For National Bird Day

Friends on Twitter pointed out that it’s #NationalBirdDay – in honor of aves everywhere, here’s a Golden Crowned Kinglet. This is painted from a Wikipedia ref, though I promise you I saw several of these clearing the trees of bugs this very afternoon.


The bird itself is mostly Daniel Smith’s Graphite, with some burnt sienna (PBr7) for the branch and that lovely chestnut blush on the bird’s breast. The background is ultramarine blue, and the characteristic golden crown is a dab of PY150 Nickel Azo yellow. I did add in just a touch of carbon ink to deepen the eyes, beak, and the black stripe on the crown. Graphite can go deep, but never quite reaches black. A little contrast finished the bird off and brought some attention where needed.

Normally I’d have gone with my favorite two-pigment pair Ultramarine Blue PB29 / Burnt Sienna for the bird. This time, I wanted to keep the gentle grays truly neutral, without the splashes of color that characterize my favorite technique. There is a pan of premixed bistre on my palette, made of the same colors, but that’s tipped a little cool and paints with a little more granulation. Graphite washes smoothly and offers a slightly warm gray that’s tailor made for this little bird. The entire painting is about 6″ x 6″, on Richardson 140lb cold press in my sketchbook.

I’m painfully tempted to go in and keep messing with this, but decided to sit on my hands and call it done.

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