Painting An Eastern Bluebird In Acrylic (1)

Expanding Your Artistic Horizons Series

Painting Session 1
Date: 07/23/2017
Subject: Eastern BlueBird on Bittersweet Branch
Medium: Acrylic on Illustration Board
Colors Used In This Session:  Titanium White, Cobalt Blue, Brilliant Blue, Cad Red Light, Naphthol Red Light, Golden Ochre, Burnt Sienna
Surface: Crescent Hot Press 200 Illustration Board, Cream Surface

Bluebird at end of Session 1
Bluebird at end of Session 1
If you need some inspiration for painting birds you have to look no further than artist William Zimmerman. "One of America’s greatest bird artists spent the bulk of his career in Brown County surrounded by nature and the birds that he loved. On a scale with Audubon, William Zimmerman illustrated a host of important books, including The Birds of Indiana and Waterfowl of North America, along with the woodpecker volume of The Life Histories of North American Birds. He also spent a great deal of his career working with environmental groups to protect the habitats of the birds and wildlife that he loved." (Brown County Art Gallery).  A permanent gallery is dedicated to Zimmerman at the Brown County Art Gallery in Nashville Indiana.  Zimmerman painted using acrylics with amazing life like details. Each time I visit the gallery to view his work I am in awe of his artistic abilities.

While I was working on "Painting The Pileated WoodPecker In Acrylic"  I had issues with having enough time to blend the paint. I wondered if it was due to the absorbency of the prepared paper or not having a medium to slow the drying time. I tried Golden Retarder hoping it would slow the drying but this did not seem to work. After a little research on the internet, I purchased Golden Gloss Glazing Liquid medium to use on this painting, hoping it will help with the blending issue. I also wanted to try painting on illustration board to see the difference between board and paper.

After sketching the Bluebird on paper, I transferred the image onto illustration board.  Using the glazing medium, I laid down a thin base layer of paint. I pre-tested the colors on paper to ensure the color was close to the reference photo of the bluebird. Even with the glazing medium, the paint seemed to dry very quickly.  I did have more time to blend and lay down an even coat of paint then without the medium. Could be that you might have more time to blend if using canvas instead of illustration board. Once I completed the base layer I started the second layer to refine the image. In the next session, I will continue to lay down thin paint layers and adding more detail.

Bluebird Sketch
Bluebird Sketch

Laying Down Base Layer

Completed Base Layer


  1. I'm looking forward to watching your progress. I like the bluebird and bittersweet composition. I too, am a Zimmerman fan. His talent is amazing.


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