Just a Gull: Part Two

Painting the Herring Gull

By: Text and photography by Del Herbert

In the article that appeared in the previous issue, I carved, sealed, and primed a herring gull decoy. In this article I’ll try to cover painting the gull in general terms. My goal is to communicate how I strategize painting, rather than give detailed instructions for this specific bird. Unless otherwise noted, the colors I use are Jo Sonja’s paints.

As you will see, I use templates extensively to lay out feathers. In the past I have included patterns for the templates. I have received some feedback that my templates did not exactly fit some of the carvers’ birds. I am sure that was because of minor differences in the carvings. In this article I will show feathers penciled on the actual carving. I encourage everyone to do the same and pattern your stencils to your actual carving.

As a side note, I never planned to carve a gull. In the early 1990s a friend asked me to carve a gull for his collection. I originally turned down the commission because I was more interested in waterfowl and shorebirds. We went back and forth for a while until one day I got an inspiration and completed a gull for him. I was so pleased by the results that I later made a second gull, which won best of show for smoothie waterfowl at the 1994 Ward World Championship. Go figure!


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