I've completed the biggest and most important painting for the show yesterday. Here's the working process.
I did a preliminary sketch in watercolour:
I showed the sketch to my friends, and Thane Pratt, the author of the field guide suggested to mirror the bird for a better composition. I didn't want to do another watercolour sketch, so changed it in Photoshop:
My artist buddy, Márton Zsoldos felt that the tail was disturbingly prominent, so I put it behind the mossy branches. It's always good to have others' opinion in the working process.
I made a watercolour study of the bird itself, a male Stephanie's Astrapia, a species I've seen in the high elevation cloud forests:
It's my biggest oil painting ever, 70 x 100 cms. I drew the main elements in raw sienna. The grids helped me to get the composition right:
This is the first layer, the background, the main branches, the bird and the Pandanas leaves blocked in:
In the next step the background with the big Pandanas and some branches is roughly finished:
I've applied a thin glaze all over the background to achieve a more misty atmosphere and give more depth to the painting. The mossy branches on the left side are almost finished:
The Pandanas on the right is a very important element of the painting, probably even more important than the bird. I put a lot of work into it:
After almost completing the vegetation I strated working on the bird. In the field I only had brief views of such a beautifuzl male bird, so had to work from photos and videos on the internet and my museum studies from Vienna:
And here's the finished painting. I wanted to use the flow of the branches and leaves to achieve a good composition, hopefully I succeeded:
I've created a GIF file to show the whole process together: