I recently conducted one of these experiments in preparation for a small works show in New Hampshire. I had a goal to stretch outside of my color comfort zone, and turned to the old masters for inspiration—Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Edgar Payne, etc. The colors in a painting by John Lavery immediately reminded me of a Red-winged Blackbird and rose mallow. That led me to choose a different historical painting as the initial inspiration for each of the watercolors in my small works series. Instead of using a bird as the foundation for each design, I let the colors define the composition.
The birds below are the result of this experiment, and each is paired with the original painting that inspired it.