Monday, May 31, 2021

Building and leaving the nests

       Spring has sprung, people are vaccinated and leaving the nests they built during the pandemic. The robins and I have been creating. I found a delightful video put out by Amanda Hilburn:  Painting a Nest With A Palette Knife - YouTube about how to paint four nests at a time using palette knives. In the past I have only used palette knives to mix paint, so this was an adventure. I had so much fun, I painted four more and plan to paint more to drop off at friends.'

       At the same time, a mother robin was building nests in several spots under the deck roof, just outside our back door. I became obsessed with photographing the building of the nest with dry grass and mud, watching the mother shape the cup of the nest where she would deliver. 
How we have thrilled daily as the birds appeared, grew and are about to fly. A wonderful video can be watched at made by a young father and his daughter. Below are my photos of our robins. Unfortunately, they fledged today before breakfast and we missed their first steps out.

      I had some very small canvases; and I put the nests in different spots on each. I used a small piece of cardboard to squeeze out my colors. I used a two-inch palette knife with a point to lay out black for the center, brown loosely around the edges, and then added a yellow gold and white, one atop the other. A little gold or white strips around the black gave depth. I went back to lay in the background and sides with titanium white, mixed a little here and there with bits of black or brown, but mostly white. I cheated a bit with a tiny brush and I touched up some of the straw. I used turquoise for the eggs, mixed with white and touched up with a little background color. I rounded off the eggs by darkening the edges. Amanda does it better. 

      I recommend you paint a nest or do as Terry Gay Puckett did and paint a totally different scene. I am trying to think how to add some of Emily Dickinson's lines on birds and nests. Google "bird nest quotes" to pick up some or write your own. Time flies. Baby robins are the size of their parents in two weeks, and sadly ready to fledge; but then it is almost two weeks more to be strong enough to fly and learn from other robins.



  1. What fabulous nest and bird photos. I hope you paint these. Terry Gay

  2. I love this blog and especially the pictures. You might send them to the Audubon Society, so precious they are.

  3. Such a good blog posting! And what really great writing. I'd heard of palette knife painting but had no idea of how it was done. You make the process clear! Loved the results. And then the photography--excellent! I loved every one of them. I never realized how very fast baby birds grow. So reading this, I definitely learned a lot!

  4. Hi Linda,
    You could enter the Mass Audubon photo contest:
    Your pictures tell a great story. The palette knife paintings are great - you evidently picked up the technique quickly.
    Keep painting, writing and taking pics! - Ellen