New Painting Series: local birds

Barred Owl on Noname Road

I’ve begun a new series of oil paintings of local birds, and they have become very popular! I have several commissions for more and some great ideas for paintings beyond that.

It’s really delightful to paint the bird form: forming feathers in oil paint just feels so natural!

The first one, at right, is Barred Owl on Noname Road, a Christmas gift for my dear friend C.B. who lives on said road. You can see a step-by step tutorial showing how I made this painting, below.

Our most common owl here in the Moyaone is the barred owl. They have a classic call, in the evening, sometimes in the dead of night. “Woooohoohoo, HOOOO!” They will call to one another across the forest. They are a large bird, with eyes deep and dark. Some think that they can carry away adult cats.

I discovered studying my reference photos that each barred owl has distinct facial markings, giving them unique expressions. One photo of a Florida owl had a rather sweet face. The best local photo I had showed an owl with markings that made it look fierce, even a bit hostile.

Carolina Wren's Goodnight Song

The next piece I attempted is a gift for my housemate L, who is moving out after 7 years, and back to a more urbanized area. I asked her what bird she’d miss most when she leaves, and she responded without hesitation: “The Carolina Wren, of course!”

underpainting in dark violet-black on linen-grey ground
using white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and umber I rough in the feathers
adding ultramarine to the palette allows cooler grey browns for the tree trunks
making greens from ultra blue and yellow ochre and cad. lemon yellow I finish the background

From here, tighten up details and sharpening the shadows lead to the finished piece at the top of this post.

I’s been a pleasure to make these pictures, and their new owners seem pleased as well. I am looking forward to  starting on two bluebird commissions. Who wouldn’t enjoy spending time with the Bluebird of Happiness?

Please let me know if it’s helpful or interesting to see the step-by-step process. Please feel free to leave a comment, ask a question or just say “Hi!”

3 thoughts on “New Painting Series: local birds

  1. Wow! This is so exciting! I loved the step by step – your creativity and connection to nature combo is such a gift to the rest of us!
    Blessings, t

  2. I love this entire post. The owl is startling–Goddess Minerva’s bird with eyes full of wisdom. I hope that thought becomes part of her name. I love learning more about owl faces, and could grow quite fond of this one.

    The wrens are charming–I wouldn’t recognize their song, but the lucky recipient of this painting will probably hear that in her memory every time she looks at it.

    Continue telling us how you painted them–that’s so helpful to other painters.

    I’m eagerly looking forward to the next bird post.


  3. Patrice…Hello from FL. Thanks for the link to your blog. These are beautiful paintings and make me long for the sounds of the Moyaone. Looking forward to seeing more. Betsy

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