That owl I wanted to draw you.

The Great Gray has been a front burner project for the last couple weeks. I sketched a couple dozen before I started this drawing. And just the same this bird seemed to assemble itself in front of me while my eyes watched, and pen went to work. There’s a depth to this drawing I haven’t seen in many of my others before. I tried to visualize every feather and bring them all together one at a time. While this is proven to be quite time consuming, it pushes me deeper in love with the process.

All that’s left is color…

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Great Gray Owl

The Great Gray Owl has been of interest to me lately. The largest of our Owls in North America. They hunt over forest clearings and nearby open space by night.
The rings on the face make the yellow eyes appear smaller.
This was my initial sketch after just looking over a few photographs and books. Further studies will yield better illustrations I’m confident.
Two years ago when I decided I wanted to write and illustrate my own collection of birds, I was uncertain of my capabilities of capturing the nuances of the Owls. While I’m still far from mastering it, I do see delightful progress in the direction I desire.
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Ain’t it just like the night to play tricks when you’re trying to be so quiet?

Young owl.

Young owl.

Friday night was a “go out and be social” night. To make up for abandoning my sketchbook on valentine’s day, Today I filled three pages with lines and colors.
 

Mockingbird on the wing.

Mockingbird on the wing.

First I colored a drawing of a young owl from the other day. While I worked on that a mockingbird flew to my window to challenge my bird stencils, this no doubt inspired the next page to follow, with a mockingbird on the wing. When that page came to be, I thought of a bird I’ve seen a few of near where I work. A common Yellow-throat. A small masked shrub-dweller with an olive/green hue.
Common Yellow-throat.

Common Yellow-throat.

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Fly through the night.

Barn Owl (Tyto Alba).

Barn Owl (Tyto Alba).

It’s been since December that I’ve shared any of my acrylic work. I started this a few months ago and put the finishing touches on it last night. It will be up at a gallery in town here next month.

Working with acrylic versus my usual pen and watercolor brings out a different side of my illustration approach. Paint can allow for a texture otherwise impossible to achieve in pen. I use this concept as my guide for composition and colors. I can exaggerate the colors and light with this medium which I think helps it stand up on its own as a composition.

One of my earliest memories is of my father waking me up one summer in Michigan to see the Northern Lights. That sky has stuck in my brain all these years. As such I wanted to the sky in this piece to hold as much power and emphasis as the bird.

The bird here is a Barn Owl. One of my top 5 favorite birds to illustrate and watch. Every few nights I go out on my bike outside town with lights and ride along fence lines. I usually see at least one Barn Owl per ride. It’s exciting to spot one, often their in flight, or atop a power line pole. Silently scanning the fields for dinner.

Their wings cut with silence through the air. A ghost like face, and beautiful glow. Like no other bird I’ve seen.

Recall the days that still are to come, Some sing blue

Broad-winged Hawk in pen.

Broad-winged Hawk in pen.

I went for a Barn Owl counting bike ride tonight in between spending time on some raptor drawings. I didn’t see any owls, but I did see two deer and rode 10 miles of gravel roads in the dark.

I saw a bunch of Broad-winged Hawks while in Michigan last summer with my Father. Driving down some logging roads one afternoon. Five in one clearing. We stopped and watched one perched in a tree 40 feet away on our left. It was perched much like this one, looking back at us with some concerned curiosity.

Some song lyrics in my head today,

“Hang your heart on laughing willow,
Stray down to the water,
Deep Sea of Love.

Beneath the sweet calm face of the sea,
Swift undertow.

Life may be sweeter for this, I don’t know,
See how it feels in the end.
May Lady Lullaby sing plainly for you,
Soft, strong, sweet and true.

Red-tail Hawk in flight.

Red-tail Hawk in flight.

 

…..Gone are the days we stopped to decide,
Where we should go,
We just ride.

Gone are the broken eyes we saw through in dreams,
Gone – both dream and lie.”

-Robert Hunter, The Grateful Dead.