Project 1—Spring Chickadee Brush Drawing

Supplies You Will Need:

  • supplies listed in the Required Materials list for Watercolor Jumpstart, set up and ready to paint
  • pencil and kneaded eraser
  • woodless pencil or graphite stick (optional, but handy) or a regular pencil
  • a 1/16th sheet (approx. 5 1/2 x 7 1/2″, 14 x 19 cm) sheet of watercolor paper for the project, taped to your support board
  • at least five 1/16th sheets of watercolor paper for the project lessons
  • several scrap pieces of watercolor paper for testing and practicing colors and brushstrokes (if you are just starting out you may not have any such “scraps” yet; but as you go along save all your exercise and practice sheets and use the backs as your “test sheets”)

Project Prerequisites:

  • all lessons in the Preliminaries section above

Project Lessons

Before we begin the project, the three videos below will give us an introduction to the new skills we will need:

How to Transfer a Drawing to Watercolor Paper

The Mechanics of Mixing

Note: Set your printer to “no scaling” or “print actual size” instead of “fill page” to print the templates at the correct size for your watercolor paper.

How to Spatter Watercolor Paint


Now we’re ready to tackle our first project!

Spring Chickadee Project Video

Some brush marks are more easily made in one direction by right-handed people, and in the other direction by left-handed people, so the template for this project is available in both orientations. 

A Few More Similar Examples for Inspiration

See what other marks you can make with your brushes, and try combining the various marks into simple objects or scenes. There are a few examples below for inspiration. (Feel free to try copying them, but keep in mind that you might or might not have a brush that makes similar marks to those used in the examples.)

Of course, this can be an entire painting style; brush drawing is a dominant component of traditional Japanese and Chinese watercolor. But it’s also a good skill for every watercolorist to develop. Why laboriously outline and “color in” a shape if your brush can make it in a single stroke?