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Animals by Barry

Barry Levin

Wildlife and Animal Art


Evolution of My Artwork:
Step by Step

Burford Bronze Peacock.png

Burford Bronze Peacock
Acrylic with metallics on canvas 24”x 24” 


I prepared the 24”x24” canvas for my Burford Bronze Peacock painting with 2 layers of white gesso and 3 layers of pigmented gesso.

This reduces the canvas texture. I will be putting a lot of detail into this painting so a good surface to work on is important.


The background of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting consists of warm to cool colored vignette with a bit of textured area where the ground will show through.

These cellphone pictures vary on color but the gray/blue color in this and the previous shot are actually the same color.


The dark area on my Burford Bronze Peacock painting is the tail (that holds up and will be mostly covered by the train). Very little of this will be visible in the completed painting.


I have added the layout to my Burford Bronze Peacock painting using a light colored acrylic marker so I can see it over both the dark tail and lighter background colors.

The workflow and style of this painting will be very similar to Indigo Peacock (they are intended to be companion paintings).

24”x24” acrylic with metallics on canvas.


I have added off-white colored spines for the first layer of long feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

Later layers of spines will be whiter to stand out.


I have added dark metallic plumules to one side of the first group of long feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.


And now the second side of those long feathers.


These white spines are for the next layer of long feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock.

The white color stands out from the off-white of the previous layer of spines.

A few of these spine will get reinforced after the plumules are added to achieve the proper overlapping.


I have applied custom metallic color plumules to one side of the second group of long feathers on my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

In order to comfortably make long curved bush strokes with the proper curves I rotate the canvas as I work. I also do both halves of each feather in a separate step to make applying the brush strokes easier.

The colors of each layer are different than the previous layers.


I have completed the plumules of the second (and final) group of long feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

These were allowed to overlap the spines of adjacent feathers (this is the most efficient way to paint them).

Now I placed more white paint on selected spines and portions off spines that were previously overlapped by the plumules. This now moves the desired feathers forward from the surrounding feathers.

This completes the long feathers. I will begin working on the eye feathers next.


I have applied under colors to eyes as well as wing areas that will get overlapped. While I was using these colors I also applied under colors to the saddle of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting, even though I typically paint this portion later in the process.


I will be painting the eye feathers of my Burford Bronze painting next, but first I am painting the spear feathers that occur only on the lower edges of the train.


First I added some more density to the spear feathers on the right side in order to better match those on the left side.

I am now working on the eye feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

I am painting the spine and plumules of a group of feathers at a time (the eye portions will come later).

I have completed the first group and marked them with a small piece of blue tape (to keep track of what is done or not done). Most of the eyes in this first group are located in the gallery wrap, so I have done more than appears in this picture,


As I begin work on the plumules of the next group of eye feathers of my Burford Bronze painting:

I put dabs of paint on the tape strips to mark the completion of the first group.

Then I place new tape strips on the group I will do next and paint the white spines for that group.

The order in which I paint these is based on which plumules I want to overlap which spines, and on how much room I have to work on them. Typically the shorter feathers overlap the longer feathers.

The strips of blue tape on the body are just spares for later use.


I have completed the second group of eye feather plumules and marked the appropriate blue tape strips with a dab of white paint to indicate they are done.

Then I painted the white spines of the next group and put fresh blue tape strips on those eyes.

Except for 2 feathers (which I will also finish at this step) the Burford Bronze Peacock will be ready to paint the eye portions of these feathers.

The brightest of the train colors will appear later when I highlight these feathers.


This concludes the shaft section of the eye feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

I will next remove the tape strips and begin the eye sections. I will begin with a few test feathers because I plan to vary the highlight colors for various locations of the train.


I have done color tests for the eyes (feather) of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

There will be more detail colors after the colors in this test that will differentiate feathers in different locations. These will be applied after I have applied these colors to all the eyes.


The train of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting will have metallic earthy greens and purples.

I have begun to put the first purple metallic color into the eyes. This step is too much work for me to complete today, so I will continue this step tomorrow.


The first of the metallic eye colors is complete of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting. There will be 4 more metallic eye colors followed by several highlight/detail colors that will not be the same for all the eye feathers.


I have added the next metallic color (green/yellow) to the “eyes of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

All the eyes will be painted the same colors, but the amounts locations and brush strokes will vary just enough that the eye feathers will appear a little different depending on their location.


I applied another metallic color to the eye feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

Next I applied a thin black line to the center of the white shafts (near the eyes only) and applied a metallic black to the center of each eye.

I have decided not to use the other green color in my test feather. Instead I will use 2 additional special colors that change from transparent to green or purple depending on the direction of the light. This will more accurately duplicate the changing colors of the real bird. (Of course the photos I post will not accurately show the changing color effect.)


This is a test feather for the last 2 colors of the eye feathers of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

These green and purple colors change depending on the lighting. Shown here is the same test feather with different lighting.


I have applied the special green eye feather color to my Burford Bronze Peacock painting leaviing the last purple color to complete the train.


I am painting the last color of the eye feathers (also the last color of the train) of my Burford Bronze painting.

I decided to paint the eye centers and the eye plumules in 2 separate steps. Both utilize the same color but utilize a different brush, so this avoids changing brushes many times.

I will continue this step tomorrow because it is too much to finish tonight.


I have painted the body of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting. I applied 2 metallic greens, shadow black glaze, and some retouching of a few nearby train feathers.

I also added a small amount of paint to the head (that I plan to paint next)


I have put additional colors on the body and subdued the dark central area of my Burford Bronze Peacock painting.

I have applied additional head colors and begun to paint the crest.

Some of these areas will have multiple layers of clear acrylic varnish to achieve a 3 dimensional low relief effect. There will be many more layers and some color will be sandwiched between clear layers, so I will begin building up these layers now and continue painting the head and crest also. This will allow the additional drying time the varnish layers will require.


I have completed the head and crest. Except for varnish effects my Burford Bronze Peacock is now complete.

I will then scan the painting and post the final scanned photo.

To see how varnish effects are done see Indigo Peacock Evolution page.

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