Painting Feathers on a Cormorant

Painting feathers on a cormorant with a liner brush.
Painting feathers on a cormorant with a liner brush. (Close up)

I am beginning to paint some highlights and shadows on the feathers of the first cormorant. Again I am using Winsor & Newton gouache paint with liner brush. For the highlights, I use Yellow Cadmium Pale mixed with Permanent White to make a highlight colors for the feathers in sunlight. Some of the darker highlight colors will have Jet Black and less Permanent White. For the shadow, I took Pthalo Blue, Cyan Blue, Jet Black and Permanent White to make a variety of shades for the feathers in shadow.

For the brushes, I used several liner brushes that ranged in sizes from 0, 1 or 2.

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Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle In The Kodar Mountains

Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle – The photos in this post shows progress on the head, beak and the feathers of the golden eagle. In the near future I hope to have video of this process since watching a video of something being built or created is much more satisfying than merely seeing a progression of still photos.

Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle in Kodar Mountains
Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle in Kodar Mountains – here is a close up of the Golden Eagle.

When painting the feathers, I used a variety of colors warm and cool colors from Windsor & Newton Designers Gouache brand. For the warm colors Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Brilliant Yellow, Orange Lake Light with Burnt Umber and Jet Black as a base. For the cool shadow colors, I used Primary Blue, Pthalo Blue and some Permanent White. Regarding brushes, I used a Windsor & Newton Regency Gold Series 540 #1, Robert Simmons #2 White Sable Round 785 Series and a few others.

There is a video you can watch on YouTube here.

Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle in Kodar Mountains - For my palette, I always use a small pane of glass with white paper beneath it.
Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle in Kodar Mountains – For my palette, I always use a small pane of glass with white paper underneath.
Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle in Kodar Mountains
Painting Feathers on the Golden Eagle in Kodar Mountains – this photo shows the Golden Eagle painting in the Kodar Mountains with just a few minor details remaining before completion.

Here are similar posts for painting feathers on a curlew and painting trees on the same curlew painting and my post on painting talons.

Painting Talons on the Golden Eagle

Painting Talons on the Golden Eagle. Here is a progress photo of the entire painting.
Here is a progress photo of the entire painting.

Painting Talons on the Golden Eagle – The progress has been slow but everything is looking good compared to 6 months ago when this painting was headed for the dumpster. Anyway I added the base coat for the feathers and realized that the talons and the branch that they were gripping needed to be completed before the feathers.

Finished the talons and will resume work on the feathers soon. Painting the branch and the talons gripping the branch I used some of my favorite brushes. My Windsor & Newton Regency Gold #1 Liner and several of my Robert Simmons White Sable Rounds, #2, #3 and #4! Great brushes! Also in the photo is my Italian made palette knife that I’ve had since the 1980’s!

Painting talons on the Golden Eagle. Details of the talons.
Details of the talons.
Painting talons on the Golden Eagle. Me painting the base coat of feathers.
Me painting the base coat of feathers.
Painting talons on the Golden Eagle. Robert Simmons Rounds, a Windor & Newton Regency Gold
Here are some of my favorite brushes: Windsor & Newton Regency Gold #1, Robert Simmons White Sable Rounds! #2, #3 and #4! Awesome brushes! Also pictured is my Italian made palette knife that I bought when Ronald Reagan was president (first term).

Painting Talons on the Golden Eagle

Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle painting

Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting – Another shot of painting sunlight on the mountains.

Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting – Now I will paint the mountains in the background that will be the Kodar Mountains. After painting the sky, I transfer the original pencil drawing onto the painted sky by way of a homemade carbon paper. Because I want the mountains to “go back”, and look far away from the things in the foreground and middle distance, I add the same blues from the sky to the colors of the mountains. This gives them that far away look like they are as distant as the sky.

For the dark sides of the mountains, I take the darkest shades of the blue sky colors, (cyan blue mixed with pthalo blue and very little white) and use these colors. For the sun lit side of the mountains, I take Windsor & Newton Cadmium Yellow Pale and mix it with some white and the lightest sky blue color (cyan with white). To give it an early sunrise or sunset look, add some orange. I believe the brush I was using was a Windsor & Newton #2 Regency Gold 520.

Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting
A before shot of a mountain with no sunlight.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting
Beginning to add some sunlight.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting
Another shot of painting sunlight on the mountains.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting – close up of adding more sunlight to the mountain.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting. Finished the sunlight side of the mountains. After the sky has been painted, now we must replace the drawn lines that were painted over using our home made carbon paper.
Finished the sunlight side of the mountains. After the sky has been painted, now we must replace the drawn lines that were painted over using our home made carbon paper.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting. The palette, using glass with white paper underneath. Very economical for gouache paint.
The palette, using glass with white paper underneath. Very economical for gouache paint.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting - The finished mountains in the background.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting – The finished mountains in the background.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting - Meadow in the background in front of the mountains.
Painting Mountains on the Golden Eagle Painting – Meadow in the background in front of the mountains.

Wood Stork and Water Lilies Painting Trees And A Lake

Painting a gradient using a liner, a 24 inch steel rule and gouache paint.
Painting a gradient using a liner, a 24 inch steel rule and gouache paint.

Wood Stork and Waterlilies Painting Trees And A Lake – Here is where we apply base coats of gouache paint for the lake and the tree bark. Generally I like to paint from the darkest color to the lightest color. For me, painting that way is preferable because the gradients are easier to paint with less brush strokes being visible. For the the lake, I put a base coat of gouache Windsor & Newton Jet Black and also in the large cypress tree in the foreground. I’m putting the Jet Black only on the tree in the foreground so the other trees will appear “off in the distance”. Adding more white and whatever color your sky is will push elements in your painting off into the distance. Whereas darker or brighter colors will bring elements forward.

Painting a Gradient

A closeup of the reflection on the water.
A closeup of the reflection on the water.

We want to add a reflection of the blue sky to the lake. Since we are painting on the pre existing coat of Jet Black, using a large brush like an oval or flat wash and lots of wet paint would cause that Jet Black to mix into our the blue. That would cause undesirable results in painting the reflection of the sky. Therefore we are going to use a liner brush instead of using an oval or flat wash brush. I will mix the various colors of blue on my glass palette from the darkest color to the lightest.

Using A Bridge To Paint Straight Lines

Painting a Gradient - Another view of painting a gradient using a liner, a 24 inch steel rule and gouache paint.
Painting a Gradient – Different view of painting a gradient using a liner, a 24 inch steel rule and gouache paint.

Using a steel rule or a “bridge”, I paint the thin horizontal lines until the paint in the bristles are used up. As the paint in the bristles gets low, the paint as it appears on the paper becomes less opaque creating a gradient. From there I move on to the next color going from dark to light with the darkest color being slightly lighter than pure Jet Black and the lightest color being almost as bright as the sky. Because the brush strokes are thin, they dry fast and easily create a smooth “gradient look” without giving you a “brush stroke” look.

Robert Simmons E51 Liner Brushes

From this view you can see the unique shape of the handles that the E51 series liners have.
From this view you can see the unique shape of the handles that the E51 series liners have.

As this is the first time using this brand of liners, I wanted to bring special attention to them because of how well they perform. Because I love to paint with liners (most watercolor, gouache and acrylic painters don’t like them), I’m always on the look out for a good quality liner. I found that the Robert Simmons Expression Liner (E51 Series) may be the best series of liners I’ve ever used. It is a soft synthetic bristle brush. According to the Dick Blick website, “The brush hair is hand-shaped, then tied, glued, and hand-crimped into seamless, 22-karat gold-plated ferrules. Every beech wood handle receives five coats of matte, stain-resistant turquoise lacquer.

Liner Brushes With A Thick Handle

A closeup of the #2 Robert Simmons E51 Expression Liner.
A closeup of the #2 Robert Simmons E51 Expression Liner.

Additionally, the E51 liners are generously sized and perfectly balanced. The thick handles alleviate hand and finger fatigue during long painting sessions”. Unlike most liners whose handles are reed thin, the Robert Simmons Expression liner has a thick handle which is good in for gripping. From personal experience, gripping super thin liner handles over 20 years will give you carpal tunnel syndrome. The handles on the Robert Simmons E51 Series Expression liner saves your hand from that sort of nerve damage. The Robert Simmons E51 series offers six different sizes and thicknesses to choose from. If you like to paint with liner brushes, go get some.

A base coat of Windsor & Newton Jet Black paint has been applied for the water.
Before Painting a Gradient – a base coat of Windsor & Newton Jet Black paint has been applied for the water.
Painting a Gradient - Brown, tan and yellows have been painted as a base coat for the tree bark.
Brown, tan and yellows have been painted as a base coat for the tree bark.
My glass palette of blue sky reflection colors.
Painting a Gradient – My glass palette of blue sky reflection colors.
Painting a Gradient - The finished reflection of blue sky on the lake all done with Robert Simmons E51 Expression liners.
Painting a Gradient – The finished reflection of blue sky on the lake all done with Robert Simmons E51 Expression liners.
A closeup of the #0 Robert Simmons E51 Expression Liner.
A closeup of the #0 Robert Simmons E51 Expression Liner.
Another view of the closeup of the reflection on the water.
Another view of the closeup of the reflection on the water.