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Red winged blackbird

This is my wife's favorite bird and it will be a gift to her (so please Alan don't mess it up). Red wingged blackbirds are all around us in the summer at the many nearby lakes here in WI. They are usually found sitting in the tall grasses and reeds at the edge of the lake.  Their calls are constant and distinctive ().  For us, it is the sound of summer. 

This is on an 8 x 10 Artefex aluminum panel.  It is VERY rigid.  The one I got was unprimed and VERY smooth. They can be purchased with linen glued to the panel and preprimed.  I think I will try it that way the next time but I bought a few of these for now.   After a very light sanding it was cleaned with alcohol then sprayed with Rustoleum primer. The figures were drawn with charcoal and sprayed with a fixative.

The photograph is a Photoshopped composite of several that I found.  The background is an experiment and I'll have to wait and see what it looks like as the birds and reeds are filled in.



  • PaulBPaulB mod
    edited March 1
    Make sure you don't replicate that white halo around the bird, or the painting will look as false as the photo.  The outline of the bird in the photo is a little square.

    Rustoleum on Aluminum.  Yes!!
  • @PaulB the halo was just an artifact of dropping a not very well cropped picture into another one. I did that just to get a sense of placement but spent only as much time in Photoshop as I had to. There is also too much light on the back of the bird generally. That will be adjusted too. Thanks. 
  • The drawing is well done. Don't make the background too fuzzy or out of focus. That will tip off that it was painted from a photo too. That's not too important if it's going to be a gift. But galleries and contest judges despise paintings from photographs. 
  • @BOB73 ; Thanks.   The background is intended to just abstractly relate to the greenery in the background  environment these birds are often found in.  As oil painting # 4, for me this is as far as I've strayed from trying to be realistic with any part of a painting.  I haven't decided if I like it yet. 

  • The canvas is covered with a handful of bare spots remaining. The bird is being done in two layers.  At the front of the chest it seems like the majority of the base was a dark gray with overlaying darker feathers to be added.  Further back on the chest it looked like it was the reverse so I layered it that way.   The edges need to be softened, the legs need work.  I've resisted blending. Overall, I think of the bird as a carefully blocked in section.  It will be set aside for a few days to dry.

  • @Wishiwaspainting, why are you blocking in and waiting to dry ?  Are you not using a slow dry medium or  Geneva paints, Marks method ? Not being critical,just wondering. 
  • @marieb ; Good question.  It is all Geneva paints.  They are really too liquid to paint over.  I want to make the feathers look more like feathers which I have no idea how to do any other way except in layers.  Perhaps more realism than it needs but it seemed like interspersing lots of teeny daubs of white and black paint would be more tedious than just painting in two layers.  I'm open to suggestions.
  • @marieb ; Also, it could be the panel.  This is my first try on an aluminum panel.  Although I applied the undercoat by brushing it to provide a bit of texture, the panel is still very smooth.  It seems to hold the paint just fine once it has dried a bit but, unlike the linen panel I've used before, when I try painting over a freshly painted area it just pulls the underlaying paint right off.  So I thought I'd let it get a bit tacky before proceeding.

  • edited March 7
    Adhesion issues - I retested what I did on another panel.  I sprayed just a tiny bit of fixative on one side and more on the other.  Poor adherence on the oversprayed side.
    Conclusion:  I'm pretty sure I oversprayed the fixative.  So it's probably acting like painting over a varnish.  Sigh.  
    Lesson to me:  Lightly dust off the charcoal drawing then LIGHTLY spray fixative.  
  • @Wishiwaspainting
    for the feather part.obsereve!
    the fethers will look seperated if u put the lowlights and highlights as per the photograph.the colour of all the feather is say suppose kinda black in the reality .but the thing what makes it seperated is the light snd shadow part.
    i wish i am understable.

  • @hussain Thanks. You are very understandable. That will also give this some dimensionality which is clearly lacking now. 
  • It looks like it's gonna take the fly @Wishiwaspainting :D 
  • This is looking good, coming along real well. Be careful not to exaggerate in your highlights though.
  • @Wishiwaspainting, thanks for explaining. I have never tried aluminum, have only painted about 6 oils in all four in Marks method :)
  • @Forgiveness thanks for highlighting the highlights. That's helpful. 

  • edited March 12
    @Wishiwaspainting, this is a common mistake that too many of us make, as Mark C. mentions and explains well in one of his videos and other teachers as well. I too also suggest that you cut back the branch that the bird is perched on by 1/3. This will help to better reveal and display this fine bird. Looking forward.
  • The body and feathers are done incredibly well but I have a problem with the feet. The source isn't to good either; it is natural (obviously) but here is an example of nature not being artistic. Were this mine, I would be inclined to just show the feet smaller and wrapped around the branch and ignore the detail in the source photo because I think it distracts somewhat from the overall beauty of the bird. 
  • @BOB73 ; Thank you.  And I agree with you about the feet.  Not sure what to do with them, it's why I left some of that detail for last.  The brown still showing through around the feet in the above photo is Rustoleum.  Some detail was added since as seen below.  But shrinking them and blurring them the feet a bit too is a good idea.   

    Some changes were made including getting some of the branch out of the way.  Some violet color was attempted to be added to the background but I didn't like what was coming out so part of ithe background was repainted.  Here is where it's at now.  I might try to give this guy some size 7 or 8 feet instead of his current 14's.  I'll see how brave I am.

  • Hello, I think it is coming out well. There are a dynamic between the reflections of the feathers around the head and breast on one side and the dark shadows on the head and on the throat beneath the eye on the other, that I think would be good if you could work on. Also the reflection in the eye is a bit too big. It could be that the too much whiteness of the eye disturbs your vision, so to speak ?The beak is also slightly darker, but close to the head it is a bit lighter, than the photo. I like the background! It gives a focus on the bird.
  • Sorry, got it wrong in the end. On the photo the beak is a bit lighter close to the head.
  • Done
    Thanks to everyone for their comments.  It helps having additional eyes. 

  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Good corrections to the feet.  Lovely painting.
  • Great job on the feathered friend but also by repainting the background it looks less like it was done from a photograph. Audubon would be proud.
  • Great Job!  Very realistic.
  • @PaulB ; @BOB73 ; @oilpainter1950 ; Thank you.   It's never quite how I want it but the suggestions made here definitely made it better.  Thanks again.
  • I love it :) it is really well painted. You should be proud!
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