Owl Watercolor Revisited

I have a love/hate relationship with painting owls.   I find them very difficult (and secretly think they’re a bit cheesy) but can’t stop painting them.  Here is my latest effort and I’m actually pretty pleased.

Intermediate pictures below.

Starting the painting.  Went straight in with the eyes as I would for a person portrait.   Mostly ultramarine, burnt sienna and raw sienna.

Close up of the eyes.   Was careful to modulate the tones in the pupils so not to make them like little black holes.  Also tried for some subtle tone on the central white feathery bit (this must have a proper name no?).

Finished owl.   The body feathers are looking better now there’s some tone in the lighter regions.  Decided on a very subtle background just to take the white off the paper.   With such a limited palette in the owl itself I thought putting a contrasting colour in the background would detract from it.

Below are a couple of preliminary sketches I did to warm up and should be a lesson in how I should never miss this step out.   The first is truly awful – proportions are wrong,  the eyes are generic ‘eye’ shape, generally dreadful.