Painting Birds at Little Piney–Part II

Tammy Brown

Still Painting Birds

Back in August, I posted about painting birds at Little Piney. After a few weeks of making realistic realistic drawings of individual birds I moved on to painting birds interacting with a reference to human dynamics.   See Part I.  Now it’s December, and I’m still painting birds. In the picnic scene below, I created a composite of some of my favorite things from the kitchen and some of my favorite bird photos.  While the objects were arranged before me and easy to draw, it was a fun challenge to place the birds on the canvas.  This painting is almost complete.

Painting birds at Little Piney
Always a Picnic

Below are the photos I used for reference.  My laptop was open on to the photos on my left and the still life was arranged on my right.

To start a painting, I sketch on the canvas with a light colored chalk pastel until I have the composition and proportions generally the way I want them.  Next I draw in the shapes with a brush and neutral paint. I add the dark values (like shadows) so that I don’t lose them as I paint. I mix the colors I want and paint from dark to light filling the canvas and adjusting the composition and forms as needed. The colors are also adapted as it becomes clear how they work together. The last step is adding small details and the lightest highlights.

Here is the painting on day one. This painting initially included a bird perched on the spoon.

Painting birds at Little Piney
First day

The next image is from the next to last painting day. The pink of the table cloth was distracting, and the painting needed details, cleaner edges and highlights.

Painting birds at Little Piney
Needs last adjustments and details.

Another Bird Painting

I find it helpful to work on two paintings at the same time.   One can be drying while I work on the other, and when I return to a painting after a break,  I get a fresh look.  While painting The Picnic, I was also painting The Cabinet.    While the colors are more somber, I had fun playing up the costume-style feathers and camaraderie of the vultures.


The Cabinet was inspired by the photographs below.-  The vultures’ feathers reminded me of judges robes and parliament wigs.

Rain, shorter days and a broken camera are keeping me inside more, but the up-side is more time to paint!  Once my camera is repaired, I will update the photos of the paintings with higher resolution.

Happy Holidays

I also made a fresh pine and yaupon wreath that smells wonderful! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or any holiday you celebrate with those you love!img_2828


    1. Thanks, Paul. These were fun paintings. I’m glad you enjoyed hearing about the process!

  1. I enjoy watching birds and would love to take up painting, especially watercolors. I think this will be a goal in 2017. You paintings are really fun. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Patti, Thanks for your comments! I hope you enjoy some painting time, soon. Best, Tammy

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