Feather ART! What is that!? you ask… well in this case it is painting with feathers! Sounds silly, but it is really fun to do.
Now I got around to trying this a couple years back, but to this day it is still one of my favorite pieces that I have done. This came about, after I had gone through another move, and while moving I realized that I had all these feathers I have bought from Hobby Lobby to decorate with, but really didn’t want to carry them around anymore. Though I didn’t want to just throw them away! That’s so wasteful. I did what anyone would do. Find a new use for them. And then throw them away!
At the time, I was still an amateur artist (not much has change) and I wanted to try something really new. Something I hadn’t seen before. Since I am obsessed with (male) Peacocks and their beautiful feathers, I decided one inspired night, that I wanted to paint feathers with feathers. It was an amazing time creating it, I played some music, lit incense, and made a whole mood out of it. I believe if you are out to do something for fun, really make it fun. I always feel that the more you enjoy doing something, the more you will like the outcome or your work. If you put too much pressure on yourself to get it right, instead of enjoying it, you may end up hating it just because you didn’t have fun with it. Even if it doesn’t come out how you imagined, how you went through it can make all the difference.
What do you need?
Other than canvas and paint, you need feathers!!! I spent just under $50 on supplies from Hobby Lobby for this. That was a couple of big bottles of black and white paint, and then some medium tubes of red and blue. Also, 3 peacock feathers, and 6 other feathers. Just to be on the safe side, I suggest getting 2 of each kind of feather you pick. The feathers get really dirty really fast, making them useless after a few prints. Having back-ups makes it easier to get the picture you want.
The fun part! You can start this however you like, but I typically start with the peacock feather first, since that is the focal point. The feathers are long, so you may want to trim off the end a little. Always measure it to your canvas first so you don’t make it too short. Remember, you can always take off, but you can’t put back on.
Once you have the feathers to the right length, you can choose one of 2 ways of starting. Either you can place the feather on the canvas and paint over it, or you can paint one side of it, and then place it on the canvas and use it as a print. For the peacock feather I recommend painting over it. Its feathers won’t really work well with being painted before placed.
Painting over the feather painting under the feather first
When painting over the feather, you will want to do this several times, and even use a few different colors. Starting with the back color, the purple in the photo shown, making larger strokes that go a little past the feather ends. The second color you use, you will want to try to get closer to the stem, and not go out as far. This process can be repeated for as many colors as you want to use. I usually only use 2 or 3.
When painting under the feather, and using it as a press, you may have to repeat pressing it a few times. In my opinion it doesn’t come out as well only pressing once. As you press it, you have to be sure to swipe over all of it, either using the end of the brush, a palette knife or even your finger. Swipe from the stem out to the edges of the feather. This will also be like a reverse effect from the other method.
For the other feathers, I use a few different methods. Some I just put straight into the paint and slap them over the canvas.
Others, I will pick apart and use pieces at a time, others I will dip the end in paint and twist it, to create more of a flower effect. You can treat some like paint brushes and stroke them across the canvas. Some times I like to just beat the canvas with the feather. There really is no end to how you can use them.
This is where having multiple of the same feathers will come in handy. You can’t really clean the feathers and continue to get the same effect. Once you use one too many times, it will start looking a mess.
Once you have had your fun, the finished product should look pretty cool. You can take it as far as you want, or keep it simple. I tried a to make a range for you to see. You can be the judge on what you like and want to try. This isn’t a long project, but it is a great beginner piece, or even a fun project to do with kids.