Seabirds tend to have a lot of white on them, so the small squares of Khadi paper are perfect as they reflect the coastal palette with their stone-greys and slate-blues. The gouache responds really well to the absorbent, textured surface so it’s great fun to work with.

Although herring gulls are always really popular, I like championing the less familiar birds we see on our seas and cliffs: kittiwakes and guillemots are two of my favourites. It’s also a good chance to see the subtle differences between the species as they tend to merge in a white/grey/black generality whereas they are really quite distinctive.

Here is a guillemot, and is the bridled variety with the white wing of eyeliner that is present in some birds when in breeding plumage. They are auks, so related to puffins and razorbills, and have that slight penguin-y look to them. Although they look black, they are a deep brown, although some populations are darker. I added some burnt umber to the lamp black to give a hint of chocolate.

I adore kittiwakes – and they are my mum’s favourite gull too. The yellow bill, black feet, that ring of red around the eye as well as their dainty build make them a really pretty gull. I have visited the kittiwake colonies in Newcastle; see my blogpost about that visit.

Fulmars look rather gull-like but are in fact petrels, and are a nomadic oceanic species only coming ashore to breed. I have not seen one as far south as Sussex, and their main breeding grounds are much further north. They have tube nostrils like an albatross, which is used for ridding them of a build up of salt from drinking seawater. Foreshortening is always a bit of a challenge but I like how this painting turned out.

This black-headed gull is in full summer breeding plumage, with its chocolate head. There are lots of gulls feeding on the worms in the newly-sown wheat field behind my house at the moment: they hunt for insects and other invertebrates so are often seen inland despite their seabird credentials.

These mini paintings are for sale at £15 each – please see the Mini Gouache Originals tab under “Buy” for payment details.

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