Colin’s pin-feather challenge – ptarmigan

This pin-feather painting is starting to resemble some kind of Olympic challenge, like the pentathlon!

Colin chose to begin the picture with the red grouse feather, because he thought this would be the most difficult to paint with.  It seems he was wrong – the ptarmigan, which he has just finished, was by far the trickiest.  The pin-feather was tiny, soft and far too floppy – a nightmare, in fact.

Here are some photos of the ptarmigan painting in progress;  in the first picture, a woodcock’s pin-feather is shown next to it for comparison.  See how impossible the tip of it is!

Copyright © Colin Woolf

Copyright © Colin Woolf

Copyright © Colin Woolf

The painting is looking good, with the red grouse (top left), black grouse (top right), capercaillie (bottom left) and the ptarmigan (bottom right).   Colin is adding some pencil sketches in between.  He’s now making a start on the central woodcock image, using a woodcock’s pin-feather.

This is going to make a stunning and fascinating picture, not only portraying the birds in beautiful detail and capturing their character, but also showing their different habitats.  Colin will be very pleased indeed to pick up a paint brush after it’s finished!

Check out Colin’s website and his Latest Paintings section for more information and updates.


  1. Really looking forward to seeing this!!!

  2. Pretty amazing. I look forward to seeing the final result. 🙂

  3. Wow, the whole thing is looking amazing, but I can see what a total nightmare that feather is. How does he motivate himself to keep going when it’s such an uphill struggle? His dedication to this challenge is truly inspiring.

  4. The painting is looking good?? It’s fabulous!!!

    • 🙂 Thank you, David! It’s a fantastic accomplishment, against the odds! I’ll post a photo of the completed picture later this week or next.

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