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Field sketching and illustration (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Hi all. After spending over 20 years illustrating Australian birds for identification (Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Australian Bird Guide) I am now trying to find my way back to painting birds in their habitats and relying more on field sketching as well as photo references. My background is as a field biologist and I'm largely self-taught as an artist, though I was lucky to have W. T (Bill) Cooper as a mentor.
I'm interested to see how many Birdforum artists still use field sketching in their practice even in these days of digital photography; like most illustrators i use photo references a lot but still value that special connection that comes with seeing your subject in the field. If you are a practicing bird artist I'd be interested to hear how you work.

To get the ball rolling I've attached some of my artwork and welcome any feedback:
first is a plate from the recent Australian Bird Guide (Fieldwrens and Heathwrens)
next is an old field sketch of a Scarlet-rumped Trogon, recently worked up in watercolour with access to photo references
last is a picture of a bird in its habitat, a Back and yellow Broadbill I saw in Sabah, again based on field sketches and photo references

Cheers, Peter


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Well-known member
KC, Rafael, thanks for your kind words. Do you have any thoughts on the value of field sketching vs photography for bird art and illustration?


Well-known member
Thanks Mark. I’ve had a look at your website, some nice artwork - loved the Merlin. Do you have access to falconers’ birds? A very long time ago I used to train raptors, and l’m a big fan of David Reid-Henry’s raptor portraits
Cheers, Peter

Swampy Sam

Well-known member
A little late to the party but, I do it every weekend in my backyard. I have my swaros on my tripod. And just draw. Sometimes they stay long enogh to get a good drawing but mostly just speed drawing. Pen sketchbook watercolors. I've leaenes alot more about behaviour. I really am not on my computer much anymore, may try to post some sketches.my drawing skills have gone up since starting this.


Well-known member
Thank you Jurek, and to Swampy Sam - please do post some of your sketches. Good to know about about birders sketching from life; it’s a process that really helps in being observant.
Cheers, Peter

Swampy Sam

Well-known member
Great to know others do it as well Peter. I think if more people tried it they would be hooked. Even if they are not great artists you have to start somewhere. I may even post some photos of my first sketches for a good laugh and compare to recent ones. That might get a few motivated to start.


Out Birding....
United States
I think there is an opportunity for you here....teach others. Have classes....For now it has to be 'Aussie's only' but perhaps once virus lets up you have an opportunity to combine birding + the artsy element that goes with it. A nice talent you have...


Little known member
Ok, I'll play

Hi Peter,
Just happened by your thread. Sometimes all one hears in these subforums are crickets 😏

Firstly I really like your work, you are obviously a very accomplished bird artist and I admit I'm a little in awe of your work with the field guides.
I particularly like your attention to subtle shape detail, its an often undervalued aspect in many plates I've seen.
The fact you are mostly self taught supports my long held theory that scientists can make better artists and illustrators than most artists. There's a reason why many renaissance artists were often scientists and visa versa. Inquiry plain and simple.
You ask about how other folks work and I'll happily blather on but you only hint at your methods and I'm interested to hear how you go about working.
Do you have a different method for the plates verses what you're pursuing now? Did you have access to any collections that helped you with the field guides?

Some background noise to my thoughts on your question. This business of working from a photograph is a favourite topic of mine so forgive the ramble.
I've been an artist for almost 50 years but have only been illustrating birds for our project for a half dozen years so again, you can take all this with a grain of salt.

For the record I've worked in an variety of mediums in the past but now exclusively work on the iPad Pro in Procreate a drawing and painting app that for me is closest to an analog experience.
My fork in the road as a child resulted in me becoming an artist but the untravelled path had me as an ornithologist. Certainly as a child I drew birds avidly but eventually went onto study human anatomy and the classical masters.
My own drawing master with whom I studied under from the age of 16 to the ripe old age of 22 early on changed my life forever by introducing me to a letter written by Peter Paul Rubens. It was in answer to a friend who asked for advice on how his son could become an artist.
In a nutshell Rubens recommendation was to study unadorned anatomy exclusively. Working from the model and studying anatomy at a medical school. He was to avoid being “artistic” or “expressive”. In short just be an eye and record dispassionately what was before him. He was to do this for 10 years at the end of which he was to cease working from a live model. After that he was to rely exclusively on working only from his mind and imagination. Rubens suggested that the rewards from these efforts would result in a novel skill set that would help him succeed as an artist.

To my naive 16 year old mind these words were galvanizing and I resolved then and there to follow Rubens advice.
What resulted after my 10 years of study was precisely what he predicted along with a host of many other more organic skill sets.

This line of study among other useful things helped me to think of photographs in different ways.
One being that even though a photograph appears to be “real” it is still a 2 dimensional representation that is only just a set of marks (or pixels) arranged in such a way so as to help our brain into believing in its realness

So working from a photograph involves translating a 2 dimensional object (the photograph) into another 2 dimensional object (the painting) a fairly straightforward albeit once removed process.

Conversely working in the field (or from the model) is a 3 dimensional act and you make your inquires and solve your problems in the 3 dimensions which you then translate to 2 dimensions. Working this way calls upon intellectual and visual processes that one just doesn't use when working from a photograph. I've done both and I have no doubt whatsoever that I'm exercising visual muscles with one method and atrophying the same muscles with the other.

So with this in my back pocket my modest approach to painting birds is a wee bit different to what I see others accomplishing. It can at times be a flawed method with occasionally flawed results but it pleases me so I'll carry on.

With regards to sketching in the field I do very little to be honest. The weird training I imposed upon myself at 16 generally allows me to remember shape, colour and jizz fairly reliably. Think of it like a zip file.

Here's how I muddle through a painting.
The first 3 to 10 hours are spent getting shape, pose, colour and scene to where it has a life of its own. It can still change, sometimes radically but at this point the painting is wholly a result of my imagination. After the memory is scoured clean then a start is made curating photos. Photographs at this stage are useful for the job of nailing a general rather than individual representation of that species.
As mentioned I'm acutely aware of the disadvantages to my process and have to work hard to mitigate them. I spend a lot of time just to get things right so there tends to be a lot of pushing and pulling of line, shape and pose. This is a messy way of going about it as progress is not always going in the right direction. Working from a single photo could skip all that angst.

To underline your observations about being in the field it is absolute key. Seeing that bird even for just a brief second will without fail help that painting immeasurably.
So there you have it, I could continue but I think this'll be enough to be getting on with 😉

Note, the paintings are from our upcoming book the “Regional Endemics of Costa Rica and Central America”


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Well-known member
Hi Bryan, and thanks for your kind words (likewise to Imans66 and Julian H - I have been having trouble getting logged in to reply)

VERY interested to hear about your evolution as an artist first and ornithologist second; in my experience that sequence is quite rare, and having a a grounding in art techniques would be a huge advantage. Getting that first 10,000 hours of practice in frees you up to think about what you want to paint without so much worry about how to do it.

I was interested to watch your demo videos of your digital art approach. I was very impressed with your images, with the balance you achieve between showing structure and the character of the living bird. When I started out as an artist 30 years ago I decided working with the available digital options was too counter-intuitive and analogue was plenty hard enough for me. It would be nice to be able to save, layer, erase etc though! Given that you started as a traditional artist, do you regret the lack of a finished “thing” other than a digital file at the end of a painting?

You asked about my field guide process. This has changed a bit over the past 25 years or so, but the brief is still to show structure in ways that allow identification and comparison, and to make the images look like living birds. Working on the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds required a lot of work from specimens and matching colour standards from the Naturalist’s Color Guide ( Frank B Smithe, AMNH). The more recent Australian Bird Guide drew on some of the measurements from the Handbook but drew much more heavily on available photos for reference. Either way, building a plate involved individual measured drawings being arranged and traced down on a sheet of watercolour board, then rendered in gouache. The work I’m doing now, showing birds in habitat, relies on a strong memory as a starting point, and I begin with habitat before setting the bird in it.

Your description of working exhaustively with live models before coming to rely on your imagination makes a lot of sense to me. The great British wildlife artist Charles Tunnicliffe drew in the field and from fresh specimens, and reached a stage where he could draw anything he saw for 10 seconds. This sounds like the Reubens approach you mention - building a mental model that is detailed enough to act as a template for whatever you want to show in your art. For me, field sketching is part of this process, building a critical mass of information that will guide my artwork. Most of my sketching relies on looking with a purpose, building a memory that I hope is detailed enough not to fall apart when I start drawing. Like you, then I play with the image until it matches my memory as far as possible. I like to have something quite detailed before I consider going to photos for more information, and NEVER copy photos faithfully.

Having a strong interest in the subject seems like the key to getting images “right”; you should care as the artist, even if the end user is oblivious to the effort you put in. One of my favourite bird paintings is by Hans Holbein (portrait of Robert Cheseman, 1533). The main subject is a nobleman from the Court of Henry VIII, holding a hooded falcon, but to my eye Holbein was most interested in the bird - even though it is hooded, you can tell the species (Lanner), sex (female, based on relative size) and age (over a year old, based on moult contrast in the wing coverts). Holbein was obsessed with getting this bird right!

Enough rambling from me, but thanks again for sharing details about how you work and what you do. The Neotropic Bird Project seems like a great initiative; a visit to central and South America is one of my dreams.

Cheers, Peter


Little known member
Hi Peter,
Yes, having the 10,000 hours out of the way before starting something like the project can help. Technical stuff like how can I make this real and authentic are a given at that stage.

Interestingly with the bird paintings there were a whole subset of “arty” attitudes and approaches that I had to wean myself away from. It took almost 2 years to do that and Noel our partner who does the heavy lifting on the ornithology side was a big help with that.

With regards to digital verses analog painting. Yes the digital options 30 or even 15 years ago were very counterintuitive. Thats not the case now of course. For all its faults Apple really has given developers a clean path to designing a silky smooth drawing and painting experience. When you can pick up an iPad for the first time and be drawing and painting within 5 minutes sans manual then things have progressed.

I personally don’t have any regrets switching. Sometimes I miss the smell of the paint and being in a studio with all its attendant sensations. The plus side means being able to work wherever the hell I want, the waiting room at the dentist, the airport or a cafe.
With regards to when a digital painting is finished, it depends.
We’ve developed an editing process over time and when we sign off on the accuracy of the painting I’m fine with calling it finished. I have been known to sneak a revisit down the road though, only for fun of course.
Printing for archival purposes also helps with closure.
I do have a notion of taking one or two of my more favourite digital paintings and painting it again but in oil or gouache. Almost as if the digital painting is where all the planning, problem solving and mistake making goes on and the oil/tempera painting is the “concert performance” piece. Its still a notion only but someday if I have the time I’ll give it a go.

Having said all that one thing I do enjoy about digital is that it doesn’t have to be finished if you don’t want it to be finished. I’ll still pull out old work and revisit if something is nagging me about the piece. I’ve also have a process with my non bird art where I take a photo of an old oil painting and load it into Procreate and work on it there. These works now have a wonderful presence of their own separate from the “real’ oil painting.
It seems like our painting methods have some overlap. I wonder if the demands of this kind of bird painting generally result in approaches having similarities.
May I ask if you had access to any collections for comparison purposes? That is something I would love to have in my research quiver.

Getting the painting to a state where any one photo can no longer cause damage is key I think. I find working from photos very seductive and have found myself surfacing from an intense work session only to realize the photo had lead me down the garden path in directions I had no wish to go. Like you I learned early on in this project to put off looking at any photographs for as long as possible.

Your observations of Holbiens attention to detail in the bird in the portrait of Robert Cheseman is interesting. I’ve been a huge fan of Holbein ever since a private gallery in LA allowed me to handle (with provided gloves of course) a folio of some of his original large etchings and woodcuts. I spent that whole morning breathing on them, it was an intimate and memorable experience for a 22 year old art student.
That is interesting information about Robert Cheseman and yes his approach and Rubens seem somewhat aligned. Perhaps Cheseman read the same letter but its more likely Rubens approach was more prevalent in the past than it is now.

My turn to cease rambling. If this pandemic ever cools down and we all are able to travel again I’d be happy to show you around a few of my favourite secret birding haunts here in Costa Rica.


Well-known member
Hi Bryan, and thanks for your detailed response. I think we are working towards the same end point in very different ways which says a lot about the scope of wildlife art and the techniques we have available.

I do a bit of teaching these days, mainly about the basics of bird illustration for identification (which is what students seem to want) and constantly find myself reassuring students that results will improve with practice. There are a handful of simple lessons to bear in mind for this kind of work, but most beginners only appreciate them over time, myself included. The way you describe Procreate makes me wonder if younger tech-savvy students might find it easier to progress faster using digital art, not that I could teach them myself - my lack of digital skills is an ongoing wonder to my kids. I do like the idea of a medium that you can just pick up and adjust; I’m learning oils at the moment and the discipline of working with slow-drying paint and the range of mediums is a real adjustment after years of gouache illustration. Lars Jonsson talks about watercolour as a conversation between the artist and the subject, and oils as a conversation between the artist and the medium, and that makes sense to me.

The way you have been able to include some details of habitat and climate (rain!) in your digital illustrations is outstanding; the brief for most of the illustrations I’ve done precludes this kind of ‘distraction’ except in small vignettes alongside conventional portrait-style images. This seems to be driven by what publishers think birders want, and hopefully will shift over time. I find having to ‘explain’ all the key features in an illustration does limit how life-like the end product looks; using just enough shading to show form and structure is a challenge and I’m enjoying painting light and shade in my latest work. It’s not all about detail!

You asked about access to collections. We are lucky in Australia to have quite good collections in most State/Territory museums, plus the Australian National Wildlife Collection here in Canberra, and there has been good support for provision of specimens, especially for the Handbook project I mentioned previously. So I do have access to skins and have found that very helpful. Learning what information you can reliably get from a skin is another lengthy process, and I see plenty of misleading paintings based on skins and especially on poor examples of taxidermy.

You mention having to wean yourself away from “arty” attitudes and approaches for your bird paintings. Interested to hear more about this if you have time to continue the conversation.

Cheers, Peter


Little known member
Hi Peter,
Yes,I agree with that. As Bugs Bunny used to say “theres a million ways to skin a cat” At least I think he said it.

I could probably benefit from sitting in on a few of your classes. Thankfully, I’m not so set in my ways that I can’t learn from others.

Your students could use a tablet in class but if I were teaching that class I would put certain limits on their use. Limits such as no reference photos in a layer and they would only be allowed one layer to produce the whole drawing or painting, period. In this way they’d be forced to work with all of the attendant and imagined “disadvantages” of working with paper and watercolour or pencil and such. They are more likely to actually have the proper epiphany about learning how to see with this approach.
Working without a net never hurt any artist but perhaps I’m being too fastidious.

I don’t think you would need to teach a student who is already tech savvy anything about the tools they’re using. A badly drawn line is a badly drawn line no matter with what it was drawn in or on and that’s where they would need the help.

Your mention of Lars Jonsson comments about conversations with the medium is spot on. My second drawing master who gave classes in classical drawing and anatomy also taught an all day practicum class in Renaissance paint making and chemistry. It was without a doubt a brilliant conversation with the medium.
It was also where we as students learned about how the altier system were organized which unintentionally came in handy years later when I found my self as a set designer in theatre.

Yes, for the most part classic plates don’t usually allow for artistic fancy. Though I find a well crafted and designed multiple bird plate to be satisfying and artistic in all kinds of unexpected ways. Limitations can be wonderful for stimulating creativity.

For our little field guides we (perhaps foolishly) thought breaking that classic mold would be an interesting thing to do.
To be fair Noel felt we should stick to classic plates but I had other ideas.
With his input I spent a considerable time finding ways to render a species accurately and prominently while still having it live in a potentially distracting environment. Its a tightrope at all times.
The rain you mention comes under our well developed “how to tell the story of how and where that species lives” part of the process. That painting, the Flame-Throated Warbler is an endemic of the highlands where it can be “see your breath” cold with fog and buckets of rain. Including the rain was an interesting way of illustrating that warblers habitat, plus it was fun.

I looked into the naturalists handbook you mentioned, apart from the price the likelihood of any copy I order actually arriving safely in Costa Rica is slim. I’ll have to wait when next I can travel again.
If I understand you correctly learning how to interpret what one sees in a collection is a skill. Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to visit any collections so would need to be carefully guided through what I was looking at.
To the topic of collections. The Moore Lab of Ornithology who is following our project on instagram had recently posted an interesting story. They had just finished a major inventory of their collection and while doing so several of their grad students learned in the ways of writing software created a virtual collection. This software allows one to sample their entire collection from a computer or iPad). One is able to call up any individual specimen and view that specimen near or far in 3d from any angle.
They tell me they’ve designed this for researchers and folks like myself who might benefit from access to the collection but are currently prevented from visiting in person.
I am waiting impatiently for them to put the finishing touches on this project. I hope more collections follow this path as it would be a wonderful resource. Perhaps others are working on this idea already and Moore Labs is just moving with the times, either way exciting.

You ask about arty and I’ll try to be concise.
Weaning away from arty attitudes meant avoiding the perfectly permissible approaches that are a given in the art world. Such things as adopting a colourful fauvist sensibility or introducing elements of mystery or exaggeration with little kowtowing to realism.
Having all of these tools in ones kit for 40 years become an entrenched habit. My early attempts at the birds in this project indulged those artistic considerations with little regard for the requirements of accuracy, clarity, colour and shape not to mention correct botany. Noel was very patient!
I don’t find any of these limitations stifling creativity in any way. In fact I consider them a delightful challenge.

I’m curious, are you teaching informally or through one of the universities? Do your students get university credit for time served in your classes?
I’m also wondering if you’ve stopped producing plates for publication or just taking a break.
You mention a handful of simple lessons. Would you care to expand on that?
One more question if I may. With the new work you are tackling are you picking birds based on a criteria? For example endemics or forest dwellers or are you picking them based on interest’s sake?
At any rate, I’m enjoying the conversation!


Well-known member
Hi again Bryan
Another interesting post with lots to respond to. Taking things somewhat in order:
I’m sure we could learn a lot from each other with our differing approaches; an artist who has nothing to learn must be a rare creature.
I was just speculating about students learning to paint on a tablet - I certainly don’t have the skills to teach them. I do agree that learning to work with pencil and paper etc is good discipline - all media have their limitations and you must learn to deal with them. It’s hard to persuade students that field sketching isn’t meant to be perfect, and getting something ‘wrong’ isn’t failure, it’s learning. Maybe everyone should start with life drawing classes.
I’ve been interested in bird illustration long enough to see fashions change; maybe this is down to birders becoming more knowledgeable and demanding, so that showing behaviour and character takes a back seat to structure and detail. Good on you for breaking the mold (I say mouid) with your guide to endemics, birds live in a landscape, not on a clean page. There was an interesting guide produced in the UK in 1990: Britain and Europe Birds by Character. It was a good attempt at showing how to pick birds by behaviour as well as field marks, with multiple sketches of each species. As a guide it wasn’t a big seller though.
I only mentioned the Naturalist’s Color Guide as part of the process for working on the Handbook project- it wasn’t meant as a recommendation and I think it has been superseded by other colour standards. I do still use it as a starting point, but the color swatches are never quite like the real thing. Understanding how to render colour is an ongoing struggle for me (how do you put shadows on a yellow?).
Interesting to hear about the Moore Lab, new to me. A digitised virtual collection would be a fantastic resource; our Handbook project did use some high res digital prints of old Australian specimens from the British Natural History Museum, and that worked quite well. The less old specimens have to be handled the longer they’ll last of course.
You certainly seem to have made the move from arty to birdy very effectively - do you have a long interest in birds? We found it hard to recruit good bird artists for the projects I’ve worked on, and often this came down to a lack of knowledge about birds rather than poor technique.
You asked about my teaching. Most of it is informal, for local art groups, bird observatories, nature reserves etc. I have taught some workshops and courses, including for one of our Universities. Most students come once, for an introduction to sketching or illustration techniques. A few are interested enough to progress and I give them ongoing informal advice. The most important simple messages I try to get across are: don’t be afraid to make mistakes; don’t copy slavishly and do develop your own style; look at light and shade before colour, don’t draw what you can’t see; get structure right before detail; and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
The main reason I’m not producing plates for publication is that there is no demand at present, though I was very glad to have a break when the Aus Bird Guide was completed. So now my priority is to paint what I want, with no market in mind, and keep learning. The subjects I choose are ones that stand out in my memory; right now I’m working on an oil painting of Himalayan Monal in habitat, based on a sighting I had in north-east India which rates as an absolute birding highlight for me.
Would you like to expand a bit more on you approach to the endemics guide, e.g. do you work systematically through related species, prioritise spectacular birds to engage sponsors etc?
Cheers, Peter


Little known member
Sorry for the novel

Hi Peter,
Like you I did a bit of teaching and lecturing in various colleges and universities and found that for my students the fear of mistakes was their biggest challenge. In fact in some classes I would set up a still life and task them to paint something that was as brutally ugly as they could manage. The lesson was designed to help with the almost universal fear of making a mistake. If one is purposely attempting an awful painting it’s hard to hang on to that preciousness that underlines the fear.
I would agree with the idea of life drawing classes. It most effectively teaches one how to see no matter what the ultimate visual endeavour is. Life drawing taught me more about photography and design than any photography or design class ever did.
I’m also on board with the “Practice, practice, practice” statement.
To your question about an interest in birds. I’d draw them incessantly as a child including their internal and skeletal anatomy. It’s what was fuelling my wish to becoming an ornithologist. However the fork in the road was a switch to studying classical painting and anatomy. So although the dream of being an ornithologist was left behind I’ve remained a birder since.

I’m not too sure if your “How do you put shadow on yellow” question was a general or a specific question but I’ll give it a go anyway.
Working from dark to light in the case of these paintings I’ll assume the bird to be in a neutral kelvin {temperature light or neutral white balance in photography terms. As I build up layers of feather structure the underpainting is dark and the feathers get continually lighter and brighter as I progress. For shadow a very thin and transparent wash is laid over what the “shape” of the shadow is due to volume. In oil paint I would make my blacks from mixing pure colours together till I get a black with the characteristics I’m looking for. In the case of a yellow object the mixed black would have just a hint of purple mixed in.
I’ll render volume in these paintings but not much shadow, If the crissum is a delicate buffy grey I don’t want that to get lost in dark shadow. I’ll occasionally hint at dappled light but since the bird is clear and bright for id purposes dappled light is a tough one to introduce.

I think you are correct that fashions change and perhaps birders are becoming more educated. There also might be additional pressure from the publishing houses. Traditional plates are more efficient to produce and time is a factor.

I’ve felt from the beginning these paintings are probably the projects worst enemy.
They average between 15 and 50 hours each so producing the 900+ birds of Costa Rica would take a while. As well, designing a page for a book (real or virtual) with this kind of painting along with text and at least one distribution map is problematic. With one bird per page then that field guide would amount to over 900 pages which would be a very cumbersome book indeed. This alone is why no one does it this way and explains why we didn’t pursue a publisher just to have them explain to us what we already know.
They do lend themselves better to eBooks or an app. A hard cover coffee table art book that is littered with useful information on each bird might work as well. By keeping the numbers to a manageable size like the roughly 130 species of the regional endemics of Central America we can keep the size down in a physical book. Of course an app or ebook doesn’t get physically bigger or heavier with more birds but organization and search functions become key. Needless to say we have learned a lot about the publishing industry and are still learning since it changes so rapidly.
The “101+ Common Bird of Costa Rica” ebook sales are low but very slowly increasing. We never thought we’d make money on this lark and that was never the plan so we’re thankful we have better reasons for continuing.

Here’s a short description of how painting get done for the project. A lot of this process you are probably already familiar with. We use correct taxonomic order in the books but when I’m painting I break the list up into groups of 10 with each group being a mishmash of various birds from our list. This keeps things from getting repetitious. When breaking them up into these tens there’s no real focus on special or spectacular birds per say.
I’ll work a group of ten simultaneously which prevents any one painting from moving too far ahead of the pack. This allows me to design a visual arc across a large number of paintings and keeps sameness to a minimum. When the design, colour and pose are roughed in Noel will make suggestions about plant species, habitat and what should be emphasized for id purposes. When all ten are 95% finished Noel and I then start the editing process. For this step which is where digital painting excels we will comb over the painting correcting shape and colour until we are happy. I like this part of the process because the paintings without fail have benefited. At this point the painting is officially signed off.

May I ask if you know of a resource for learning how to “interpret” what one is looking at in a collection? Is it species specific? I recall you mentioned bad taxidermy and I can see how that would confuse the uninitiated regarding shape but are there other things to watch out for?

Another question, I’m curious if you are painting anything other than birds? Botany or landscapes perhaps?

I looked up the Himalayan Monal, what a wonderful bird to paint! Iridescence can be a lot of fun to do. Are you painting it in oils?

Re, photos,
I include here 3 photos of a set of 9 paintings that all progressed simultaneously. The middle set are roughly where I stop working from the imagination and start curating resources to help refine things.
The 3rd set are where they are now at 95% finished and waiting for editing and signing off.


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