Grateful Dead

Owls of the World: Short-Eared Owl

Six years ago or so, up on the railroad tracks in rural San Luis Obispo county is where I found my first owl while exploring in California.
The eyes were a striking yellow. We looked at each other for a second that sat like an hour.
It flew away to my left without the slightest sound of wind over wing. More like a ghost than anything I’ve ever seen.

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The Short-Eared Owl, Asio flammeus.
Preferring to live in open prairie and fields, this owl can be easier to find than some of the more reclusive owls like Strix nebulosa.
Their range is much of the top half of North America. They have lost a lot of their range in the south due to loss of habitat.
These owls do most their hunting at dawn and dusk. Locating small mammals by ear while in flight. They kill prey with a bite to the back of the head.
Their smaller ear tufts are often not visible. My model for this painting didn’t  seem to have any at all.
Some research I read said they only show when they feel threatened.
I cant confirm that, as my model was a series of photographs from an excellent book.
“Owls” by Floyd Scholz, photographs by Tad Merrick. Stackpole Books. Over 380 pages of awesome. If you love owls, its a great book for you.
I painted this one all the way through while enjoying the livestream from Dead & Company’s show in Washington. Hard to beat having a band like that in your ear while hanging out with an owl.
me
Thanks for joining me again to look at birds. There’s some messed up shit happening out there. I’m glad  we could share this together.
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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.

Glow with the gold of sunshine.

Hours after the final notes faded from Santa Clara, CA. I’m pondering what it means to me that the boys from the Grateful Dead won’t be playing together anymore and settling into their own final flight paths.
Questions and ideas begin to come to my mind and some get answered, other were all ready many years ago.
Who will help me decipher the whispers of the highway?
Who will translate the despair to beauty?
It’s the reading of the last page of a book read for the first time and the heart ache that comes with it.
While we can always open the book to previous chapters.
it’s a painful walk back to the bookshelf where nothing else seems to measure up.
And it would be selling ourselves short not to look.

There’s plenty there.
Read, listen, and love.
But how to move without the wheels of fragile thunder?
Who will hold their hand out for the rain to pour?
The anticipation of summer on the golden road.
Holding off the relentless to truly laugh our pasts away.
How to make it just one more day?
With the future in one hand and a basket of songs in the other.
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My questions are infinite but the facts are plain. They walked barefoot in the snow and gave the best they had to give.
How much?
We’ll never know.
A huge thank you to all who have accompanied me on this trip down the highway. My friends and the band. The strangers who stopped just to shake my hand.
bobandphil

In the thick of the evening, when the dealing got rough.

Last night while riding my bike down Telegraph in Oakland I looked up and saw an absolutely giant shooting star. I thought somewhere in the back of my mind I was forgoing moments like that by moving to a big city. It was a nice reminder that not all is as it seems and indeed once in a while you can get shown an actual light in the strangest of places.

You just need to look up.

Some folks trust to reason, others trust to might…

Sitting up here in this tree I can see a distance.
From leaving Illinois, to that feeling of being lost and not being looked for.
From stringing her along, to closing the door.
From her lake in northern Michigan, to the western coast I call home.
It seems often that we get lost in the day to day and can forget what moves it all.
I find the easiest way for me to connect to that is to sit on my chair and draw birds.
While I do that I feel I can review my wrongs, and appraise my truths in a manner most fitting for a boy with my middle name.
I'm a big fan of the non-photo blue pencils. I go a bit heavier with them than I need to but I enjoy seeing it through the graphite latter on in the night.

I’m a big fan of the non-photo blue pencils. I go a bit heavier with them than I need to but I enjoy seeing it through the graphite latter on in the night.

And like a desert mirage brought to my bedroom it comes to life before my eyes. and now yours thanks to this series of tubes we call the internet.

And like a desert mirage brought to my bedroom it comes to life before my eyes. And now yours thanks to this series of tubes we call the internet.

So again thank you for taking a look at the world from my tree top.

So again thank you for taking a look at the world from my tree top.

Between the pencil sketched branches and obscure references.

My warblers for Walt project progresses with the finishing of the pencil work for the last 8 species. The names of the species are tucked under the feathers I’m certain you can decipher my encrypted handwriting by now if you choose. Hell, I’ll help you out, my handwriting gives me a damn headache…

Red-faced and Mourning Warblers.

Red-faced and Mourning Warblers.

Yellow and Hermit Warblers.

Yellow and Hermit Warblers.

Kirtland's and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Kirtland’s and Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Common Yellow-throat and American Redstart.

Common Yellow-throat and American Redstart.

His job is to shed light, not to master….

Bound to cover just a little more ground

The chair and desk I’ve drawn you all these birds at is getting packed into the back of my truck. In just a few days I’m heading north on 101 to a city by the bay. The idea of which fills my head and heart with a thousand emotions.

I can’t see the future. Not even with all the fortune cookies I’ve had over the years, but I predict if you will: This move will send ripples through my artwork. “Positive Vibrations” to quote a Rastafarian I heard singing on a record player once.

I guess though, like everything else in life, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The uncertainty is the fuel for my hearts fire and I throw my hat over the wall and climb to go fetch it.

Thank you for your continued support (letting me waste your time with crudely drawn birds and Grateful Dead quotes).

 

One of the last few sketches put down here in these four walls. Between packing boxes and filling out paperwork I made good time for another Owl friend.

One of the last few sketches put down here in these four walls. Between packing boxes and filling out paperwork I made good time for another Owl friend.

Again (again).

“Begging your indulgence, We’re going to do yet another song in the key of G”

-Bob Weir, The Grateful Dead

And so begging your indulgence I’m going to do yet another drawing in the key of Owl.

Thanks for bearing with me yet again while I move around the lines on the page.

And sometimes you have to sit on a chair miles away from a rainstorm and hope to see lightning strike the same place twice. With that stubborn persistence, it will. Tonight my personal case-in-point. I put pen to plywood again and got another Great Horned Owl that gave me chills like the one I met in Tahoe some years back.

The one is a map to the other.

The one is a map to the other.