I seem to have owls on the brain, lately! Much inspiration is thanks to the live owls I work with at Horizon Wings Raptor Rehabilitation and Education Center, of which I am lucky enough to see up close. You really get a better understanding of birds of prey when you see them in real life. Their movements and mannerisms are simply impossible to discover through photographs alone.
There's something so enjoyable about drawing owls. Perhaps it is because of their incredible softness and roundness. If you enjoy drawing fluffy feathers, then an owl is the perfect subject. I also associate these birds with (no surprise here) the night and the mysteries of the world when the sun goes down and the moon comes up. Owls are creatures that live with a perfect harmony with the night. Their hearing is unlike that of any bird - some owls hunt in practically complete darkness, using their asymmetrical ears to pinpoint a creature's location on the ground. Their wings have a fringe to allow them to fly with complete silence.
Below are sketches for a painting I am about to begin. Three owl women gather around a cauldron of starlight. One holds a sphere of perfect crystal, which reflects all light and allows her to see beyond the dark of night. Another carries a staff, which still grows living oak leaves and acorns.
And the finished sketch. I didn't put in as much detail, here, as I planned to incorporate the values with the color sketch:
As before, with Celebration, I used Corel Painter to create my color sketch:
Painting this will be tricky, as I have two main light sources: the moon above and the fire below. The crystal ball also gives a little light to the face of the barred owl, allowing the eye that would normally be in shadow to have a highlight.
The shadows were easy in Painter, but with a translucent medium like watercolor, it's going to be a bit more challenging. I may end up using colored pencil to really pop the highlights.