So, I've had birds on the brain for the past week or two, gathering images from my fellow Colonial Beach Artists Guild members for an online themed "show"of "avian art." None of the pieces happened to be of a wood duck. It seemed a shame not to have such a colorful (and fairly common, in Virginia) species included and determined to try painting one in oils.
Although the male wood duck is so distinctive that I'd recognize one immediately, I still needed some research photos to look at. I found them on various birding websites.
If painting a plein air landscape, I might be content to just start flinging paint at the canvas without much concern about how strictly representational the finished result will be. However, I did want Mr. Wood Duck to be an accurate portrayal.
Recalling a illuminating series of classes I'd once taken from the talented Mr. Bill Harris of Liberty Town Arts in Fredericksburg VA, I first sketched my duck lightly in pencil on the canvas. Then, I went over the sketch with (in this case) black acrylic paint,
The advantage to acrylics is that they dry so fast. The outline was soon dry, and I could get the canvas effectively covered, also with acrylic paint. Having this "ground" of color, rather than painting onto a white canvas, can be useful. If nothing else, it does away with the occasional paralysis one can feel when faced with a "blank canvas."
Now, about an hour in to this project, I can start painting in oils. I am going to just put in some big, simple areas of color, and then think for a bit about where to take it from there.
Other aspects of life have come up, so I call a temporary halt on this painting. The oil paints on their sheet of pallet paper will be put in a Masterson palette keeper and still be usable when I can return, even if it is not for several days. Until then!