I was commissioned to create a painting featuring a great blue heron and a great egret, with the same twisting, intertwined feel as "Radiance". With the long, twisting necks of the heron and egret, I had a lot of fun coming up with ideas for composition. Finally, we settled on the below design.
For the heron, I started with a very light wash of raw umber mixed with naples yellow for the inner wings, with a wash of caput mortuum (a reddish brown) mixed with dioxazine violet. For the first washes for the water I used washes of ultramarine blue going to pthalo blue, and then to turquoise. I made sure not to mix them too much, since ultramarine is more of a 'true' blue, whereas pthalo blue is more cyan, and turquoise is a blue-green. Mixing these blues all together would create a bit of a muddy blue, taking away the vibrancy I wanted to achieve.
For the heron, I am using a variety of colors, ranging from raw umber, caput mortuum, sepia and burnt sienna. The egret was a bit trickier to shade, since even a very light wash could go too dark very quickly. Most of what I used to shade the white of the egret was naples yellow with a very small amount of ultramarine violet. The blue of the tiny bits of background is a wash of indigo.
For the details of the beak, I used cadmium orange, and some indigo for the darker spots.
Water Details and Final Feather Details:
I continued to use the same colors as before to build up the feather detail on the birds: for the heron, caput mortuum, dioxazine violet, burnt sienna and raw umber, and for the egret, naples yellow, raw umber, ultramarine violet, and sepia.
Reflected Blue Light - Final Piece:
Adding reflected blue from the water is what makes this piece complete. You may have been thinking "the water kind of clashes with everything else" when seeing the previous progress shots, because the only blue in the painting was in the water, the heron's crest and the jewels, and it was a very vibrant blue. At the final stage I did two things - I added very light washes of pthalo blue (the dominant blue in the water) to the birds in places where the blue would 'reflect' off of them, and I added just a tiny bit of van dyk brown (a dark reddish brown) to the deepest shadows of the water. By adding a dark brown to the blue, it connected the blue in a subtle way with the rest of the piece. And by adding a blue wash to the rest of the piece, it connected the birds with the water, while still letting them keep their original colors.