UK Tawny Owl

It’s a while since I’ve done an owls and by chance it was bird of the week over at facebook’s ‘paint colorful birds for fun’.     I chose a tawny one this time.

This was done in my sketchbook with Cotman pan paints.  Not my usual kit but it worked pretty well.

Intermediate steps below.

Body feathers are always tricky for me.   Still a way to go before I’m satisfied with these.

And the original photograph.



Borrowdale in the lake district in the UK.  A wetcanvas challenge.  The photo was actually larger and had some rocks and people in the foreground but I ran out of time and enthusiasm.  I was more interested in capturing the fields and trees in the valley and am pretty pleased overall.

One thing I did try here was the ‘Mr Bead’ approach that Joseph Zbukvic uses where you keep the paint wet and the paper at an angle so it pools in a line at the bottom of the painted area.    If this is there then you can always go back in with a fresh brush and keep the wash soft and blended.  Somehow it’s easier to get good color too compared to wetting first and then painting.

Digital Rocks

Digital Rocks

Came home too late to get the old painting sticks out but decided to have a bash at getting the tones right on my Wacom tablet.   The drawing experience isn’t much like real paper but for noodling around and practicing it’s pretty awesome.

If you ignore the ‘grass’ I’m pretty happy.    I started with a mid-tone wash and then a slightly darker one to start modeling the shapes of the rocks.  I then put in a darker tone still for cracks in the rocks and a final very dark tone for the deep cracks.    I then realized that I didn’t have the faces of the rocks that were in direct sunlight light enough so went back over with the lightest tone to mark these.

So what did I learn?    Well first – I didn’t leave the highlights light enough at the beginning so if this was watercolor I’d be out of luck.   Second modeling with fairly close mid tones worked well and saving extreme darks for touches here and there gives a good effect.   Thirdly I can afford to go 2 or 3 shades darker in the lightest areas when touching in the cracks on the lightest faces.  Finally – the rocks look fairly complicated but were actually built our of only a few shapes.

Bird of the week – the Saffron Toucanet

Another bird – painted on Friday evening after work.   I like him but I’m struggling lately with more failures than successes.    Something must be going right though as when things do succeed they are very satisfying even though my local adult education center doesn’t agree.   5 landscapes submitted for an exhibition and only 1 got in.   Not a good hit rate.