Photo of Sharlena Wood

Painting Wildlife: Acrylic & Mixed Media

with Sharlena Wood
Painting Wildlife: Acrylic & Mixed Media
Learn mixed media techniques to bring the beauty of wildlife to your canvas!

Paint vivid, lifelike animals as award-winning artist Sharlena Wood guides you through a variety of accessible acrylic, charcoal and pastel techniques. Discover how to render accurate proportions, build dimensional form and convey drama as you create your own unique wildlife images. Learn to depict distinctive fur and feather textures using wet and dry media, and enhance your work with luminous highlights. Integrate textural medium with delicate acrylic washes for captivating contrast, and bring expressive energy to your creations with Sharlena’s tips for painting realistic animal eyes and features. Bring the power and excitement of wildlife to your easel with essential mixed media skills!

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Lesson plan


Lesson 1. Mixed Media Painting & Drawing

  • Meet your instructor, artist and art educator Sharlena Wood, as you kick off the class with Sharlena’s favorite techniques for mixed media. Discover various uses for acrylic paints and how to pair them with other materials like pastels, matte medium and more to create dynamic, textural works. Practice combining different mediums by starting with a simple feather project.


Lesson 2. Reference, Composition & Texture

  • Jump into your first project as Sharlena helps you select a reference photo that will set you up for success. You’ll learn how to rough in your sketch before creating a wash to lay in a base color for your work. Additionally, Sharlena shares valuable tips for making all of your works turn out exactly the way you want them to look.


Lesson 3. Layers of Fur

  • Hone your ability to create realistic fur patterns as Sharlena creates a rendering of a wolf. Layer a variety of acrylic paints and dry media ground to bring out the texture and character of fur while setting it apart from the background.


Lesson 4. Expression With Interference Colors

  • Dive into a study of interference colors as you apply charcoal pencils and pastels to add details that pop over your dried media ground and acrylic paints. Learn Sharlena’s methods for creating an ambiance of mystery and intrigue using translucent layers and subtle details.


Lesson 5. Fearless Acrylic Ground

  • Move on to an owl study starting with an acrylic wash over a loose sketch. Next, you’ll develop the form and add charcoal powder to your work to deepen the complexity and expand the value ranges. Sharlena demonstrates ways to blend realism with the abstract as she helps you find and complete the form to your liking.


Lesson 6. The Illusion of Realism

  • Learn how to create the illusion of realism as you begin to draw out the main characteristics of the owl. Sharlena uses acrylics in the style of watercolor paints to create bold, colorful looks with washes. She shares tips and troubleshooting techniques to create vivid eyes and add a 3-dimensional effect to your work using more mixed media techniques.


Lesson 7. Feathers & Finishing

  • Continue to define your work using Sharlena’s methods to create realistic feathers that are rich in texture and detail. Hone your eye to observe patterns found in nature as you explore your bird’s feathers through sketching and painting. You’ll finish the class ready to explore new mixed media works that focus on any wildlife portrait you can dream up!

“Wow, I'm so impressed with this class. Sharlena is an excellent teacher, and the techniques are truly unique and effective. (...) I highly recommend this class to anyone interested in learning to paint. I'm so glad I found this class, and I'm super inspired. ”
avatar - Karin Zeller

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  • 7 HD video lessons with anytime, anywhere access
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  • Hours of close-up instruction
  • Answers from Sharlena in our virtual classroom
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