Do you love owls?
Learning how to paint owls for Art GCSE
It’s time to take a trip down memory lane. They say to be a pro at something you have to clock-up 10,000 hours of practice. I haven’t clocked 10,000 hours painting owls, but I did start drawing and painting animals as soon as I could hold a pencil or paintbrush.
Naturally, when it came to taking Art at GCSE, all I wanted to do was draw and paint animals. However, we were told you needed to use your own photographs as references. Sadly, I hadn’t had the opportunity to snap any pictures of lions or tigers yet.
Thankfully, my art teacher at the time, Mr Bartrum, was very much into bird photography and had some amazing photos of owls he said I could use.
How is painting owls different to other animals?
However, I have yet to see a picture of an Owl where I don’t feel hunted. They are fantastically skilled and precise predators. In the air, they are silent yet fast. I remember trying to capture their motion in a still piece of art being quite difficult!
Finally, owls have these startling eyes. I think this is the reason they are so often portrayed as wise. For example, Owl in Winnie the Pooh or even Brown Owl – if you were a Brownie or Girl Guide, this was the title given to your leader because of their wisdom.
Taking all three of these points into account, I attempted my first oil painting and first owl painting, aged 16. I still have it in my bedroom, as a nice little reminder of where I started. I am very impressed with how it turned out, for me the barn owl is silently swooping. Quite cute for a top predator!
3 wildlife artists that taught me how to paint owls
Back in 2012, Instagram and Pinterest weren’t quite what they are today, so finding artists as inspiration was quite difficult. Especially as they couldn’t be traditional artists, the type that created artworks where you weren’t quite sure if they were paintings or photographs.
Nevertheless, through excessive googling, I found three artists that inspired and taught me how to paint owls. Revisiting them eight years later has been very interesting. I hope you enjoy their artwork as much I as I did.
1. Janice van Dichele
Janice van Dichele creates the most breathtaking, textured paintings of lions. As you can see, I was very reluctant to move away from the big cats. To achieve this texture, she uses a combination of oil paints and soft pastel.
In her painting of the lion, I remember thinking about that moment in the Chronicles of Narnia where Lucy grabs a fistful of Aslan’s mane. The way she uses the brushstrokes to create tangles in the mane of a magnificent male lion is beautiful. I can almost feel how knotted, matted and wild it would be.
Unfortunately, I could only find a few of her more recent paintings online, but I am glad to see she is continuing to study nature! She inspired me to use more than one medium in my paintings, for example, biro and acrylic paint.
2. Diane Whitehad
3. Frank Gonzales
Thanks for caring about the planet and it’s beautiful animals,