Owls of the World-South America

Now we venture to South America to visit with the Magellan Horned Owl also known  as the Lesser Horned Owl. In Chile, it is called Tucúquere, for the rhythm of its song.
This owl resembles a great horned owl but is more lightweight. It was once thought to be a subspecies, but now genetic evidence suggests that it’s a separate species all together.
It hunts from a tall perch for medium sized mammals and birds, preferring rabbits and hares.

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This was a very fun painting to make, I found the ear tufts on these owls can be tricky to do right otherwise it looks like a mutant robot cat or something. Anyway, before we go to Australia to look at an owl there, we have to go to the Arctic to look at a falcon. I’ll see you when we get there.

-Ben.

Owls Of the World-Africa.

Pharaoh Eagle Owl.

Bubo ascalaphus. This mysterious owl is found across Northwest Africa. They’re found in arid rocky landscapes. From the desert to mountain sides.

They hunt primarily at night. Feeding mostly on gerbils and gundis, or desert invertebrates like, scorpions and locusts.
They can take prey as large as Fennec Foxes and hares. Little is known still about the pharaoh eagle owls population trends and total numbers and range.

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This was very interesting bird to read about as well as paint. While I try to use a true to nature approach in my style it was impossible for me to not put a little Egyptian in the eyes.
Perhaps a slight exaggeration but hey that’s art right?

So now onwards from Africa were heading across the Atlantic to Chile in beautiful South America where we’ll look at the Magellan Horned Owl.

Thanks for joining me.

Owls of the world

Last April I painted 20 warbler species of North America. This April I’m working on a collection of Owls of the world.

My goal with painting these animals has always been to bring their significance to light so that they may be saved for future generations to enjoy. That notion doesn’t know borders or continents and neither does my imagination or paint brush.
So I’ve been collecting books and photographs and making new lists to look at for paintings. To present the wonder of the many species of Owls that inhabit our planet.

The first is the Western Siberian Eagle Owl.
18 siberian text

The western Siberian eagle owl is a top predator in the Arctic pine forests across Siberia.


It took a lot of pencil pushing before I found my eagle owl in this one. You can see by the photos it didn’t unfold at speed. At one point I pulled out the big eraser and took the poor birds head clear off.

But that is what I expect with trying to catch the nuances of these fascinating creatures.  Lots of back and forth. I look at photos in the morning on my way to work of the previous nights sketches and make notes of changes to be made.


I learned even more useful methods for painting on this project. I learned new ways to paint the eyes and the folded wings. Two areas I’ve never felt that I have had a solid technique for.
It was a very productive project in the learning I gained throughout.

I’ve already traveled from Siberia to North Western Africa where I’ve found the Pharaoh Eagle Owl and begun to record.

3 pharaoh pencil

Nebula

The Great Gray Owl sits on a special shelf of birds in the storage closet of my heart.

Their commanding presence and piercing eyes.

I also enjoy their Latin name Strix nebulosa. It reminds me of the nickname my sister gave me, Nebula.

So today I talked to my sister on the phone, and put a Gray in a nebula of my own.

Fall raptor migration in my livingroom.

This fall I started a series of raptor paintings.
I broke them into groups. Tonight I finished the first group. Six buteos common to North America.
I learned a lot about the birds while working on these. Taking weekend trips to Hawk Hill in Marin, Ca. to watch the fall raptor migration. Aided by the great people at the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory, I learned how to better distinguish these birds in flight. And spending hours looking at photographs and painting color studies, I improved my technique for laying them out in a suitable fashion on the page. I’m excited to learn so much more.

A labor of love for learning about these amazing creatures and sharing their wonder with those around me.

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Other days between.

We cooked hotdogs on the coals of the bridge we lit up the night before. I ain’t much for ballpark franks but that was a beautiful morning.
It was my turn to go fetch the water from the river. And I did so with a smile. Laughing about the absurdity of the year.
The sun sat golden in the branches like a glowing vulture feasting on dawn.

I don’t know what else I can tell you about that day. It was good.

Falco peregrinus. (Again probably).

I cracked open a can of cola and laid out the paints I would need. As well as several books opened to pages with peregrines on them. To double check the colors I imagined.
I always start these with some idea but a lot of it I figure out on my way through it. Still learning how to best translate from pencil to paint.
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When I got to the wings I looked for blue….I found some in my paint box.
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The body through me for a loop, and I sat staring at it for a good bit. In the background I could hear the soundtrack of a movie I was half watching. Somebody was laughing.
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A glance to the window and I knew where to go. Like driving in the night and checking the map under a streetlight. (I guess now everybody looks at their phone).
I brought back the smallest brush and approached like it was my micron pen. With the precision of a drunk surgeon with a rusty scalpel.
I like paper maps.
falconfinal
Got it sorted well enough.
No simple highway.