Saturday, July 28, 2018


Most of the bird has been completed this far but I'm sure that I'll find something else to do to it. I'll work on the background next and possible a few more washes of color here and there. Once I'm happy with that, I'll go back to the bird and finish the finer details etc. I also need to finish that ear tuft!

Friday, July 27, 2018


After a full days work, I am almost finished with the head. I still need to work on one of the ear tufts but am leaving that to last (don't ask me why). I'll still need to darken some areas here and there but will get to that as the painting develops. For now though, I feel that I have captured most of the complex detail of the head although there is quite a bit to still define properly. I have been using mostly earth tones so far and marvel at the coloring and complexity. Next I will attempt the intricate plumage of the breast and wing.


After stretching the paper and stapling it to a board, I began the painting by laying in a few warm background washes then let it dry. I'm sure that I'll have to do more to this area later but for now I just wanted a general overall tone so as to better judge the colors of the owl. The eyes were tackled next as I have found that if I can get them right, the rest of the work generally follows along nicely. I used mostly lemon yellow modified with cad yellow and neutral tint for the darks. Neutral tint was also used on the bill along with some cobalt blue. Once I had that working to my satisfaction, I worked on other parts of the head generally feeling my way into the painting and keeping things light for now. I then put the work aside for awhile - I'll try to finish off the head in the next stage.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


I started this portrait as part of my ongoing reserve project. I have about 30 paintings and illustrations completed so far so am about 1/3 of the way through. It is taking longer than I expected (don't most things?} so am trying to be patient and just do my best work.
In the reserve nearby are a pair of resident Great-horned Owls and they can be heard hooting most evenings in late winter/early spring. They sometimes perch briefly on some of the houses around the woodland edge perhaps hunting for rabbits which come out about that time. Sometimes they are discovered by crows who then start up such a huge ruckus with more crows joining in and generally showing their displeasure with angry and strident calls. Occasionally I come across them roosting quietly in a tall pine - the bird is usually awake enough to stare down at me until I move on. For this work, I wanted a simple portrait focusing on the head mostly but also trying to capture some of its complex plumage. The drawing took a few hours but in the end, I thought that I had captured the essence of what I was after.


This is one of my older paintings that sold some time ago. I'm planning on re-visiting the subject so am looking at past works and other references for inspiration. The scene of these old barns is the King Farm about 20 mins drive from our home so I am able to visit there as often as I like. One morning after a memorable snow storm, I stood by the roadside doing small studies and taking reference photos before the clouds cleared and the sun began melting the snow. This painting is one of a few that came from that morning. I am thinking the next in this series will be similar in size and composition but with a slightly different view point. The barns still stand (something of a rarity around here) so I am planning a few visits in the future to gather more reference and do some plein-air paintings. Size is about 20" x 40" (51cm x 102cm), oil on canvas.

Monday, July 16, 2018


Finally finished this one. Took a little longer than expected but I'm happy with the result. For the most part, I kept the painting where I could easily see it between stages so as to give me a better idea what to do next. Some areas needed darkening while I some others a slight lightening. The background was finished off with the addition of pale yellow grasses - this helped define the upper edges of the snow and also added a bit of perspective. I had to re-visit the grass in the foreground and played around with that area for awhile until I was satisfied. This painting is part of a long-term project so will be put away until I get closer to the end of it. When I have enough work completed, I'll explain in more detail, for now it's on to the next one! Size is 22" x 15" (56cm x 38cm). Watercolor on Bockingford paper.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Working on the details of the grasses took some time as I had to paint around most of the stalks and also suggest details behind the grass. Some parts are in shade so I used darker and richer washes for those areas. The lowest log was completed adding a few cracks and checks along with some annual rings etc. I may have to go a little darker on it but I want to finish the painting first then see. The snow had a few thin washes of purple added to take off some of the whiteness and some of the edges were further darkened suggesting a little snow melt - I also slightly darkened the snow shadows here and there. Getting close now so hopefully I'll be able to finish this one during the next painting session.

Saturday, July 7, 2018


Here I have built up some of the darkest tones and indicated some of the shadows within the painting. Most of the log ends are close to being complete but I'll probably have another go at them a bit later on when the painting is almost finished. I tend to let the work develop on its own rather than rushing ahead to get it done. In between, I can always work on something else and I check out the work from time to time to see what needs to be done next. I don't mind the painting taking longer than it should just as long as it goes just where I want it to. Next is probably the most difficult part - working on the foreground grasses. This and the shadows in the snow will hopefully bring it closer to being complete.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


With a start made on some of the smaller log ends, I began working on the two larger ones. Blending sepia with a little burnt sienna allowed for a few different color temperatures and to add variation to the ends. When doing the more recent studies on site, I noticed that the wood had bleached out quite a bit since from when it was first cut (these logs have been lying there for a few years now). As I continue defining the logs, I carefully paint around the snow areas as they will be mostly white paper with perhaps a faint purplish wash to tone down the starkness a little. The log on the lower left is where the root system was cut low to the ground and has many wonderful nooks and crannies. I'm sure this area will be quite difficult to paint so will get to that bit next.