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The art of painting the Pheasant


This painting is called "Edge of the Field". I painted it in 2018 and now I'm going to do signed and numbered, limited edition prints of this painting. They will be 16" x 20" prints with a 2" white border around the outside so there will be room for a nice mat. They will be printed on high quality art paper and will be sold for $60 a piece unframed.

Now let me tell you about painting pheasants. This painting is inspired by the scenery I grew up with around Rossville Kansas. My father used to take us pheasant hunting a lot when my brother and I were young and the light and shadows that played on the snow fascinated me. Not to mention the old fence lines we used to walk down while hunting the edge of overgrown fields. The pheasant is such a colorful and vibrant bird that it makes any creative minded red neck want to recreate it's beauty. This bird was brought to the United States from China in the 1800's and has adapted very well, especially in the mid west states.

When I paint a picture like this it's very important to start out with a good composition for eye flow or else the viewers eye will flow right away from my canvas and off to looking at something else. I want to make sure as many people as possible are looking at my paintings for as long as possible. On this painting I used an upside down "T" for the composition. The fence post in the middle leads your eye directly down to the pheasants which are in a line across the canvas completing the "T". The sapling and little bit of grass in the fore ground on the left stops your eye from running off the canvas and on the right side The hen is coming out of the thick background grass which serves as an eye stopper because you can only see half the bird. It also adds interest because you'll wonder what else is going on in that thick grass that is unseen. It is always good to imply space inside the grass when you paint.

When I paint the birds, I lay in a medium tone that kind of outlines the shape of the birds and let that layer dry. I then start building up multiple layers, letting the paint dry between layers, until I have all the feather detail that I want. After that comes the highlights and the shadows. The dark feathers on the neck are iridescent so I'm able to put reflected green color in them. I use a mixture of either burnt umber and phthalo blue, or van dyke brown and phthalo blue for the shadows. I always make sure you can somewhat see some feathering inside the shadow.

Now painting snow is not as easy as you would think. I don't just add white with blue shadows and call it good. I first paint a light gray blue and let it dry, then I apply a lighter tone over over that loosely so the paint breaks and lets the underneath darker layer show through. If you look at snow you'll notice a lot going on. Sometimes you can see ice crystals sparkling in the sun, you can see shadows from underneath where grass pokes up through it. If you're painting snow and you want it to look real, don't just lay a bunch of white paint down and walk away. after the second layer I start touching up the high lights and shadows on the top of the snow. In some areas you will also have reflected light where the sun doesn't hit the snow directly and causes kind of a warm glow under the shadow areas.

When I paint an old barbed wire fence, I make sure and show the two wires twisted together along with the barbs. On the post itself I always like to make them look kind of gnarly. I want to imply holes and bark left over from the old hedge branch that was used to make it.

Thank you for giving this painting a look and hopefully it inspires you all!