Whimsical Swallows in Flight

Before long our swallow population will be lining up on the power lines for their last assemblies before saying goodbye and heading south for their winters in Africa.

Swallows ready to leave

The farm will feel much quieter when they are gone, and our skies are no longer filled with the swooping, sweeping curves of their flight. This summer the families have grown tremendously, with the hot dry weather allowing our resident families to raise two or even three broods successfully in our barn.

So obviously the swallows are a natural project to paint in tribute to their departure. I decided this year to paint them in a simplified, slightly whimsical style, to go along with the theme I’ve been following all summer. For this painting I needed very little time and few materials.

How I painted these Swallows

I’ve been experimenting with Kuretake Gansai Tambi paints recently, and decided to use them for this little painting. Here are three options ranging from 12 through 18 to 48 colors. They are good value for money, lightfast and easy to use. They release their color very quickly, avoiding the need to wet them in advance, and they are easy to mix if you have a little china or plastic plate or palette at hand.

I opted for a 5 x 8 inch piece of paper from one of my sketchbooks, the little Viviva one which has smooth paper in it ideal for a tidy painting like this. I also used a fine Staedtler pen and some Daniel Smith quinacridone gold. You could use any paper though, and I have put some suggestions below.

I drew my design on a scrap piece of paper first and then transferred it to my watercolor paper using my lightbox. I like this inexpensive little lightbox from LitEnergy which is great for the occasional use, or there is a more sophisticated version with brightness adjustment, if you are going to use it frequently. They are both available from Amazon.

To make life easier for you we have drawn a sketch of this painting which is available free of charge from our downloads page on this website. Just follow this link to download your free sketch and then all that’s left to do is to click play!

Watch the video

Here are three options for inexpensive watercolor paper.

And here are three additional options for inexpensive paints as a beginner:

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