With thanks to Bogdan Boev for allowing me to use his reference image to create my latest pastel painting, a beautiful piece of kingfisher bird art. This one is 8×12 inches and created using panpastels, sticks and pastel pencils on yellow pastelmat.
For a change I thought I’d try buttercup pastelmat. It’s a yellowy shade which is a bit overpowering but I felt it would be a good base for all the greens in my background. I found it quite hard going for the first layers. It took a lot of pastel to fill in the tooth which made the background a bit hard to blend to begin with. As I added more layers though it fast became my newest ‘flavour’ of pastelmat as it seemed I could rework for ever! As ever I used white graphite to sketch out the bird, it was quite hard to see after a layer or two so maybe not the wisest thing to do! You can see the pastelmat is attached to my work board with brown framers tape. This tape is inexpensive, keeps my handling edge nice and clean, plus makes the whole piece look tidier when peeled off (if removed gently at the end of painting and it won’t damage the pastelmat)
I used panpastels and sticks for the background. As I said it took a lot of pastel to fill the tooth so it was a lengthy task but the final blended background was exactly what I wanted. Anywhere I went over my kingfisher, I removed the excess with a stiff oil brush and a bit of blu-tak. I then started work on the branch, I used pastel pencils for this, mainly derwent and stabilo. I couldn’t wait to get started on the kingfisher itself due to the bright and vivid colours. I found I was using colours I rarely get out of the pencil tray, it was almost exciting!
As you can see, I hop all over (regular readers will know this) and I was very led by colour. I loved using tangarine and spectrum orange!) I still felt I had to complete the eye, for me the most important part of a portrait, it also makes things come alive. I also started to block in the beak at this point.
My next stage was to complete the beak, I only used a couple of pencils, derwent seal, pale grey stabilo and a couple of blue/greys. I then moved onto the head, I really couldn’t wait to add the bright highlights to the top of the head feathers for which I used a pale turquoise (never used that before except on a dog collar) followed by a pale grey. Lovely! I took quite a few layers to build up the highlights to be quite prominent, anywhere I over did it, I just added a bit of the base layer colour back over the top to dull it back down.
I used a stabilo green for the base of the wings, I found it really hard to build up any depth so had to use a derwent green over the top to fill in the tooth. I do find some stabilo pencils a bit hard and so initial layering with them is a bit of a task. They are however brilliant to use for detailing on top layers.
Next I concentrated on the lovely wing plumage. I used derwent seal for the darker flashes then again a lovely electric blue and a touch of orange. I was really loving using these colours! The seal is a lovely creamy pastel pencil and covered the pastelmat very well, then it was just a case of using fine strokes to add the hightlights.
I then worked on the emerald area at the top of the wing. Again using green stabilos and derwents adding the turquoise highlights, as you can see it really is starting to take on shape and form now.
All that was left was the orange chest area and leg. What a nice bright colour to end on! I used a few browns to add depth, then derwent flesh to add the bright highlights. I guess this piece took about 20 – 25 hours to complete which for me is a speedy record!
And here you can see how the edge of the finished piece of kingfisher bird art looks lovely and tidy after removing the framers tape. This means you can store your artwork without mounting and framing it, always being able to handle it without fear of smudging it when you picked it up.
‘Winging It’ available to buy here will be mounted in archival ivory mountboard, backed and bagged ready for framing into a standard size frame 11″x14″ which can be bought off the shelf or made bespoke.