Here’s a basic contour sketch of a yellow warbler (Setophaga petechia), lightly drawn so pencil lines are not distracting. Supporting background branch shapes are far enough from its face so the bird has room to “move” into it.
Before the photo above was taken, background branch and leaf shapes are painted right across the subject using a mostly dry-on-wet application. These loose brush strokes will appear to unify disparate primary and secondary subject shapes (as yet unpainted). While still wet, they are then carefully lifted from the bird and from some sketched branches. You can perhaps see hints of some remaining paint.
Using paint in a creamy consistency, the local (or dominant) subject color is painted next as one major shape and is extended to adjacent flowers and leaves that share the same color, connecting subject to background. While still wet, some shading in a warm temperature and a few reddish markings begin to define this species.
Significant branches are painted by first adding clear water to one branch at a time and then dropping dark blue and brown paint here and there into each individual wet space. Wet paper in each branch keeps options open to vary value, color, texture, and form. Though the more vertical dark branches were planned and sketched early, I decided to add one more that’s more parallel to the bird. The busy background painted in the first stage visually connects the subject and the few distinct, dark branches using color and line direction.
These little insect-eating birds are so delightful! I look forward to seeing them and other birds when they return to breed every spring!