I don’t paint enough white things, tending to shy away from them because I fear they will look too stark. My mind tells me it’s better to stick to black and white. It’s time to face my apprehension and do a project that features a white subject, these ibises, in color media. So I'm painting white ibises in acrylics.
Before I get to the white ibises, though, I want to discuss the grass and lake around them because the shades I use to paint those will play into how I paint them.Before I get to the white ibises, though, I want to discuss the grass and lake around them because the shades I use to paint those will play into how I paint them.
I used the same base of yellow and ultramarine blue for the patch of grass near the viewer and the bush on the other side of the lake. I used more blue for the bush and added red and black to the lake to mute and darken it.
I want the patches of grass bordering the lake to be somewhat bright, and I’m using analogous colors to do this, glazing yellow over the nearest patch and blue over the far one.
After painting another layer on the grass near the viewer, I mixed some yellowish green color into titanium white. Then I painted reflections in the water using a small round and a sideways wiggling stroke.
As for the ibises themselves, I painted most of their bodies with sheer light brown and green, picking up the grass and lake bed colors. I left only the very tops of them white. This is where light would be hitting them; therefore, it would be the brightest.
Did you notice what I did here? Less than ten percent of the white ibises’ entire bodies were painted white. The rest were painted to reflect the colors of the things around them. This is why I mixed yellow-green into my titanium white when I painted the shadows. The ibises do not show as pure white. Therefore, their reflections couldn't either.
Back to the grass, there are lots of individual pieces of grass in the patch nearest the viewer. I used titanium white first because if I went in first with my yellow-green mixture, it wouldn’t show up properly against what I already had down. Having the titanium white down was especially important because these blades of grass needed to be lighter than the base. These blades gave the grass the brightness I’d been trying to achieve by glazing yellow over the area.
Painter of portraits and wildlife