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A Feathery Focus: Painting A Bald Eagle Portrait

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Step 2: A “Wet-On-Dry” Base Color Layer For Feathers


About 10 minutes before painting, spray your paints with clean water to make them easier to pick up and mix later. Prop your paper block on an easel or thick book, and tape the corners down if you’re worried about your painting slipping off.

Start with a base color for your bald eagle portrait, using a no. 12 round brush and diluted Yellow Ochre. Avoid the white highlights, and paint in layers of tapered brushstrokes to mimic a feathery texture. Keep painting from the head to the neck and forehead, then the inner area of the eagle’s left wing. Move to the chest area and the right wing, and remember to leave some white spots showing through. All this is done with the “wet-on-dry” technique, which is using wet paint to paint on a dry surface.