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malepeacock   Ft. Wayne Childrens’ Zoo

My grand daughter pointed this guy out sitting among the bushes at the zoo. That’s how noticing this artist is. I struggled with this one, art friends. After I was halfway into it, I wished I had rendered him like I’d done the meerkat ( without an environment ). It was very difficult to get the blue I’d chosen to come forward from the background and then I felt I was too dark with the background. I went around and around with myself.

I used salt for the patch of earth he is laying on. His mottled feathering and crest were done with the aid of liquid frisket. I hand painted the feathers on his tail and then took a wet brush over it in areas to make it look as though it’s receding in to the brush.

Deva has a lovely photo of a peacock posted on her blog.


  1. Hi Leslie!

    I think it looks really good. I like that the background is dark, I don’t think it would have looked that good with lighter colors, because it would have fought with the peacock for attention. hehe. I love the blue. I really do. and how you have used the same green/blue scale in the peacock and the leaves. It looks gooood. 🙂 Thanks for linking to my post.

    • You are right about the lighter background fighting with the head and neck. That’s the way I had it before I darkened it. Thank-you, Deva, for the comment. I love linking to other blogs!

    • heatherslalaland
    • Posted September 26, 2009 at 4:01 pm
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    I see what you mean about the blue fading into the dark background, but blue will always recede when there is a red background, but I think it would be difficult to choose anything other than a dark background precisely because of the blue. I adore blue as you know, but I was instantly drawn to the golden feathers. Lovely work Leslie 😀

    • You are right about the red. First I had varying shades of green and it was a lot more lost. Smile. The only thing that would have popped it is that orangey tone I used for the trunks of the shrub. Too far gone for that. Oh well…live and learn. I’m glad you liked my golden feathers. I liked them, too.

  2. OH, peacock lovely, leslie. Like much how you’ve done the feathers and that BLUE breast. YES. now to Deva’s casa….

  3. How I love this Leslie! However, I want to add a pointer.The clumps of foilage just behind the peacock and in front of his breast look kinda disconnected. I think if there are additional background foilage or a branch to connect those foilage clumps (in darker value), it might look better. Everythingelse is just perfect.

    • Thanks for the pointer, Raji! They are kind of floating around him and not tied down. I’ll remember that for future paintings of this nature. Thanks!

  4. The blue is fantastic in this Leslie. And I love the ground and the way you used the salt on this and the fall foliage painting. The feathers are really well done as are the leaves. I like the different techniques. And how did you get that blue plumage? It’s so delicately done!

    • Welcome back, Carol! Thanks for the comment. The crest was done with the help of liquid frisket. That is a gummy like substance that you apply to the paper and it saves the white. I used a #1 round to dot in the plumage with a light and darker area.

  5. I’m glad you chose to include foliage – I think it emphasises the blue and green in the feathers and helps to bring the bird forward – talking of which it seems to come well forward to me. Also the way you have rendered the foliage and the dark background – which I like – gives it an almost oriental feel.

    • Sarah, thank-yo so much. I did use the foliage to balance the greens in the bird. Thanks for this oriental feel comment.

  6. It’s beautiful. I wish I could see the texture that the salt gave it. Do you sprinkle the salt on wet paint?


    • Hi Jackie. Thank you for the visit and comment. You can see the texture by clicking on the image. It will enlarge and enlarge again if you click on an area.. Yes, the area has to be wet with strong pigment and It takes awhile to work. It works as it dries. Less is more. It does not work on the cadmiums….

  7. lazy peacock. yes i can see that you struggled with it but you came through in fine style

    • I sure did struggle, Kokot. Thanks for saying it came through.

  8. It’s an amazing watercolour! i like the contrast of colours, but also the different ways you applied the wc’s to get different effects, like on its chest and up to its beak, gives it a volume like having feathers, great! or also the salt on the ground, GREAT JOB LESLIE!! greetings, Martín.

    • Thanks so much, Martin. I would go nuts if I didn’t try new things and challenge myself. I tried so hard to vary the look of the watercolor on his chest, so I’m glad you noticed.

  9. The peacock is increadible, your painting is really one of it’s kind very unique. I think i still have a lot to learn from art.

    • Thank-you, Francis. I think your paintings are incredible. I love when you bring me your culture in watercolor. I feel as I learn from you.

  10. this is great Leslie – well done for pushing through – I can see the sheen on the blue, and the green works so well. There is a lot of detail in the feathers. Tough project – I like it.

    • Thank-you, Stephen. This is the one I told you I got hung up on. Still would have liked this to look more like what I was able to do with the meerkat, but……sometimes it doesn’t come off the brush that easy does it?

      • You have no reason for any negative self comment here – this is a great performance on a difficult (scary) subject – I would think a hearty self-congratulation is required here my friend.

      • I may have been a little hasty, but don’t you feel like sometimes when you shove through something that is going “not-as-you-imagined” that you’ve lost that thing you tried to capture? I made a different painting than I set out to do……I’m learning from all of you and I appreciate being able to have this positive feedback!!!!Thanks, Stephen!

  11. Lovely painting. What color blue did you use for the peacock? And what is liquid frisket?

    • Thank-you, Littlelynx. The blue was Antwerp Blue Winsor Newton colors and I added some sap green by his shoulder and the dark triangular area is dioxizine violet with a little alizarin crimson dropped in and allowed to run into the wet wash of blue. Liquid frisket is a gummy-like substance you can apply on the surface of your paper to save white areas like around his eyes, in his crest and some of the feathers along his side. Once it dries, you can paint right over it. When the painting is finished, you can rub it off or get a little thing called a rubber pick up that will remove it and “voila” you have white paper. It is often called masking fluid, also. Good questions!

  12. The result is all the sweeter for your struggle. This is a triumph and must have taken ages with all the attention to detail. I’m glad you didn’t do the meerkat rendering as this works very well.

    • June, thank-you.You think it’s O’kay? That’s cool because I sometimes struggle with something and then I argue with myself about what is different. Usually it starts happening around little turning points and I understand later. Thanks for this comment.

  13. I think he turned out wonderful! There’s something special to his qualities that I’m definitely drawn to.

    • Thank-you, Beth. I’ll tell you he was quality. He sat there so still as I went up to take the picture, like he thought if he moved maybe I wouldn’t notice him there. He played statue with me.

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