Today’s submission comes from artist Connie who painted this African Grey in acrylics. Her goals were to make the bird and tree look realistic but the rest of the painting impressionistic. Great job on the details and getting an accurate drawing of the bird! I also like the colors you’ve chosen for the background. This has a very nice balance to it and the subject stands out beautifully!

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I love LOVE the combination of different art styles. The challenge when doing this is to make it obvious that it is intentional. When working towards impressionism, that style is all about lighting and brush strokes. If you don’t capture those two things, the work tends to look more like realism that is unfinished than impressionism. Defining different styles can be difficult, everyone will argue different points, but the big thing here is to make it very obvious that it is being done intentionally. I think that you captured a different style from the bird well for the tree in the back and the grass/leaves on the bottom, but when you get to the leaves on the top they feel more like rushed realism than a different style altogether. One of the reasons for this is in your brush strokes.

I think that you captured a different style from the bird well for the tree in the back and the grass/leaves on the bottom, but when you get to the leaves on the top they feel more like rushed realism than a different style altogether. One of the reasons for this is in your brush strokes. Try using more paint on your brush and let each brush stroke show instead of trying to define the individual leaves.

My next tip is on the bird himself. When painting with acrylics, when you want a more realistic look you will want to avoid drybrushing in most cases. That can be hard when the paint is drying so quickly, so one of the things I do is use an airbrush (a cheap hobby kit single action with a can of air works fine) to mist water over the work. You will want an airbrush, not a spray bottle. Spray bottles leave water droplets that you can’t control and can ruin the smooth look you’re going for. You can also use a bit more water mixed with your acrylics to keep them flowing smoothly.

Another way you can soften out the feathers is to glaze over them. Remember that white won’t be white anyway, so you can actually glaze some of the background colors right over all of the feathers, helping to soften them out at the same time!

My next tip is on the transition between the foot on the right and the body. Something isn’t quite right there. I don’t have your reference photo but I can tell there are some details missing on the leg. The feet by the way look AMAZING! Your shading and detail is perfect!!

Last, let’s look at the red tail. Red can be difficult to shade because if you add white for highlights you just get pink. Luckily you don’t need to go lighter here because you’ve done that beautifully, instead if we add some shadows it will help the tail to feel more complete. For shadows you can mix a bit of brown with your red for a deep red color, or even a bit of black for the darkest areas. I wouldn’t shade with straight black, but instead add a touch of it to the red paint before you apply it to the shadows on the tail. You’ve got the feathers blocked out already, I would just spend more time on those.

This really is a beautiful piece that has a nice flow and good balance! Keep up the amazing work!!