Beginners: follow outline provided using any available paint, water color pucks, liquid paint at school, house paint or pencil crayons. You are sure to have fun but keep in mind that the results will be dependent on the quality of the materials.Advanced Level: consult professional color list and procedures below or change it up.
This colorful and cheeky bird is found in the winter in Canada and the Northeastern Seaboard of the United States. Other varieties such as the Midwestern Jay do not share the amazing colors but can be drawn from the same outline. More information can be found at the National Audubon Society.
My version of the Blue Jay has been painted with watercolors. Notes are also provided so that students can paint this picture with the liquid paint supplied at school or pencil crayons. With paint, the challenge is to keep brushes clean between applying colors/pigment so that they do not get ‘muddy’. The quality of the materials greatly influences your results. Professional artists can use higher grade watercolors or acrylics if they prefer. You will find an outline of the bird at the end of this lesson which may be used to assist with painting the Blue Jay.
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Paper: Watercolour Paper, 140 lb Bond available at local art stores or Student Grade depending on resources. If you wish to use acrylic paint a rectangular canvas is recommended approximately 11” x 17”.
Brushes: Small (003) and medium (#2 and #4) rounds or brights.
Colours: Prepare your own colour chart experimenting with whatever colours are available to you. Students use a variety of blues to paint the bird. Some blues could be tinted with white and some with a touch of purple or red. Greys are also shown by adding black to white paint. Log shows brown, yellow, white and grey. I recommend an excellent website, Paint with Watercolors as a good reference for colour mixing and techniques.
Professionals: I have included my colour chart and listed the colours I used (Ultra Marine Blue, Cobalt, Cerulean), Windsor Violet and Winsor Blue Green Shade. The log was painted using New Gambouge, Burnt Sienna and Ultra Marine Blue.
FUB; French Ultra Marine
Cblt; Cobalt Blue
WV; Windsor Violet
NG; New Gambouge
Windsor Blue – green shade
Grey= Burnt Sienna and FUB
Paper: Watercolour Paper, 140 lb Bond available at local art stores or Student Grade depending on resources. Fine round brushes, I use 002,03, and a #6 for the log. If you wish to use acrylic paint a rectangular canvas is recommended approximately 1”1 x 17”.
Brushes: Small (003) and medium (06) rounds or filberts.
1. Paint the bird first working from the top to the bottom of the page. Avoid putting wet paint adjacent to another colour of wet paint or it will bleed. Use light grey to tint the white feathers slightly. Be sure to distinguish between primary flight feathers and smaller secondary feathers. Always lay brush strokes in the direction of the feathers. Be sure to leave a white highlight for the life light in the bird’s eye. Note that with the bird’s feet the middle claw is longer than the others to assist with gripping branches.
2. For the Log, I painted a three dimensional shape by highlighting the top of the log and shading the sides. Texture was created by using my brush on its side to apply the paint. Snow was added by shaping with grey.
3. Outline bird either by sketching using a grid for guidance, tracing transfer paper available at art supply stores, or if using student grade art paper – tape the paper to a window and place the outline found at the end of this lesson on top (with more tape) and use the outline as a guide to trace.
4. For Students and Professionals alike I highly recommend creating a colour chart as a guide. This will make you much more confident in creating a creative and more accurate rendering.