Pick up a paintbrush and paint a penguin

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been painting an African Penguin skipping on a beach and eating a tasty fish.

The photograph was lent to me by a man at work. I loved the beautiful lights on the water, the pastel colours of the background contrasted with the black and white of the penguin. It was an exciting project and a brand new challenge to me.

The perks of being an Artist over a photographer though, are you can eliminate the tell-tale signs of captivity – the tag on the wing, the half masticated fish. I could also get rid of imperfections like the irregular beak and the red eye.
photo

The result – quite pleasing if you ask me!

You will need:

  • About 50 hours.
  • 50 x 50cm canvas
  • Photograph to copy
  • Large flat paintbrush
  • Range of smaller round paintbrushes
  • Large playmat
  • Water
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Masking tape
  • Rubber
  • Acrylic paint for sea:
    • White
    • Deep Turquoise
    • Process Cyan
    • Flesh Tint
    • Leaf Green
    • Phthalo Turquoise
    • Cadmium Yellow
  • Sand:
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burnt Sienna
    • Flesh Tint
    • Rich Gold
    • White
    • Mars Black
    • Silver
  • Penguin:
    • Mars Black
    • White
    • Flesh Tint
    • Metallic Blue
    • Silver
    • Burnt Umber
    • Burgandy
  • Fish
    • Silver
    • Leaf Green
    • Burgandy
    • White

A fully stocked artist’s box is not a bad thing – makes all that paint so much more affordable over many years.

  1. Draw up your canvas: see here for a detailed how to guide!
    IMAG0950
  2. Paint in the water: Firstly do a colour wash in a pale blue, then use a large flat brush to paint horizontal strips of colour in varying shades across the area. The photograph was better than life – with gorgeous shades of green, yellow, blue and even peach.  The trick is keeping all the brushstrokes in the same direction and building up layers and layers which takes hours but is worth it!
    water
     
  3. Paint in the sand: Paint a colour wash in flesh tint over the area. They use a variety of rounded brushes to paint speckles of varying browns, silvers, white, sand colours over the entire area. This requires you building up layers, even more so than the sea. You will probably get impatient like I did and have to do this over several sessions. Keep referring back to your photograph to get big stones etc in the right place.Then paint the shadow. The trick here is to create a really watery black paint, with absolutely no white in it to make it creamier. Just neat black with water. Then use a flat brush to wipe this over the area so that all the stones and sand can still be seen through.
    sand
  4. Paint the wings: First do a wash in black. Then use slightly paler purple and bluey shades to create volume and areas of light. On the near wing, use metallic blue and silver paint to give it a wet look, and paint a white strip where the sun bounces off it. Keep all of your brush strokes horizontal to match with the direction of the feathers.
    wings 
  5. Paint the back: If you refer back to the photograph, you will see lots and lots of black feathers standing on end, glistening with oil and sunlight. To capture this, do a black colour wash, then use a little round brush and dab lines of small silver, grey and white dots to act as the tips of every feather. Going further down the back, the feathers lie flatter, so use longer brush strokes, angling them diagonally down the back.
    IMAG0980 
  6. Paint the softer white areas: Use white paint with a teeny bit of black mixed in to create areas of shadow. African Penguins have little grey speckles on their bellies too, so be sure to show this in your painting.
    IMAG0988
  7. Paint the face: Use the same technique as the back to create an area of light and areas of shadow on the face.
    IMAG0990
  8. Paint in the beak: I went off photo for the beak, to find a more visually pleasing one on another African Penguin! Use black, grey and silver, score likes and texture into it, and leave a gap between the top and bottom beak to show the background through. IMAG0995
  9. Paint in the fish! The original photo had a cooked and half cut up piece of fish. I wanted a fresh fish in my picture, so found one on the internet. Use shiny silver and pale greens to capture the beautiful shimmer of the scales.
    IMAG0999IMAG1020
  10. Paint in the feet: Use similar colours to paint the feet, carefully following the photograph to create mottled skin.
    Penguin ARTbyIMI

Ta daaaa

What do you think of my p p p penguin?

And more importantly, what should I name him?

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Pick up a paintbrush and paint a penguin

  1. Love your penguin! IF, he is a HE, I would call him Nelson (going back into history ) Horatio Nelson, the mariner,only had one eye! I can only see one eye (only because of the position! lol )If the penguin is a SHE, I would call her Harriet. No idea why though!!!

    • Funny you should say that! The tawny owl I painted I named nelson after my grannie’s surname. My woodpecker is named Horatio! Very strange! Same wavelength going on there.

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