Catching Up–Quick Paintings of Birds

Who knew that it’d be so hard to make time to do a quick paint project.  Yesterday turned into a no paint day but I did get the rest of my show hung at Lava Java and a couple of neglected friends visited.  You might say, I had a much-needed break.

Today, I did touch ups on my Eurasian Dove.  Here is the final result–

E_Eurasian Dove
E is for Eurasian Dove

Today I completed another painting and started a third.  As you can see, these are quick and thick with paint.  It’s taking a little bit for me to get real comfortable working like this with birds but I think I kinda like the results.  Here is my process.

Rough sketch--5 min.
Rough sketch–5 min.  I’m just trying to get a feel for values and proportions.  My ‘drawing’ stage.
A quick block in of color--another 10 minutes or so
A quick block in of color–another 10 minutes or so

So far each of these paintings have been done on 5″x7″ 1/4″ mdf boards painted with 2 coats of gesso.  For my ‘rough sketch’ I am using raw umber with a touch of ultramarine blue and cadmium red light mixed thin to tone the board.  Then I go in with thinner and carve in my bird.

The second step is to apply color.  I blocked that in next, without too much detail.  Again, I’m establishing my values and hue.  I don’t have a picture of the next step but you can basically see it in the final painting.  After blocking in my colors the paint is usually too thick and wet to work with so as it sets up I paint the background color around the bird.  This too is a little like carving because I take this opportunity to correct any proportions that may be off.  I decided to use bright backgrounds on these paintings just for fun.

We have a lot of Killdeer living in the soccer field behind our house.  Often you can hear them calling in the middle of the night.  I took a picture of this particular bird a couple of years ago.   I thought it was cute all fluffed up and shaking its feathers out.

I haven’t decided yet if Mr or Mrs Killdeer is finished.  I’m kinda liking the looseness of this painting–tomorrow will tell.  I’m not exactly sure how long this took, there were a few interruptions.  I would guess about 1 1/2 hours–maybe less.  I’m hoping to get to where I can do one of these in an hour or less.

K is for Killdeer
K is for Killdeer

The next painting in this series is a Cormorant.  I took the picture of this bird in Anacortes, WA this past spring.  I will probably do a full-blown painting of it, along with some of its buddies, but for the sake of this series I’m keeping it simple, loose and bright.  I’ll finish it tomorrow.  My challenge on this one is the size of the panel–it wanted to get too big so I had to really carve it out once I got the color blocked in.  I think the proportions are pretty good now.  The paint should be pretty set up in the morning–can’t wait to finish it.

The beginning of my Cormorant.
The beginning of my Cormorant.

First Quick Painting

I got started late, then I spent way too much time picking birds from my references to paint this month and not enough time painting.  I didn’t get my Eurasian Dove finished but I’m posting it anyway because I promised I would. I’ll finish it tomorrow and post it along with another bird. If anyone has any photo reference that you think would make a good subject for this daily, month long project, feel free to send them my way.


This is 30 minutes in. Going for thicker paint, mostly loose and very fast paintings. However, not quite this loose for the whole thing. Enjoy!