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.
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.
I started a new calendar on the wall, (a lot of us recently did I believe). With that I’ve been upping my game with owls. One of the more difficult subjects for me to paint. These were so much fun, while frustrating. A project full of lessons and development.
I am very grateful for another year here painting you birds and sharing the beauty of our planet the best way I can. Thank you for sharing this planet with me. You make it a home planet.
A Red-tailed Hawk I came upon at work. Quite generous to hold still for me to play bird paparazzi.
It stayed in my thoughts on the bus ride home and when I got home I tried to put these thoughts to page.
I should mention I’m enjoying these softer pencils. Starting with B and getting into 8B in the end. Fun to smudge around and really work with. Until recently I’ve only ever used Bic mechanical pencils. Nothing wrong with them, but I’m feeling better results with these now.
I had a delightful afternoon of painting owls and laughing at my own jokes.
My jokes, like when I put the Nashville and the Tennessee Warblers on the same page, this map was begging for the largest owl of each region…..right?
My punch line, The Great Grey and the Eurasian Eagle Owl.
The Great Grey I had painted before but this was my first Bubo. I have seen one once before at a wildlife presentation in Southern California. It was injured and unable to fly but still sat with more pride and power than any human I have ever met.
Its eyes seemed to stare through me like a laser shot through soft butter.
The Great Grey still is a ghost on my list of birds to see. They can be found in California but certainly not on my chair in Oakland so I’ll probably need to pack a backpack and head to the Yosemite region if I want to get closer than photos in books or my own sketch pads.