Raptors of the World: Ornate Hawk-Eagle

Spizaetus ornatus

A medium size eagle found in tropical forests of Central and South America.  Aptly named for its unique coloration and head crest of black feathers.

Prefers to hunt from a perch or high glide in thick tropical forests. The dinner menu for Spizaetus ornatus is a variety of small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

ornate haekeagle processB2

My favorite raptor of South America (There’s some solid competition there too).  I’ve made a few paintings of this one before but until now I feel I hadn’t captured its nuances. Then again having never been on the same continent as one, it’s hard to say. Thank you so much for looking at birds with me.

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.

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.

Owls of the World: Snowy Owl

Bubo scandiacus.

One of the easiest to identify owls of the world. Found in the northernmost regions of the planet. The Snowy Owl is truly a unique owl, in its plumage and hunting habits.

Largely diurnal, it does most of its hunting by day. Taking small mammals, mostly lemmings, but also ptarmigans, rabbits, and mice. One snowy owl can take as many as 1,600 lemmings per year.
They hunt from a perch and pursue prey, capturing them with their massive talons. They can also locate prey by ear, even through thick grass and snow.

They lay 3-11 eggs depending on availability of food and have been known to be extremely defensive of their nests. Fighting off wolves and any other predators.
This owl has been on my to-do list for years. It wasn’t until this fall that I felt I had the technical skills to get it done like the others. I used yellows and blues to add some dynamic. This is likely my last owl that I’ll get done here in Oakland. My next few projects will be African raptors, and those will be coming to you from Chicago, Illinois.
I am forever grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend in Oakland, I underestimated its potential, but learned quickly of its heart, passion, and beauty.
I’m excited for the art and adventures to come in the city by the lake.
A heartfelt thank you to all my California friends who have encouraged me to reach this point, both as an artist and as a man.
Thanks for looking at birds with me again. Lots more to come.

Thank you,


Bringing it all back home.

A morning in late May of 2008 I was standing in my parents driveway in Illinois.
I was setting out for California for what I imagined a summer but suspected could take longer.
I was saying goodbye to my dad and I was tearing up, he asked me why I was upset, and I said it’s because I’m going to miss home.
To which he replied in his honest way, “Yeah, well home is just where you’re at, where ever you end up, I’ll come visit”.
So with my Father’s words I set out in my Grandpa’s old car west on I-80 on a journey still defining my life today, and very much still underway.
Looking down tonight at my drawing table I can see home just as he described.
This brings me a smile.

Been here so long he’s got to calling it home

I’ve mentioned before my early fond memories of the night sky of Michigan’s upper peninsula. It captured my imagination early in my life. And throughout I’ve looked for ways to trap part of that beauty onto a page. While I held some successes and failures at that form. A good friend of mine has managed, with a wonderful success. He has repeatedly captured in his preferred medium that exact emotion that overcomes me when I tilt my head back on the right night.
 I first became friends with the human that is Mark Gvazdinskas, before I became friends with the artist that is Mark. Though it easily could have been the opposite, as they are both two sides to a righteous and honest coin of a man.
When I write that my friends and family do a great deal to inspire my work. One look through his portfolio will do justice to my words, and I’m confident inspire you as well.
Do explore his wonderful corner of the internet.