than having to rely on white gouache. It doesn’t dry as shiny and is more opaque than other brands of titanium white watercolor.

  12. that backgroud robin is looking a bit annoyed at the other one.
    maybe they’re brothers. lol
    well executed

    • That could very well be, Kokot. Maybe the foreground robin was the early bird who caught the worm. 🙂 Thank-you for the comment!

  13. He rocks in the tree tops all the day long. These are rockin robins Les. Aren’t they the Michigan state bird? I know we did not see them in the winter when we lived there?

    I had three hummingbirds flitting around my windows today 🙂

    • You are so RIGHT! I completely forgot about that song. I’m jealous about the hummingbirds. Yes. The American Robin is Michigan’s state bird. I always knew you were the smart sister. 🙂

  14. Nice watercolour!
    Did you know that the robins (and other birds) love the old fruit because it goes alcoholic and in the late autumn when the alcoholization starts, the birds get drunk and sometimes fall off the branches. It can be quite funny to watch.
    Then they have to go back down to earth and search for worms as punishment until they can fly again!!!
    It’s a Robin disciplinary measure, methinks,
    K

    • Hi Kristin. I did not know all that. Drunk? In Florida, they say the iguanas were stilled by the cold temperatures and were losing their grip and falling out of trees. I am learning so much by having a computer! Thanks for the comment K!

  15. We have robins all year – they often feature on christmas cards – but I didn’t know there were several different varieties – yours are not the same as the ones I see here.

    I like the viewpoint here – really intimate and you seem to be getting on really well with your limited palette!

    • That’s what someone else said. Your robins are different. I think the challenge of a limited palette is to see how many different color schemes I can make with it. It probably can make every color imaginable. I will probably have more of a challenge when I move to red, yellow, blue. Thank-you for your comment, Sarah. I felt I needed to be intimate as they are fairly small birds.

  16. Oh, they look so real and delicate ! And I love the background!

  17. Really lovely, so lifelike, the one in the front looks all set to move like he’s seen you and isn’t too sure.

    • Thank-you, Paintedbrush. That is exactly why I painted those poses. I wanted it to look like they do when I step onto my patio and interrupt them in THEIR yard. 🙂
      Hope you are feeling better.

  18. Not really knowing what robins look like, I’m sure you did them justice. They look great to me. I love your speckling in the background too.

    • Thanks, Carol. I imagine there aren’t many on your block. Do they have robins in Central Park? I wonder. Isn’t splatter fun. It is probably the one thing I do that doesn’t take much time. It takes me more time to decide if I want to splatter than to actually splatter.

  19. I like birds, the two robins are very lively indeed. They look like a pair looking for material to build their home and start a new life. Very meaningfull painting especially for the coming of spring. We have birds all year round but some are seasonal as they migrate from the colder northern region to the warmer countried but sad to find them finding their old nesting ground develop into condo’s or shopping mall and they end up on some dirty drain or rubbish dump. Sad to see this happening every where.

    • Thank-you, Francis. Yes. The one does have something in her beak. I think it is sad to see these birds return and nest among infrastructure. There was actually a goose that nested on an island of the parking lot of a retail store I worked for. We blocked off the area for her but worried about her as she and her spouse would trade places sitting on the eggs. They would have to move across the parking area. End of story? Eggs hatched and in due time they all moved on. No evidence that any were harmed. Phew!

  20. Wow, I have not visited here for only a short while, and now I am just thrilled by your productivity! The painting is so lifelike. I enjoyed it very much 🙂

  21. Beautiful birds. I remember looking for the first Robin of the spring.

    • Thanks Bill. Guess we were just conditioned to look for them returning to our lawns. They are supposedly here year round but hiding in the thickets and brush until there is more cover on our bushes and trees. I thought that was really interesting to learn after having been told, when I was young, that they flew south.

  22. Great robin painting! I just started a bird themed week, but with colored pencils. It takes a little bit longer then I anticipated, but I hope to take an hour out of my day to work on them.

    • Thanks, Littlelynx. I saw your first bird and thought it very good. The perspective you chose is a tough one.

  23. Leslie … I love the little robins, and am enchanted by the background you used here. So perfect to set off these sweet creatures. The grass and the light splattering work well together!

    • Thank-you, Kate. Part of the look of that background was helped by the paper I used. It was more of an off-white. I need to practice my drybrushing skills so I can become better at grass and underbrush. But thank-you for liking what I was able to achieve, here, as that inspires me to work on it. Splatter.I love doing that!

  24. I saw a robin the other day after all the snow– the red breast stood out nicely against all the white snow.

    Seeing this painting puts me more in the mood for spring to get here!

    ~josh

    • Spring will come, Joshua. I do have to say I’ve never seen a Robin at the end of January prior to this year. Thanks for dropping by!

  25. Lovely painting.
    Our Robins here in the UK are a different species, very small birds about the size of a sparrow. Yours are, I think, related to Blackbirds. I’d love to see one.
    🙂

    • Our robins are about the size of a cardinal but the breast of the robin oftentimes seems much fuller. They are not the size of a raven type blackbird, but the smaller variety. I read somewhere that our robin is a member of the thrush family of birds. They are maybe twice the size to two and a half times the size of a sparrow. They are fun to watch. They hop around on the ground in darting movements and mine seem to think I don’t have any rights to my own back yard. They will sit on my picket fence and chirp at me till I go back in.

  26. I’m completely enamored of this wonderful painting! Is there anyway that I could use it, attributed and linked to you, in this blog post? Your work is so much better than the image that I have there now! Anyway, thanks for looking. You’ve gained a big fan! http://spokesandpetals.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/mudsong-29-in-the-lawn/

    • Of course you may use this. ….thankyou. I will email you the digital, Jenny.

      • Wonderful, thank you! jennyhauf(at)gmail.com


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  1. By MudSong 29: In the lawn « Spokes & Petals on 01 Apr 2014 at 1:35 pm

    […] by Leslie White, used with permission from the […]

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