Paint realistic bird feathers
Leesha Hannigan illustrates pigeons and doves of various colours, demonstrating how to render feathers while taking a painterly approach
Using a painterly approach, with Leesha Hannigan.
for this workshop I’m going to be focusing on how to paint feathers, and have chosen pigeons as my subject matter. This is primarily because they’re easily accessible to most people for study purposes, but also because it can be valuable to sit down and observe the more commonplace things in your environment, taking note of subtleties you may have previously overlooked.
Pigeons and doves for example, come in a variety of colours. When choosing your own subject for this exercise, try to find a species that will enable you to explore different colour variations. When painting any specific material, putting some time into both dedicated studies and focused observation will save you a lot of energy further down the road. Getting into the habit of doing studies and representational paintings also promotes consistent growth when it comes to your technical skills.
The more you look at a subject, the more you’ll understand how to accurately depict it in your illustrations, and as with many things, once you learn the rules you can also break them. That’s where stylisation can then come into play.
I take a somewhat painterly approach to rendering, because I find it lends itself well to naturalistic paintings. Nature is inherently imperfect; allow this to come through in your work – it’ll add to the character of the piece. Use reference, but apply the freedom to use it loosely. It pays to know when to deviate from your reference material and trust your own eye.