Night owl

Night owl

So as January turns into February, there are definite signs of the garden waking up. The iris I photographed last week have multiplied in number

Today is my mum's birthday, she loves snowdrops and they are out for her in force today.

The flowering quince is beginning to bloom

and my little corner of Mid Devon is looking lovely, with a hint of blue sky.

All that said, I thought I would show you how I painted my owl today, a lot of people ask how I do my backgrounds, and this may give you some insight. I am not professing that this is the only way to do them , but this is what I do .


I love painting contrasts, and I think this lovely white owl against the night sky is just wonderful.

First I sketch out the owl.

Then I carefully paint his claws. I don't think I am all that good at birds feet and sometimes I just let them disappear , but this time I concentrated hard and painted them as well as I could.

Then I began painting the shadows on the plumage. Wet in wet , all blues and purples, and hints at some yellows in the edges of the feathers. This wet in wet really does begin to look like feathers.

Then I moved onto his face, the eye is almost all black, but has oranges around it, then I hinted at the shadows in the face. It is amazing how little you need to describe what you see.

Now I have added the markings at the top , behind his face. I used yellow ochre and some orangy brown colours . I have also added some tiny dots on the feathers. 

Now I am getting bolder and I describe those magnificent wings with hits. I use cerulean blue and a shadow colour made with cobalt blue and cadmium red. All wet in wet. Trust yourself and try not to overwork things.


Finally I add the night sky, lots of dark indigo and bold marks to hint at movement . I have also added some clingfilm for extra texture. I will remove this later. The lighter section around the tallons , provides a contrast and means I won't erase the work I did in the beginning. 


Once removed I think I need to darken the right.

So lets see how that looks....


That's me finished...I hope it was helpful, have a go and be brave!

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Thank you for sharing your process. It really is a beautiful painting.


Thank you for sharing Rachel. I look forward to your blog’s each week. I love the way you do your backgrounds and your owl is beautiful! Have a good week 😊

Carole Jamieson

Thank you for sharing. Just beautiful! It gives me the incentive to have a go. Reminds me of our owl we hear most nights in the woodland.

Judith Lawrence

Absolutely beautiful

Trina Coombes

Thank you! I’m going to give the cling wrap a go!

Karen Dunn

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