barn owl

Owls of the World: Barn Owl (again)

Tyto alba. 

One of the most wide spread species of owl on the planet. They are found on all continents except Antarctica. These owls occupy open and lightly forested regions as well as agriculture and urban areas. 

Barn owls feed primarily on small mammals such as mice, rats, and voles. Most of which are hunted from a perch. Bats occasionally make the menu as well, taken in flight. A barn owl family with nestlings can consume as many as 10,000 rodents per year. This makes them a friend to corn and grain farmers everywhere. 

barn owl process

Great Horned Owl

I’ve had this one on my mind for a while. Until recently I never saw on the page what I did in my mind.

With the help of field time, some great literature, a stack of sketchbooks, and zero social life, I have found a foot hold on the uphill battle that I call owl portraits.

Sketches of Spain...except owls....and I was watching cartoons and I misplaced my Miles Davis CDs.

Sketches of Spain…except owls….and I was watching cartoons and I misplaced my Miles Davis CDs.

Like a lead in a detective case. While I'm far from having the nuances of the owl captured, I'm off to a good start. This is the motivation I hoped for going into a new year.

Like a lead in a detective case. While I’m far from having the nuances of the owl captured, I’m off to a good start. This is the motivation I hoped for going into a new year.

Fly through the night.

Barn Owl (Tyto Alba).

Barn Owl (Tyto Alba).

It’s been since December that I’ve shared any of my acrylic work. I started this a few months ago and put the finishing touches on it last night. It will be up at a gallery in town here next month.

Working with acrylic versus my usual pen and watercolor brings out a different side of my illustration approach. Paint can allow for a texture otherwise impossible to achieve in pen. I use this concept as my guide for composition and colors. I can exaggerate the colors and light with this medium which I think helps it stand up on its own as a composition.

One of my earliest memories is of my father waking me up one summer in Michigan to see the Northern Lights. That sky has stuck in my brain all these years. As such I wanted to the sky in this piece to hold as much power and emphasis as the bird.

The bird here is a Barn Owl. One of my top 5 favorite birds to illustrate and watch. Every few nights I go out on my bike outside town with lights and ride along fence lines. I usually see at least one Barn Owl per ride. It’s exciting to spot one, often their in flight, or atop a power line pole. Silently scanning the fields for dinner.

Their wings cut with silence through the air. A ghost like face, and beautiful glow. Like no other bird I’ve seen.