books

Owls of the World: Spotted Wood Owl.

Strix seloputo.

The Spotted Wood Owl is a medium sized owl. Averaging 18 inches tall. They are found across Southeast Asia. Its diet consists of rats, mice, small birds, and large insects. They roost by day, often close to the trunks of trees in dense foliage to avoid detection from other birds. They nest high up in trees, and lay up to three eggs at a time. They prefer nesting in partially clear forests and hunt in open areas. They can be found in populated areas, as well  as remote regions and areas not easily accessed like swamp forests and mangroves.

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My plan was to hold off on painting more in this series until I was settled in Chicago. But I found this old panel while packing and cleaned it up and went for what could best be described as an encore. It was such a privilege to get to paint all these here in Oakland, and I’m very excited for the projects to come in Chicago. Another huge thank you to all my friends and family for all the support. My goal with all this is simple; Share the birds of the world with you all. Now my easel is packed and my brushes too. Stay tuned for a Bateleur Eagle, found in Zimbabwe, Africa. Coming to you from the city by the lake.

And once more for good measure, thank you for looking at birds with me.

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.
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Got it sorted well enough.
No simple highway.

You are the song that the morning brings.

Wake up to find out that you are the Owls of the World…

Another map and new birds learned for it. One thing I really enjoy with making these maps are the amount I learn about each bird from each region. Getting lost in the books and maps, studying color and detail and letting my imagination fill in the gaps.

I mapped these owls from a chair in Oakland California, the only thing close to an owl around is a plastic decoy I bought on amazon for $10 to entertain myself (and my niece via video chat).

I was able to find the owls with the great aid of a wonderful book of owl portraits. “Beautiful Owls, Portraits of arresting species.” by Marianne Taylor and Andrew Perris. via Ivy Press.

It’s a really a wonderful book that anyone who fancies owls should have. From studying for an art project or just simply to be amazed by their beauty it’s a spectacular book that brings these absolutely incredible and mysterious birds from every corner of the earth to your hands.

It's like book reports in 5th grade, except this one isn't about star wars.

It’s like book reports in 5th grade, except this one isn’t about star wars.

I almost forgot to tell you who’s Hoo….(see what I did there?)

North America: Snowy Owl

South America: Magellan Horned Owl

Europe: Tawny Owl

Africa: African Wood Owl

Asia: Western Siberian Eagle Owl

Australia: BooBook

Shake the dreams from your hair.

The pile of sketches from the last few days keeps falling off the speaker cabinet in the corner of the room. The bass vibrations send them toppling down to the floor. Water color paintings and pencil sketches taking a brief flight to the paint stained rug beneath. Flight seems an appropriate word as many of them are hawks. Screenshots from my own dreamscape television program. Caught in the echoes. No sense seen in turning down the music. For it’s this moments bird with its talons still grappling my imagination tight. Caught on the wing in my childhood, they still never fail at carrying me away.

But I all ready wrote her that poem.

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Pandion haliaetus. (Osprey to you and me).

The Osprey is an incredible hunter. Sometimes called “River Hawks” or “Fish Eagles”. Their primary food is fish, which they spot underwater from hundreds of feet above.  Diving feet first into the water. Their curved talons and rough textured feet help them grip the fish. And in just a few wing beats it’s out of the water and heading home for supper.
It was over the course of last week I put this together. However it's been on my mind for the last two and a half years.

It was over the course of last week I put this together. However it’s been on my mind for the last two and a half years.

They are surrounded in history with legend.  I too have a few good tales to tell that has an Osprey drawn into it.

One summer not long ago. In a cluster of Jack-pine not more than a mile from the shores of Lake Superior…

Books, birds, and a broken cot to sleep on.

I remember well when I met my first mocking bird. A sunny California morning some five years ago. It was 7am and I was sleeping on a broken cot inside a closet of an office I rented in a house in this central coast town. The bird landed on a branch that scrapped against my window whenever the wind blew. it sat there for 40 minutes and sang, not repeating himself once. I awoke in amazement. Who is that bird and how do I become friends with it?! my first thought that day, and every encounter since.

I first became aware of the mockingbird from reading Harper Lee’s “To kill a mockingbird”. It was during my freshmen year in high school back in Illinois, English class.

While the bird itself is of smaller significance in the plot of the book. No book I’d read at that age before had woke me to the country I lived in. And the following year I read  “Of Mice and Men”.

The two stories melded together in my mind to form a drive to travel around this American land. Mockingbird wrote me out a moral code, and Of Mice and Men put the wheels on my wagon and got me headed west.

There are a lot of fence posts and telephone wires down all the roads I’ve been down to get to this part of the coast. On those many posts and wires were plenty of different birds. Here and in my books you’ll find them on a page. And come to find out recently my favorite Grateful Dead song, “Jack Straw” was inspired by “Of Mice and Men” as well.

“We used to play for silver, now we play for life”.

 

Northern Mockingbird.

Northern Mockingbird.

 

 

Atticus has a bird in his name too.