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Puffin Power!

If you have been waiting for the release of my new painting project ~ then wait no more as this cute Puffin portrait is now available with the Online Watercolour School!

Working from this reference photograph, you will have lots of opportunities to explore a variety of basic techniques ~ so if you're a beginner, I think this one will be a great project for you!


When painting a portrait I think it is really important to pay close attention to the head of the animal (as this is where the eyes of the viewer are initially drawn). So to start, we will work onto dry (this will allow for greater accuracy) to recreate the head and beak, paying close attention to our use of colour and the finer details.


Once the head is complete, we will work with a combination of loose techniques to try and recreate the feeling of soft plumage. We will work into wet to ‘sculpt’ the face to give it form. Then we will work onto dry ~ introducing a wet brush to create cauliflowers, blossoms, back-runs and blooms! Did you know that all of these terms actually refer to the same thing?!


This unique effect occurs when water (or even a more watery paint) is introduced into thicker or drying paint. When the effect occurs unexpectedly (usually in a flat wash when you go back to ‘fix’ something!), it is often called a cauliflower ~ but when we create one on purpose we choose to describe it with a more pleasing name!



Introducing water into a drying or thicker paint will create the cauliflower/blossom and leave interesting, natural shapes and frilly edges. An effect which you just can’t create in other ways! It is this uncontrived edge that really gives your painting a soft, natural feel ~ perfect when painting soft feathers or fur.


To complete our bird, we will use a few expressive, directional brushstrokes to describe the splayed wing tips. These quick strokes will add a sense of dynamism to your bird, which will help to increase the feeling that he is in flight.


To find out more about this project, take a look at this short video.



I do hope you enjoy this one and I look forward to seeing a Circus of Puffins (yes, that really is the collective noun for these lovely birds!) coming into land on the forum soon.


Happy Painting!

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