Painting Birds at Little Piney

Tammy Brown

Painting Birds

After painting yet another landscape in June, I felt restless to try something new.  I wanted to paint in a looser style, and I wanted to paint some birds!  I pulled out my pastels for a change of pace and some favorite photos for references and got started.  I collected some old acrylic abstract paintings and added a sanded acrylic ground to prepare them for pastels.  Using recycled materials instead of expensive paper or canvas promotes experimentation and playfulness!


I am drawn toward photographs that capture interaction between the bird and the viewer.  I used sanded ground on pastel board and pastels for this Lincoln’s Sparrow.  He perched near me last winter while I sat  on the front porch with my camera.

Painting Birds at Little Piney
Lincoln’s Sparrown

BIG Birds

I experimented with painting birds larger than life (much larger) inviting the viewer to see the birds in a new way.  I emphasized colors, patterns, expressions, and postures. The pastel paintings below measure roughly 32″x 24″.

Red-shouldered Hawks at Little Piney often make eye contact and tolerate lots of photographs.

Painting Birds at Little Piney
Red Shouldered Hawk
Painting Birds at Little Piney
Red-Shouldered Hawk


In contrast to the confident hawk, this Painted Bunting looks stressed.  A birding companion played a recorded bird song to draw the Bunting out of  deep cover.  His territory is a large elm tree, and the song signaled a challenge by another male.  Without the bird song, I never would have  photographed this shy bird; however, the contrast between his nervous watchfulness and the confident and curious expressions of the other birds turned me against using bird recordings for photo purposes.

Painting Birds at Little Piney
Painted Bunting


Cardinals are friendly birds!  These female and male Northern Cardinals with their curious expressions are my favorite large pastels.

Painting Birds at Little Piney
Mrs. C
Painting Birds at Little Piney
Mr. C

Oil Paintings of Birds

After a few weekends of sketching, I picked up my oil paints again.  I took the expressiveness of the birds to another level, painting birds to represent ways that human beings relate.  In “Cedar Waxwings,” I see a nurturing relationship, a connected conversation, a triangle, an angry twosome, different amounts of closeness, distance, and disconnection.  You may see something different.  Please let me know what you see!

Painting Birds at Little Piney
Cedar Waxwings

In “Scissortails” I thought more specifically of group psychotherapy dynamics.  (In my day job, I’m a psychotherapist.)  This group would be a challenging.  It appears that no one is really connecting, and someone is about to “flee.”

Painting Birds at Little Piney

More to come

More rain is in the forecast this weekend.  Perfect for studio time.  I might be painting some Mississippi Kites this weekend.

Mississippi Kite Watching Us Watching Him


  1. You are a very talented woman! I loved all the paintings, but my favorite by far is the Waxwings. Will you be selling prints? Wonderful!

    1. Thank you, Linda. I will look into making some prints of that one. I’ll let you know. thanks for asking!

    1. Hi Stacey, Thank you for visiting my bird paintings page. I’m glad you enjoyed my work. I’ll send you message!

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