3 wildlife artists that taught me how to paint owls

How to paint owls | Pigments by Liv
This week, I announced that the first Pigments by Liv collection of 2021 was going to be an Owl Collection! Before I started designing animal conservation goodies, I had never drawn an elephant or painted a panda before, but I have spent a year of my life painting owls. I thought for this week, I could share a bit about how to paint owls.

Do you love owls?

Sign up to the mailing list to get access to the Owl Collection before everyone else!
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Welcome, you're now part of our pod!.

We use Sendinblue as our marketing platform. By Clicking below to submit this form, you acknowledge that the information you provided will be transferred to Sendinblue for processing in accordance with their terms of use

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?

As a cat person, I had never really been into birds, so painting owls was an entirely new experience for me. Owl’s aren’t quite as sturdy as Pandas, because of their hollow bones, they seem quite delicate in comparison.
How to paint owls | Pigments by Liv

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!

Owl oil painting | How to paint owls | Pigments by Liv

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.

Janice van Dichele | How to paint owls | Pigments by Liv

2. Diane Whitehad

Diane Whitehead does the most gorgeous paintings inspired by native America. The paint she uses is so thick, the canvases are overflowing with life through texture and colour. I am still struck by her ability to capture bears.
Diane Whitehead | How to paint owls | Pigments by Liv
I remember being so proud of the bear I attempted to recreate in my sketchbook as an artist reference. However, looking at her work now, it really is nothing in comparison! One day, when I can afford to buy my first piece of art, it will be this one…

3. Frank Gonzales

Compared to the previous two artists, Frank Gonzales seems very modern. He combines birds and street art to create the most expressive characters. His work is so refreshing and there’s no other way to say this, but it’s so cool. I am so glad to find that he’s still painting birds.
Frank Gonzales | How to paint owls | Pigments by Liv
Character is something I always try and capture whenever I paint animals. If you want to see what I mean, check out the shark collection! Each collection is meant to spur action, to protect the animals we love, which is why capturing emotion is so important. Frank Gonzales does this so well, especially in his owl paintings. They’re so full of character, if you love birds and the dark yet colourful aspects of Mexican culture, check him out!
I feel so inspired and ready to paint owls again! I hope you enjoyed discovering some more traditional wildlife artists. Keep an eye out for the upcoming owl collection…

Thanks for caring about the planet and it’s beautiful animals,

Pigments by Liv Signature

You might also like...

Shopping Cart