How to Watercolor : Pink Flamingos!

I recently started doing this watercolor warm-up exercise that I've found to be really enjoyable! Basically, I just pick a color, and use it to paint a monochrome pattern. This has been a great to broaden my painting style a bit, get me thinking about creating patterns and introduce some new subjects into my work. 

The color of this week was pink! And I had a lot of hanging out in the tropics with these dandy flamingos for a few hours. I'll probably turn this piece into a pattern to print on some things like notebooks and tea towels for Etsy...

But for now, here's the simple step-by-step of how to bring these flamingos to life: 

Materials I Used 

+ Winsor & Newton Ink :
+ Holbein Artists' Gouache :
+ Pentel Aquash Water Brush :
+ White Gelly Roll Pen :
+ Canson Watercolor Paper :


Step 1 : Warm-Up 

Practice your technique until you're comfortable with the subjects. I use this as a test space for colors, materials, shape and personality. It really helps to gain some confidence and warm-up before you go to the final piece.  


Step 2 : Material Choices 

I usually choose one primary media for my paintings, but in this case it was two. I worked with a mix of Winsor & Newton strawberry colored ink, and gouache in flaming red and bright orange. The ink gave me that bright translucent pink, that is almost impossible to replicate in gouache or watercolor. And I added the gouache for color variation and it's granulation effect (when it dried the pigments will group together, and create areas of more intense saturation which I thought was cool for a feathered effect). 


Step 3 : Paint the Body Shapes

I first filled the page with all of the basic shapes of the flamingos. I always try to keep the basee shapes as simple as possible so I don't have to think too much or worry about making mistakes. :) I chose to paint their bodies and legs in one color, and try to create a variety of poses to give each one a unique character.


Step 4 : Let the Water Do the Work

I used a lot of water on the flamingos, which gives that beautiful color gradient/granulation effect when it dries. I painted each one in one color, and if I felt like it needed an extra pop I'd just dab a dot of pink ink into the water pool and watch it spread. It's best to do this in one fell swoop, and not to be too precious or go over the flamingos too much. The life is in the looseness!


Step 5 : Pink Water Brushing

I added a couple of drops of diluted pink ink to a Pentel aquash water brush to paint the base layer of their beaks and some little pools of water underneith their legs (so they're not floating on the white page).


Step 6 : Add Final Details! 

Finally, I gave each of their beaks a black gouache tip, added tiny white eyes with a Gelly Roll pen, and some shadows and feather details with a colored pencil.  


I hope you enjoyed, and if anyone paints some flamingos of their own I would love to see them!