Staring at a reference photo and figuring out how to put what I see on it onto a blank piece of paper is always daunting, but I decided to start with a block of color over the bird's back. There was a subtle bit of blue in the shadows, which I decided to emphasize in my painting.
Most of these feathers are being made by painting the shapes between them. Doing this makes the feathers themselves take shape. I'm finding it useful to hone in on just the side of the bird and really study these details, rather than try to understand the thing as whole. I'm painting these feathers using mostly the wet-on-dry technique so they'll have definite edges. This is because I need there to be a clear distinction between one feather and the next. I'm paying very close attention to what shapes I make and where I put them. I'm honing in on the feathers and ignoring the rest of the piece for this part. That's the only way I'll know the right places to put things.
When it comes to acrylics, it's not so much about whether you paint wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry, but about whether you blend out your edges or not. I didn't blend out my edges this time, because I want the feathers to have definite separation.
When doing lots of fine detail, such as is in these paintings, I recommend stopping every few seconds, or after every few strokes, taking a step back, and looking at your work. This is important, number #1, so you can see how things are coming along and make sure your on the right track, but also, it can show you that your hard work is paying off and that can motivate you to keep going.
Painter of portraits and wildlife