Happy Chickadee Watercolor Christmas Card

Happy chickadee is a Christmas card guaranteed to bring a smile to your holidays. Follow along step by step for a glowing watercolor card in 1 to 2 hours. The wet on wet background is excellent practice for beginners in watercolor. Let the water do the work for your happy chickadee card.

Downloads for Happy Chickadee Card

Suggested Colors for Chickadee Christmas Card

  • Blue – Cobalt or Ultramarine Blue work best for making good grays
  • Brown – Burnt Sienna or any brown
  • Yellow – any good yellow (see materials post)
  • Gray – mix blue + brown for a bluish gray
  • Black – mix dark blue + brown or use a tube black
chickadee reference photo for happy chickadee watercolor christmas card

Step by Step Painting Instructions – Just Follow Along!

Step 1 – Draw or trace the outline of your chickadee card onto your watercolor paper with graphite paper.

Step 2 – First coat of paint on pine cones for Happy Chickadee Card.

Left Pine Cone – Paint the left pine cone with brown.

Right Pine Cone – Paint the right pine cone with gold (brown + yellow) on the top and brown on the bottom, letting the colors mix on the paper.

Step 3 – Paint the background wet on wet.

You want a light to medium value on the top and a darker value on the bottom.

Happy chickadee watercolor tutorial - step 3 painting the background

Mix – mix a puddle of each color: blue, green (blue + yellow), and bluish gray (blue + a little brown).

Top – Wet the top with clean water. Paint blue/gray around the edges of the snow, blending it out. While still wet, draw in some green pine needle shapes.

Bottom – Mix darker puddles of color (more paint, less water). Wet the bottom and paint gray, then add some green.

Step 4 – Add shading to the snow for your watercolor Christmas card.

Shading the snow for Happy chickadee Christmas Card watercolor tutorial

Wet the top snow area and paint light gray near the bottom line. Blend the gray up.

Don’t paint the area under the bird’s tail as dark as I did – make yours lighter!

Step 5 – Paint the brown branch showing under the snow.

Mix dark brown by adding blue or black to your brown. (Mix plenty as you’ll need it for the pine cone later.)

Paint the brown branch parts that peek out from under the snow.

Step 6 – Paint the Happy Chickadee

chickadee reference photo for happy chickadee watercolor christmas card

Breast – wet the breast with clean water. Paint gold (brown + yellow) under the wing. Paint gray around the bottom of the body and blend.

Head – paint the head with black (dark blue + brown or tube black), going right over the eye. Paint the beak lighter gray.

Back and tail – paint the back and tail gray.

Step 7 – Pine Cones – adding the details for your watercolor card.

Pine cone reference photo for Happy Chickadee watercolor Christmas card tutorial

Paint the area around the shapes in the left pine cone with dark brown.

Paint the area around the shapes in the right pine cone with golden brown at the top and dark brown at the bottom.

Add as much or as little detail to the pine cones as you like.

Step 8 Finishing Details for Happy Chickadee Christmas Card

Evaluate and adjust – evaluate your values. To lighten an area, rewet with clean water and lift up. To darken an area, add more paint.

Pine needles – draw in a few pine needles with green, brown and white.

Chickadee eye – if desired, add a tiny white line around the top 1/2 of the eye and a tiny white dot in the eye.

White – use opaque white paint to clean up any white edges or add snow on the pine cone or needles.

Happy Chickadee watercolor Christmas card painting by Deb Watson

Happy Painting!

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it - Andy Warhol