James Kinnett: Realistic Waterfowl Paintings

By Cassie Rief in Featured Artists > Watercolor Paintings

One look at his huge selection of giclée prints and you can immediately tell that James Kinnett has a special place in his heart for wildlife—preferably wildlife with wings. And while James may specialize in birds, his watercolor and oil painting expertise has quite a large wingspan, too. James has tried his hand at historical scenes, barn-filled landscapes, lighthouses and aquatic wildlife, and succeeds every time.

In First Catch, below, a little blue and white bird was rewarded with his first meal of the day, but the first thing to catch my eye was the striking contrast between the dark background and the spindled branches of a tree at the height of autumn.


With his long pointed beak firmly clamped around a small fish, this bird sits resolutely on a stable branch, warily surveying the area for predators who might steal the breakfast he worked so hard for. Streaming light casts a fine, healthy sheen on the bird’s breast and turns the amber leaves varying colors of molten lava.

Zooming out slightly, in this next painting the sun sets aglow St. John’s Road Barn and ignites an air of magic amidst a serene moment in the country. Only a few wild blades of grass peek through snowdrifts this late in the year, as the last few birds cut south through crisp air.


The scene may appear somewhat stark, but it captures a special moment of quietness and solitude that many people have probably never had the chance to experience—one achingly reminiscent of winters in Nebraska where the sun descends over barren trees and coldness ascends from newly-formed shadows.

Lastly, murky green water can’t conceal the acute, beady eyes of these Diving Redheads as they frantically search for dinner among fronds of water weeds.


Hundreds of bubbles rush to keep up with the rapid plucking motions of the focused birds as they hunt. Ripples on the water’s surface create spots of speckled light and hints of shadow that vary at the depths of each bird. As the sun struggles to make its way down past the aquatic plants, the flurry of activity from the group of birds stirs up sediment, clouding the water and making their efforts even more difficult.

If you have a few minutes today, head over to James’s website and check out just how beautiful and interesting marine life can be. I guarantee it’ll be worth it!


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