Bird on a branch

Bird on a branch Heather Telford

Last week I posted a card featuring negative painted leaves and mentioned a second card made at the same time. Both cards were inspired  by gum leaves. This is the card I created using a negative mask cut from frisket film with the ‘happy news’ die. When I cut the bird and branch image out of the frisket film I used a piece that would cover most of my watercolour panel. I obviously didn’t think too much about where I was positioning it because I ended up with the bird balancing oddly on the diagonal branch. I think it would have been more natural if the branch was closer to horizontal but it still seems to work.

The frisket film works well masking watercolour paint but some does seep underneath. Fortunately on this panel the only seepage was around the leaves not the bird. I painted a layer at a time and let the colour dry in between to avoid getting the panel too wet. The paint is gansai tambi watercolour with some details done in watercolour pencils. I completed most of the painting before removing the mask. With the mask off I painted some extra leaves then worked with the green and blue seepage around the leaves to create the impression of more foliage in the background. Once the leaves were totally dry I scratched a spine into each leaf with a sharp knife.

At this point I wanted to create some contrast to make the bird pop a little more but I didn’t want to paint a fiddly background around all the edges. Instead I cut another ‘happy news’ mask from masking paper and positioned it directly over the painted bird (which was totally dry) I then sponged the golden colour using memento peanut brittle ink. Once I had good coverage I pressed a damp paper towel into the sponging to give it more of a watercoloured texture.

This is a technique I will play around with more because I have many dies and they make great outlines for watercolouring. Getting a negative and positive mask from each die cut means double the possibilities.

My dad celebrated his 80th birthday this week and hopefully this card has arrived in Australia and been opened by now. He and my mother check out the cards on my blog regularly and my dad drops hints from time to time that he would like to see some Australian scenes. I definitely had eucalyptus leaves in mind when I painted this scene but I can’t say that the bird resembles any particular Australian bird. (If the card hasn’t arrived yet Dad, you’re getting a sneak peak!)


Creative Dies: Happy News (PB)
Inks: Memento Peanut Brittle ink (Tsukineko)
Cardstock: Fabriano 100% cotton hot pressed watercolour paper,  Neenah Natural White 110lb cardstock, teal cardstock
Also:  Kuretake Gansai Tambi watercolour paints, grafix extra tack frisket film, Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer watercolour pencils

13 Comments on “Bird on a branch”

  1. Bobby says:

    I just ordered some PB stencils and florals to do what you have talked about here. Now I will be looking at my existing dies to see how I can use them as well. TFS.

  2. Magee says:

    This card truly shows your “artist”! Wonderful work 🙂

  3. trishreddick says:

    Heather, your work is just stunning. I love this small piece of art! Thank you for all the tips and tricks. I am trying so hard to improve my painterly skills and your instruction is invaluable. Thank you again

  4. Judy says:

    Beautiful card! Thanks for sharing your work and creative process, I am anxious to try using my dies as stencils.

  5. Bonnie says:

    Wow, Heather! This is a gorgeous card and I’m even more amazed after reading how you painted it! Very special!

  6. Doris Hubbard says:


    Sent from my iPad


  7. Pat says:

    This is stunning Heather and I love the Gamsai paints as the colours are just so pretty. I also love the Peanut Brittle Memento you have used in the background which works beautifully with the green. I adore the bird too. x

  8. CherylQuilts says:

    Oh, Heather, you continue to amaze me with your artistic ability! I love this beautiful song bird on the branches against the yellow! Fabriano makes such a difference! Love it!! Hugs!

  9. Rufus says:

    Another gorgeous card. Happy Birthday to your Dad!! Know he’ll love his card.

  10. Roxy says:

    Happy Birthday to your Dad I’m sure he will love this beautiful card you created and admire it with pride

  11. Sally H says:

    Wow! This is so beautiful Heather! The bird is fine at that angle – they are little acrobats sometimes! Love the colours and your watercolouring is wonderful. I will have to try this technique (and buy the die ;))

  12. Lindsey says:

    Wow, Heather, this looks so true-to-life! Beautiful!

  13. ND says:

    Sadly your card has not yet arrived and I do not know whether to blame Canad Post or Australia Post. But as the 12 days of birthday are now past, I decided to peek at your card and I endorse all that your commentators have written.
    I do not recognize the bird but its colouring is similar to many members of the wren and parrot families. The spray of eucalyptus (gum tree) is almost photographic, true in both form and colour, distinctly Australian. I keenly await the arrival of the original to read the secret words it carries inside.
    I hardly dare mention that we have had a wonderful day today with all the family at dinner and through the afternoon. The only lack was that of yourself and the other precious members of your family.
    With love, Dad.

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