Squirrel in autumn leaves

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Watercolor painting

inspiration: I wanted a fall subject and acorns sprung to mind. I googled “animal with acorn” and looked through images of squirrels with acorns. I wanted to escape suburbia, so I liked this image of a squirrel in natural surroundings.

Creation: I’ve recently figured out how to set up my workspace to paint with watercolors.

I started with a black watercolor pencil sketch – just blocking in objects. (Next time: use whatever shade of pencil shows up and matches the final painting. Then I blocked in color, including gray in the squirrel’s body and a few strands of gray in the tail, but leaving the eye untouched. I continued to bring the rest of the painting from light to dark. (Next time: try for more transparent, less muddy colors.)

I tried to use watercolor pencil for the squirrel, but the pencil did not make a dark enough mark and some paint drips could not be covered with the pencil, so I used ink marker instead. My set of watercolor markers did not include any gray options, so I tried to use the black somewhat sparsely, especially in the tail.


  • moving to watercolor paint allows for brighter colors and a body of advice that watercolor pencils alone don’t provide.
  • When funds become available, it would be nice to get some better watercolor materials.
  • I would like to do some preliminary sketching so that I understand how to use my space and where the lights and darks are. (This squirrel doesn’t have quite the right body proportions – it looks more like a mouse with a fuzzy tail.)
  • I am rooting around for a style and technique in the same way that squirrels root around beneath fall leaves.



Posted on

October 29, 2018

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