I was chatting to a friend of mine who mentioned her daughter’s friend’s mum (!) was a nurse at our County Hospital, and had asked if any artists could donate some of their work to decorate the wards and communal areas of the Covid-19 section of the hospital. As the hospital is in Brighton, I wondered about a gull of some sort, or a lino print, but I thought maybe something a little brighter would be better.

The pieces had to be A4, and I normally work on 30cm square paper, but I had a pack of A4 light grey Khadi paper from when I painted a penguin for my daughter. I considered a Mandaring duck but thought that might be a bit less familiar so decided on a puffin, with the colourful beak of a breeding male:

I absolutely love how the white pops off the grey paper, and the handmade texture loves the gouache. I was so pleased with it I couldn’t resist painting a Mandarin duck:

I used gold paint on the upper wing and it looks amazing! I feel a bit torn really as I love using the white paper to be the white of the bird, but it looks so good on the light grey, and the paint looks so beautifully flat and matte. I normally use smooth watercolour paper but it’s odd how textured paper enhances the smoothness of the paint rather than the reverse.

I have more paper left over so I may try and paint a few more birds. Another dilemma is that I love the square but A4 is easier for people to frame, and perhaps at the moment (with framers being rather hard to find) it would be good to get some work out there which can be framed with one off the [Amazon] shelf.

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