How To Paint A Thanksgiving Turkey On Canvas

How To Paint A Thanksgiving Turkey

Learn to paint this Thanksgiving Canvas Painting step by step! I love the spirals all throughout the border, background and even the Turkey’s feathers! If you’re feeling extra creative, you can even write words on the feathers. This painting is very easy and would be a fun project to do as a DIY paint night just before Thanksgiving or even with your kids! Enjoy and don’t forget to share your painting on Facebook or Pinterest! There are a bunch uploaded on the “I Tried It Pin so be sure to take a look!


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16″ x 20″ Canvas or whatever size you like! You can even paint this on rocks, windows, wood panels – whatever your “thing” is!

Acrylic Paint (I used Liquitex for this but any brand of acrylic paint or even craft acrylic paint will work!)


  • Cadmium Red Medium,
  • Cadmium Orange Hue,
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium,
  • Light Blue Permanent 
  • Mars Black,
  • Burnt Umber (Brown) 
  • Titanium White

Various Size Brushes

Water cup container

Palette (I used a paper plate)

Pencil for drawing shape of turkey




First I painted a frame around the canvas. This color was burnt umber mixed with titanium white (brown and white mixed together). You can change the color of your frame or follow my color scheme. Note, this frame is about 2 inches.


With a smaller brush, I outlined the inside of the frame with black. 


Then I added white polka dots. Mine looked a bit brown because I didn’t let the brown dry all the way. 


Then, with a small brush, I painted black spirals. Some spirals did overlap the polka dots. 


My finished border looked like this!

Then I drew the turkey’s body with a pencil! Think “bowling pin” when drawing this shape. And draw it large!


Next I painted the feathers. I did not want to paint the body yet because I knew the feathers had to go behind the brown body. Any how, got my palette of red, orange, yellow and white paint ready. I started with all the red feathers. To do this, I loaded my brush with equal amounts of red and white.


My brush is loaded with red and white. 


Red and white will mix together on the canvas. It gives it a varied color effect. Also note that I painted my strokes in an oval shape!



I kept my feathers somewhat symmetrical when painting. Also, don’t be afraid to make the feathers overlap that frame.


Then I did the same thing with orange feathers. 


Then I did the yellow feathers. If you have any gaps left, you can make some feathers wider or just add more colored feathers. 


Next (excuse my messy palette) I mixed brown and white together. This was pretty much the same color as the frame. Also, I did not want this color to be mixed all the way because I wanted color variation on my brown. 


I painted the turkey! Keep your strokes going in the same manner as the line/shape of the turkey.   


The turkey looks more like a painting and less like a “coloring book picture” because the paint colors are varied and not mixed all the way. 


Then I added a white highlight on the left side of the turkey’s body and head. 


I painted some arms in with the brown paint. 


Next I painted in the legs with orange. 


With white, I painted his beak and eyes. 


I painted orange over the white beak.


And then his red “snood”. 


I painted in some blue eyes. 


Then while the eyes were drying I painted his hat.


I used light blue paint for the highlight of his hat. 


For the buckle, I painted white first and then yellow. Also, when the blue part of the eyes were dry, I painted the pupils.


Almost done! I had some white gaps between some of the feathers and I went in and painted those in so I wouldn’t have to paint black in those tiny areas. 


I painted the background in black. 


Then, with white paint and a small brush, I painted some spirals on the turkey’s feathers. This is where I said it would be a fun idea to paint words on the feathers!


And finally, I painted white spirals on the black background. 


Sign your work and you’re finished!


Don’t forget to share your painting on Pinterest or Facebook!

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