Yesterday, on a November day too warm for southern New England, I watched a tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) bathing in a ceramic water trough decorated with avian figures on my deck – I had to paint it, and quickly got to work!
The palest washes of the clay figures and live bird are laid in with slightly dirty Raw umber and Cobalt, respectively, leaving highlighted areas untouched by paint.
The next washes of background and figure shadows are quickly painted, at first pale and bright, and then both dark and pure colors are dropped in, dry-on-wet to keep edges within soft.
Now the palest washes of bird details are applied.
Saturated background colors and rich darks pull the painting together. To brighten this piece and make the subject pop, I wet the background space with a creamy consistency of pure Aureolin, then add bright Cobalt turquoise light and saturated dark greens in strategic places, dry-on-wet and with large brushes. This painting, complete in a half hour or less, reflects this bird’s animated activity and my quick decision to paint it.