‘Hoo’s’ Looking at You?

I’ve been a bit busy doing some work around the house recently, still painting but wielding a much larger brush, so have neglected my art at little. In addition, we have seen some excellent birds, locally, too- Spring is definitely ‘sprung’ around here and the rare and scarce birds have been arriving, on some days, thick and fast. Our own feeders have provided sustenance for Blue, Evening and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings and a Baltimore Oriole, a veritable rainbow of colourful birds just begging to be painted (it’s happening!).

On one of our sorties further afield, we were privileged to see a pair of Great Horned Owls, not particularly rare but difficult to find and always special. These birds have been nesting and already have three well-grown owlets. One has even left the nest and is perched on a nearby branch, although still being cared for by Mum and Dad. A brood of three owlets, this early in the season is an excellent count and a testament to the hunting ability of the parent birds.

Mark took an excellent shot of the male owl in the early evening sun.

great horned owl rs watermarked

That gaze is quite mesmerizing! I thought this would be a nice challenge to try and paint, and it was excellent fun. In fact, the almost excess of detail in the plumage made the painting almost easy, I find is much more difficult to get a realistic effect in smooth, plain-plumaged birds as it is harder to define the shape. This one was an overdose of detail, really. The low evening sun really brought out the orangey tones in the plumage, a feature of the eastern morph of Great Horned Owl. Lots of tones of ochre did the trick. I admit to taking a few artistic liberties with the foliage; as you can see, the original branch was far more lichen-covered than my version, and there were a couple of misplaced feathers on the bird that I decided did not need to be! I was pleased with the final picture, though.

great horned owl rs watermarked

‘Great Horned Owl’, 8 x 12 inch, watercolour pencil (Caran D’Ache Supracolor) on 140 lb cold-press watercolour paper (Canson XL).


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Sandra Dennis

Now I'm in early retirement from my previous career as a pharmaceutical scientist, I've taken to creating art pieces. I specialise in wildlife art, especially birds.

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