Artists of Shambellie House

Expressive Birds: Quick and Easy Drawing and Painting Techniques

From: £45.00

saturday 8th june 2024

10aM to 1.00PM

Let your creativity take flight as you learn easy-to-follow techniques to draw and paint lifelike British birds; from mastering basic shapes to applying bold brush strokes, you’ll be guided step by step to create stunning, expressive watercolour paintings, capturing the essence of these beautiful creatures.

Part of the Artist of Shambellie series and links with Bird Portraits: An Introduction to Needlefelting in the afternoon.

Book this workshop here. 


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Shambellie House is surrounded by natural woodland and the sound of birdsong. During this half day workshops you will work through a series of exercises exploring easy to follow techniques enabling you to draw realistic birds. You will have time to practice the techniques to create a finished piece and once drawn out you will apply watercolour paint to enhance your drawing using quick and expressive painting techniques to create bold expressive paintings that capture the essence of a bird.

What will be produced:

You will complete 6 pencil drawings displaying an understanding of the basic technique needed to successfully draw birds and one final expressive piece in watercolour.

The drawings and painting can then transfer to the afternoon workshop with Helen Walsh which can be booked here. 

Your Tutor

Your Tutor

Ailsa Mackay

Ailsa Mackay is an freelance artist, textile designer and tutor. With over 20 years’ experience, her design work has been sold widely across British, German, Australian and US High Streets on fashion textiles, homeware, gift wrap and stationary and her paintings are sold privately to collectors.

She loves to take inspiration from everyday life and the natural world, is passionate about renaissance life drawing techniques and is fascinated by portraits.

Her work is predominantly created using acrylic, gouache and soft pastels working in a big and bold style to keep her brush strokes fresh and dynamic, using harmonious colour combinations.

“The physical process of painting is where I find the most joy. I delight in the journey that my work goes through on its way to becoming its own individual unique piece.”

About the Day

The workshop will take place from 10am – 12pm  and refreshments will be provided throughout the day including tea/coffee. It can be linked to an afternoon workshop and you can book that lunch if required.

This workshop will take place in the Gallery on the second floor, which is only accessible via a flight of stairs. Please let us know if you have any access needs and we will accommodate you.

What you can expect:

The morning will be split into a series of sections.

1. The first section will be a guided exercise where participants will follow alongside Ailsa in a step by step demonstration of each bird. They will be shown how to draw realistic birds using basic shapes. Participants will complete a series of 6 bird drawings in pencil.

2. The second section will give participants the chance to practice the techniques learnt in the first exercise and allow them plenty of time for self-learning and to practice drawing their chosen bird from available reference material. The drawing will be lightly drawn onto watercolour paper and will make up the final piece of the session. Individuals will be supported and given individual feedback throughout the session.

3. Once the drawing is complete a short demo will be given as to how to use quick and expressive watercolour techniques using loose and bold brush strokes; Participants will be given an overview of the materials and how to use them, a short guide to colours and using watercolour as a medium for expressive painting and given a demonstration of mixing and applying the medium to paper. Participants will be encouraged to have confidence and let go of their inhibitions to loosen up and be bold. They will be reassured that the technique will help them to learn and develop. If they wish they can also use one of Ailsa’s drawings to attempt the final painting.

4. The final piece will be created by each participant using the simple and expressive technique to finish their end bird painting. There will be plenty of time for experimentation and creating their finished pieces. And enough time for participants to relax, take a break and discuss each other’s work.

Skills gained from the workshop include:
1. Learn how to draw birds using a series of basic shapes and step by step guidelines
2. Gain an overview of the basics of watercolour as a medium
3. Leant basic watercolour painting techniques e.g. laying down washes, painting wet on wet and dry brush
4. Increased brush handling skills
5. Worked with a limited palette and gained essential colour mixing
6. Learnt about loosening up and being expressive to create dynamic results.

Positive Outcomes:

1. Increased confidence in drawing and painting abilities
2. Improved creativity and inspiration to explore new ideas
3. Experiencing a calm and relaxing space to concentrate on the process of drawing and painting to promote mental well-being.
4. A sense of achievement and satisfaction
5. The opportunity to meet like minded individuals with similar interests and passions.

Kit and Requirements

There will be an additional cost of £5 per person for materials, payable to the tutor on the day.

If you have answered yes and would like to discuss your requirements then please get in touch.