Friday, March 31, 2017

Saw-whet Expressions

Saw-whet Expressions-pencil and watercolor-9" x 12"
Northern saw-whet owls are one of North Americas smallest owls. They are not much larger in size than a robin and have huge yellow eyes making them look cute. They are anything but that! Though this tiny owl can go through a myriad of cute facial expressions they are fierce nocturnal hunters, preying primarily on mice and voles. They are primarily forest dwellers, preferring conifers, but I have found many urban parks and cemeteries hosting these birds tucked in the branches of the conifers there.
Northern saw-whet in yew tree
I decided to capture some of the many expressions these tiny owls can have in a simple pencil sketch. Just for fun I also included a little watercolor wash in places. I enjoy creating these types of pieces as they can generally be executed quickly, are relaxing to do and elegant in their simplicity. Once in a while it's just nice to take a break from the more complicated pieces and have a little fun!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Feel Free to Hunt

Feel Free to Hunt-acrylic 14" x 18"
The month of March is nearly over and I have been working diligently to complete my three paintings for the month. I have two done, but I had to pull off for one week to complete several remarques for the Delaware duck stamp prints. This last week isn't done yet so I may still get something quick and easy in before it's over.

The painting I'm featuring today is called "Feel Free to Hunt" and my subject is a coyote. There is a story behind this painting, of course! 
Coyote watching me
A few years back I had a day where I just needed to get away, clear my head, talk to God. I went for a drive and came across a field with a sign that said "Feel Free to Hunt" so I knew the landowner allowed access to their property. I stopped and walked into the field, sat down and talked to God for a while. It was late afternoon on a beautiful early fall day. The sun was low and the field of tall grasses glowed in it's warm light. As I sat there quietly I noticed a pair of ears coming towards me through the grass. The ears belonged to a coyote that was on the prowl for an afternoon snack. It stopped several yards from me and we sat watching each other for a little while. Apparently, deciding I was no threat, it continued on it's quest. A few moments later I saw it leap into the air and disappear. When it resurfaced it had a small rodent in it's mouth. It then turned and trotted off with it's prize.
Reference sketch 
I had no camera with me that day, but the experience was imprinted on my mind. When I came home I immediately made a sketch along with notes about what I had seen, the colors and late afternoon light. I knew that at some point I would paint our encounter. Working from my reference sketch and various other sources I set about recreating that moment in this recent painting. I wanted to capture the moment that the coyote leaped into the air pouncing on it's unseen prey. I wanted to portray the warm light. I also thought it would be fun to hide the sign "feel free to hunt" somewhere in the painting as it was significant to both the coyote and me. I was hunting for answers and the coyote was hunting for food. I think we found both in that field. As always God provides.