Peacock | Linda Mullen | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (1h 4m)
    • 1. Peacock 1 Intro and Intitial Washes

    • 2. Peacock 2 Feather Washes

    • 3. Peacock 3 Beginning the Eyes

    • 4. Peacock 4 Feathers

    • 5. Peacock 5 More Feathers

    • 6. Peacock 6 Pullling It All Together

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About This Class

This Peacock lesson uses a Mr Clean Magic eraser to create the fluffy whimsical feathers of the colorful peacock. The finished piece is more impressionistic than realistic. This is a painting you can really play and have fun with.



Quinacridone Gold (Winsor and Newton--the color really varies with different brands)

Winsor Blue, Green Shade

Winsor Green, Blue Shade

 ***These colors are clear, staining, and intense. You can substitute other colors, but you won't get the same result.

Cobalt Blue

Burnt Sienna

Paynes Gray


140 lb Arches Cold Press Paper

The original Mr Clean Magic eraser (I get mine in Walmart in the broom aisle)

2H pencil/eraser

Paint Brushes

Super soft brush for blending (You can use make up brushes or any inexpensive super soft brush.)

Masking fluid/rubber cement pick up

Terry cloth towels

Blue painters tape

Any other supplies you have

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Linda Mullen


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1. Peacock 1 Intro and Intitial Washes: Hi. This is Linda Mullen with life ladder designs. And today we're going to be painting a peacock Peacock is done with a white background, and we're going to be using a Mr Clean Magic Eraser to get those really fluffy feathers. This is the original photo, and it I What I did was I overlay it with a filter of blue so that I could really highlight the eyes on the on the feathers. We're not doing a photo realism painting of this peacock, so I'm not too careful about what colors it has on the photo. I really want to see the shape and the way that the feathers grow. So what I did was I, uh, printed out this photograph as a draft. So what? The colors are very light on two pieces of paper. And then I taped them together, and I took a Sharpie, and I outlined the features on the birds face. And then I outlined the direction that the quills are are are growing, and I put some circles into where I'm gonna want to put the eyes. So that's the photo I'm going to use while I'm actually painting the painting. Most of the colors that we're gonna use are very bright. They're very staining. Windsor Blue, Windsor Green are the two main colors. Now I do have permanent rose and a lizard in crimson on my list, and I did notice that when I finished the painting, I really hadn't used either one of them. So you really don't have to use them either. Here's my set up. It's hard to see the drawing right now because I keep the drawing fairly late. The washes are going to be light, and I don't want to see the drawing through it. I did take some masking fluid, and I'm asked out that quill above the bird's head, where the Crown ISS and I want to be able to keep that from getting what? We're going to remove the masking fluid later, and we're gonna finish painting that little crown above his head. I am going to use a Mr Clean Magic Eraser. You want the original Mr Clean Magic Eraser. I buy it in Walmart. It's in the same aisle, has the mops in the brooms. You're also going to need a little clean pail of water to use with the Mr clean magic eraser. But let's get started. I'm pulling out Windsor Blue Cobalt blue, and I'm going to start painting the body of the bird with cobalt blue around the face, painting around the eyes in the white area, painting around the neck. And this is just one color. But I am varying the values. I'm using a brush with a pretty good point so that I can paint around some of the feathers and begin to shape out the roundness of the body. I'm switching to a larger brush, and I'm picking up some Windsor blue green shade. This is a really workhouse of a color. It's very intense. It's also very staining. Once you get it down, it's down. I'm mixing it with some of the cobalt blue, and I'm putting this wet wash all across the bird's body. I'm going to continue to work on this body by dropping mawr color and more color into it while it's still wet. As I'm dropping color in, I'm trying to start shaping the body. The cobalt blue is a lighter value than the Windsor blue, so I'm starting to use the Windsor Blue in the Shadow and the turning areas, picking up a super soft, super dry brush and without any water on it. I'm blending the edges of some of the colors I just put down, so they look very smooth. Then back to the pain. This is still a very wet wash, trying off my brush, picking up the wrong color, rinsing it out, getting some Payne's gray, and I'm adding some of the Windsor blue and the cobalt blue to the Paynes grey, and I'm dropping it in on the shadow side of the bird, and I'm tucking it behind some of the feathers. I want to remind you that the body of the bird is still very wet. I can add color while it's wet, provided my color doesn't have more water in it. Then, with the water on the page dry brush softening and I'm not done yet. It's a very cold day here in California, and the paint is drying very slowly, so it's giving me a lot of opportunity to keep going back in. And while it's wet dropping more color now I'm picking up wins or green gonna add a little bit of the blue mixture to the green, and then I'm going to go in and start dropping it. You can see I'm like dropping dots of color into that bird. And even though it's still wet, it's beginning to take shape as I do this wet in wet technique. Pride brush, smooth out all the colors. 2. Peacock 2 Feather Washes: Now I'm mixing up the colors that I'm going to use as the backdrop for that beautiful feather pattern behind the bird's body. Gonna have to turn the paper because when I paint, I paint pulling the brush toward me, not away from me. And because my strokes are going to be very broad and very long, I'm going to need to move the paper. The gray that I'm mixing is made from a combination of cobalt blue and burnt sienna. It makes a beautiful gray, and if you vary those colors and you keep some more burnt sienna on one side, more blue on the other, you could make some beautiful graze. Now I'm taking a big brush and some water, and I am painting strokes of water in the same direction as the way that the feathers are growing. I'm going to begin to paint in the gray background, but I want there to be some wet areas so that as I paint some of the paint just runs into the wet areas, you're going to use a big brush and you're gonna paint very quickly during this time, as you can see, some of the blue and Some of the burnt Sienna are separated on my palette, and some are mixed together. I'm going to be dipping into all three of those colors. And as I brush and as I move the, uh, brush across the paper, I'm careful to move it in the direction that the feathers are growing. You can see how some of the pain has hit the water, and it's just blurring. And we want that to happen. I'm going all the way out to the corner of this painting. I do have some tape around the edges that I can have a straight edge. I sometimes like to do that. It helps me keep my composition in mind. As I'm painting, I just keep bringing more paint color out, and I'm careful to pain around the back feathers behind the body. I keep turning the paper so that it's easy for me to get the brush in the direction that the feathers are growing. When you get toward the bird's beak, make sure you really paint around that beak. If it helps you to put some masking fluid, their first do that. Okay, now I'm done and I've gotta let everything dry once it's all dry, I can come back and get my magic eraser, and now I'm going in the opposite way. I'm starting at the edge, and I'm pulling the damp magic eraser across the paper and erasing a lot of the pain that I put down ahead of time. This is what gives that fluffy look to those feathers. When you use the magic eraser, you want to dip it into the water and squeeze out the excess. But even doing this is going to make your paper wet. Now I'm using a dry cloth to pick up some pain and to dry off the paper, pulling on the magic eraser again. And I'm gonna go through the middle sense of any areas that I want to highlight these feathers now. The reason this is so easy is because cobalt blue and burnt sienna are not staining colors , and we can lift them really easily off the paper. Now we've gotta let everything dry till it's really bone dry before you go the next step. If you want to, you can use a hair dryer. Make sure that it's on a low setting, and you you're holding it far enough back from the paper that the paper doesn't buckle. I actually have it pretty close to the paper right here for demonstration. 3. Peacock 3 Beginning the Eyes: Once I've used the magic eraser, I've lost the, uh, pencil drawing that I had of many of the eyes in the feathers. So I'm going in now with a pencil, and I'm drawing circles and the circle is the size of the inside of the eye, the blue area. But it doesn't matter. Just make sure you put them in a logical pattern, and it gives you a little map of where we're going to go ahead and paint the little eyes on the bird. Now I'm going to just wash off this palette because it's pretty messy and I want to begin to paint the eyes and I want it on a pretty clean palette because I want my colors to say, really clean. Everything's dry and so I can go onto the next step. I'm gonna pull out quinacrine home gold. This is of color that is made by different companies. I use Windsor Newton's quinacrine on gold. This is also a great color to use when you're mixing leaves in mixed quinacrine, home gold and Windsor Blue, and it's a beautiful, beautiful green. This is Windsor Green, and this is Windsor Blue. These are going to be the primary colors that we used to paint the eyes on the feathers of the bird. So I'm gonna start by going over to one on the side so I can, uh, see what it's gonna look like when it's done and decide if I want to make any changes. If I goto a instead of doing the center of the painting, I'm going over to the edge and I'm painting a large circle of water. Then I'm gonna pick up quinacrine own gold, and I'm gonna paint around the inside edge of that water. The outside edge of the quinacrine home is gonna bleed into the water and look very fuzzy. And I want that look to happen. I'm softening the inside a little bit. Then I'm going to pay in a ring of Windsor green. And if it touches the quinacrine, um, that's great, because it will blend with it and it will look more realistic. The last thing I'm gonna do is put a little cobalt with my Windsor and paint the center at blue mixture. I'm going to go to the outside of the quinacrine home gold and pull out some water to make sure It's still keeps a soft edge And I'm gonna move into the next one, do the same thing again A ring of water quinacrine home gold And this time I'm changing the shape of the quinacrine Home gold The 1st 1 was more round This one is more oval When I do the green I'm painting just the bottom green And I'm gonna pay the top of the inside blue Sorry, You can't see that I'm going back to the 1st 1 And putting a little dark blue at the top The 1st 1 still wet So it ran and it's gonna look really cool Now I'm gonna follow along But I do the same thing with this one I put down the quinacrine home gold First put the water around the edge and put in some green More quinacrine home gold Pull it out But it run and moving along Now I'm getting brave I'm gonna do three at a time because now I think I know what I want to dio So I lay those down and then I go back and soften the edges into the water. As long as you've got some water nearby, you could make everything look really blurry, which makes it look very realistic. Little green, little blue or green or blue. Then when I get to the edges, look, I'm pulling them out in the direction of the quills because as we're painting, we're going to start to finding some of the quills. I'm using the photograph to pay attention to the fact that when the when the feathers get closer to the body of the bird, more of the eyes show like in a clump in a cluster and as they grow out, they separate more in their more individual. So I'm putting in this cluster here, and I'm doing some negative painting to show off where the quills air growing. Some of these eyes air in the shadows, so they're gonna be darker. Well, I have this dark blue. I'm gonna be putting some negative painting between a couple the quills so that I can start to show how these feathers grow. I just keep going around putting circles of water in a line and you can tell I'm not being too particular. I'm really letting the water do the work for me. I'm laying down color and I'm letting it run into the water, putting some blue at the bottom just because I think it feels good and it would help define the shape. When you're doing this kind of wet in wet painting, you don't want to be too particular. You want to just kind of go with it. And if it feels like oh, I need a little blue here, put in some blow. This is definitely a painting you should be having fun with. And this is some negative painting between the quills. 4. Peacock 4 Feathers: You know, I'm gonna start to work on these feathers, and all I'm going to do right now is I'm gonna block in some color. I want the quinacrine home gold to be at the top to show the ridge and there's another ridge after that one toward the middle. So I'm gonna do another ridge of quinacrine home gold, And then I'm gonna use the Windsor Green to tuck the first ridge behind the second. And all I'm really doing right now is blocking in color. I'm not worrying too much about detail And what it's gonna look like a the end. I just I need to block this in almost like a little road map so that I know where I'm going . Later, when I paint, I'm often moving around the painting. I don't often completely finished one area before I go to the other. I generally work around the entire painting. Okay, so we're ready to keep going here, and I'm gonna go back to the bird's body. What's gonna make this body look realistic is something called glazing. Glazing is placing a thin layer of color over another layer that is completely and totally bone dry you can cover the whole area, your uncover portions of it when I'm painting directly next to a color, I always make sure that that color has completely dried unless I want them to run together . In this case, I don't want them to run together. I'm glazing some of that green over the belly of the bird because it really will help it glow. There's the dry brush, just softening some edges, some using cobalt blue here. And I really want to define the neck of the bird. So I'm putting. I'm using Windsor Blue is my dark look . I got a telephone call. Take that. Know him back, - going up to do some glazing and you can tell I'm not covering the entire area. I want that back part to be really pushed down. You're going to see that by the end of the painting, it's gonna blend with those back feathers really well so that it just looks like it's one is just growing in tow another without it looking cut out, going back over those middle feathers because they kind of lost there shape while they were drying. Haven't you noticed that about water color? You put the color down and you come back later. And you think what happened to my painting? It's completely faded. The dark. She thought you were so dark. Don't look dark at all for water going to see this over and over and over again. - As you can see, each one that I do has a little bit of a different shape. We don't want this toe Look, cookie cutter. We really wanted to just look natural. We wanted to look fun. It really Of course a pre cut doesn't really look like this. But we're giving the viewer enough information that when they look at this, they're going to say, Oh, beautiful peacock painting. - Now I'm speeding up the film so you can see how we can fill this in. - As I get farther out, I'm getting less and less detailed, and I'm just putting down drops of color and then dropping other color into it. We're going to make things more detailed as we get towards the center of our interest, which is the body of the bird. But those outlying feathers are gonna be very, very wispy. It wouldn't do some glazing over this centerpiece. I'm going to do this backwards. I'm gonna put those centers in first, and then I'm gonna paint the clinic room gold around them. It doesn't matter what order you do it in. As long as it looks good to you when it's done. I want to be careful around the face. I want there to be a couple of, um, these, uh, yellow shapes to point you toward the face. So I put those two guys there. 5. Peacock 5 More Feathers: Now I'm going to go back to the feathers behind the body of the bird. I'm gonna use a number four pencil to draw in some of the, um, ridges of the feathers so that I have a nice little map to follow. Sorry, you can't see that clearly cause my he and is in the way. But I'm looking at my original photo and I'm looking at the shape that those little feathers have, and I'm filling them in with a pencil so that I can go in, and I know where to put my darks. Some of those feathers have a little ridge that go, like, almost like in a curve. Okay, that's much easier to follow. That's Payne's gray Windsor blue and and cobalt blue. I'm going in and I'm painting just around those ridges so that the shape comes out. I'm painting in between the feathers. - I want a dark in the back of those feathers and tuck them behind some of the I feathers. And that's gonna also help the bird look more round and more riel. And when I get to the bottom, I'm gonna just glaze over all the colors. It helps to connect them together. So that doesn't look like a coloring book. We don't want it to look cut out. You want all the pieces to he crossed over onto one another. This area really doesn't take a whole lot of painting. It really is just putting some real darks, um, in the middle of each of those, um, feathers to make them look, Riel doesn't take a lot of time, and we're gonna be pretty much done with this soon. I'm defining some of the quills here so I can go in and put some darks in between them and be able to turn the paper upside down to do that, Going back to some, uh, cobalt blue and burnt sienna to make a gray. I'm really darkening those feathers behind the bird. The ones that are in shadow and then pulling them out in a line said they look like they're in the same direction that the feathers air growing. I want the darks to define the growth of the feathers. I don't want them just to be there for the sake of being dark. I want them to do two jobs. I want them to push the feathers back and also define the shape, pulling some of the color right over the quinacrine home gold and then strengthening the quinacrine home gold, trying to connect everybody. If I don't like something, I just grabbed my rag and pick it up As soon as I put it down. I also use the rag to soften the edges of some things. Some of the glazing getting some of that dark gray. No, I put some water on the outside because I'm going to go back into these little I feathers and I'm going to deepen and strengthen the quinacrine home gold. But I don't want it to be with a hard edge, so I put some water down first, and then I can go back in and do some glazing of that color to help those areas pop out, putting in some darks to continue to define the shape, you'll find that when you're doing what her color, you often have to glaze the darks over and over again to really get to the level of the value that you really want. Or at least I dio some people may get there quicker than I do, so I'm using the winder winds or green more toward the front of the bird, using this really dark blue to shape the neck and shoulder of the bird, and I'm making the dark blue with Windsor Blue and Payne's gray softening. With that brush, the brush has to be super soft and super dry. I use Kolinsky brushes that I have in my, uh, my drawer. But if you don't want to spend the money on a Kalinsky brush, you can use a makeup rusher Any super soft brush, putting some more water around several of those I feathers because I'm going to go back in and drop in some more connected home and actually can see I'm not doing it everywhere. Doing it in some places, still letting the color run the way that the feathers air clustered in the front with the bird actually create a very nice diagonal, and the feathers behind the bird create an opposite diagonal, which makes a very nice composition. I'm gonna put some gray, uh, at the top of the birds had. Now there's some masking fluid there that will cause some of the lines to stay and what I need to do right now, is, I need to push back the feathers behind the bird. Put a dark mix said. The bird stands out and the feathers go back. I'm really tucking the feathers behind the bird's body, and this also helps to show the shape of the body and also the shape of the beak, using a Kloss just to soften everything, putting in a nice dark there to show the shape of the body in the neck. - I'm using the quinacrine home gold to also go in the direction of the quills because it helps your I move around the painting, and it helps to connect those eyes with the rest of the feathers. If everything was just gray and then the quinacrine home gold eyes in the feathers, they would they would just look like cartoon cutouts. 6. Peacock 6 Pullling It All Together: Now I'm gonna paint the I, and that's pretty easy doing. Ah, dark circle with Payne's gray. Um, sorry. You can't see my hand right now, but as soon as it moves, you're gonna see there's another dark circle and I've left a little highlight for the eye. Now there's some white areas around the birds face, and I'm actually outlining those with the dark and then pulling out the edge with cobalt blue. - I'm deepening some of the blue around the white areas and I'm going to be leaving those areas white. We're not gonna paint those at all. And I'm putting a dark shadow under the upper beak that helps to find the shape of it darkening the neck over how dark that looked a few minutes ago. Where'd that go? Huh? - When you're painting this kind of painting, it's even hard to know when to stop because you can just keep going around and around, putting in darks defining shapes. This is I'm putting an overlaying glaze. What that means is I'm covering with a thin coat of paint to different objects to pull them together, back feathers and the feathers that have the eyes on it. Actually, this is called a unifying glaze. And by overlaying that glaze, it just seems toe put them together. - When you do this painting, it will not look like mine. And it won't look exactly like mine because we're not doing photo realism. We're not doing each little individual, uh, feather. We're not doing each land individual little shape. We're doing it in a very impressionistic style, and so everybody's impressionistic style will look different. What's important is when you're done and you stand back to someone say, Ah peacock. Okay, everything's dry and I'm going to take off the masking fluid from the crown above the bird's head. This is a rubber cement pickup. You can get it wherever you bought your masking fluid. Some of it didn't come off, so I'm taking a little knife. I'm going to take it off with that little knife. It's very dry. I run my fingers over to make sure the masking fluids off, and so I'm just repainting the top of that birds had, and I'm gonna put some water at the edge of that upper crown and then I'm gonna drop in blue and green. The edges are going to run. I want that to happen, but I want you to see how dark that color is. I want turning that over. That's a mess. OK, so we're going to go back in with some really dark color. And the reason I tapped that is because it was still too wet and I needed it to be a little dryer. I really want this crown to stand out, and there's so much going on here that if I don't make it really intensive color, I'm looking to see it, and I really want to see it. So it's a very dark green and gold and blue with very little water in it, and the top is gonna be quinacrine on gold. I'm gonna go around now and correct some darks. Make sure everybody's tucked correctly. - When I'm doing here is I'm putting some darks in between the comb that goes above the bird's heads that you can see it better heading somewhere. The quills. I'm definitely at the point of the painting where I don't want to stop, but it's looking pretty good to pick up the Magic eraser, and I'm going to go around and I'm going to soften the edge of some of those eyes up at the top. There just too hard it smears them out a little bit. Make some were interesting painting. And I'm also cleaning up the white background I've spilled. I've dropped some paint trying everything off, and I think we're done. One of the things that happened during this time is that Thea paper became very buckled. And so one of the things I'm gonna do next is I'm going to straighten out the buckling and , um okay, I'm coming back in for something. Ah, the bird speak. Anyway, what I was going to tell you is that I'm gonna straighten this paper out. And I've created a little video called How to, um, straight at a straight near watercolor paper. And so that's also available on skill share. It's just a little short video, but it shows you how I straightened out of paper that's been come buckled during painting. Usually I don't have this problem because I paint mostly on dry paper. But in this particular case, I did do a lot of wet in what painting and when you're painting a lot of water on 100 and £40 arches paper. You can get buckling, so if you're working on £300 you're not going to run into that problem. And I don't stretch my paper. I don't, you know, staple it down or anything. So if I'm doing a wet in wet, I will often have to straighten my paper almost like iron it out, get it straightened overnight. And sometimes I do that in the middle of the paintings that the next day when I come back, I can, um, go right on with painting on a very straight piece of paper. This one I didn't do until the very end of the painting when, right when I was done filming this video, I went ahead and film the next video of of How I straightened the paper overnight. I'm just taking some darks and going around and putting them in little places to help define the drawing. And like I said, it's hard to stop on this painting. You can keep going, but at some point you have to say, I like the way it looks, and I think at last I'm done. Thank you for watching, and I hope you watch some more my videos. Um, one of the things I have planned for the future is how to paint guitar strings. And that will be fun to thank you again.