Sunday, September 27, 2009


This study was actually completed before the Saker Falcon of my earlier post but as I wasn't quite happy with what I had accomplished, I put the painting aside for awhile and have been going back to it a few times working on a few different areas. And I still feel that there is some more to do to it. I'll put it in a frame temporarily and that should let me have a better idea on where to go with it next. I have a feeling though that just a little darkening of some of the brown marking should do it. Anyway, I do love these 'wood' owls, mostly it is their liquid eyes that have such depth to them that I find so fascinating. Similar to European Tawny and Ural owls, the Barred along with the Spotted owl are their American counterparts. I have seen (and painted) many Tawny owls over the years but have yet to see Ural or Spotted owls. Both of which would make interesting painting I'm sure. This watercolor study is 7 1/2" X 11".

Saturday, September 19, 2009


This is the second watercolor study recently completed for an upcoming wildlife exhibition. I was happy with the way that the Eagle Owl came out so was inspired to do another watercolor using a similar format. In the past I have done a number of raptor and owl studies (mostly in watercolor) including a similar version of this one. I have always loved large falcons and this particular bird which I saw in Hong Kong has served as inspiration many times. I'm still learning the characteristics and plumage of Sakers so was happy spending time on this portrait. I hope to put together all I have learned about them into a larger painting one day, in the meantime I'm happy working on studies such as this. Size is 11" X 7 1/2".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Finally here is the completed painting. After finishing the rest of the back and wing of the owl, I went over the whole painting tidying up here and there. Some further final details were added then after taking a long look, I decided that I wanted the background to be a little warmer and darker. A wash of raw sienna greyed with raw umber was carefully laid around the owl then when that had dried, I added a few washes trying to create texture within the lower areas of the background. I felt that otherwise, the owl was a little stark against the background. And that was that! Size is 7 1/2" X 11".

Friday, September 4, 2009


Most of the head has been completed here and I've started working on the wing and back of the bird. I have decided to keep those areas a little lighter than the head as I want more of the focus to be around the eyes. The orange-red helps here as it is quite a contrast to all the ochres and browns. You will probably have noticed that the eye on the right is closed slightly more than the one on the left. This is because the sun was coming from the right hand side so was a little brighter on that side of the face. I hadn't realised that owls could do this until I had observed the bird for some time and suddenly noticed it. A few more glazes to the eyes brought them to about the right tone and color. At times while working on portraits like this, I overlay the dark markings with a thinner wash of lighter color (in this case raw sienna) as this helps the darker colors 'sit' a little better on the paper. Here it also helped bring some slightly warmer tones to the bird as I had also decided to make this one a little darker (most owls have quite a range of coloring even among the same species).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Now I feel that I am getting somewhere. Most of the final details have been added to the left side of the head and I am slowly working my way downwards. I'm beginning to get excited as it seems that my cautions beginning is starting to pay off. Things are in their right places and the tones are starting to make sense. As before, I have been using the same mixes of raw umber, raw sienna and cerulean blue for most of the details. In this photo though, the overall painting has taken on a much warmer tone. That is because I have been trying a few different light sources, this one being daylight-balanced bulbs in my studio, all the others were in direct sunlight.


Here I have cautiously added the eyes and worked on the ear tufts (not true ears). I have also laid in more washes around the face of the owl and also along some of the feather tracts in the wing and back. Much more work will be done to these areas of course, but I'm planning at this point to almost finish the head before going on to the body. I carefully define the fine feathers around the bill by using a smaller pointy paintbrush then go back to the forehead with darker washes of raw umber. There is not that much of a change between this and the image before but I wanted to take things slowly on this one, analyzing each stage before going on to the next.