Drawing and Painting Birds

Discover how to draw birds in easy steps and how to colour match and paint them using watercolour. Bring research material and a number of clear photos or photocopies of a particular bird. Ensure details of feathers, eyes and feet are easy to recognise. You will learn how to identify a bird’s unique characteristics for accurate representation. Discover the watercolour wash technique to achieve intense colours, how to use a dry brush technique to enhance detail of important features. Comprehensive class demonstrations are an integral part of the workshop. Bring photographs. All skill levels.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.


  • Materials and Techniques - Comprehensive class demonstrations of both graphite pencil and watercolour painting techniques.
  • The Art Process - Learn the processes necessary to complete an accurate and detailed bird painting.
  • Drawing and Colour Study - Understand the importance of a master drawing, colour study and colour mixing techniques.
  • Experiment with overglazes to create intense glowing effects.
  • Class and Individual Demonstrations.
  • Class Appraisal: Completed work to be appraised by tutor.


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand the importance of the steps and processes involved in achieving an accurate detailed bird painting
  2. Understand the importance of recognising various bird species and their inique characteristics
  3. Recognise different eyes, beak, feet and feathers in various bird species
  4. Use tonal values and contrasts to create form and solidity in a subject
  5. Learn how to match and mix watercolour paints
  6. Choose various components in the subject to create a colour study
  7. Use various watercolour painting techniques to show highlights and shadows and achieve various intensity of colours


  • Smooth drawing paper. Several sheets of A4 and A3 size. There is no need to bring an entire pad. The size of the paper will be determined by the size of the plant.
  • Drawing Pencils: HB and 2B. Can bring more.
  • Paper stump (or torchon). Available at art shops.
  • Clutch or propelling pencil 0.5mm HB (Optional)
  • Staedtler white eraser, or other good quality white plastic eraser
  • Grey kneadable eraser
  • Small Stanley knife, art scalpel or single edge safety scraper blades (for sharpening pencils)
  • Very fine grade sandpaper for sharpening graphite in pencils
  • Large soft brush to remove erasings
  • Paper towels or tissues
  • Roll baking paper (to protect work) or tracing paper
  • Magnifying glass, hand held (x3)
  • Ruler

Watercolours - Winsor & Newton brand Artists’ Quality watercolour paints recommended. 5ml tubes

  • Cadmium Lemon / Alt - Bismuth Yellow
  • Cadmium Yellow / Alt - New Gamboge
  • Cadmium Red / Alt - Winsor Red
  • Permanent Rose
  • French Ultramarine / Alt - Winsor Blue (Red Shade)
  • Cerulean Blue / Alt - Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
  • Burnt Umber
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Useful basic colours for brown onion are: Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna
  • Useful basic colours for red onions are: Magentas and Winsor Violet Note: The Winsor colours are more transparent and less expensive. The cadmium colours are stronger, richer in colour and semi-transparent. Both are lightfast and permanent. Bring all colours you may already have.


  • Round Sable: Sizes 0, 3, 5. Check the point of brush. Do not purchase Designer or Rigger brushes which have very long hairs. Brushes should be Kolinsky Sable.
  • Brands include: Winsor & Newton ‘Artists’ Water Colour Sable – Round’, Art Basic Series 300R, Rekab Pure Kolinsky Sable, Raphael 8404, Art Spectrum X72. Bring all brushes you have.
  • Different shops carry various brands. Sable brushes usually have black or dark blue handles. The prices vary for different qualities of sable.
  • Nylon or synthetic: These are used for mixing, not painting with (Optional). Brands include: Golden Nylon and Golden Sable (synthetic). Size 3 or 4 for mixing. Nylon brushes usually have red handles. Note: Different brands of brushes can be different sizes. Work with a range of various sizes. The larger the wash, the larger the brush. The more detailed work requires finer brushes. All sable brushes should have very sharp points.


  • Arches 300 gsm hot pressed (smooth). Paper size is determined by plant size.
  • 56 x 76 cm sheet (can be cut into various sizes) or Arches A4 Watercolour pad or sheets, hot pressed 300 gsm or A3 pad or sheets (optional), depending on the size of the subject.

Other items required

  • Container/vase to hold plant specimen or florist oasis
  • 2 x Water Containers (can be jars or plastic containers)
  • Preferably ceramic palette (for mixing colours), although plastic palletes work well, but ensure they are not a very glossy, smooth surface, but slight matt.
  • Clean cotton rag, paper towels or tissues
  • Smaller piece of watercolour paper, for recording colours, experimenting with colour mixes and to ensure brush is loaded correctly with paint. (Small Arches 300gsm hot pressed watercolour pads are convenient).

IMPORTANT: Please arrive to the first class with all the relevant materials. A lack of materials is not just a handicap to you but to the ability to teach. Materials cost is not included in a course fee. In the event of a course being cancelled WEA cannot be held responsible for the purchase of any course materials. We therefore suggest you purchase your materials closer to the time of the course commencing.


  • The Art Scene, UNSW Art & Design Campus, Greens Rd Paddington NSW. Ph: 8815 1569
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 223-225 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Ph: 02 9331 2166.
  • Bondi Road Art Supplies 179 Bondi Road Bondi. Ph: 9387 3746. (Closed Fridays and Sundays)
  • Eckersley’s Art and Craft Store 93 York Street Sydney, Ph: 02 9299 4151. Also at North Sydney, St Leonards, Chatswood, Caringbah, Parramatta & more.

Enquire at your art shop for a Student’s Discount with your WEA course receipt.

$211 Limited / $190

<p>Discover how to draw birds in easy steps and how to colour match and paint them using watercolour. Bring research material and a number of clear photos or photocopies of a particular bird. Ensure

19 Jun

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