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Woodcock pin-feather paintings – with gold leaf

Eurasian woodcock pin-feather (1)In the days after Christmas, Colin put the finishing touches to these two woodcock pin-feather paintings.   Together they make a pair, because one is a Eurasian woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and the other is an American woodcock (Scolopax minor).

What makes them different from Colin’s other woodcock pin-feather paintings is the addition of a new element:  gold leaf.

Gold LeafColin owes his inspiration to the work of a Romanian friend, Cornel Apostol, who is an iconographer (and a talented photographer).  Encouraged by Cornel, Colin decided to experiment with different shades of gold, using the wafer-thin sheets to represent some of the leaves in the background of his pictures.  The result incorporates four subtly different hues of gold:  lemon, green, red and ‘moon‘, ranging from 16.5 to 24 carats.

Fixing gold leaf to paper is a tricky process which involves applying a special size or glue to the surface, and then carefully placing the sheet of gold over the top.  The area is then burnished and the excess gold is gently removed with a stiff brush.

Colin says:  “I was keen to use different colours of gold leaf in order to achieve a natural variety of tones.  But applying the stuff is extremely challenging, because you only have to breathe and it disappears in a shower of gold!”

The paintings themselves depict Eurasian and American woodcock in flight;  the Eurasian woodcock has a background of birch leaves, while the American woodcock is portrayed with aspen.  Each has been painted with a single pin-feather from the respective bird, and the feather is inserted into the paper, below the image, before framing.

American Woodcock pin-featherThe American woodcock, also known as the ‘timberdoodle’, has a distinctive cinnamon-coloured breast and is considerably smaller than its Eurasian cousin. Its pin-feather is also proportionately smaller and tends to be much softer, which makes for a challenge of focus and skill in the hands of the artist.

The paintings each measure 210 x 200 mm (image size) and are now being offered for sale.

More information on pin-feather painting can be found on Colin’s website,

Woodcock pin-feather pair in gold leaf by Colin Woolf

Images copyright © Colin Woolf


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