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I had so much fun creating this image! This bird caught my eye the minute I saw the reference photo on wet canvas. I think it was just listed as a vulture. Thank you to wet canvas for continuing to supply artists with inspiration through your reference library!

When I first drew this bird, I did not include the beard because the background in the reference photo was so dark you could not see it. The other thing I was intrigued by was the full hood and crest of feathers, which were mostly white in the reference photo.  Ha! I began a search for this strange bird and found him and his hood and crest were red or reddish brown! Those in the wild “dust bathe” and the red coloration comes from the soil. I found a good description of him here. The reference photo was probably of a bird kept in captivity. Their hood and crest are generally white.

I began this with a line drawing and painted the entire bird and background before I added CitraSolv collage papers to his wings and hood. Click here if you would like to learn how to create these beautiful collage papers and use them in a watercolor painting.

I just read a really creative post on Carol King’s blog here. She used an Elegant Writer pen to design her composition and then painted into it to cause the ink to run. I took the time to watch the video about the technique and wish I could have tried it with this vulture prior to painting and collaging him. I am definitely going to try the Elegant Writer, watercolor and citrasolv as a mixed media this summer on my break. Thank you, Carol, and all of you bloggers who continue to share what you learn! I first learned of citrasolv from Carol’s blog, also.


  1. Wonderfully done.

  2. This is so beautiful. The colours in the feathers and the striking background grabbed my attention instantly and then I fell into the detail

    • Thank you for this. “Falling into detail” is sometimes something I can’t pull myself away from. I got lost in all the abstract shapes of this guy’s feathers. Thank you!

  3. Nice! I will check out that wet canvas site. And the non-running issue is why I love my permanent ink fine point Sharpies. 🙂

    • Wet Canvas is a site you sign up for. It has many forums and a wonderful reference library, San Salt Moon. I ose waterproof or india ink and like to spritz it with water to cause it to run. This other pen, supposedly runs the first time you wet it and then becomes waterproof. Just heard about it today on Carol King’s blog: I followed the link she provided and watched the tutorial and can’t wait until I get one of these pens and try it. Looks challenging but fun! I know. I know. It’s hard to control runny. 🙂 Thank you for continuing to visit and comment!

  4. Great job! And interesting story of how the Vulture is a dust bather. I enjoy Carol’s blog. It is so much fun following along with everyone! 🙂

    • I thought that was cool about dust bathing, too. I can picture them doing that. I agree with you about the interesting things artists share on these blogs. I learn so much! Thank you for continuing to visit and comment, here! 🙂

      • Thank you for sharing all your beautiful paintings, information and tips!

  5. Very precise and well done painting. The colors just pop out!

    • Thank you, Bilomathews. You are one of the bloggers that I follow that inspires me to dig deeper into researching some of these birds or interesting things I see. Thank you for that and continuing to visit.

  6. Beautiful colors ! This is an amazing work, such patience and precision for a stunning result!

  7. Magnificent! Both the bird and your painting of it. The CitraSolv collage technique works brilliantly here. And as if the art and instruction isn’t enough you supply us with interesting facts as well.

    • Ha! I had to include a link about this bird. I just thought it was so funny that it bathes in the red minerals in the dirt there. For awhile, I wasn’t convinced I had painted the same bird and then got into the moment and changed my bird’s feathers to reddish so he didn’t have to look as though he was kept in captivity. Thank you, June!

      • I’ve been looking at your painting again and am stunned at the impact your painting has on the eye. The detail of the feathers, how they contrast texturally with the smooth background – plus how the well placed background colours pull everything together. This would look awesome framed.

      • Hi June,
        Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I think the idea of it being a little weird and so different from the reference material has caught my eye, also. Sort of like the snake I did here: This one is more colorful, though. Thank you for this comment. It always helps me to see a bit better when a comment comes through with a “why” the viewer likes it. CitraSolv papers always help me to get away from a reference and allow for me to be a bit more creative…..

  8. One of the most exotic birds painting I have seen and enjoyed, bravo Leslie! The details are stunning and portray your eye for perfection!

    • Thank you, Padmaja! This bird did fit with having CitraSolv collage papers in him. I also had so much fun with the colors for this one.

  9. Great!

  10. Wow, that is seriously striking! Amazing color and feathers!

    • Thank you, Cindy! My mind wanders to what you might come up with of a vulture. I’ll bet it would be so interesting! 🙂

  11. What a colorful bird. You have made a vulture look interesting! I read Carol’s post and watched the video, too. I think I may try it. I bet it would make interesting architectural work.

    • Thank you, Ruth!
      I have not had time to begin my exploration with the calligraphy pen, as yet. Still had to catch up with other things I had begun. Hope to join you soon. I just visited what you have been exploring with the technique. You rock!

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