I started by my first layers of color on this painting by glazing over the grass with a green made my mixing permanent green with yellow. I mixed a bit of magenta into this so it wouldn’t be too bright. I was careful to keep my paint transparent so that the detail I'd painted in my underpainting would show through.
I mixed more magenta into the green for the grass across the street, because it’s darker in my reference photo. I’ll probably go over this area with more green when I go back to the painting because it needs to be brighter.
Telling myself I'll go back to the grass later, I started painting the first layers on the bird. I mixed zinc white ivory black and burnt umber to make a grayish brown. I mixed my gray first and then slowly brought my brown into it. There are varying shades of this color on the goose’s neck and wings, so I’m starting with a very light shade and I’ll layer darker shades over it.
While doing my underpainting, I added black where the edge of the grass met the sidewalk. This gives the effect of the former being up slightly higher than the latter.
I'm painting a bird called an anhinga, which I must say, has a very interesting wingshape. In this post, I want to write a little bit part of my process of painting separating the feathers of those wings.
As I was getting near the end of painting the anhinga, the wings were still bothering me. I knew I needed more separation between the feathers. I could not get by with just the pencil lines. My first thought was to add shadows, but that wasn’t right. The wings weren’t separate by shadows, but by highlights. I couldn’t make the edges of my feathers any lighter, though, so I made the other sides of them darker. That way the edges would look lighter by default.
Here's what the anhinga's wings looked like before I added the darker shade to them.
You can see what they looked like after in the pic at the top of this post. I used a small brush and one fluid motion for each wing. If I’d stopped and started, my edges would’ve been ragged. I couldn’t have that, since these the shapes of these highlights determine the shapes of the feathers, which needed to be straight. As soon as I put my first stroke down, I could see the wings coming to life. It was like depth was being infused into them. To think I almost skipped this because I was lazy.
A way I could’ve made it better would be to have a more consistent amount of water in my brush throughout the project. There were times when I had more water in my brush than at others and this caused the paint to pool in those areas, so it wasn’t as even as I would’ve liked. The hardest part was getting super close to the edge, while still leaving that little sliver.
By the way, here's the full painting, so far,
and the reference photo.
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Painter of portraits and wildlife