I have been collecting images of the tropical flower called Bird of Paradise for a few months now. Initially I wanted to make quilt blocks with this flower as a motif. But lately, I have been charmed by this photograph offered by the San Diego Zoo, of a flower with hummingbird.
I decided it would be a perfect reference for a water color painting. There are three techniques that I could practice from this one photograph: color mixing, background washing and masking.
It occurred to me that I would be more successful if I practiced each of these techniques separately, before combining them into a finished painting. My first study was the hummingbird.
The masking fluid allowed me to reserve the white margins on the breast feathers and the wings. I think he came out quite nicely. While I was at it, I used the same paper to determine the color mixes for the rest of the painting. You can see my little notes penciled in above the bird.
As an aside – Did you know that hummingbirds are the primary pollinators for Bird–of-Paradise flowers?
Yesterday I painted a small study of the whole image. The scariest part was the very dark background wash. I used a mix of ultramarine blue and burnt sienna, with a small amount of lemon yellow to neutralize the blue.
I feel I was successful in laying down the wash correctly, but it isn’t quite dark enough. There is also insufficient contrast between the bird and the background. And what can I do to make the petals more luminous?
Palette: Lemon Yellow, New Gamboge, Winsor Transparent Orange, Thalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Quinacridone Red.