The aim of this exercise is for you to enjoy painting this cockerel. Cockerels add life, colour and a touch of either comedy or drama to a painting. This cockerel is very proud and makes a lovely painting all by itself. I have shown you how to paint it in three stages, so have a go. Try to be relaxed, use plenty of water with your paint, and enjoy yourself!
Painting a cockerel in watercolour with June Crawshaw
Brushes Series 40, No.10 sable, and series 43, No.6 sable
Bockingford watercolour paper (NOT surface)
Hooker's green dark
June Crawshaw paints a cockerel in watercolour
Step 1: Draw the cockerel using your 2B pencil. If you are a beginner there is no easy way to start you have to go for it.
Step 2: Start by painting the comb. Mix a small wash of cadmium red, and one of crimson alizarin. Using your No. 6 brush, start painting from the left with cadmium red and finish with crimson alizarin on the right. Continue painting around the eye, changing to crimson alizarin under the beak and ending with cadmium red at the bottom on its wattle. Now let it dry.
Step 3: Using your No.10 brush mix yellow ochre with water and paint the chest. Start pale and add more yellow and a touch of cadmium red to the back of the neck and body. Leave this to dry.
Step 1: Still using your No.10 brush, mix a pool of French ultramarine with crimson alizarin and a touch of yellow ochre, and a smaller one of Hooker’s green dark. Paint the feathers on the lower part of the cockerel with the first mix, adding a touch of green towards the tail feathers. Don’t worry if the colours run together and don’t be too fussy.
Step 2: Continue to paint the tail feathers adding touches of blue and crimson here and there. The more variation the better.
Step 3: Mix a watery mix of crimson alizarin with a touch of yellow ochre and paint the legs and the beak with your No.6 brush.
Step 1: This is the final stage, so enjoy it. Starting with the background, mix a puddle of French ultramarine with a touch of crimson alizarin, another one of Hooker’s green dark and crimson alizarin and a final one of Hooker’s green dark and yellow ochre. Using your No.10 brush, paint around the cockerel. Don’t worry if the colours change and run together in a different way to mine. Be fairly careful around the cockerel’s head and chest – otherwise thoroughly enjoy being bold, loose and free.
Step 2: Now paint the ground. Mix crimson alizarin and yellow ochre and, using your No.10 brush, paint broad horizontal strokes, leaving some white paper showing and add a touch of French ultramarine near the bottom. Leave it to dry.
Step 3: Loading your No.6 brush with a mix of French ultramarine, crimson alizarin and touch of yellow ochre, paint the darker areas on the cockerel, starting with the comb and working downwards. Now using your No.10 brush, add a touch more crimson alizarin and yellow ochre for the shadows on the cockerel’s back and for the shadow on the ground. You might feel you need to add a few more darks to your painting, but don’t get too fiddly or you will spoil it.
Cockerel. Watercolour, (26.5cm x 32cm)
It is important to look carefully at the red comb and wattle. If you get the colour and shape right you will recognise it as a cockerel and not as a hen. Note the overall shape and long legs that give the character of the cockerel. Don’t worry too much about the exact positioning of the feathers; keep those brushstrokes loose and free. When following my instructions always put the main colour into the mix first. For example, yellowy orange means putting yellow first, followed by a touch of red.