Demo 1
Demo 2
Demo 3

Demo 2 – Blue Jay Back

A heart-felt thank you to the birder and bird photographer
John Millman from Burlington, Ontario.

He so kindly gave me permission to paint from this photograph.
I downloaded it from his remarkable website www.johnmillman.ca.
I was deeply saddened to learn of Mr. Millman's passing in the
spring of 2009.

Blue Jays Demo
Click images to see a larger view.

Step 1 – Test Sheet & Research

I do colour research from various bird books using mainly
these two: “An Audubon Handbook – Eastern Birds” by John
Farrand Jr and “A Field Guide to the Birds” by Roger Tory Peterson.

I also looked at the striking Blue Jays from “Glen Loates Birds of North America”. He is my favourite bird painter since he uses watercolours and ‘white of the paper’ backgrounds. I write the information onto a piece of watercolour paper that follows.

I then decide on the colours to use in the painting. For this painting I used mainly Winsor & Newton’s Cerulean, Winsor Blue and Indigo.

Blue Jays Demo ______________________________________________________

Step 2 (2.5 Hours) – Draw the Bird

I then do the pencil drawing onto a sheet of 300 pound hot-press Fabriano Artistico watercolour paper. I had to make the white of
the paper dark in this jpg. Actually the paper is white and the pencil
marks are faint. I include a fair amount of detail.

Small-birds ______________________________________________________

STEP 3 (1.5 Hours) – PAINTING

I like to paint the eye first as it gives the bird life. I then like to start the
beak and head area.

Blue Jays3 ___________________________________________________

STEP 4 (1 Hour) – PAINTING

More filling in.

Blue Jays 4 ______________________________________________________

STEP 5 (1 Hour) – PAINTING

Darker. The bird is about 80% finished here.

Blue Jays 5 ______________________________________________________


I walk the dogs every morning in our back woods and I pick up any branches or stumps I can find. I have a huge pile of them that I store in
our attached greenhouse so the wood doesn't bring in ants or termites
to our house.

Here is a photo of the stump that I took with my digital camera. I tried to light from the left to get good shading with those attractive fissures and crevices. I deleted the background as best I could in Photoshop.

Blue Jays 6

Here is the pencil drawing of the stump. Again lots of detail to make the painting easier. The Blue Jays head is cut off in the jpg as the paper size was too large to scan in.

Blue Jays 6



I then did a separate test sheet for the stump colours. For this painting
I used my usual Winsor & Newton tube paints. Light colour -raw sienna, mixed with a little winsor violet, and burnt sienna

Reddish tones – burnt sienna, Middle gray/brown (a mixture of burnt umber with winsor violet and winsor blue) and the black/brown ( burnt umber and French ultramarine).

Blue Jay - More Detail

I started to painting the stump.

Blue Jay 7 ______________________________________________________

STEP 8 (1 Hour) – PAINTING

More stump.

Blue Jays 8 ______________________________________________________

STEP 9 (1 Hour) – PAINTING

I filled in the feet.

I couldn’t see the right foot in the original downloaded photo so I blew that part up in Photoshop.  It still isn’t that clear but it is better.

Blue Jays 9

I worked on more shading on the stump. 

Blue Jays 9




STEP 10 (1 Hour) – PAINTING

Nearly finished. 


Blue Jays 10(2)




At this point I had to photograph digitally as the full painting is too
large for my scanning bed. 

I am not sure if this painting is finished with its white background or whether I need to paint more of the surroundings. The jpg shows a light blue background but it is white in the painting. 

My art training is doing botanical watercolours which mostly leave
the white of the paper. I also love Glen Loates early painting of birds that
are done in watercolours with no background – botanical style. 

Here it is.  I may do more. 

Blue Jays 11


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