Hummingbird with Thistle

I am currently working on two (5′ x 4′) canvases, and so many of the watercolours I am painting at the moment are ideas that might be incorporated into the large paintings.

In this watercolour of a Thistle with Hummingbird, using strong vibrant watercolour, my goal is to express a moment in time…almost as if I just looked up and for one beautiful second my eye spots the movement of the hummingbird, and I hear the humming, from which it was named.


As is the case with most of my watercolours, this is painted very quickly.

I drop  some juicy paint onto a dry white surface, and then add into the wet area, some Alizirin Crimson and Dioxazine Violet. 


With a small brush I indicate some of the thistle fonds and stem…pulling out from the wet area.


I now apply water to part of the surrounding area (negative space), being careful not to go right up next to the flower.   I want to keep the area immediately surrounding the flower as dry white paper.

I then drop into the wet area some Cadmium Orange and Opera Rose.

At the same time, always working the whole picture, I add some of those colours into the flower area.


To achieve the lovely fuzzy light right next to the flower I use a tiny amount of Designer Gouache, permanent white. 

You can see in this close up, that I am allowing the colours to bleed and do their own thing.    As I often say about this kind of watercolour painting, it’s an excellent lesson about letting go of control:)


I now add the hummingbird.   It’s vital that the flower and hummingbird are connected…and not separate entities!   Remember all of life is interconnected. 

I have used the same colours in the flower for the hummingbird with the addition of some Cobalt Turquoise Blue Light and Green Gold.    


A Bientôt

8 thoughts on “Hummingbird with Thistle

  1. deacon

    Hello Janet! For some reason I had completely failed to get updates of your posts – but here I am again, once more enjoying your beautiful vibrant colours, your enthusiasm and your ability to share your skill with others. I do hope you’re keeping well, busy and happy.

  2. christafriedl

    Janet, I love your watercolors. There is a softness, a fluency, a vibrancy of colours, I have never seen before. To look at your artwork gives such a good feeling and so much positive emotions. Thank you again for sharing your approach

  3. snowbird

    I feel like I’m painting with you as I watch these demonstrations, my heart speeds up as the paint is dropped in and begins to bleed. This is beautiful, I love the thistle and swear I can hear humming!xxx

  4. ShimonZ

    I am really in the mood to see a live hummingbird. I hear the birds chirp outside my window these days, after moving to a place with a garden… but don’t see much of them…


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