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Painting the Drake Eider

Eiders, eiders everywhere. This one hails from the Bering Sea.

By: Text and photography by Keith Mueller

The Pacific eider (Somateria mollissima v-nigrum) is the largest of the six eider subspecies and the largest duck in North America. It is nearly a pound heavier than its Atlantic cousin (S. m. dresseri). The Pacific eider’s range is within the Bering Sea to the southern Aleutian Islands.

Like all six common eider subspecies, the drakes in breeding/winter dress are adorned in a striking black-and-white plumage accented with values of green in the head and hindneck, pastel salmon-colored pinkish blush in their chests, and a hint of a pale olive/gray coloration in their white scapulars.

Eiders are covered with a thick and heavy layer of feathers that protect it from life on the frigid seas. The barb structure of the eider’s feathers is thick and wool-like. The scientific name (Somateria mollissima) refers to the “soft and woolly” body feathers.

In this demo, I will demonstrate how I paint this magnificent eider species with premium-grade oil paints.

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