It was SO cold as I was painting this – and all I wanted was a hint at spring! It felt right to bring in a little spring with a watercolor a swimming duckling. This one is, I think, a mallard…I do know that the yellow duckies we see at Easter are domestic ducklings (most of which become a white grownup duck), and these will become multicolored with lots of camouflage.


The color palette is this, with the addition of Jane’s Black, which I wanted to put to the test on a large painting. I’d tried it on small sketches, but wanted to note its performance in a big piece with a bunch of black in the image. (The reference photo is by James Mehl)

Watercolor a swimming duckling

I tested out a color in hopes I’d finally found a black watercolor that I could see using…Jane’s Black!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

First pass: loose

The first wash covered everything that’s not white. I knew lots more color would go over this so I didn’t have to have perfect edges, but I did try to get some multicolor wash sections in.


It was a lot of fun getting into all the little feathers on the duckling. My attempts to research the breed led me to consuder putting a dark strip across the crown but opted to follow the photo instead. But the colors used in the first wash completed the duck, adding in the first of the Jane’s while still in a limited section. That gave me the courage for the further water areas to come.

Black water

Once I started painting large swaths with the Jane’s Black, I saw its potential! No more weirdo black color that dies on top of my paintings…this feels like the kind of black I typically mix – and now I won’t have to!


I adapted a number of things in this painting, simplifying the background a good bit to keep it from trying to grab attention from the duck. 

Need your own duckling for your wall?

If you’d like to purchase the original or a print, feel free to hang my little duckling on your wall!


Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

Subscribe to receive blog posts by email:

1 Comment

  1. Gab

    This is so so sweet


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.