Portrait of a Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

It is that time of year here in the US. There is quite a frenzy for those of us who venture out. The pie store had a line out the door; people waiting for their apple, pumpkin, cherry pies. They ran out of mincemeat, so don’t even ask.

For the past week or so, I have been watching as the twiggy tree on the other side of the fence loses leaf after leaf. The light strikes it just so, in the morning. The remaining leaves are luminous.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Reference photo:

Digital Photo: Twigs and leaves

Reference Photo


Latex resist

I wanted to preserve the effect of brightness against a dark background. Thus after a light sketch of the spindly branches and remaining leaves, I applied latex resist. There must have been too much air in the bottle the last time I closed it, because when I opened it, the latex was nearly congealed. I wasn’t able to get the fine lines for which I was hoping. However, I thought the thicker lines would enable me to create a backlit effect about the edges of the twigs.

After drying, I applied different shades of green to the background. I began with shadow green and added thalo yellow green and Hooker’s green in varying amounts. I used paper towels to create mottled effects.


The first layer of glaze I applied was phthalo green (Sennelier), a transparent color. Since I wanted the background to be darker, I glazed again with Prussian blue and aureolin yellow. I noticed that the dabs of my paper towel had less of an effect with each wash layer.


I had to use a different shade of green for several of the leaves. Otherwise there would have been no contrast with the background. I used a bluish phthalo green (of different manufacture than the one I used for the background). The yellowish leaves were easier. I used cadmium yellow pale and put in a dash of cadmium orange. Van Dyke brown and yellow ochre colored the central part of the thick branches created by the resist. Van Dyke brown was opaque enough to stand out even when I painted it directly upon the green background .

Watercolor: Twigs and leaves behind a fence, where the turkey is hiding

Turkey Portrait
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


The neighbors on the other side of the fence keep chickens. But I am certain that at least one turkey is hiding out somewhere in the coop. If I were a turkey today, I’d be chicken too.


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