See how the peregrine falcons painting is done from start-to-finish with Dan Waltz.

How to paint a Peregrine Falcons Demo by Artist Dan Waltz

Have you ever wondered how a painting is done? Are you a budding artist looking for tips? Look no further.


Peregrine Falcon Updates are at the bottom of the Painting Demo...


Peregrine Painting in Progress from Start to Finish
(Reference photo above created by Dan Waltz)

Over Memorial weekend I was privileged to be able to photograph a pair of Peregrine Falcons nesting on a ledge of a high-rise in downtown Flint. I say privilege because it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness such beautiful birds which have been on the endangered species list for so many years. I've documented over 400 photos and sorted through them over the last couple of days and selected a couple to design my next painting with. Here on this blog I will post photos of the progress of the painting from start to finish. The painting is estimated to take some time, so please keep checking in to see the progress and feel free to email me with any questions or comments and I will be happy to post them once approved.

The high-rise that these remarkable birds call home has quite a history behind it. It was named after the founder of General Motors, William Durant. The Durant Hotel was built in 1920. Now many years after the hotel had closed the building is being renovated for apartments and retail space. It's all a part of a project to reinvent Flint. It has a long ways to go before it is ready for occupancy and by the time it is done an estimate of 25 million will have been spent, but for now it is being occupied by two Peregrine Falcons who think it's fine just the way it is. At the time of this writing two eggs and one hatchling has been seen in the small depression in the dirt they call their nest on the top ledge of the building. To see a video of this, visit this youtube link...


I first combinded these two photos (above), swapped the birds in flight and flipped both birds so they faced the other direction. I then added a more attractive sky and added the name of the building to the photo (see final reference photo below). Now it was time to line the painting out.


I then lined the photograph so I can transfer the lines onto the coldpress watercolor board. I now must cut the board and transfer the lines on to the board using transfer paper. The board will be cut to the size of 21" x 25" leaving a 2-1/2" border around the image size of the painting. The image size of the watercolor painting will be 16" x 20".


Ok the first step I don't like doing....cutting the board...Done

Transferring the lines to the board......Done. If you notice, I know its hard to tell in these photos, but I haven't yet tranfered the lines to the falcons yet. I will sketch them out in greater detail before transfering them to the board, mean while the board is ready to start painting.

Oh boy.....One big white board. Every Artist out there knows what I'm going through now. "Where to start?" a better question would be "When am I going to start." Now is where the procrastination usually begins. "I think I need to mow my dandelions’ down now." I will return, hopefully with paint smeared on the board; somewhere.


I learned today that I have to have this painting done by the middle of next week, so I guess I procrastinated long enough. Using a simple cardboard straight edge and my airbrush I quickly roughed the cement work of the building in. Notice that I didn't mask the birds off. The areas are still light enough to paint the birds overtop. Next step...start painting details and sketching details in the birds.


Started roughing in the bricks with a basecoat. Yes I know they are brighter than the photo to the left, but they will dull down eventually. A lot more painting scheduled for this weekend with lots of updates so check back often.


Started to add detail and texture to the bricks and morter. More coming very soon. Remember I need to have this painting done in the next couple days.


Adding more and more detail and texture to the bricks, morter and ledge. Notice one Peregrine Falcon lined on the ledge so I can now paint right up to the bird. Next step is to continue more and more details until satisfied with the building.


Now that I'm pretty happy with the way the building is I can start the sky. The sky will be completely airbrushed. The building will be covered during this step to protect it from any over spray.


Okay, I changed my mind. I do this now and then while creating a painting. Since the foreground, (the building) is very, very busy I choose a clearer sky instead of the clouds, which would make it look busier. I was afraid the birds would get lost in the painting. Not only that leaving it cloudless also added another geographic shape to the design, which I think helped compliment the other shapes depicted.

Now onto the reason for painting this picture. The Peregrine Falcons.


Just roughing the Falcon in flight in. More later...Thanks for checking.


Almost done. Just have to tigten up some areas, and add a couple more things. Check back soon!


Well here it is. The finished painting of Barry, Majesty and little Maize. The Peregrine Falcon family at the Durant Building, downtown Flint, Michigan. I now will look at it for a day and probably make a minor change here and there, but probably nothing that noticeable on your computer screen. Once it does get the final OK, I will sign it, scan it in so I can make prints of it and will make the prints available for sale on line here and on my website just encase you are interested. The original will also go up for sale, but for now I'm unsure of the price. If you your in the area, I will have it on exhibit at the Flint Art Fair this coming weekend (June 13 & 14). I'm sure there will be a price in the original then. Signed prints will be 11" x 14" image size and will sell for $24.95

Thanks for all your support and I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed bring it to you. I look forward to any comments or questions you may have.

I will also keep you posted here on the updates on how the Peregrine Falcon family is doing downtown. So keep checking back.

* Thanks for reading my Blog and I hope you enjoyed the painting progress.

** June 4, 6:30pm Flint Peregrine Falcons are doing fine after a stressful move. DNR moved the chick from the ledge of the Durant Building to the ledge of the North Banks center do to the increased dangers of the construction going on at the Durant. The chick was banded and safely moved with the parent's full acceptance.

See video....

NEWS UPDATE: Flint Peregrine Falcons survive first night in new location. I saw both parents overlooking young. 7:00am June 5th

NEWS UPDATE: June 8, Day 4, Flint Peregrine Falcons doing well in new location. Both parents actively taking care of young. 7:00am June 8th

NEWS UPDATE: June 8, Day 4, Storms with heavy lightning and rain. Check on the family. They weathered the storms just fine. The sun came out and so did Barry, flying around as nothing had happened, hunting while Majesty had close watch on Maize. Everything looks fine, but more storms on the way. 6:15pm June 8th

NEWS UPDATE: June 11: Aweek after the relocation and the falcons are still doing well. Maize still hasn't made her appearance on the edge yet, but she is being very vocal at the feedings so I know she is doing fine. Congrats to the DNR on their successful move.

Reply: Barb: Thanks!  The DNR team worked hard on coordinating that move.  If all goes well, I'm planning to bring my mom to Flint on Saturday to check out the falcons and go to the art fair. We'll look for you!


NEWS UPDATE: June 13: Baby Maize shows herself on the ledge of the North Bank Center. Barry flying high above while mom looks on close by. Family doing well.


Baby Maize shows herself again on the ledge of the North Bank Center. She posed very nicely for this photo with her lion friend protecting her. She looks very healthy and proud and almost ready to take flight!

"I'm ready to fly!"

"WOW that's a long ways down!"

"I can do it mom."

Maize and family was seen together this evening during feeding, flight instruction and flight practice. Mom stayed close while dad stayed nearby after dropping off food to his family. Maize practiced jumping and flapping a foot or two at a time down the ledge. It won't be long and she will be making the big jump off the 12th floor ledge. She looks very strong and very healthy. I have no doubt that her first flight will be successful all on her own.

The Peregrine Falcon Family is doing well this evening after being soaked in terrible rains today. I expected the ledge to be flooded as was our roads for most of the day. I was happily surprised to see the baby as well as the parents high on the ledge when I got there at 6:00pm this evening. The baby (Maize) being very daring as she walks the very edge of the ledge flapping and jumping as if she was practicing lift off and landings. She seemed very sure-footed and determined. She then flapped her way to the top of a decorative hump in the ledge and perched there as her parents usually do. My guess is that she will have left the ledge and take flight before I can return Thursday evening for my daily check. If I were a betting man I would bet that she does well on her first flight and will not need a rescue. And if this is the case it's truly been a pleasure watching these in creditable birds and bring you the updates so you can enjoy this experience with me from where you are. I feel there are very few updates to follow, but I will keep this blog going until there is no more to say. In any case I hope you've enjoyed this blog.


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