The Great Horned Owl

HB4116

Here is my first study. It’s of a Great Horned Owl. If you’re a nature lover and you’ve ever seen one, you’d know they are beautiful, graceful and quiet. Their eyes pierce right through you.

In yesterday’s blog post, I explained that before I start on my larger more serious paintings, I am going to create some little 8×10″ studies in order to work out the ideas I have rolling around in my head. This series will encompass all the things I love. I am choosing the animals I come in contact with here in New England. As fascinating and exotic as lions and tigers can be, they do not impact me the same way the small creatures in my local habitat do. One day I was riding my bike through the woods when an owl swooped down in front of me. I will never forget how spiritual this quiet interaction with a piece of nature impacted me. It was just the two of us staring at one another.

This painting is so little I cant fit it all in, but let me tell you the ideas I have for it. The building is based on some of the funky Victorians found in Providence, RI. I want to add a chandelier because it’s my fantasy garden, and of course I would have chandeliers! I chose a smooth green snake because their color is fabulous. I grow the Chinese lantern pods and somehow I felt them fitting here. It gives me an autumn-y vibe. There will also be some insects when the painting gets large enough to fit them in. I plan on adding a praying mantis. My neighbor raises them so I live with tons of them in my yard. I’m adding a green monarch butterfly chrysalis to represent metamorphosis. Plus, living by the ocean, the monarchs visit in droves during the fall as part of their migration to Mexico. Every autumn I look forward to their arrival. And here’s another fun feature I am planning. What looks like stars in the sky are really going to be fireflies. Sadly, I get very few in my yard these days, but this is my fantasy garden, so they will be welcome in great numbers!

The last thing I will discuss is my culmination of ideas. For so many years, I have painted what I see such as fruit, a beautiful flower bouquet, landscapes of places I’ve traveled. This is my first foray into conjuring images from my imagination. I mention this because how do you take a thought and translate it into 2-D? When you dream are you focusing on what people are wearing? what the sun angle is? What is in the background? For me – the answer is no! So taking an idea and putting it on paper takes baby steps. What is the duck standing on? What would gravity do to a flower? How about shadows? First, I have to figure out how to draw an owl before I can place something in front of it or behind it.

So that’s what I’m doing. Now I could have simply created thumbnail sketches. Fill sketchbook pages and work it out there. But I liked the idea of these tiny little paintings. I liked the idea of finishing each one even if I changed my idea on the concept half way through it. I’m working out color and composition. Plus new ideas spring up spontaneously during the process. When you draw an object over and over again, the lines become intimate. It gets easier the next time. It gets easier to manipulate the object. I think they call this muscle memory. It’s good stuff. so I’m giving myself permission to slow it down, think, pay attention and change my mind simultaneously.

We shall see where it takes me. Here’s to step one.

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