Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Redwing Blackbird

This piece was done on a special request.  I have never painted a bird of any sort before so I took this on as a challenge and had to do more research than I am accustomed to.  The first step was to find a photo that would translate well into a painting.  Fortunately I have a good source for bird photos and they had many for me to choose from and gave me full permission to copy from their work.  I usually don't do any sort of rough draft for my paintings and let them develop how they want.  However, since this was for something specific I practised drawing the bird first.  I was quite happy with the initial drawing at its outline stage and then started to question my ability to recreate it on the canvas.  A tip was given to me by a friend on how to transfer drawings onto canvas and I decided to give it a try.  I made a photocopy of the outline drawing and on the back of the copy I painted a solid block of burnt umber gouache pigment.  When that was dry I lay the copy on the canvas where I had already painted a background and retraced the outline of the bird.  The burnt umber pigment transferred to the canvas and I now had an outline of the bird in the exact proportions that I wanted and the exact placement.  I used that to fill in the basic parts of the bird and then built up the paint to give a sense of definition.  I found this task difficult due to the black feathers and felt that the careful addition of white paint was the best way to go about it.  For a first attempt at a bird I think it went pretty well.