Goldfinch Dinner

Updated! “Goldfinch Dinner”

Onward with a new challenge for March; the 15×30 Big Bird March. “Goldfinch Dinner” is the first of the series. It is a watercolor 5.5″x7.5″ on 140lb Arches cold press. Click on the images to see a larger view in new browser tabs.

When we lived in Utah, these Lesser goldfinches would come in great flocks to feed on our back yard sunflower forest. We were thrilled to see them also in our new backyard in Nevada. Though, they like a variety of flower seedlings here. We have a lovely bouquet in our front yard each summer.

Front Yard Flowers

This little gal was painted wet-into-wet, using Hansa Yellow Light and Medium, Pyrrol Red and Phthalo Blue (GS), all by Daniel Smith.

Before saturating the paper, I masked off the highlights for the “rim-lighting” effect. After drying off the back of the paper, but leaving the front really wet, I painted the background, first. I put down the blue first, following quickly with red and letting them mix on the paper. I added some yellow as well for an overall gray background. While the paper was still very wet, I painted the whole flower shape and seed pod with the Hansa Yellow Light. I added red and blue to the sunflower center. I added blue and red to the seed pod to create the green. Phthalo and Hansa Yellow make a really bright green, so I had to tone it down a bit for the shadow areas.

I painted the gray feathers of the bird with a mix of phthalo blue and red, skewed more to the blue. I painted the breast of the bird with Hansa Yellow light.  I used the same gray mix for the head, beak and legs/feet. Although, I may have gone too dark on the legs/feet? The first layer I kept quite light. After the paper dried off some, I added some darker tones for the feathers and eyes. I mixed a muddy orange for the shadows on the breast and tail.

I worked the flower petals by adding Hansa Yellow Medium and pulling some of the red out of the center. I painted over the center several more times with strong red and blue pigment.

I dried the painting off with a blow dryer and removed the masking. I found those last tiny details with dark pigment, mostly using the red/blue dark mix. I took a lot of care around the beak and the seed pod. I like how I can see the backside of the beak, inside the mouth of the bird. I painted that first with pure Pyrrol red at tea-strength, then let some blue swim in at the edge.

I added some Pyrrol Red calligraphy strokes with my rigger brush, then signed the painting.

‘Tis a fun little painting to start off my Big Bird March challenge, don’t you think? My goal is to get looser as the month progresses.

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“Goldfinch Dinner” Stage 1

Update! I removed the white spike below the beak.


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