Red Winged Blackbirds

This week I’ve entered my first Spoonflower design challenge in over a year!

Earlier this year, my family installed a bird feeder in our backyard. We’ve had a great time watching the birds that visit and identifying the various species. When Spoonflower announced the Birding theme for this week’s challenge, I knew I wanted to jump in.

A watercolor sketch of our bird feeder from February.

I chose Red Winged Blackbirds as the subject of my pattern because they have a striking appearance with the flash of bright red and yellow on their otherwise all-black bodies. They also have a ton of confidence, and frankly they can be quite mean to other birds!

One of my favorite things I found while researching the species was the story of a Red Winged Blackbird attacking a Bald Eagle in a territory dispute. I wanted to try to capture that fierce, fiery personality in my artwork.

Photo credit: Jason McCarty

I painted my blackbirds by hand, starting with watercolor for the vibrant red and yellow wings. Then I filled in the rest of my sketch with black gouache, to get a thick, dark contrast to the bright colors. After the gouache was fully dry. I used a tiny brush to add some details in white ink, so we could see the definition of the feathers. It was fun to use three different paint media on one project!

Next I scanned my painted blackbirds and brought them into Procreate, where I arranged them into a pattern on a digital sky background. This was only the second pattern I’ve ever created in Procreate, so it was good surface design practice! Mel Armstrong’s classes on Skillshare have been a huge help in adjusting to this new software.

Voting on the Spoonflower challenge is still open until Tuesday, September 6th! I had a great time creating this pattern, and I’m excited to bring it to my Spoonflower shop soon.

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