How to Paint a Finch with Oil Paints: Steps 1, 2 and 3

I decided to break down how I approach painting birds, to help others who enjoy painting wildlife.

Grays, blues and whites on the background of this bird oil painting

Stage 1: Creating the background canvas color

Above is my very favorite part of painting: taking a blank white canvas, and priming it with the background colors. For this painting, which is set in a snowy woods, I used mixes of ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, titanium white and a hint of burnt sienna to create the blues and grays. I added a tint in places of pthalo green as well, just for variety. Now, it looks like a soft abstract of blues and grays, just waiting for the painting. This is the exciting part – the possible painting.

Next, I lightly sketch in my main features – the bird and branches for the painting.

in stage 2, a light sketch of the main elements of the painting

Stage 2: sketching in elements

It doesn’t look like much yet, but this step is important. I tend to sketch in freehand; I do know some artists who create computer carbons for their birds or portraits, but I prefer sketching it myself; I often play with where things will sit until I am happy with the result. You can always “rub out” the sketch easily with a bit of turpentine and a rag at this stage.

Next, I start strengthening the background. I always work on my background first, for a reason: if I finish my bird first, I tend to “lose interest” or rush the background. If I work on my background first, then I will spend more time on it.

In stage 3 the background branches in the oil painting are defined better

Stage 3: defining the background & bird more

I also start blocking in some of the finch colors lightly: burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, titanium white, yellow ochre, cad. yellow light for this stage. This lets me know if my sketch is accurate; I constantly redefine as I work.

I’ll share more in my next post.

Birds of Michigan: Canadian Geese (in process)

I love Canadian geese. Here is my latest in my “Birds of Michigan” series; it’s the painting with the geese and reflections almost finished. There was a ton of glare in the photo of my painting that I took; I don’t have a polarized filter, so I tried to blacken in the necks of the geese to make up for this problem. Otherwise, the other colors are the same:

Canadian geese by YeshuasChild Art Studio (c) 2014. 16 X 20 oil painting.

Canadian geese by YeshuasChild Art Studio (c) 2014. 16 X 20 oil painting.

I have the foreground and geese pretty well done, except for some fine details; I plan to work on the background, and possibly add some reeds from a photo I took last summer of the lake. I have to admit it: I love water, reflections and birds, so this painting let me have a ton of fun!

Birds of Michigan: Blue Jay

It’s snowing a lot today, and the Blue Jays are feeding on corn that gets scattered on the ground, as well as seeds the other birds drop from the three seed feeders on our front porch. I enjoy their color and curiosity, in spite of how aggressive they are.  So, this inspired a painting:

Curious blue jay looking at ice on a stump

“Curious Jay” original oil painting, 11 X 14

The blues were done with a mixture of cobalt blue, ultramarine and cerulean blue in varying proportions; the darks were raw umber, ultramarine blue and a hint of black. The whites were a mixture of white with grays from ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with the highlights titanium white with a hint of yellow ochre and cad. yellow light.

In the winter, if water is iced over, jays will often peck and crack the ice, letting themselves drink; this also opens up water for smaller birds, so they do help the others out! I love their inquisitive looks, which I tried to capture here.

Birds of Michigan: Mourning Dove

I’m back to painting birds again, this is a mourning dove in golden light, sitting in the grass.

I wish I could my photo here to look like the original painting; it’s a lot more washed out looking than the original on my easel (probably because of glare, etc.). I enjoyed painting this one; I love the variety of colors these beautiful birds have in their feathers.

picture of a mourning dove in summer grass

“Mourning Dove” original oil 11 X 14

Seagull Sunset: Lake Michigan

I love water, and I love birds, so in this painting, I combined both. It’s based on a recent trip to Lake Michigan at sunset, when it is especially beautiful.

Seagulls on the beach at Lake Michigan, an original oil painting by Yeshua's Child Art

“Seagulls at Evening” 18 X 24 canvas wrap $245

I went with a bit brighter colors than I normally do, which was fun (thalo green mixed with cerulean and ultramarine blue). I mixed burnt sienna and ultramarine, plus yellow ochre for the sand; and titanium white, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow light and cadmium red light for the reflections and highlights.

Birds of Michigan: Greeting the Morning

I love finches, because they add color and liveliness to the landscape. This painting catches a finch clinging to a twig as the morning light shines on him.

Original oil painting of a finch on a blade of grass by Yeshua's Child Art

“Greeting the Morning” original oil 11 X 14 canvas wrap

I painted the grays with a mix of ultramarine blue, transparent oxide red, black and titanium white;  I used these colors and added cadmium yellow for the body, as well as burnt sienna and raw umber.

Birds of Michigan Series: Winter Partners

I love to paint birds, and winter scenes, so this painting combines these two. One is a sparrow, the other a chickadee. What I love about the sparrow is the fact that his posture reminds me of a “grumpy old man” sitting there on the bush.  These guys came to the feeders last winter, and make a fun subject.

Original oil painting of a sparrow and a chickadee in the Michigan winter

“Winter Partners” original oil 11 X 14 on wrapped canvas