Oil painting on a Canada goose feather

Last year, I picked up some feathers of Canada goose at my community pond around May (if I remember correctly). I guess they were changing feathers at that time. It only last 2 or 3 days and no more feathers to be found. Some of the feathers are really big, over 10 inches long and in good shape. I collected them and lightly cleaned them.

Bernache du Canada. Famille des Anatidés. Ordre : Ansériformes

At that time, I had no idea what to do with them. However, I remember that my aunt has one feather painting decoration. I saw that when I visited her. But since it is framed and has been carefully hung in the wall, I can’t tell how it is made or how it is painted. So I spend sometime doing my homework, try to figure out how can I paint on a feather. I also observe closely at some local vendors place when they offer a painted feather. But, I don’t quite like those. It is hard to say. Most of them are painted directly on feather itself and without any further detail but rather a general pattern/shape. I understand that they want you to see the natural texture of a feather.

I got confused. If I want to paint on a feather I would use oil. And I cannot paint oil directly on a delicate feather. If I gesso the feather I would hide texture of it. So I spend a lot time try to convince myself which way to go. Finally, I decided to gesso it as a canvas and then paint oil on it.

That’s not the whole story. The truth is, I also decided to apply a thin layer of resin on the back of the feather to make it stronger and rigid. So, I started my experiment.

First I apply a thin layer of clear resin on back of the feather. Hang it on the clothes dryer until it is hardened. And then I apply 3 to 4 times of gesso on the front side as a canvas. Let it dry completely.

Raw feather of Canada goose
After application of resin
After applying gesso 3 to 4 times

From here I can start painting. The first one I choose tiger’s eyes. Well I think since it is a relatively small canvas, I’d better do something closely rather than try to put everything inside the feather. I don’t want to loose the detail I like. And then I did it.

Oil painting tiger’s eyes on feather

To be honest, feather can be a really good canvas after gesso. It has fine lines as texture very close to natural fabric. The only problem I had is that the edge of the feather curved a little. I cannot make it flat flat so I had to paint with the curve.

And now, I have do idea how to frame it. LOL. I guess might be a shadow box? A very thin shadow box? But I’m still glad that my experiment seems to work. I can keep painting on those feathers. And hopefully, I could pick up some more feathers this year.

Hope you enjoy it. O(∩_∩)O


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