DIY Blue Heron Painting

| |
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosures here.

I’m sharing my step by step tutorial on how I painted this DIY Blue Heron painting! (and with an $8 thrifty find too!)

Pin before and after blue heron painting

Hello friends!

It’s Trash to Treasure Tuesday, yippee! And February! Which just means it’s that much closer to spring, hallelujah!
It also means that it’s my birthday month and…today is my birthday. :)

AND since it’s my birthday, I’m planning another giveaway! (I’m planning one every month for 2021 anyway but thought I’d call this one my birthday giveaway)

Since today is trash to treasure day I’ll be sharing the giveaway on Thursday. So, if you are not a subscriber yet, be sure to click here to become one so you won’t miss it! (or any of the others I plan on doing this year)

But first, let’s talk about today’s fun new project.

DIY Blue Heron Painting

Y’all… I have been SITTING on this project for years.

I am not kidding at all.

I bought this framed print from the thrift store (for $8) several years ago. (I don’t remember exactly but I’ve had it a good long while)
AND I even knew exactly what I wanted to do with it when I found it.

Paint a blue heron on it. 

But I never did it.

Why? Because I was hugely intimidated and just kept pushing the idea to the side and doing other makeovers instead.
Even though I tell y’all all the time to just do it. I didn’t. lol

But sometimes you get a push to do things…in the form of inspiration or uh oh, I don’t have anything to share for our trash to treasure Tuesday post and I’m outta time! haha

That’s what happened to me.
I am working on a new project with a new product and it’s taking more time than planned.
And I didn’t really have anything handy to makeover quickly on Sunday to share today.

Until I spied this old framed print sitting in the corner of our garage.

I thought, okay, I’m doing this.

But I better let the girls know it might not work out for me this month. lol
Which I did.

Anyway, as you can see, it worked out, so here we are. 

Here’s how it looked before…

DIY Blue Heron painting $8 thrifty find before photo

No one had ever even hung this, so almost like new.

But look at that frame. It’s perfect for the coastal vibe I was going for too, right?

Now, before we get started, let me preface this to say…

I am not a painter. Well, of art, that is.
I do love to pencil sketch and have done that many times over the years. But even that has been a while since.

Painting, like this, is  very intimidating to me. I struggle with it. Drawing….I love drawing.
But all the paint shading, colors, and making things look “alive/dimensional” or whatever, I struggle.

I can pretty much draw what I see, to an extent.
Drawing (or painting) what’s in my brain, not so easy for me though.
I really, highly, admire those that can do that.

So I figured, I will take a look around the web and “paint what I see”.
I found a few photos and paintings of blue herons and gathered different elements of each to paint on mine.

I think it turned out pretty good! I am shocked. haha
But the body and feather area need some work… struggled hard with those.

I’m saying all of this because…

I want you to know that I am NOT a painter and tried anyway.
And I want YOU to try if there is something that intimidates you. I want you to try anyway.
Because you will never know until you DO try.
That is why I am here and what I hope to do is…to inspire you.
So go be inspired and make all the pretty things. Do it scared and intimidated and you might just be surprised at what you can do!

And…here is the painting…

Blue Heron Painting DIY

Not perfect, not artist quality, but I’m happy with it.
And I’m pretty proud of myself for finally doing this.

Blue Heron Painting over blue secretary
Even if it was only because I was under pressure to get a project done for our T2T. lol

Here is how I did it…

I began by pulling the back off and taking out the print.
I decided to just paint over the original print. (it was cardboard with a laminated piece overtop)

White board painted white

I painted it white, with 2 coats to cover the design underneath.



Next, I started adding in the background for my Blue Heron.

White board with cream paint

I used that same bristle brush that I used on my bedroom abstract beach artwork.

Up and down strokes but not all over, just randomly spaced.

Then I put small dabs of all the colors I thought I might need onto paper plates. (just acrylic craft paints)

multi color acrylic paint on plate

And used some of these colors in the background too.

multi color strokes on white board

Doesn’t look so good yet. But I wanted these colors “in there”, but subtly.

Next, I washed out the bristle brush and left it just damp to go back over all of these colors to sort of blend them together a bit.

multi color strokes on white board blended

I wanted it a bit more opaque so I added a little white to the damp brush edges and went over the whole thing.

bristle pant brush with paint

multi colored painted background blended

A little better blended now but still able to see the different colors somewhat. (which is what I wanted)

The next step was to not mess up that background I had just painted. 
Haha..kidding, well not really, so instead of trying to draw on my painting, I drew on white printer paper instead.

pencil sketch of blue heron

This way I won’t mess up all the work I’ve already done and I can simply transfer this drawing to my painted background.

(I thought of after, I could’ve sketched with a piece of chalk that was sharpened to a point also)

After I lightly sketched it out, I went back and penciled it in harder/darker so it would show up from the other side.

pencil drawing of blue heron

Then I turned the paper over and shaded it so I could transfer the image.
(this is the way I’ve done a lot of graphics transferring here on the blog, to see this and other techniques, check out this post >>> How To Transfer Graphics – Many Methods.)

shading in backside for transferring

After the entire back area was shaded, I turned them over and laid them out on my painted background.

laying out drawing on painted background to transfer

As you can see, I decided to make the Blue Heron a bit larger. I did this by simply spreading the sheets out a little and I would just sketch in the missing sections to connect them.

Isn’t that cool? 

transferred blue heron pencil drawing

This is from me tracing the sketch I drew on the white paper and the pencil lead on the back transferring to the painting.
(see the little area up there where I pulled the paper apart to make it larger?)

I started by painting the body area in white.

blue heron painted white

And kind of using my brush strokes in the way I thought the feathers would go.

Then I started the shading. 

shading in blue heron painting

None of this is “one and done”.
With paint, you go back over and over again, adding paint, adding shading, etc., as you move along.

Then I started adding the darker area of feathers on the bottom. 

adding painted feathers to painted blue heron

I was going for a darker blue for that area.

By the way, I used a variety of brushes, I’ve linked similar ones in the “materials” box above.

Next, I started working on the head and eye area. 

painting eye area of blue heron

Little by little…adding as I go.

second step of painting in eye of blue heron

I worked on the feather shading some more. (a lot more)
And decided to add these wispy feathers like so…

pencil drawing of blue heron legs

And quickly realized I needed to get those legs painted in first.

painted in blue heron legs

Close up of them to show how I painted them.
I started by mixing orange and black. When I painted with that, I didn’t try to get full overage as I was painting them in.
I mixed up a bit darker variation of that and adding shading to the bottoms and backs of the legs.
Then I mixed up some orangey/yellow to add highlights to the fronts.

I did something similar with the beak.

painted in blue heron beak

You can see I added more color to the eye and highlights.
I also added some shading in the white where the beak meets the head.

And some wisps on the head…

adding wisps of feathers on blue heron head


first look at finished blue heron painting

Except as I stood back to look at it, I kind of wished I’d blended over and opaqued the background just a bit more.
So I did.

Want to see some of these projects in “live” time? Hop on over and follow along with me on INSTAGRAM. I’m always sharing in my stories as I’m doing projects, finding new furniture, fun finds….just all the day to day behind the scenes. 

You can see the top around the head and neck I haven’t gone back over yet, but I have on all the rest.
See the difference?

blending the background more

By the way, when I say gone back over, I mean with the tiniest bit of white paint and a damp brush. (first tapped on a paper towel to remove excess)

Now it’s done! 

blue heron painting on desk with lamp

Let me tell you what I did to the frame first though.

I sealed the cracks with caulk and let that dry.

frame corner with caulk

I painted it in with a taupe colored paint and let it dry. I thought it was the perfect “beachy” color.

painted frame with white dry brushing
Once it was dry I simply dry brushed it to add some white dimension. (here is info on dry brushing >>> How To Dry Brush)
Then I sealed it with Fusion’s top matte topcoat.

Here it is sitting on my duck egg blue secretary.

blue heron painting on blue desk with lamp

sideways view of blue heron on blue desk

This is without the glass. The glass was giving too much reflection for the camera.
Plus I was undecided if I wanted to use the glass or not.

I decided to use the glass to protect the painting.

blue heron framed on blue secretary

By the way, I did consider giving him a little shading around his feet to ground him.
But decided no, I’m okay with him just hanging out.
AND…I didn’t want to mess up a good thing! lol Leave well enough alone. (I have a hard time with that as I am a messer…meaning, I just keep messing and messing and sometimes it works…and sometimes it doesn’t haha)

Up close…

finished blue heron legs

up close of blue heron body and feathers

close up of blue heron head and eye

I think it was made for this spot!

blue heron painting on wall

I have never hung anything here because nothing was ever just right.
It was meant to be. :)

PIN it to save it!

I'm sharing my step by step tutorial on how I painted this DIY Blue Heron painting! (and with an $8 thrifty find too!)

Don’t head out just yet! Hop on over and take a look at my friends’ makeovers today too…

1. Prodigal Pieces
2. Confessions of a Serial DIYer
3. Girl in the Garage
4. Salvaged Inspirations

Want to see more Trash to Treasure inspiration?? Check out our past ones, here.

Have a wonderful week, friends! Be sure to check back to see this cutie.

UPDATE!! See it here now!


Don’t forget to check back next week for this!




  1. Happy birthday! What better present than to try something new! Always inspiring, lovely painting, thank you, thank you!

  2. My daughter and I absolutely love this. You painting is fantastic if I could do it half as well my house would be covered in art x

  3. Wow! You’re amazing! Absolutely love this picture! You’re such an inspiration! We have a beach house and I would love to try doing something like this! Thanks for sharing! ❤️

  4. LOVE this! The wispy feathers captured my eye. Sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment to jump all in, even though you’ve known what you want for a long time. Happy Birthday!

  5. Birthday Blessings!! Hope you have a fabulous birthday! Gorgeous piece. It is the perfect piece. Thanks for all the encouragement on DIY projects. I am also a thrift store queen. Thanks!

  6. Happiest Birthday Nancy!!! You, my friend, ARE an artist! This is absolutely beautiful!! Truly! I keep scrolling up to look at it again and again. I can’t wait to see what you paint next!

    1. Thank you, my sweet friend! And aw, thank you for that too! I think I have the bug to paint something else like this but have no idea what! lol xo

  7. You can’t convince me your are not an artist. I can’t draw a stick man. Great job and love the colors.

  8. Oh my gosh! This looks absolutely freaking amazing! You are so talented! This is something that I don’t think I could ever do. I think I just figured out what you could sell LOL…the prints! XOXO PS Happiest of birthdays, my beautiful friend!

    1. Thank you, Christy! lol You are sweet!! I bet you could do it too! You are amazingly talented!! And haha…yes, Wally said the same!! (about selling prints) xoxo

  9. Happy birthday to you and me. I am 77 today and a long time painter. You did a fabulous job on the Herron!. You should do more before you are my age. Hugs

    1. Happy Birthday!!!!! Absolutely beautiful Blue Heron. Wow!!!!. You need to do more of these. Have a great birthday

  10. You are just incredible, and so absolutely fun to read. I love your ideas, your taste, your creativity and courage to do it ahd SHARE it with us. A very happy birthday to you as well. I am so glad I found you. I was bowled away at the awesome job you did on this. It is gorgeous. Thank you for doing it!

    1. Aw, thank you so very much, Starr! What a kind and thoughtful comment! I am so happy that you enjoy the projects I share here. Hugs! :) xoxo

  11. Happy Birthday Nancy! You are so talented. I think that painting IS artist quality. I would love to have it in my beach house. :-)

  12. 🎂Happy Birthday! The heron is absolutely beautiful, but I too am bothered that he isn’t grounded… that’s my OCD!

    1. Haha! Yes, I did keep thinking about it. But I was truly worried I’d mess it up after all that! lol Maybe the next one if I do another! ;) xo

  13. The heron is absolutely beautiful. You say it’s not artist quality, but as someone who has issues drawing stick people, it looks very much artist quality to me! What a great way to mark your birthday.

  14. That came out Beautiful! I love Great Blue Herons, we live on the river and they land on our dock. I also purchased two pictures from a sale that are tall and narrow that I have vision to paint a heron or two onto. I am so ‘diving’ into now since your inspiration. Wish me luck! Btw Happy Birthday to you 🤗

  15. First of all Happy Birthday!! I’m sorry but I think you need to find more confidence in yourself because this is “art gallery” quality and absolutely gorgeous! I actually do not like these kinds of birds, nor the beach or anything to do with the ocean but I do have a love for art and girl, you got this! I was totally shocked when I saw this…I thought you had it done by someone…well you did and that someone is you! I would be so proud of that and I think you might consider a new line of work…lol.

  16. Happy Birthday!! This looks amazing! Herons are one my favorite especially living in Florida. You did a great job and he looks true to life.

    1. Absolutely love the heron painting; so detailed and the colors are perfect! You did a great job on the tutorial; you should have been a teacher. I hope you had a great birthday today! Have a great week!

  17. Happy Birthday!! You did an absolutely beautiful job transforming this. I would love to have something like this in my home.

  18. Beyond beautiful! Makes me feel inspired to try a painting myself. And here’s wishing you a very happy birthday!

    1. Thank you, Terri! No, I sure did not!! I am not used to ever painting anything like this so totally did not even think to sign it. And it’s all secure in the frame now. Oops!! xo

  19. Happy Birthday Nancy! I am new to your blog and enjoy your trash to treasure posts. Your blue heron painting is so beautiful! The background and shading are wonderful! Beautiful job!

  20. Happy Birthday! You are so talented. I would never believe this was painted by someone who “does not paint”. I love seeing all of your projects and always look forward to receiving your blog.

    1. Thank you so much, Jan! It was! That I can recall, I have never painted anything like this before. But I think I ought to give it another go to see what happens! ;) I’m so happy to hear you look forward to receiving my blog projects. xoxo

  21. Happy birthday! Your heron is beautiful! I just read recently that if someone writes, they are a writer, so I think the same could be said for art. If you make art, you are an artist! That frame is really pretty!

  22. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Awesome art! You certainly underestimate your talents! I think it is stunning! You are very talented in painting both art and furniture! Thanks for taking us through your breakthrough journey. I think your background information really makes us appreciate your work of art even more. BTW it looks fantastic on your wall and over your duck egg blue chest! Have a great week and enjoy your birthday!

  23. Happy Birthday….You did a fantastic job of the painting. I would never suspect that an artist had not painted it. Congratulations. Perfect spot for it!

  24. Happy Birthday!! Your painting is fabulous and looks great in that spot above your desk. I’m sure you will be dazzled every time you walk by it. I love herons and yours is definitely a treasure!

  25. ARE YOU EVEN KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW?!?! This is beautiful!
    AND, I’ve been wanting to paint a heron for so long too, and you’ve taken the time to provide a step by step instruction?!!
    I have an oblong frame like this, and I was wondering what to do with it, and you’ve answered that question for me!
    We live on the River and have so many Herons, and I never ever get tired of looking at them, and hearing those giant wings flap, and listening to the prehistoric sounding calls they make.
    Wishing you the Happiest of Birthdays!!!

  26. OH to have half your talent, would be wonderful. I’m so impressed with your ability to create art like that.
    Happy Birthday.

  27. Happy Birthday and thank you!!! You have done a beautiful job!!! I would never have guessed that this was done by someone who “is not a painter”!! Thank you for encouraging women to take a step. I think it is so terribly sad that smart, talented women say/think that they “can’t do it”! No matter what that is, the important thing is that they are afraid to try. How will you know if you can or can’t if you don’t try??!! Trying is such a small step to take!! There is no fear in failure; there is far more failure in never trying. Learn to love yourself, so that if that step isn’t perfect, you are still fine. Be the best you that you can be! Thanks for always encouraging that, Nancy!!

  28. I can’t even draw stick figures, so I think this is fantastic. You truly are an artist. I love your work and thanks for sharing some friends works as well. I find such great inspiration.

    1. Thank you, Marcie!! I tend to be hard on myself…my own worst critic! ha! That’s right, artsy chick, thank you for reminding me, Marcie! :) xoxo

  29. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!! I am a February too…..the 24th.
    WOW!!!!!!!!!!! What???!!!! the heck!!!!! YOU are an artist!!!! This came out perfect and you should do more. Don’t second guess yourself… HAVE the ability !!!! It is perfect but being a somewhat of a player with art myself……you forgot a VERY important thing!!!!! You NEED to “sign” your piece!!!!! Your name or initials in the corner will finish it off. It is really AMAZING!!!!
    Try some more!!!! The more you do the better you will get…but you are already there!!!
    Have a GREAT DAY fellow Februaryian!!!! xoxo

    1. Addie here again…..OKAY!!!! I just went back to look at your old art work……YOU NEED to go back to this!!!! You have talent in this area!!! Don’t waste it!!! Of course you have talent with all the furniture redos but this is an added bonus. No wonder you are so good at picking and mixing all the furniture colors!!!! GO to it GIRL!!!! Miss Mustard Seed is making a fortune selling all those paintings on her blog….you could be too!!!!

      1. Aw, you are so kind, Addie!! I do love art but never felt very confident in it. I really should revisit it! Thank you so much for the encouragement!! xoxo

    2. Happy birthday, my friend!! And thank you so very much!! Yep!! I didn’t even think to sign it because I’ve never really painted like that before. lol OOPS! It’s all tucked away in the frame now! :) xoxo

  30. Your birthday present for yourself is this beautiful blue heron. You are most definitely an artist. Please sign your art. I live in SWFL and love all the birds I see.
    Happy Birthday 🎂

  31. Happy Birthday! Mine was yesterday. ☺
    And, um, Nancy? That piece has “Artist” written ALL OVER IT!
    So don’t sell yourself short! Great job!!!

  32. I don’t care whether you claim to be an artist or not, you DEFINITELY ARE AN ARTIST! This is absolutely beautiful! I would love to be this creative.

  33. Nancy, you can say all day long you are not an artist. But let me tell you, I love the painting! I’d say you did an awesome job! Enjoy your birthday with your family in good health. 🥳

  34. Nancy, you are a fantastic artist!!!!!!!!! Also, from all of your messages, I guess it is your birthday. Have a wonderful day. You deserve it.

  35. I absolutely adore this! It’s beautiful, but you forgot one thing – you didn’t sign it that I could see. You need to sign your artwork! It’s fabulous and you should be proud.

    1. Yes, oops!! I sure did!! I didn’t even think to sign it. It’s all tucked into the frame but I’ll have to take it out so I can sign it. Thank you, Janet! :) xoxo

  36. Nancy. Never EVER EVER EVER say you aren’t an artist/painter. That is absolutely awesome.

    My older sister lives on a lake and gets a Blue Heron visit her on the water every summer. She would love that painting, too!!

    HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I wish you a very happy year. ♥

  37. Happy Birthday! My birthday is the 15th. The heron looks great. I like the dimension you create, for example on the eye and beak. It just pops. Thank you for explaining in detail how you do this.

  38. WOW! I’m so impressed since you say you don’t do art! It’s beautiful! Now don’t you want to do more? Hope you had a wonderful birthday!

    1. I really don’t! I had NO idea how this would turn out, lol! And yes, absolutely! I hope it’s not a fluke! ;) But I am definitely going to give painting another go! Thank you so much, Susan! xoxo

  39. Happy Birthday, Nancy!
    That art is beautiful, thank you for sharing your talent! I can barely paint a room! I really could never paint anything like that, you are an artist, for sure!!

  40. Happy Belated Birthday Picasso!! You did a lovely painting and the Blue Heron looks amazing above your desk. Well done ❤

  41. Hi Nancy, like I mentioned on IG, you have a beautiful gift to be able to paint like that, just beautiful. I am so happy that you pushed yourself to do this and saw what you are truly gifted at. I love your painting and it looks perfect where you hung it. Again, many happy birthday blessings are wished for you.

    1. Thank you again, Kaycee!! You are so kind to say so! :) I have to say, I am so happy I finally pushed myself to do it. I want to try something else, another painting, but have no idea what! Thank you for the birthday wishes too, my sweet friend! xoxo

  42. Wow, Nancy!! This is a beautiful painting! You are definitely an artist whether or not you believe you are, trust me, your painting is so detailed and definitely something that someone would purchase in a store, hands down! I love it! Also, HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I wish you a wonderful peaceful fun loving day doing whatever makes you happiest!! God bless you!!!

  43. Happy Birthday! I love this paint idea and I’m going out today to find a picture to paint over! It’s a perfect picture for Florida.

  44. I love this painting!! You are so talented! I love herons, have a huge heron print over my fireplace in my living room. We watch and photograph them at our lake house upstate all the time. You nailed this. You could sell this, not that you’d want to, but you could. Have a very Happy Birthday!

  45. Belated Birthday Wishes! Out of town and just opened the post and WOW! What a great job and such an inspiration! You are really a great artist and this really proves that!

  46. Happy Birthday, Nancy! It’s my birthday month too so let’s party!! 🙂 Wonderful job on the blue heron. Have a great month!

  47. Nancy, happy birthday! Great picture! I love that blue secretary desk- an inspiration! Don’t forget to sign your picture! And put the year. I can’t see it… Elaine

  48. Wow, Nancy! I just saw this and you did an amazing job! I don’t care what you say, I could never do that well!! I know absolutely nothing about art! But yours is gorgeous!

    I already wished you a happy birthday, but I really hope it was a great one! xo

  49. Wow, Nancy! What a birthday gift to yourself! This is amazing! Happy Belated Birthday! (By the way, I am still getting ads on TOP of your post, and the right third of the screen is blank. It all seems normal when I first get here, but after I read a few paragraphs it “switches” and covers your post. This is also happening on one other blog I follow, The Homes I Have Made. Everyone else is normal.)

    1. Oh no!! I am working on it but will also forward this message too, to help with trying to figure out what is going on. Hopefully fixed soon!! Oh and thank you, Marilyn!! xo

  50. I am VERY impressed with your heron painting, really a fabulous job!!! I enjoy seeing all the DIY’s you do, I feel you give a lot of detailed info so that we can do things ourselves! Happy birthday and keep up the wonderful work!

  51. 😮MG. Amazing; Sooo Beautiful.. Sooo Elegant.., The entire calculated process.. even through the frame matching the art.

  52. Is there no end to your talent girl? Just gorgeous! Happy birthday too and I hope that you have a fabulous year in front of you.
    Suzanne (Australia)

  53. I am just seeing this post. Don’t know how I missed it! We have a heron that likes our creek bank. I named her Haret the Heron. A ladies event speaker we had years ago at our church is from cajun country originally and she nicknamed my cousin Harriet Haret. I, like you, can draw looking at something but out of my head I’m not so good. I just joined Tricia Robinson’s God Made Girl Club. She is such an inspiration not only artistically but spiritually too. Check her out. I LOVE your blue mixed background. You have encouraged me to paint paint paint to achieve backgrounds. And, I do chalk my designs like you mentioned. Thank you for sharing your talents with all of us. You are an inspiration!

    1. Oh fun!! I love that! Thank you, Teresa! I am so thrilled that this inspired you. That is what it is all about. I love that so, so much. :) I love to paint and draw things like this but never have the time…I need to make the time, don’t I?! I will check out the group you mentioned, thanks! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.