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Owl painting in pastel ‘Listening In’

long earred owl painting

So here is another owl painting, this one based on a reference from Steve Magennis. I’ve made the background more vibrant than the original photo and also blurred the foreground more. The soft focus background took as long to complete as the detailed owl to be honest, I did so much blending it was driving me mad and I almost gave up before I began the owl itself! However stepping back and being a little more patient reaped rewards and I am really pleased with how it turned out, hope you like it too!!

The making of an owl painting!

owl painting stage 1

I used anthracite pastelmat for this owl painting. I don’t choose any particular colour anymore, just whatever comes to hand in my wardrobe storeroom! I buy sheets of it in all different colours when it goes on sale at so currently I have quite a stash in all colours ready to use. I like using sheets as it means I can cut it to suit all sizes without any waste too which proves very economical. Here you can see how the background was worked. I used sennelier sticks for the larger blended areas around the owl and pastel pencils around the detailed ferns and branch to ensure I got in close to prevent leaving a halo effect around the foreground and owl. I used a white colour pencil to create my sketch as it stays visible under a few layers of pastel so I still know where I’m going, sometimes it looks like a crazy map and even confuses me myself! I used all pastel pencils in a variety of brands, Derwents, Stabilos, Pitts and Caran D’ache for the owl, branch and foreground. They all seem to blend together very well.

owl painting stage 2

Above you can see the start of the owl’s face, the sharp pastel pencil stroke emulate feathers perfectly, each stroke is like a strand of feather. I allow the pastel pencils to dull for the lower layers but once I am adding the detailed top layer I keep the points really sharp and use lots of light pressured strokes which sit on the top and remain crisp.

owl painting stage 3

You can see the variety of pastel pencils I use, quite a large selection to get a good range of colours. Most brands have certain colours I use all the time, I love the Derwent greens and browns, the Caran D’ache have some lovely shades of pale colours and the very pale grey and blue Stabilos always make for good highlights.

owl painting stage 4

You can how the soft focus section around the ferns on the lower left area has began to be blended to create a hazy range of colours which just seep into one another rather than a hard edge. I used my fingers and some sponges for this, adding more colour (sennelier sticks) as needed to build up the haze.

owl painting stage 5

I then began work on the detail in focus stuff, namely the branch. I really couldn’t wait to get stuck in as I love fiddly bits. Trying to recreate the texture of rotting and soft wood is exactly the sort of challenge I relish. I took quite a long time to even get to the stage above.

owl painting stage 6

As you can see the branch really began to be built up, lots of layers and my favourite part so far… the moss!!! I also added the soft focus pinky coloured fern to the right of the picture using colours from my pastel pencils I never normally dig out which was fun.

owl painting stage 7

More work on that lovely branch, I did become a little obsessive with it, I loved recreating the shadows and texture of it so will definitely be looking to add more branches in other pieces, although it does take a long time to do, I really enjoy it.

owl painting stage 8

Here you can see me adding some very fine but dark shadows using a super sharp Pitt pastel in black. The shadows and highlights are what makes my pastel paintings pop off the page. I also feel as though I am nearing the end of a pastel painting so it’s always good to get this far.

owl painting stage 9

Finally after inspecting the owl painting and making any changes it was time to sign it ready for scanning for my prints.

owl painting

And here it is all done my owl painting ‘Listening In’ in pastels. I do hope you like it, please feel free to leave me a comment or share it for me. Better still please subscribe for the latest news from Art by Karie-Ann (including exclusive offers and giveaways)

More tawny owl artwork here and my latest tawny owl in a window

In Other News

I attended the Blenheim Flower Show with my pet portraits stand as a guest with the Costwold Craftmens Guild whom we regularly join at the Malvern Shows. I knew some of them plus a couple of other Herefordshire Guild members came along too and we all stayed up there for the previous day’s set up and the duration of the show. I did pretty well so am hoping to take part again next year, however it was rather a hot weekend and our marquee was a bit sauna like most days! We managed to find a lovely local pub which served good food and spent a few evenings playing Trivial Persuit (very poorly) but was brilliant fun and we all got on really well. I also camped with my fellow guild member in her vintage VW camper which she has looked after and modified perfectly so all in all was a good show for me.

farOpen Studios

I’m now in the throws of getting ready for my next artistic endeavour, the farOpen studios event along with over 50 other artists who open their studios to the public as part of a week long art trail. If you are in my area anytime between 8th – 15th July, please do pop by!

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