Painting Birds in Watercolour

If you love animals and work in watercolour no doubt you will probably have tried painting birds.

EKM  birds

The endless array of species of beautiful birds will keep us painting for  a lifetime and watercolour lends itself perfectly to capture the feather colours and textures with ease.

You can use flowing wet into wet techniques in the early stages of painting birds; adding darker colours to strengthen tones as you go and finally adding details wet on dry or by using dry brush techniques at the final stages of your painting.

Magpies make fabulous subjects because of the dramatic contrast in tones in their black and white plumage and the iridescent feathers glistening in green, purple and blue!



bird magpie twig

an original watercolour magpie – 8×10 inches


I would always recommend stretching your watercolour paper first so that when you paint your wren, eagle, flamingo, seagull etc you will have a perfectly flat and well-behaved piece of paper!

To view my YouTube videos on painting the above goose – click here –

There is nothing worse that paper cockling into peaks and troughs as you paint!

to see my peacock video click here –


Here are some watercolor birds I have painted. To view my online watercolour bird gallery click here –


I enjoy capturing birds expressions and antics! I hope you do too.

Feel free to have a go at my step by step tutorials and there are links to several of my bird YouTube tutorials as well.

Just click on the images below to make them larger or request them via my email –

robin 1robin 2

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Any questions? Please contact me at and I’ll be happy to help you get to painting birds in watercolour.

Watercolor Dog Portraits


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For a fabulous and unique dog lover gift what better than a glorious original custom watercolor!

I can paint your dog portrait wearing a patriotic Uncle Sam hat. This will be a custom dog portrait at a generous 11×14 inch size – plenty of space to get in all the features of your dog plus the details of the starts and stripes on the hat.

dogys chohpy copy

I can paint any breed of dog with an Uncle Sam hat – order today!




Patriotic stars and stripes Uncle Sam hat – in glorious watercolor!




All I need from you in order to paint your Uncle Sam dog is a very high res image (at least 1MB) of your dog in the pose you want ( I suggest either a full on front view or a three quarter turn view). This can be emailed to me – Alison Fennell at

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A laughing Staffordshire bull terrier as Uncle Sam



Usually original custom dog portraits take me around 12 working days.

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For an 11×14 inch watercolor dog portrait on archival top quality (Arches paper from France) 100% hot pressed cotton rag paper the cost is $225 plus shipping (approx. $16)


Your original dog painting will be painted here in my studio in Wales, UK and will ship via airmail with tracking and insurance.

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A serious bulldog in patriotic dog gear



When I have completed the portrait and you LOVE it – I will either

  1. send you an invoice via Paypal or
  2. you can check out using a credit card with a special reserved listing I will create for you on Etsy – where I have my online art gallery. To view my gallery click HERE

READY TO ORDER?! – to allow plenty of time to get your custom dog painting (especially if you want it as a 4th July hostess gift then please email me now with the best image you have of your dog.

I look forward to hearing from you!

To read a bit more about me – here is my artist bio:)

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Watercolour Dog Portraits

Commission an original watercolour portrait of your dog:)

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A unique surprise gift for birthdays or any special occasion!
All I need from you are VERY high res images.

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Prices start at £95 (or $145) for an 8×10 inch original painting on 100% archival cotton rag paper. I also do larger sizes


I ship worldwide too.

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Turnaround time from request to completed painting is usually less than 12 days.

Contact me for full details today!

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Sketching Goats

I love goats – they are so cheeky and cute. For an upcoming workshop I needed to find a really good subject and found a fab image on a stock ref image website to buy.


I wanted to get the feel of his face and so did a lot of sketches this morning to try him out from all angles.


Lovely to just sit and sketch for a while…


I did a pure/blind contour drawing where I looked only at the image and never at the drawing (I put a partition between me and it so I wasn’t tempted to look).


Pure contour drawing – took 15 minutes – drawing slowly and not looking at all at the drawing as it evolved

Doing this just allows you to feel the image millimetre by millimentre as you draw with no care as to how the result will look.

It’s all about just letting your eye do some observing without the critical brain nagging away at it’s efforts.

I love to do this to warm up before sketching.


In her book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” Betty Edwards explains how and why to do this – brilliant drawing book for all those who just want to draw well and enjoy the process.


Using a partition to stop myself looking at the pure contour drawing:)

Then I did a few more – all on tracing paper because then if I manage to do a good one I can then transfer that original freehand drawing onto my watercolour paper with no rubbings out. That way the surface of the paper stays perfect – ready for watercolour.


Each drawing allowed me to see where I was going wrong and right.

Finally I have settled on this last one. It could be improved – but I like the feel and attitude of the goat and so will use this as the basis for my painting – can’t wait to get going – rev the engines and go!


My final drawing – will use this for a painting…

Do you have any favourite drawing techniques or processes? If so post a comment below! Thanks

To visit my online animal art gallery click HERE

Mad About the Koi, watercolor koi paintings

Just recently I had a hankering to paint those gorgeous koi carp.

fish koi 2 copy

Their dramatic and wild orange red splotches against the white of their body were just begging to be captured in watercolour.

I imagined painting them fast and loose at the early stages using wet into wet technique.

That was what I did and it was a thrilling experience. I loved how the orange scarlet Winsor and Newton watercolour tube paint spread deliciously over the paper.


Early wet into wet stages in and bleeding softly



Once I had the early vague, organic washes in I then added a darker hue on top to add a second dimension of depth to those markings.

This process of building is very satisfying.

Then I dried the whole fish and added more texture wet on dry.

Here are some items that I created to sell on my Society6 art shop – for the koi or fish lover they could make a perfect gift.

SHOP NOW via this link –

If you want to see my free teaching videos on how to paint then click here!


I then went on to paint the koi at 4 art classes and demos and my art students did them very well indeed.

Here are some examples –

The originals are for sale here if you love real paintings for your home.

fish koi 2 copy

To purchase – click this link –



To purchase fish below please click this link – fish koi 2.jpg


Thanks for reading

Watercolour Dog Portraits

For a beautiful original watercolour portrait of your dog please contact me – Alison Fennell on


Berk crop

All I need are very good quality images of your dog in the pose you wish to have him painted.

I require at least 1 Megabyte (!MB) images so that I can see every last detail in your dog’s face.

That way I can give you the best portrait possible.


Romeo Framed

Framing is simple once I have completed your portrait as I paint to standard 8×10 inch or 10×12 inch photo size.

This means you can skip your original custom dog portrait into any off the shelf frame available from department stores and supermarkets!


My turnaround time is under 2 weeks from request to finished painting!


My 8×10 inch original watercolour portraits are £95 plus shipping/packing

My 10×12 inch portraits are £125 plus shipping/packaging

I do not request a deposit.


I paint my animals in my home studio here in Pontypridd, South Wales, UK

I do not paint shaggy coated dogs.

Smooth-coated dogs are my speciality and as I love painting those that is all I do. Please contact me if you are unsure.



I have been painting in watercolour for 25 years and specialise in animals. Their faces and character continue to engage and entertain me as I paint.

My work is currently for sale in Dunelm throughout the UK as large prints and The Museums & Galleries Collection sell a range of 12 of my animal cards called “Alison’s Ark” in museum and art gallery shops UK-wide.

For years I have donated my art to various animal rescues and charities including The Fox Project, Animals Asia, Hope Rescue and The Dog’s Trust and several rabbit rescues.

I regularly write for Leisure Painter Magazine giving step by step demonstrations on watercolour subjects.


I also teach two watercolour classes near Cardiff as well as running private one to one workshops for watercolour students.


For details on any of the above please contact me – Alison Fennell at or visit my online art gallery at

I’ll look forward to hearing your doggy requests!



This Week’s Art


This week has seen a lot of art being made:)

  • Tuesday daytime – I was teaching my Art Spirit Painter’s Group how to paint a tall ship
  • Tuesday evening I was doing a watercolour horse demonstration to Sully Art Group
  • Friday afternoon was spent with my growing Tonteg Art Spirit Painter’s group where we painted a Moroccan doorway


  • on Saturday morning I gave a one to one foxglove watercolour workshop to Chris – a lovely lady and one of my Tuesday class.

Below I include the links to some of the videos made during the workshops and demos plus some of the finished results – enjoy!


Click on this image to see videos on how to paint it via my YouTube channel

Feel free to try this demo yourself

Feel free to try this demo yourself

Horse 2 Horse 3 horse appears

The horse was painted in watercolour using a limited palette of Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Umber, and some final passages of Cadmium Red Deep and Cerulean Blue for contrast. I worked wet into wet in the early stages to create soft washes and then worked tighter and smaller on details as the painting progressed.

At Friday’s group we travelled to Morocco and painted a hot orange doorway with lovely curves and palms to frame the scene.

I used Winsor Orange and Rose Madder Genuine and then Cobalt Blue for the dark washes and shadows. I didn’t feel the need to paint the palms green but kept them in a complementary shade to tie in with the overall colour range of the painting.

We had done a lot of tight work in previous weeks and so felt this slightly expressionist and suggestive project would be a change of pace!

When I got home I decided that I would add some pastel to my watercolour. Here is the end result.

“Sultry Shadows” original mixed media painting 9×11 inches – pastel and watercolour by Alison Fennell

Finally – on Saturday it was a focussed session with Chris to look at foxgloves. We worked wet into wet to give a loose impression in the early stages and then added finer and harder details as we progressed. Chris took home more polished skills and a fabulously delicate foxglove watercolour.


Here is the step by step if you wish to try it out.

Have a go of painting this yourself!

Have a go of painting this yourself!

foxglove 2 deep

Have a go of painting this yourself!

That’s all for this week – happy painting and CONVO me with any questions about watercolour! Alison