How to paint a barn owl

Meet a barn owl: I went to the Andover Hawk Conservancy and met little Echo. Ideally, I would have liked to keep him, but at least I got to take away some amazing photographs!

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Grid up your canvas: On this 20 by 20cm canvas, I went for squares of 5cm each, making sure that my photograph was also gridded up with the same dimensions. Then it’s a simple case of putting the basic shapes from the photograph into the same place on the canvas. Some artists may scorn at this approach, but to me it is just planning for success and avoids abortive work later on.

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Paint the background: For this painting I went for a simple matte violet (violet paint with a hint of white for extra creaminess.)

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Paint the face base coat: I find where you have white fur or feathers, paint a base of a purpley grey, and then use white over the top to add final detail.

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Rim the eyes: use long curled brushstrokes fanning out from around the eyes to create that characteristic heart shaped face.

Eye eye: paint the eyes as squashed circles, with a dark black surround and pupil, and a paler iris. Then put paler grey sheens where the light catches, and white glints.

Paint the beak: I used a pale pink, with a paler stripe down the middle. This then disappears into a darker tip, the same colour as the two (for want of a better word) nostrils. Then use white paint to flick little feathers over the top of the beak.

Body base coat: Start with a base of a slightly darker tan colour, using a mix of sienna, gold and white. Following this, add more white and gold and create areas of highlight and detail.

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Shades of grey: Barn owls have beautiful speckles of grey on their back and upper body. Refer to your photograph and use a mix of black, white and a hint of purple to give the grey an added dimension.

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Speckles on the speckles: I then cross hatched over the grey speckles using a darker grey and a lighter grey watery mix and a teeny tiny paintbrush.

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Finishing touches: Then I put on small black freckles with white tails. Check the photo if you don’t believe me! Bird’s feathers are so detailed and surprising when you look at them up close

Echo ARTbyIMI

Art framing for Dummies

You are cordially invited to attend my PREMIER ART EXHIBITION!

Where: Frensham Studios, Farnham, Surrey, GU10 3BJ.
When: Saturday 7th December – Sunday 15th December

If you are in the area, please come down and see me and the other exhibiting artists.

Do your Christmas shopping there, because art truly makes an amazing present!
It’s thoughtful, it keeps on giving, and it won’t lose its value. It will even increase! 

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To prepare for the exhibition, I have got several of my paintings made into prints, including a limited edition run of my Kookaburra.
I have framed all of these to make beautiful ready-to-hang gifts.

I’m sure you know, framing art can be incredibly expensive. It’s normally out of reach to the young artist starting out. But following some excellent advice, I have done it myself.

Same professional finish, but more affordable for me… meaning more affordable for you!

Here’s how you can frame your artwork too:

You will need:

  • Giclée prints on cotton rag paper of your artwork.
  • Black illustration pen
  • Black wooden frames of the same size as your print.
  • Gum tape
  • Scissors
  • Personalised stickers
  • Water
  • Clean cloth
  • Patience…

1: Sign and name your artwork using your black illustration pen

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2. Get a smart black wooden frame. Standard sizes are much more affordable than bespoke sizes.

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3. Pop your print in, and put a plain piece of paper behind it to protect it from the frame.
Put the back of the frame on.

4. Get your gum tape and cut strips of the right length to cover the seams on the back.

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5. Using a cloth and water, dampen the shiny side of the gum tape (like an envelope)

6. Carefully paste the sticky strip along the seams on the back of your frame. This will keep all the dust out, keeping the print safe and secure.

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7. Do this for all the other sides. You may have to cut into the gum strip to avoid pasting over wall fastenings.

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8. Pop one of your personalised stickers in the corner.

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Now your artwork looks fancy and framed, but you and your clients don’t need to shell out the big bucks!

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Don’t forget about the exhibition – It would really make all of my hard work worthwhile to see you there 🙂

Make your painting SHINE!

…by investing in some Acrylic Ink!

I am a true convert to this lovely liquid and am struggling to understand how I achieved so much detail in my paintings without it.

The benefits are:

  • They are much thinner than acrylic paint, but with the same depth of colour. This means they can be used to create thinner lines – like hairs and feathers!
  • They can be controlled far more than acrylic paint.
  • They are completely waterproof when dry – so all the benefits of acrylic paint come out here.
  • They give a slight sheen when dry, giving the canvas a different dimension. They are especially effective on beady eyes.
  • They are good value!
  • You can control easily how much you drop on your palette – less wastage than regular acrylic paints.

All you need is a teeny paintbrush, and a mutlipack of inks!

The Pheasants

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Ink can be used to create minute detail such as feathers on birds’ faces.

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Shake your tail feathers  – blend lots of colours to create depth and volume of metallic feathers.

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You can create detailed ranges of feathers with lots of different colours.

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You can get inks in metallic colours to really get a shine on.

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Not just the boys have beautiful depths of colour – create delicate girly feathers too!

Pheasants ARTbyIMI

Ta Da – This will very soon be up in the Cherry Tree Pub in Rowledge.

Apologies for my lengthy absence – the day job has got BUSY and my Christmas commissions have to remain secret for now!