I am putting my Fritillaria aside for now to paint a flamingo. Not just any flamingo, but this month’s Monthly Challenge reference over on WetCanvas. A variety of reference photographs have been offered for May, and I chose this flamingo by WetCanvas member Crias, because I thought all the pinks would be an interesting challenge.

I have plumped for Arches HP paper (Hot Press) which is a tough, smooth surface, much like the Daler-Rowney Heavyweight paper that I like so much. Looking at the colour charts for all my coloured pencils, the Derwent Coloursofts have grabbed my attention for this piece. The range of pinks and complements will do nicely. So to begin. I decided to sketch straight onto the Arches rather than use the transfer method as there a very few lines needed for this little flamingo, all the work will be in the colour. I have just sketched the basic outline, and begun the basic painting on the beak.

I started with Dove Grey, Mid Grey and Soft Pink, creating a basic value underpainting, over which I have applied layers of the same with Steel Grey and Black to intensify the darker values. There are some pink reflections in the beak, transferring from the feathers and the Soft Pink brings them up well without being too obvious. And that’s it for now. I am blending the beak with a Derwent Burnisher as I want a nice, smooth sheen to the beak with some good contrasting values. So a few more layers will achieve that. Looking at the photo below, I notice that I will have a couple of adjustments to make to the shape of the beak, but that’s why we call it a Work In Progress. Much like myself.

15th May 2011

I managed to find the time today to work on this painting. First I finished the beak by blending the darker are and beginning on the creamy top half.

I underpainted the darker shadows in Dove Grey, then added some Cloud Blue for the cooler areas of shadow. Over that I added some areas in Cream and Pale Peach and took both these colours just over the top of the beak onto the feathers. Lastly I added a layer of White Grey, blending all the layers together before burnishing with the Derwent Burnisher. I finished off with a little blending with a Faber-Castell Polychromo in White just to add more smoothness.

Then I moved on to the feathers on the head. First I painted a soft layer of Cream as there are a few areas on the head feathers where sunlight has caught the pinks, making them yellowy. Then I used a layer of Pale Lavender to underpaint the areas of the feathers in shadow. Over the top of these, I used Soft Pink. It’s just a case then of building the layers and detailing darker areas with Dove Grey, and leaving some area, the highlights,  with just Soft Pink and White.

Moving onto the neck, I have used some Deep Cadium just across from the eye, where the sun catches the flamingo the brightest. Along the neck, it’s just a matter of layering the same colours that were used on the head. I don’t plan to burnish the feathers at all because I want them soft and fluffy. So that’s where we are.


27th May 2011

Just to prove that I do come back and finish things, I worked solidly on the flamingo today and got it finished.

I began with the plumage on the left-hand side of the bird and layered Pale Lavender then Soft Pink, then Pink, and Deep Cadium to paint where the sun caught the tips of the feathers, creating an orangey-pink glow. The feathers on this side of the flamingo were quite defined and light.

Then I moved over to the right-hand side, where the feathers are less defined and much darker. This side of the bird catches more of the sun. 

I like the deep orangey-pink of this side and gives the whole bird some depth.

For the background, I wanted to provide the lovely flamingo with some foliage , but blurred with suggestions of light breaking through But I didn’t want it to be too fussy as there is quite a lot of detail on the flamingo. To create this background, I layered circles of various greens, and just kept going till I felt I had reached the point where I was happy with it. And so ladies and gentlemen, the finished Flamingo –


Flamingo: Arches HP, Derwent Coloursoft, 27cmx18cm



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