How to paint a white duck on white paper.

How to paint a white duck on white paper.

As I continue to paint I have become less fussy ( I hope) with backgrounds and I try to describe as much as I can about a subject with as few brushstrokes as possible. I guess it is the same as editing a piece of writing and getting rid of all the words that aren't needed. I want the paintings to get to the essence of the subject.

So when painting a duck on white paper there are a few points that really stand out, the beak, the eye, the feet the rest is about subtle colours and knowing when to stop.

1.Draw the outline of the duck so you know you have the right proportions


2. Now I concentrate on the eye, I love painting eyes and although this is small there are many colours in it.


3. Now the beak, probably the part of the duck that most makes it a duck. I want the light to shine on it's surface so I leave the paper to shine through. I use lots of yellows and oranges as well as burnt sienna 


4. Now I can start on the body, looking for shadows to give the duck shape and lots of colours like cerulean blue and yellow ochre .I want this part to be looser 


5. Then finally the wonderful webbed feet, same colours as the beak, and a few slashes and sploshes , no one wants to see a pristine duck do they?



  • Elizabeth Inwood

    thank you for sharing this beautiful duck I will try to follow your instructions, much appreciated!

  • Pauline

    Feeling inspired, off I go…… thanks for sharing!

  • linda wurmlinger

    thank you love the clean but enough color . going to paint this duck either by himself or add him to a painting so nice.

  • Margaret

    Thank you Rachel for your explanations, so kind of you to help those of us who try to achieve the charm of your work. Your advice to know when to stop is what I try to keep in mind.

  • Jennie

    I’m definitely going to try this, have always been mystified about how to paint white.

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