How to Hand Paint Peacock Feathers

Peacock image by Martin Yuill from

The peacock was associated with royalty in ancient Babylon. Hindu mythology describes the peacock as a mode of transportation for Sarasvati, the companion of the Goddess of Wisdom and Learning. On the more erotic side, a symbol of impatient desire is Kama, or "desire," riding a peacock. Peacocks have many symbolic meanings, which is why people have been decorating their households with the brilliantly coloured feathers for centuries. Another way to decorate with peacock feathers is to hand-paint them on canvas, creating a colourful work of art to hang in any room.

Paint the entire canvas in the desired background colour and let it completely dry. Use oil or acrylic paints for this project. Keep in mind that oils take much longer to dry than acrylics, which dry completely in a matter of hours.

peacock feather image by Allen Penton from

Look at a photograph of a peacock feather as a reference. Draw an egg shape to represent the outer "eye" of the peacock feather. Draw another oval inside the egg-shape near the bottom of egg. Sketch an upside-down "V" at the bottom of the smaller oval. Gently erase the line in between the two legs of the "V" to create the smaller "eye."

Draw another oval around the egg shape, then draw a thin stalk that protrudes from the bottom of the outer oval, much like a flower stem. This is the quill of the feather.

Use the palette knife to mix a small amount of black paint with the blue-violet paint to create a dark bluish-purple. Fill in the smaller "eye" with the colour using a medium-sized paintbrush.

Paint a turquoise ring around the smaller "eye" using a small paintbrush, filling in the ring to the edges of the dark blue-purple. Soften the edges of the small "eye" by blending lightly into the turquoise paint.

Paint a brown horseshoe ring, with the open end facing the quill, around the turquoise ring with a warm brown paint. Fill in the ring to the edge of the turquoise. Soften the edges by blending the brown slightly into the turquoise. Paint another brown ring around the outer "eye" pencil line, but do not fill it in to the edges of the first brown ring.

Fill in the area between the brown rings with green paint. Then, paint a green ring around the outer brown horseshoe ring and fill in the quill. Paint a purple horseshoe ring around the top of the outer "eye," blending the purple softly into the green.

Take a fan brush and drag it lightly from the base of the "eye," near the stem, to the purple top of the eye. Do this until the hard lines are softened.

Blend purple paint mid-quill, then slowly blend white towards the end of the quill. Make sure to blend the purple into the green and the white into the purple so it looks seamless and smudgy.

Peacock feather. image by sabrihayes from

Mix a small amount of brown paint with green paint. With the thin brush, paint long, thin lines starting from the outer "eye." These lines are the feathery part of the peacock feather, and can be as long as desired. Paint several lines, keeping them relatively close together, around the "eye" and down the quill, shortening the lines as they reach the quill end.

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