Tag Archives: barn owl

Tawny Owl window impression in Gledhow Valley.

Window impression of Tawny Owl.  Front garden in Gledhow Valley.  Mick Burton, Leeds continuous line artist.

Yesterday morning Joan said that there was a mucky mark on the lounge window and that the Window Cleaner had only just been the other day for the first time since the start of Lockdown.  Maybe a bird had done it. 

The impression was pretty detailed and we thought about pigeon size. We looked outside, as a blackbird had smashed into the window a few years ago and did not survive.  No sign this time so we hope that this bird is ok.

Here is a closer version of the impression, which I have darkened a bit so the grey impression, lit by the sun, shows up more against our evergreen hedge.

Full window impression of Tawny Owl, with good body, head and wing detail.  Mick Burton, Leeds continuous line artist.

I know that we have Tawny Owls in Gledhow Valley, Leeds, but I have only seen one sitting in a tree at dusk and of course heard them.  I looked up Tawny Owl in our RSPB Handbook of British Birds, by Peter Holden and Tim Cleeves.  “37-39cm.  As large as a Woodpigeon.  Has a tubby body, large round head and rounded wings.  Its face is surrounded by a ring of dark feathers….”  I took a closer photo of the body shape to look at this sort of detail.

Close up of the body of the Tawny Owl window impression, showing feathers around the head, beak and tubby body.  Mick Burton, Leeds continuous line artist.

You can see the faint ring of feathers around the head and where the beak has hit the window.  Also the tubby body and chest.  I suppose the impression is made by grease and dust off the feathers.

The impression of the body did not seem to be full size, so this may have been a youngster which first flew at the end of April.

I had been sorting out some of my framed paintings and had left one out on the guest room bed.  It was my single continuous line Barn Owl, which has a virtually identical composition to the window impression, with the sun shining through its wings.  See also my Post of November 2015 about this owl.

Continuous line drawing of Barn Owl onto Wet on Wet watercolour, 2015. Mick Burton.

Barn Owl continuous line drawing at Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Exhibition

Continuous line drawing of Barn Owl onto Wet on Wet watercolour. Mick Burton.

Single continuous line drawing of Barn Owl onto Wet on Wet watercolour. Mick Burton continuous line artist, 2015.

This Barn Owl painting will be one of my eight pictures on display at  the Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club Autumn Exhibition in Ripley Town Hall, near Harrogate, on 21 & 22 November 2015.  I then intend to submit it to the next Association of Animal Artists Exhibition.

Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club exhibition at Ripley Town Hall, near Harrogate, 21 & 22 November 2015.

Harrogate and Nidderdale Art Club exhibition at Ripley Town Hall, near Harrogate, 21 & 22 November 2015.

Visiting demonstrators at art clubs are amazingly varied and it is usually useful to attempt whatever they ask the club members to do.  I have done some workshops myself and appreciate the efforts of club members who really have a go at continuous line drawings, and associated things I show, even though to is unlikely that any of them will take up my technique as a main style.  Hopefully people can pick up things which can apply to other styles, such as building abstract patterns, using colour sequences, drawing key identifying parts of a subject and trying to manage a picture which sometimes appears to be drawing itself !

Charles Kelly from Bradford, who I have seen doing demonstrations before, came to Stainbeck Arts Club a couple of months ago and said he was doing a workshop this time.  Watercolour tends to be the most popular topic at art clubs, but Charles has a spectacular approach to “wet on wet” and this time we were doing it too.  Here is an example of his work from a demonstration to Alwoodley Art Group in 2013.

A Pair of Geese, painted by Charles Kelly in a demonstration at Alwoodley Art Group in 2013.

A Pair of Geese, painted by Charles Kelly in a demonstration at Alwoodley Art Group in 2013.

My usual style of strong lines and flat colours (acrylic or poster colour) are poles apart from watercolour but I always learn something.  I have to say that using a big brush to coat large proportions of the paper with water in advance (up to selected boundaries of course) and then squeezing brush loads of watercolour in dollops all over is a bit “hairy”.  Then picking up the paper and waving it about so that the colour swishes around, like tides on a beach, reminds me of relatives of mine “panning” for gold in Victoria in the 1850’s.

Charles had brought many reference pictures which we could use and I chose one of a barn owl.  I thought that I could do washes up to the outline of the owl and also within the owl and later put a continuous line on top which more or less matched the washes.  Here is a copy of the wash I did initially, helped by some tips from Charles along the way.

Copy of Wet on Wet watercolour of Barn Owl, before I attempted the continuous line drawing. Mick Burton.

Copy of Wet on Wet watercolour of Barn Owl, before I attempted the continuous line drawing. Mick Burton.

Later, at home, I worked on the continuous line on top of the above copy.  I started by putting key lines along the outline of the owl, feathering and other features – to match the borders of colours as far as I could.  Then I added more connecting pattern and finally joined everything up and made sure I had a continuous line.

Once I was satisfied with this I traced the continuous line down onto my watercolour painting and drew over the lines in acrylic pen making final changes as I saw how the firm line was developing.

I think that the translucent effect of the feathering has worked well, although this view may not be appreciated by a victim mouse in its last moments.