Floy Zittin Watercolors

Artist’s Statement

I love observing and painting birds. Their distinct personalities remind me of people I know, and their interactions mirror my own experiences.  Finches, juncos, titmice and chickadees share the feeder like my extended family coming together for a good meal.  Scrub jays squabble like a gang of artists.   As a heron glides slowly overhead, I think of a friend who’s recently died.  Birds remind me of cycles of life and of my one small place in the natural world .

Each of my paintings begins with an observation.  I make jottings in a field notebook which becomes my main resource as I develop a painting in my studio.  While I like to depict a bird species as accurately as possible, I also love the feel of loose, spontaneous watercolors.  To combine these two interests, I’ve developed a technique of working with watercolor on paper, wood or canvas primed with gesso.  This allows me to splash, pour, scrub, experiment and later wipe out an area for a detailed bird.   Because I don’t frame paintings under glass I seal each with an archival varnish.

Two of the joys of painting are connecting with others by sharing bird stories, and hearing someone say, ‘I’ve seen that bird you painted!’  I hope my work will bring  new appreciation for the amazing avian world around us.


Floy Zittin was born in 1948 in Houston, Texas and grew up in southern Ohio. She has been fascinated with both drawing and nature studies since childhood. Floy majored in biology in Carleton College, MN, and became interested in watercolor painting and Asian art during a summer program in Japan. Her Master’s thesis in marine biology from University of the Pacific required learning scientific illustration techniques and this led to a career as a biological illustrator. She has worked on several textbooks and spent ten years creating illustrations of amphipods for the National Museum of Natural Sciences of Canada. Floy’s husband’s studies took her to British Columbia where, for a time, she lived in an isolated fishing village and perfected her watercolor techniques by working on portraits of fish for fishery biologists. After returning to California in 1983, Floy became active in the art community of the Bay Area. Her paintings have won numerous awards in national shows and have been accepted twice into the prestigious “Birds in Art” exhibition at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin