Tiny but Mighty Bird Paintings

A hit on Instagram, one might say that Dina Brodsky’s bird paintings — a series of gouache miniatures depicting various avian species from around the world — have taken flight. For a medium, Brodsky tried egg tempera and gold leaf first before settling on gouache for its less finicky application. Though she has created the works in ballpoint pen and transparent watercolor, too.

Green Bird by Dina Brodsky (gouache on paper, 6½ x4¼ )

“Many years ago,” she says, “I fell in love with Islamic miniatures, as well as medieval manuscript illumination, and tried to experiment with some of the techniques those artists used.” Her love of these varied art forms gave way to a feathery exploration. One that is now the subject of its very own Instagram, Bird by Bird; set up by Brodsky to wrangle the collection (with close to 100 unique bird paintings) in one easily accessible place for its fans.

Brodsky’s fascination with birds has come primarily from personal experience.  Watching an elderly woman feed pigeons every morning over a bridge left a lingering interest and the frequent occurrence of birds in her favorite poems gave her pause.

“Birds have been appearing in my paintings and sketchbooks ever since I started painting,” the artist says. “I’ve included them in my paintings as stand-ins for people.”

bird paintings: Hummingbird by Dina Brodsky (gouache on paper, 4¾ x4½ )

Hummingbird by Dina Brodsky (gouache on paper, 4¾ x4½ )

Her miniature bird paintings were also inspired by a Pablo Neruda quote that says, “Bird by bird, I’ve come to know the earth.” Brodsky says, “It’s a way of discovering the world through a single window.” In this case, the window is rendering upon rendering of different feathered birds.

bird paintings: Beacon Down by Dina Brodsky (gouache on paper, 9¼ x7)

Beacon Down by Dina Brodsky (gouache on paper, 9¼ x7)

The artist isn’t the only one benefiting from her research. “I have a toddler, so this is a chance to do something that’s interesting to both of us,” she says. “I tend not to think further ahead than my current series, but I do know that I’ll always be painting.”

What’s Your Watercolor Mainstay?

Dina Brodsky attests that birds have been a part of her artistic life since she cracked open her very first sketchbook. What is your watercolor mainstay? Show it off by entering the Watermedia Showcase, accepting entries right now in all water-based media. There are cash prizes, publication opportunities and the chance to have your paintings seen by contemporary master John Salminen. Enter now!

This article first appeared in Watercolor Artist. For the best publication on the market to combine watercolor inspiration and education, get your subscription now.