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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My paintings are an outlet to express the imagination I have inside my head that I can not put into words. After trying many mediums, I always find myself coming back to paint and brushes. In my current artistic practice, I use oil paint and mainly create portraits of mythical creatures and animals transfixed in the shifting colours of seascapes and landscapes. There is a natural spirit and magic to these creatures and their energy draws me in. Choosing to paint these creatures as real living wildlife rather than abstractions, I use bold and vivid colours to express the imaginary intertwined with reality, finding magic between the seams. Using a saturated colour palette, I create bold and striking imagery, contrasted between foreground and background, subject and landscape, and light and darkness. Weaving their bodies and the surface of the landscape into each other through organic forms and flowing brush strokes, I find beauty, strength and innocence in these creatures that reflect my inner world.

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