How to Paint Birds that Glow with Brilliance!

by Neadeen Masters on November 5, 2012

How to paint birds that stand out from the crowd? Mother Nature has filled our skies with a rainbow of colors. When it comes to birds and their glorious colors red immediately comes to mind. This color that also captures the attention of artists is the red bird. Simply think of Cardinals, Macaws, Parrots, Finches, Grosbeaks, and dozens more and a flash of brilliant red will instantly come to mind. Their red hues create dynamic contrasts when set against green foliage. This combination always makes for an outstanding artistic composition. If you are on a quest and want to learn how to paint birds, understanding how to describe their brilliant colors is key. So have you ever wondered how to paint birds that glow with brilliant red color? Sometimes, just using red right out of the tube or bottle doesn’t quite get it right. Here are a few painting tips that will help you learn how to paint birds that are simply beautiful!.

How to Paint Birds:Red Birds: Acrylic Painting Technique

How to Paint Birds – Use a yellow under-painting

When it comes to painting red birds there are many approaches we can take.  One painting technique that renders successful brilliance,  is to apply a yellow under-painting as the initial color layer. This way, when the red hues are applied as thin layers over top of the initial yellow layers, the reds seem to glow from within. This method creates an optical mix of color. The eye reads the red hue as being brighter, as the thin translucent layers of red color allow light to pass through the layers and appear brighter and with more depth. It’s the combination of the red and yellow that makes it work.

Yellow under-painting will make the red glazes seem brighter!

Select the right pigments

To try this method, one can paint the initial yellow underpainting with pigments such as Yellow Oxide, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, or even use a brighter yellow pigment such as Hansa Yellow Medium or even use Cadmium yellows (use Cadmiums responsibly, with caution and care). When selecting the red pigments, choose those with a semi-transparent property. Opaque pigments don’t allow light to pass through them in the same way. Semi-transparent red pigments such as Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Naphthol Red Light, and Naphthol Red are among some that you can choose.

Apply the red layers as thinly as possible using a transparent glazing technique (speaking of painting techniques, you can find more technique tips by clicking this link). You’ll have to use a medium of some sort to help spread the paint out, usually oil medium for oil painting and an Extender for Acrylics. Either way, build up the depth of color slowly. It is always better to have several thin layers rather than one heavy layer.

To learn more about painting birds, visit our online art courses category at the Art Apprentice Online for a wide selection of bird painting classes.

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