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Planning Retirement Online

Art Masterclass 

                      January 2011

Each month presents a feature from either The Artist or its sister publication, Leisure Painter.     

Art masterclass            

From The Artist, the monthly magazine for amateur and semi-professional painters, giving practical instruction in painting and drawing in watercolour, pastels and oils, as well as news of art events, exhibitions and competitions open to leisure artists;    



How to paint ducks in watercolour

Farm animals are much-loved and familiar inhabitants of our countryside and, on the whole, they are easily accessible, says Wendy Jelbert.

Farmyard chicken


Cattle and sheep can often be studied from footpaths or roads, and friendly farmers will allow artists into their yards and barns. They will be delighted and flattered if you are interested in their livestock. Also, they are excellent judges of an animal and, if you produce satisfactory studies, they will be full of pride!

Begin by drawing your subjects at rest or feeding. This process will take some time and lots of patience! In the first instance, make studies of detail, structure and form; the shading and texture can be added later. Then attempt movement and habits, as each has its own characteristics. An understanding of muscle, bone, fat and tendons and where they occur on the body is essential.

Animal drawing is as old as mankind. Study examples of the ancient cave pictures; they can teach us a thing or two!


These delightfully shapely birds add a lovely contrast to a farmyard setting. Their whiteness sometimes causes difficulties. White is certainly not ‘white’, which needs gently adjusting in most situations.


drawing of ducks

Step 1

1. Draw the two characters and outline areas of the ducks in waterproof sepia ink.

2. Place masking fluid where sunlight falls on the birds and the straw in the foreground.

step 2Step 2

1. Using a bright yellow wash, paint the right side of the ducks and splash onto the straw.

2. Paint the background with varying tones of green.

3. With bright orange fill in the feet and beaks.

Step 3

1. When dry, re-glaze the green area with another wash to contrast with the white of the duck shape

2. Rub off masking fluid and paint cerulean blue over the shaded area and over the bright yellow.

3. Wash burnt sienna over the straw to form a deep shadow.

White Ducks, pen and wash, 41/2x8in. (11.5x20.5cm)






White Ducks, pen and wash,
41/2x8in. (11.5x20.5cm





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