A Summertime Puffin
A Summertime Puffin
Catch David Hyde's enthusiasm for birdlife with his easy to follow puffin demonstration
In the summer I love to visit some of the many seabird breeding colonies around our coast and experience their unique sights, sounds - and smells!
It is a chance to get up-close and personal with truly wild creatures, an encounter enjoyed by birdwatchers and non-birdwatchers alike. By July the colonies are in full swing with adults toing and fro-ing feeding hungry offspring. Amid this frenzied activity it is possible to sketch or photograph birds in a way seldom achievable at other times of the year.
Before I started work on the painting I decided to lighten the background to show the dark plumage clearly. It is vital you consider your background before you begin.
With a black and white subject it is essential to understand that the tones used to paint the deepest shadows on the whites are very close to those used to paint the highlights on the blacks. Without this understanding the subject will look too flat.
|Schmincke Artist's Watercolours:||DaVinci Watercolour Brushes: Hahnemühle Watercolour Paper: www.saa.co.uk|
Draw a simple diagonal division separating the rock from the background. Draw the puffin, taking care to indicate the main feather groups and markings. Next mix several mid to strong-toned washes of Naples Yellow, Olive Green, Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Finest, taking care to mix some Burnt Umber into the Olive Green to reduce its 'greenness'. With the tones mixed and tested wet the background and apply the colours in a random pattern to suggest vegetation then let this dry fully.
Now mix Ultramarine Finest with a little Deep Red and, using light-toned washes on dry paper, brush this randomly into the rock area leaving occasional accidental patches of white here and there. Before this dries use some kitchen roll to dab out a few areas to suggest texture.
Now for the puffin. Under-paint the black feathers with a wash of Burnt Umber to represent the light on the black feathers and help give a little colour character.
The light on the white feathers is represented by leaving the paper unpainted. Mix a light wash of Ultramarine Finest and Dark Red to create a shadow tone to define the shape of the face. Damp the paper in the lightest areas only and apply the shadow, painting into the damp areas to ensure soft edges. Paint the white body feathers in the same way to achieve a similar modelling effect. Finish this stage with a stronger wash of the shadow mix for the bill marking and, when dry, apply Naples Yellow to the remainder of the bill, around the eye and on the foot.
In order to give modelling to the black feathers, mix a mid-toned wash of blue-black using Ultramarine Finest and Burnt Umber. Before applying, using a damp brush lift out some of the dried Burnt Umber wash to lighten the top edges of individual feathers. Next wet the areas of the Burnt Umber wash where light is strongest and apply the blue-black wash maintaining a softedged blend as before. Paint each feather or feather group separately leaving some of the first wash showing as hard edges to aid definition.
Next mix and apply a stronger toned wash of Ultramarine Finest and Dark Red onto the white feathers to strengthen the definition here. Also apply this wash to the lower part of the bill marking to indicate the bill shape, which is roughly oval in cross section.
For the bright orange-red bill, eye ring and foot mix Dark Red and Indian Yellow. Use Indian Yellow to paint the fold of skin (part of the gape) at the base of the bill, the folds of which are defined later with Burnt Umber.
To finish the head lift out a soft highlight on the orange-red eye ring and upper part of the bill. On the lower part use a mix of Dark Red and Burnt Umber to define its shape, and some Burnt Umber to shape the remaining Naples Yellow parts.
Mix a final strong wash of Ultramarine Finest and Burnt Umber to give the black feathers their full strength, blending them in as before. Use this mix to complete the eye and a little to strengthen the lower part of the bluegrey bill marking. Finally, apply a small spot of Opaque White to the eye with the tip of a fine brush to bring it to life.
TIP: When applying a light opaque watercolour over a dark painted area, as in the puffin's eye, you must apply the paint with minimal water added otherwise it will not cover.
Apply the Dark Red, Burnt Umber mix to the foot to add shading. Then add a further application of the Ultramarine Finest and Dark Red mix to render the tones of the darker shadows on the white plumage, similar to the tones of the light on the black plumage as discussed earlier.
Completing the rock, and thereby thepainting, calls for a free and easy approach applying several loose washes using all of the colours in a variety of warm and cool grey mixes. Increase the tonal strength of these washes to the left of the bird and beneath, further increasing the strength as you travel down the picture.
Paint stronger lines for cracks onto the paper while it is still wet and again when it has dried. Next splatter dark paint onto both wet and dry areas (loose mask the bird and background with scrap paper first!).
Keep applying washes and splatters until you are happy with the tones and texture achieved.
To enjoy more paintings by David and for information on Saturday workshops in Cambridge, or holiday breaks, and to book him for a workshop or demonstration for your art club, visit www.davidhyde.org.uk
From Photograph to Painting with Matthew Palmer
The Italian Job with Malcolm Cudmore
Spring Fervour with David Hyde
Market Day in Brittany with Marilyn Allis
Cromford Canal with Matthew Palmer
Portraits in Pastel Pencils with Heather Jolliffe
A Passion for Watercolour Painting