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