My first bluebird painting was a very detailed, very realistic pastel pencil piece. I had taken only a few photos at this time, and chose this pose for my painting. I liked the way he was perched and fluffed up against the winter cold. The warm background, branches and orange feathers made a great foil for his bright blue plumage.
Every bird needs a place to perch so I spent time practicing branches. I loved playing with the textures and colors. Practicing branches is a big help in my work because even though I'm using reference photos I will freely change the shape, size and color of the branches to make a better composition. I can add twigs, berries or snow to pull the painting together. I like to take the colors I've used in the bird and mix and mingle them on the branches for unity. These practice branches were done using the blues and oranges of the birds I was painting.