Winter Chickadee

Chickadee in winter


I wanted something wintry (because it’s December) and fairly simple (because I don’t have a lot of painting time this month.) I found this image compelling.

Unfortunately, the source does not include photo credit information.)


Painting the chickadee was a journey. First, I used dark purple on the cap, decided that showed as gray and used black on top of it. I couldn’t get any fine lines and didn’t control the brush well, so the sleek lines of the chickadee are wobbly. I overreacted and said some unkind things to myself. How appropriate, in a month when my theme is “forgiveness,” that I can use painting to practice self-forgiveness. Cynthia Simm (PCA and artist collaborator) painted the detail areas of beak and feet. She went on to paint some of the breast. It’s interesting how the two of us see color differently. She sees more browns and oranges where I see more blues. The breast is darker than I would have dared to paint it, but it helps give the bird some dimension.

 I used blues and purples for the more forgiving, background areas, leaving the white of the paper to indicate snow. The branches coming in from the left are hazy in the photograph. I blended blue and green to create them for the painting.

The final painting session was to darken the background in the lower part of the painting.


Of course, it wasn’t simple, in the end. The fine lines of the photo were difficult for me to render. Cynthia paints with such elegance and surety, I am in awe. Still, painting feeds my soul, so I want to find loveliness in my own shaky marks. Next time, it would be more generous of me to choose an image that did not include so many fine lines. It was however good practice in self-forgiveness!


Posted on

December 30, 2019


  1. Kitty Wilson-Pote

    A pleasure as always to read how this lively little fellow was created, Kate — and simply to behold him. The balance of delicacy of tone and shape with dimension delights the eye. Thanks, and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your collaborator C.!

    • Kate

      Thank you for your kind words. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you too!


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