View Full Version : And the next one- cockatoo

10-24-2000, 11:39 PM
<IMG SRC="http://www.wetcanvas.com/Critiques/User/cockatoo.JPG" border=0>
Something tells me this might post too small. I had problems with the white feathers, not to make them look like layered bricks. Although, when I did wash over this with the glazes, I lost them. I kept going between shading under them, and glazing over them, not easily finding a happy medium. I stopped here because I was afraid to ruin it. I love this expression! This is typical of a cockatoo- curious, happy, anticipating something fun. This is my big boy Tilda (formerly Mathilde- but alas- he's a boy. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif
note- coming back in to add that the colour here looks grey. It is really shades of blue. Skin around eyes are a pale blue, shading was done with blues, and what you can't see is some washes of pale yellows and a touch of violet here and there.

[This message has been edited by BevL (edited October 24, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by BevL (edited October 25, 2000).]

10-24-2000, 11:51 PM
I love his expression. I find I have the most trouble painting eyes,how did you do it? what are glazes?

10-25-2000, 12:07 AM
Glazes are washes of thinned down paint. I will water down a paint so it is mostly water with a bit of whatever colour in it and stroke it over the whole area. For instance, in this painting I started by painting in the whole body in a medium blue/grey. I then started adding strokes of lighter and lighter shades of that colour, right up to plain white. Then, with very thinned down dark blue/grey, I would wash with a wide flat brush over the whole thing. Then, I'd start again to stroke in the fine lines going lighter and lighter. And back again to the darker washes, leaving it darker in areas where there is shadow, such as between the wing and the body. I'd also use some light washes, with touches of pale yellow in the lighter areas, as the cockatoo has some yellow underfeathers. I added some violet, just because. I didn't know if I should have, but I knew it needed SOMEthing besides white and blue!
The eyes are something I detail before I detail anywhere else. In this case, I painted in the dark brown iris, then the black pupil. Highlighted around the iris next to the pupil using burnt sienna then raw sienna. Added a tiny dot of pure white for the highlight in the pupil. There is an excellent article somewhere on this site about painting eyes, I'll see if I can find it again.
The skin around the eyes is based in with a solid colour of pale bluish white. I sideload a very tiny flat brush with a darker mix, and outline the skin crevices with the side loaded brush- more paint on one side fading to nothing on the other. This will give you the crease in the skin. Then, I highlight the raised areas of the skin in the same manner. Around the eye, inside the lid, I use a dark wash with a sideloaded brush again to give the eye some dimension.
I know it's as hard to picture what I'm saying, as it is for me to try to describe it clearly. You'll have to pardon my lack of knowing what terms to use when describing techniques. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by BevL (edited October 25, 2000).]

10-25-2000, 07:44 PM
Hi Bev,
He's a cutie. I've got 5 parrots myself and one is a cockatoo. You definatly caught that expression well! I really love the blue and gold macaw. I just spent this afternoon at my favorite bird store trying to convince my husband that I really NEED one if those 10 week old baby blue and golds they had there...! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

The other WetCanvas Birdlady,


Artworks by Gisela Towner (http://www.artistnation.com/members/paris/gisela)

10-25-2000, 09:25 PM
Hi Gisela!
It's nice to hear from a fellow parrot lover!
Is your cocktoo an umbie?
There is no question that parrots have unique personalities, and I am trying to capture that in my parrot paintings- something all of us who live with these birds can relate to.
Of *course* you need one of those blue and gold babies!
I need an african grey, too, but I'm not getting very far either... http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif

10-25-2000, 10:58 PM
<FONT COLOR="Red">Gisela,Bevl</FONT c>
Have you ever painted your birds, i want to start practicing more so my paintings can become good. I have been drawing for a couple years so starting to paint animals and birds is pretty different than drawing, but i have done a few paintings(4, working on a lion) but wonder if it`s hard to paint parrots

[This message has been edited by animal (edited October 25, 2000).]

10-26-2000, 10:14 AM

I've enjoyed the images you've put up thus far of your birds. My wife and I enjoy birds too, but thus far, we've never taken the leap to afford the larger birds. We've had talking parakeets (that we trained), etc., and had a conure once that died back when it was not illegal to purchase one taken from the wild. That was so sad...as you could see its spirit was broken, and something we did not anticipate at the time and deeply regret.

You are so close to nailing it down. I think how you will treat the backgrounds in the future, perfect your rendering of shading values, and achieving a softness of the feathers will make a big difference.

I think you need to study the birds more with your eyes more softly focused...that is, squint your eyes.

So many artists make the mistake of isolating areas and forgetting people naturally see things taken as a whole. Only the artist seems intent to dissect visually.

That is fine that we do...but we have to learn not to let what we learn sometimes overshadow the whole.

When you see the bird at any distance, you don't see shoulder feathers pronounced. Everything appears soft. Softness must never be sacrificed at the sake of detail. Remember that. Make that a rule for yourself. Make it only so real as is possible without losing softness. Detail also works to suggest texture, and that is the problem. When you show high definition of shoulder feathers, for example, you transmit the feeling of something coarse. They need to be a bit more suggested, or softened.

My time is really limited between teaching, and my own time spent outdoors as an artist and outdoors person. I am feeling though, perhaps I should put a lesson together on painting feathers...eyes, and softness. I only hope you'll not hold your breath folks, as I can only make it a goal right now in light of the next months activities.

Perhaps no bird I've painted has the feather detail that a ruffed grouse has. I am probably going to paint more of them, as always I am reminded that I paint them perhaps better than most anyone. You can see one at my exhibit on wildlife art...at artistnation.com flying across a fall colored landscape. This piece is sold. It represented a time I was trying to marriage my looser painterly landscape techniques with the more detailed focus of a bird.

take care,


10-26-2000, 11:12 AM
Again, thankyou! You've given me so much to think about, and I am eating up every word.
In the macaw, what is interesting is that in my More Wildlife Painting book, there is a macaw painting by Alan Hunt that is almost the identical pose as this one. I took mine from a photo in a magazine, but the pose is so similar that I had to wonder if he didn't use the same photo as reference. However, he shows the beak closed, and there is nothing being held in the foot. It is interesting when I see the three images together- Alans' mine and the photo. It is not 'legal' for me to post either the photo from the magazine or Alans' painting, or I'd show them to you.
It surprised me when I first opened the book and thought "hey, there's my macaw". I doubt that he worked from a photo, however.
You know, now that you say it, the shoulder feathers that I tried so hard to detail, do in fact stand out too harshly. I was concerned that they weren't real looking enough, and quite the opposite is what I should be trying for, if I understand you correctly. I think I really do know what you mean.
I'm trying too hard, and I'm not loosening up. I hold my brush as I would a ballpoint pen, and every time I start to find myself loosening up (as one would with oils), I stop myself. Maybe I should allow myself to just let my arm take over, and this might just show better results overall. Should I consider using an easle, as opposed to painting with the board flat on a table?
only one way to find out...is to try it!
Thanks, and I'll patiently await your lesson.

Bev http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif

10-26-2000, 01:59 PM
Well Bev...my detailed acrylic wildlife pieces have me all over the board, but basically using smaller synthetic rounds. Table or easel really is not difference for this technique. The secret is to use less and less color and more and more water, doing single strokes over each other transparently blending out some of the details 'till softness is achieved.

Just remember that "softness" is also a realistic detail of birds feathering, but unlike other detailing...to miss the softness of feathers is a detail you cannot afford to miss.

gotta run...

Mayet Ankh
10-27-2000, 07:41 AM
Hi Bev,
I have just been admiring your cockatoo - he's beautiful. I had a cockatoo myself until recently, when I returned him to his owner - I was just minding him for a couple of years whilst his owners were travelling. He was quite a chatterbox. A sulfur crested one.
What medium did you use?

10-27-2000, 10:07 AM
Thankyou, Mayet.
Wow, another bird person! This is getting interesting. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif
However were you able to give the bird back after two years?! You must find such a difference getting used to him not being there. Certainly must be much, much quieter. LOL
I paint strictly for the bird people, so it is nice to hear from those who have firsthand knowledge of the characters of these wonderful creatures. If I can portray them as we, the bird owners, know them, then I am achieving my goal. It is what my art is all about.
I use acrylic paints. No special brand. Actually, I could use a recommendation for a good brand. And I would also like to know what a good selection of pigments would be to have handy. I found I couldn't mix some colours I needed yesterday because I don't have the right basics colours.

10-27-2000, 02:36 PM
I've worked with any number of acrylic brands. I think when first learning..you tend to favor one brand over another...but after enough years are behind you, you learn you could paint with colored dirt mixed with glue!

I favored Chromacryl Atelier Artist colors for nearly 16 years. Presently..I really like Galeria in the 200 ml bottles made by Winsor & Newton. The bottles have easy dispensable tops.

I use a warm red, a cool red; a warm yellow, a cool yellow; a warm blue and a cool blue; plus white. I usually do not use black, but some are attached to it loyaly. I still dig it out with illustration work. And..of course, white. With a warm and cool version of each primary color, there is not a color that cannot be mixed in a hurry.

I can give specific hue names if they are requested, but...artists should learn to recognize a warm and cool variation of each primary.


10-28-2000, 01:57 PM
Okay Larry, you made me have to think.
Here's what I have (bought some last night)
Windsor blue
cerulean blue
thalo blue
cadmium yellow deep
cadmium yellow light
I'm sure I got the warm and cools okay in the reds and yellows- a little confused on the blues. Now I would say cerulean is cool, ultramarine is warm. Windsor is ?, dark? http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif
I might be completely wrong on those.
The brands I had already are Pebeo, and some pots of Crea. I don't like the colours of the Crea. I bought them for the mural and didn't end up using them much.
I bought the Galeria last night, as it looks creamier, somewhat like my Jo Sonja paints- nice to work with. Bought three brushes- a new sable very tiny one, one size 2 round Windsor & Newton mixed sable/synthetic, and one synthetic Robert Simmons. I'll see if any of these make any difference.
I've begun work on the moluccan, with a little bit more 'flair' in the background.
Question; if you were painting feathers that were white with a definite peach tint, what colour would you use to undercoat the bird?
I'm really curious, because I tend to go with old tolepainting habits, and basecoat with fleshtones/coral. And shade with blue- complimentary of orange. Is this correct, or am I way off here?
And another one, if the beak is black, is it not correct to base it with a very dark grey value, shade with black, with highlights of blues/white?

[This message has been edited by BevL (edited October 28, 2000).]

11-02-2000, 01:55 PM
Beautiful painting of an Umbie Cockatoo! Looks JUST like my Shalimar! You captured the expression so wonderfully...Shalimar has that expression when I come in the door...ready for dinner and playtime!

"I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing...that it was all started by a mouse!" - Walter Elias Disney

11-02-2000, 04:17 PM

some artists actually feel differently on this issue....and some art theory is needed to differentiate why.

I believe Phthalo blue to be a warm blue, and Ultramarine to be a cool blue.

Strange huh...because the Thalo has a bit of green in it which is considered cooler than the red component of Ultramarine added to the blue, right?

The Green in Thalo though comes from the bit of yellow added in reality to the blue, which is warmer than the red. The yellow of the Thalo is opposite the violet character of the Ultramarine.

At any rate...a Thalo blue sky appears warmer to my eye than an Ultramarine one.

Cerulean is tinted which adds to the coolness.

AS to underpainting the white feathers...I use no hard set rule....sometimes I'll use a warm undertone to build upon. Sometime a cool opposite undertone so that the effect is the feathers immediately standing out. Sometime I use no underpainting at all..actually probably most often I don't use one, and just build it up confident I can always apply transparent washes of color to change, push..or manipulate whatever I want.


11-03-2000, 02:32 PM
Hi Sorcerers Apprentice!
Thankyou! So, you recognize this expression! Sure beats the one-eyed glare we get sometimes, doesn't it? I wonder if I should attempt a painting of 'The Look' http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/wink.gif
Shalimar, what a nice name!
Again I'm glad to hear from another parrot lover!


11-03-2000, 02:40 PM
I just wanted to tell you I am very pleased with the Galeria paints! They flow on so nicely! I'm working on the moluccan and this time I just might accomplish that softness, and I think it will be more due to the paint and new brushes than anything. It is really different than what I've been using. The other stuff was like painting with butter.

I tried to tone down a blue by adding orange, but I ended up with green. I guess it matters which blue and which orange?
I have the book "Blue and Yellow don't Make Green". I should take a closer look at it. That is, if I can figure out all those colour charts!
I'm managing to muddle through and trying to figure it out on my own. I'll let you see the results and you can tell me if I made any progress. So far, I like it.

11-03-2000, 05:59 PM
Excellent Bev....!! It is amazing something can yet be found that is good and affordable, which describes the Galeria paints IMHO.

You know....no effort is wasted in our experiences in paint. In time...enough bridges will be built that will connect and suddenly make a bigger picture make sense!

Why the green? Well...yes...different blues, different oranges. I don't buy and depend on existing oranges, I make my own. I wonder if you made your own orange when it turned green?

Okay...this stuff really is logical. A warm blue has a bit of yellow in it. Not added really...but simply the character of one particular blue. Another has a bit of red in it...same thing. Now...lets take an orange, made from yellow and red...and say it has more yellow and leans more toward the yellow spectrum.

Now..combine that leaning toward yellow in the orange and mix it with the leaning toward yellow in the blue...and you have more yellow mixing into the blue. What do yellow and blue in theory mix? That's right, green.

Now..if you used an orange that leaned more toward yellow, and mixed it with a blue that had more a leaning toward red, you'd have a different result.

The red in the blue makes it a more violet form of blue; Ultramarine Blue for example.

Now...Violet is opposite of yellow on the color wheel. Orange is opposite the blue on the color wheel. So...the yellow of the yellow/orange neutralizes the violet nature of this particular blue (being the complimentary), and the red of the orange is opposite, and I believe that would have deadened alright.

If you used a warm blue...that favored yellow, such as Pthalo Blue...you would need more a red/orange orange to work.

How? The red of the red/orange would neutralize the green tendency of this Pthalo blue....and the orange would take care of the blue side of the warm blue.

Make sense?

Probably not....and my fault because it is difficult in text alone to explain. However, read this post several times and try to really visualize what I'm saying.

In time...you will speedily whisk around the palette enabled to make any color and value you desire. It will come from understanding this complex relationship between the warm and cool varieties of each primary.

Looking forward to seeing how things progress for you. This is actually exciting to hear your enthusiasm!

* Scott...I hope you're poppin' in and taking note on these color discussions every so often...and know why I hesitated to put a lesson together on it. Complicated stuff man! Perhaps in time...if we just took all the tidbits and put them together...we'd have quite a lesson!

Larry http://lseiler.artistnation.com

"Art attacks can skill!"

[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited November 03, 2000).]