Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eastern Screech Owl--The Finish

Sometimes art work gets finished in an orderly fashion.  You move through the work from start to finish in a steady progression.  At other times, the project gets set aside for many different reasons, mostly a shortage of time, interruptions, something else inspiring happens, or an indecision may stall the finish.
In the case of this owl, it was a persistent indecision about those eyes.  When you wake a sleeping screech owl, they don't have a very happy expression on their face. This owl was roosting in a screech owl nest box, sleeping as owls do during the day in late November of 2009.  The opportunity to see him up close was so special.  There was only time for some quick reference photos, and the one I used for this sketch page was taken in overcast conditions.  No light reflected in those eyes, making that beautiful face even more menacing than it naturally would be under these circumstances.  So when I initially painted the sketch page, I painted the dark pupils reflecting no light, as in the photo.  As you can see, this does not result in an appealing expression.  Light brings life into our wildlife sketches.
I was surprised when I saw how long ago I first created this sketch.  I had finished the right side of the face, leaving the left unfinished and the dark eyes scrubbed out.   Yesterday, when I came across this unfinished sketch, I was again struck by the beauty of this magnificent little bird, our only small eastern owl with ear tufts (feathers). Screech owls are only about 7-10" in height and are both predators (omnivores) and prey for larger owls and hawks.

While visiting this sketchbook, I looked at more pages.  Many were finished, giving me a feeling of deep satisfaction and pleasant memories of the moments they captured. Others were left blank with a note about what I wanted to paint in that space, and still others had a pencil sketch. Any of your sketchbooks look like this?
Above, you see a delightful moment in a cold November rain when a tufted titmouse was singing his heart out just beyond my patio in the midst of red holly berries.  I look forward to finishing this page soon.

Owls are among the most beautiful of birds, with very intricate feathering patterns around their face forming the facial disk that is characteristic of all owls.  The facial disk is composed of stiff, lacy feathers that serve to direct air flow and aid vision and hearing.  But beyond function these feathers are exquisitely beautiful!  The feather tufts that we often call "ears" help camouflage the owl while it sleeps during the day.
Eastern screech owls come in two colors, the rufous or red phase you see here and a gray phase.

To see more of the finished pages of this sketchbook, click this gallery link to my website.

To learn more about the eastern screech owl, visit Cornell's page on this species.  Be sure to listen to the owl's call!

10 comments:

  1. I just love looking through your fabulous sketchbook pages! They are so beautiful and so full of information. You are a constaant inspiration!

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  2. Thanks you for sharing your screech owl experience and info. I was able to download the bird sounds from Cornell. We have many wild birds around our property and it is difficult to identify their sounds; this will help. Your sketches are very lovely.

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  3. Hi, Teri. Thank you! When I've seen a beautiful bird, it is fascinating to learn more about the functional characteristics of body structure and plumage, all adapted for that bird to thrive in their environment.

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  4. Welcome, Lois, and thank you. Your property sounds like a great place to explore. I often use Cornell's recordings to help me identify songs that aren't familiar.

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  5. I've been enjoying looking through your sketchbook. I am just learning to draw nature and your blogs have been so helpful and inspiring. Thanks.

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  6. Hi Vickie,
    I was not at home for a couple of days and I did not bring my computer with me, that's why you get no reply from me. It's okey if you want to post in your blog my coneflowers. Have a nice weekend.

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  7. Thank you, Beth. It is always an encouragement to learn that someone else is inspired by my efforts! Making art enriches what is already wonderful and inspiring about nature!

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Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

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