Oil Pastels: Kingfisher (demonstration)

While perusing WetCanvas’s Reference Image Library for inspiration one day, I came across a nice kingfisher photo uploaded by oliverandjazz and thought it would make a good oil pastel drawing. I used Cretacolor AquaStics, but regular oil pastels with a little odourless mineral spirit will allow you to dissolve and blend colours in the same manner.

Materials
Oil Pastels
Cretacolor Aqua Stics:
-Permanent White
-Glacier Blue
-Grass Green
-Olive Green Dark
-Ivory
-Ochre Light
-Olive Brown
-Umber
-Cloud Grey
-Dark Grey
-Ivory Black

Brushes
-Creative Mark Ebony Splendor 3/4 inch flat
-Creative Mark Ebony Splendor size 8 round
-Creative Mark Rhapsody Kolinsky Sable size 4 round
-Creative Mark Ebony Splendor size 2 round

Surface
-Good quality watercolour or drawing paper of at least 300gsm. A hot press or relatively smooth cold press surface is preferable.

Procedure
Step 1
Using light marks, sketch out the kingfisher and the metal bar he is sitting on (I’m not actually sure what that is he’s sitting on, but it looks like a metal bar so I’ll go with that. Dad reckons it’s a steering wheel but I don’t think birds can drive). Loosely scribble colours into the background to cover most of the surface, varying the colours to create an out-of-focus effect. Use Olive Green Dark over most of the background, with patches of Olive Brown and Ivory Black for the darkest sections, and just Olive Brown for the medium sections. Colour the metal bar in with Dark Grey along the underside and middle and Cloud Grey along the upper edge. For the kingfisher, colour his pale tummy in with Ivory, adding a little of this colour to his tail. Stroke Umber and a tiny amount of Ivory Black along the outer edges of the tail, and add some Dark grey for the shadow. Keep it fairly light at this point as you will build up the colour through several layers. Colour the underside of the kingfisher’s beak with Dark Grey, and colour the top of his head and the side of his wing with Olive Brown. Add a streak of Umber to create the dark inner edge of the wing, then add a light layer of Olive Green over the back of the kingfisher’s head.

Use the 3/4 inch flat brush to wash and blend the background colours and the colours on the metal bar, then switch to the size 8 round to wash the bird. For the details and fine lines on his tail and beak, use your size 2 round.

Step 2
Put down another layer of greens and darks in the background using the same colours as you did before. Add Umber into the darkest sections, and some Glacier Blue in the top centre and bottom right for the light areas. Wash over these once again with the 3/4 inch flat. Make your brushstrokes follow the curve of the metal bar and drag the colour outwards before blending it with a cris-crossing motion; if you just follow the edge of the bar, you’ll end up with a pronounced halo effect around it. Put another layer of Dark Grey and Cloud Grey onto the bar, adding some Ivory Black along the underside. The highlighted area on the top side of the bar should be relatively narrow. Wash over it again with the size 8 round, starting at the highlighted top edge and blending down into the dark areas, making your brush strokes follow the curve of the bar.

Step 3
Add another layer to the background with the same colours as Step 2, this time adding in some Ochre Light in the lower left and upper right corner, and adding some Permanent White over the Glacier Blue in the top area and wash it with your 3/4 inch flat. Apply another layer to the metal bar, this time adding more black along the underside before washing over it again.

Colour in the front of the bird’s head with Olive Brown and Umber, making your strokes follow the curve of his head to represent feathers. Gradate this into Grass Green with a little Olive Brown for the back of his head, with a touch of Permanent White along the very edge to show the backlight. Use the same browns on the kingfisher’s wing, and then add more Ivory to the underside of his tail, with a little Umber and Ivory Black along the outer edges and some Dark Grey for the top half of his tail in shadow. Add another layer of Ivory on the kingfisher’s tummy, with a few strokes of Cloud Grey under his belly and a few light strokes of Olive Brown near the top of his wing and around his eye. Use the size 8 and 2 rounds to wash over these parts.

Scribble with the Ivory Black AquaStic on a scrap piece of paper, and use a wet size 2 round to pick up some colour and paint the underside of the bird’s beak. You might also want to add his feet and his eye. Scribble some Cloud Grey and Permanent White in the same manner and pick it up with the wet brush to paint the top half of the beak.

Step 4
Add a final layer of your background colours, this time pressing as hard as you can before washing over it with the large brush. Give the metal bar the same treatment, laying down a thick layer of Ivory Black for the underside and a making sure the narrow highlight along the top is maintained. Add a little Dark grey and Ivory Black under the bird for his shadow, blending this up to the underside of his tummy. You may need to add his feet in again with the wet brush from your scribbled swatch of Ivory Black, so they stand out as darker than the shadow (they shouldn’t be too obvious though as they are mostly concealed beneath the bird’s tummy feathers).

Go over the bird’s tummy with another layer of Ivory, again adding a little Cloud Grey to the shaded lower half and a few light strokes of Olive Brown under his eye and near his shoulder. Using scribbled swatches again as a palette, pick up Ivory Black and Cloud Grey/Permanent White and paint the lower and top half of his beak respectively. Darken the eye with more Ivory Black paint, making sure to keep a sharp edge. If you didn’t leave a highlight, you can add one later with Permanent White. Using the Umber pastel (and adding a few strokes of Ivory Black), stroke in more feathers along the top of the bird’s head, shifting into Grass Green for the back and finally Permanent White for the highlight at the back (feather this out a little over the green background). Bring the white down along the bird’s shoulder. Now all that’s left to do is sign your name. Scribble a swatch of Umber and Ivory Black  onto your scrap paper, then pick it up with the size 2 brush.

I hope you’ve enjoyed drawing and painting this kingfisher. Remember that even if you can’t get your hands on watersoluble oil pastels, you can use any normal oil pastels with a little odourless mineral spirit to achieve the same results.

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