View Full Version : Barn Owl WIP
12-28-2002, 10:10 AM
Finally back on deck after my move to Brisbane and relieved to be back at WC at last!!
Haven't had much time to do much painting with the move, new job and Christmas but here's what I'm working on at the moment.
It's a barn owl done with Faber Castell hard pastels (I'm changing brands after discussions with Gaka) on a paper I've never tried before . . . it's a thicker paper than the Canson but smoother also . . . unfortunately it's so smooth that it's hard work to get the pastel into the tooth but I'm getting there . . it just happened to be the shade I was after (I know it looks blackish but it's actually midnight blue). I'll find out again what it is and let you know so you won't make the same mistake I've made.
Annyway, here's the wing . . .
12-28-2002, 10:13 AM
. . . and here's a close up . . trying to get the feel of the downy lead feathers that owls have that gives them their silent flight.
12-28-2002, 10:19 AM
12-28-2002, 11:41 AM
Looking fantastic already :clap:
12-28-2002, 12:25 PM
Gorgeous start! Excellent detail....I'm looking forward to seeing this progress.
12-28-2002, 12:54 PM
Welcome back Crumby, we've missed you!! :D Glad to hear the move went well and you're finally finding some time to get back to painting. This looks marvelous as always. The detail on the wings is wonderful. I'm interested to hear what made you change brands of pastel to Faber Castell? I'll look forward to seeing how this progresses!
12-28-2002, 12:57 PM
Excellent work.... you have so much patience. You really have managed to capture that downy feeling to the feathers.:clap: :clap:
12-28-2002, 01:52 PM
Welcome home crumby -thought we'd find you in here ;) This is looking fabulous - as usual - look forward to seeing the progress :)
12-28-2002, 04:40 PM
Welcome back....missed you.
Hope you had a wonderful holiday with your family all together....
The painting is going to be just beauitful..can't wait to see the rest..
12-28-2002, 04:44 PM
How nice to have you back, Crumby.... another masterpiece in the making here... this is going to be breathtaking when you get the face and body in.... Excitedly, I wait to see how it comes together....
12-28-2002, 08:49 PM
Thanks guys for the great "Welcome Back" . . . boy have I got some catching up to do! lol
Anyway, trying to work down the paper on this one as there is so much pastel falling off this paper (way too smooth) that it's staining everything below. Have completed the wing on the (our) right (no pikky as yet) but here's the owl's facial disc.
I remember getting some comments on a previous work that I was more of a tonalist than a colourist. So I've been trying to improve by using a lot more colour in the shadows here instead of the just greying the whites. I've done this by using a lot of complimentary colours (purple & ochre and some blue & orange). These colours were chosen coz the owl already has a a lot of ochre in some ref pics I've seen (so thus used purplish complimentary) plus the dak blues match the midnight blue of the paper and the mood I'm striving for. Not too sure of the theory with regard 'cools' and 'warms' here as that is always confusing for me . . . you know trying to create a cool mood but having to use complimentary but warm colours . . mmmmm . . .dunno.
Anyway I hope you think it works . . .seems too, coz when I stand well back from the painting the complimentaries do indeed seem to mix visually to form greyish shadows.
You can see the unfinished sections to the bottom left as I'm working down the body.
. . . and YES, that's a dead mouse in it's mouth!!
Karen: the change to Faber Castells is due to the smoothness of these pastels. I was previously using Conte hard pastels which are a lot harder and "scratchy" . . . I can't even imagine trying to use them on this paper. In the end it's just personal choice. Anyway Santa was very good to me this year and brought me the whole set of Faber Castells!! (I'm a very good hint dropper) :D :D
12-28-2002, 08:59 PM
Oh my I think those complimentaries are working out wonderfully for you Crumby!! This looks fabulous! I love all those colors...to me, it is very realistic (you should see me sliding back and forth from the computer to get at a distance to look! hehehe). Your comment about the Conte I would wholehardedly agree with...very hard and scratchy and I even found them to be a bit waxy. I've also tried the Faber Castells and those were better but still waxier than my favorite....NuPastels...ever given those a try? You're really making some marvelous headway here (no pun intended!). Can't wait to see a full image. :D
12-28-2002, 10:52 PM
I am holding my breath for the end....
12-28-2002, 11:33 PM
Another masterpiece Crumby! Thanks for the inspiration!
12-29-2002, 12:05 AM
I am "speechless"....
and you can ask Llis if that's even possible!!
12-29-2002, 12:43 AM
Thanks for the comments guys :)
Karen: Glad you think the colours work . . I was beginning to doubt them. Oh and sorry about the Aussie spelling of "colours", you all probably think I can't spell!!! LOL
Carly: I can't believe that's true lol
OK now the talons . . . these to me seem to be the action part of the painting and are vital to get right . . .they're almost the focal point of the painting.
12-29-2002, 12:44 AM
With the tail feathers done it sort of "completes" the owl although I will go back over it later to adjust tones/values once the entire painting comes together.
12-29-2002, 12:49 AM
You can see in the above picture that there is a dark halo around the owl . . .this is just me cleaning the paper as I go as this paper lets a lot of the pastel go when applying. But once on it is very good. Oh, you probably haven't seen the right wing till now either which is one of my favourite parts of the painting.
Now comes the hard part . . .putting it in a believable setting . . it will be landing on a branch (a Casuarina that I photographed whilst on holidays) with some weeping foliage scattered around.
This will take a couple of days at least. Nice being on holidays and seeing painting progressing at a faster pace than normal :)
12-29-2002, 02:18 AM
This is exquisite. I thought it was a beautiful painting when it was just a wing. The face is amazing. Looking forward to the next installment.
12-29-2002, 02:20 AM
Oops! Forgot to read the second page, I was so excited about your work. The owl is an incredible piece of realism. The painting does not reflect your struggle with the support at all.
12-29-2002, 04:17 AM
Love that second wing ....... you can see the flight :clap:
12-29-2002, 06:14 AM
I do think you achieved the coolness with a hint of warmth with your complementary colours.
Wonderful movement in those wings:clap: :clap:
Outstanding work, those talons are really superb not to mention the feathers. Look forward to seeing it finished.
12-29-2002, 08:55 AM
I just came upon this thread now..(better late then never)
I missed you Crumby...welcome back!!
As for the painting, what else can I say that hasn't already been said. Your's & Gaka's work just blows me away. So real, so life like, the detail & hours of work that you put into each piece.
I will sit patiently like the others to see the finish. Your work is truely outstanding.
12-29-2002, 04:44 PM
Welcome back Sir Crumby:D:D:D
So glad to hear youre safe and sound and enjoying the holidays!!
I am also glad to see that Santa was kind to you, seems he was also inspiring as well;) Fantastic Work! I see you havent lost your touch one bit!!!:D
12-29-2002, 05:17 PM
Welcome back!! Your work and Gaka's are so inspiring, whether you know it or not. Really raises the bar for realism....
Fabulous painting. Very anxious to see the final.
12-29-2002, 06:46 PM
Hey, Thanks for all the nice comments . . .geeeeeez it's good to be back! :) Hopefully do some more today.
12-30-2002, 06:40 AM
OK started to put the main branch in. It's got nowhere near the detail as anything else . . especially towards the left end as there will be foliage hanging down in front of it . . plus I didn't want to draw the focus away from the owl.
Have also started the foliage (no pikky yet) but my wife walked by and said it looked like a fantasia lamp (for those of you who can remember the 70's!!) and that I'm ruining it (so supportive here!! LOL) . . mmmmmm . . oh well . . so now comes the "stand back and think" time . . .humph!!
Luckily I haven't done much . . so I'll be spending time now fixing what I've done and try to get it right . . . I don't really want to change it coz the foliage DOES go with the branch (Casuarina or She-Oak tree) . . just that I think I've done it poorly . . I won't let it beat me . .I won't let it beat me . . . I won't . . . . he he
12-30-2002, 07:25 AM
LOL gotta luv spouses they say exactly what they think;)
I love the branch so far! I agree not to much detail needed, but I do see a bit of foilage or branch maybe hinted to the right, angled, too echo the composition. Maybe only the center portion, to hint its direction.
Mkay nuff said:D Looks excellent so far, cant wait to see the next step:D
all I can say is WOW! am so impressed! have to do a search for your other work now ...............
01-01-2003, 12:22 AM
Well, not much done since I last posted but I want to go steady-steady here as I don't want to overdo things.
I erased my first attempt at the foliage and this (according to my wife) is much better . . . geeez she doesn't paint but I gotta give it to her, she IS normaly right as far as being a critic of my work at least.
Now I need suggestions on compostion here . . . I know Redsy said I needed something off to the right (and my wife agrees!! LOL). Does everyone agree??? if so, where and how much???? Please give your reasoning behind any suggestions as that is how I'll learn.
Please go to to town with photo-manipulations if you want . .doesn't bother me a bit . . . all in the process of learning.
Will post this in wildlife forum now too me thinks.
BTW this photo better shows the midnight blue of the paper.
Thanks in advance.
01-01-2003, 04:21 AM
Sorry, Forgot to thank Redsy and Lulu for looking and for their comments . . .sorry guys!! :rolleyes:
01-01-2003, 08:49 AM
Okay Crumby....lol I suck at digital stuff but heres an idea..
The dots in pink point out all the angles that follow the tree branch, the wings and even the foilage now all follow that downward angle. Now you need something on the right to counter that at the angle I painted in greenish gray! That would compliment or echo the V shape you have with the Wings. Even if you added more foilage angled at that direction it would be marvy!
LOL Hope I didnt confuse ya to much!
01-01-2003, 08:55 AM
I forgot to mention....
You do know that you are my Hero at all this Crumby, Im just a sponge learning from all your creations, with an opinion now and then:D I love the Pic regardless!
Thank Wifey for me too:D
01-01-2003, 09:42 AM
OK Redsy . .enuff of that!! Nice comment though. :) Ta
No you didn't confuse me . . . You mean something like this???? (I suck at it too :rolleyes: )
01-01-2003, 09:45 AM
Yeah dats it:D
what wifey think? LOL
01-01-2003, 12:46 PM
Crumby....this is looking so good. I completely agree with Redsy's idea of creating the other side of the V and your example looks great.
FANTASTIC painting!!! Sorry to go aginst the grain with Redsy here though. I feel the painting is far more dyamic without the added foliage on the left. It is taking my eye away from the owl. At the moment you have a fantastic triangle composition, everything is leading to the focal point which is the owl and it's prey. IMO adding anything in that left corner is going to lessen the impact that you have now, I would even trim back the couple of light branches on the left. i.e. the ones that are almost touching the owls feathers. Just my opinion.
01-01-2003, 05:04 PM
Hehe No worries Mo;)
But my added bit was for the right to keep triangle:D LOL
01-01-2003, 07:51 PM
Wonderful, enjoying this very much..thank you...
I agree with Redsy, maybe it should be a branch of the tree..faded, enough to keep the triangle..just slightly toward middleground, not forground.
I also agree with Mo about the branches touching the feathers.
01-02-2003, 01:30 AM
Not that I know a damn thing but tend to agree with MO -otherwise you are squishing up that left side and detracting from the owl ( shuts mouth)
01-03-2003, 01:17 AM
Thanks everyone for the help :)
Suggestions from the wildlife forum lean towards nothing on the right as they feel it would detract from the focal point (Owls face and mouse) and lessen the sense of drama. I agree with this to some extent and so have opted for a small branch (feeding away from the viewer to the mid ground as per Sunny's suggestion) and lower down so as not to "squish" (is that a word Trish?) the focal point. The shape of branch will complete the "V" as per Redsy's suggestion but the drooping foliage from this branch will strengthen the diagonal that seems to occur in all my work . . . I know the diagonal is a strong compostional structure and it seems to work for me :).
So . . . . something like this I guess (maybe not so bright but a few flickers of light on the outer curves of the foliage wouldn't be out of place.
Now I'm off to some post Chrissy drinks (haven't stopped) and will try and complete this painting tomorrow.
Cheers and thanks again.
OMG When I grow up I want to be just like you *S* This is absolutely awesome. WOW I read your bio on your site and I have hope. I'm new and self taught too. But some just have a natural talent and that you just can't refute after seeing your work *S*
01-03-2003, 10:41 AM
Marvelous Crumby....your art is always an absolute delight to view.
I don't think it needs anything much on the right..it is so strong and dramatic now with all the focus being on the owl and mouse.
Very well done:clap: :clap: :clap: :cat:
01-03-2003, 02:17 PM
Been waiting for this! Wonderful Crumby! I like it all, the lighting, branch, etc.
I'm might be the only one, but the only thing I would comment on is that I wish the branch went from our lower left to the upper right. Birds land in that direction of a branch to perch--or is he going to another branch...
01-04-2003, 12:44 AM
Hey there Crumby... Welcome back! Also thanks for the friendly emails while I was gone also mate!!! :)
Ok, my turn I guess... I really wanted to stick something in that corner to stop the owl from sliding right off that branch... it reminded me of a slippery dip and he looked scared he was gonna miss his landing!! So I have "added" a little twig without the foliage to enclose the bird and give him a safe corner so to speak. I think if you decide to put something there at all it should be just a subtle hint of whatever so as not to detract from the focal point.
You know what I think of your work...and I'm sure your pockets are full... so just my two bobs worth matey!!!
ok... lovely job hun, great work, .....blah, blah, blah.... ;) One more thing... hurry up and get it done so I can get it on the site...LOL No pressure of course... :p
Chooky :D :D
01-05-2003, 12:59 AM
Thanks for looking everyone and for the nice comments!:)
I too noticed that if I were a bird I'd land the other way but this is the way the branch was in one of my ref pics. mmmmm . . . maybe the slippery dip adds to the the tension!! lol Ah well can't change it now.
After taking in all your wonderful comments I ended up trying to do what I had posted before . . . didn't quite come out the way I had envisaged but I always end up stressin' over the little things at the end . . . .I wonder whether I would have stressed this much if I had painted the foligae first? . .mmmm . . doubt it.
Anyway, did the small branch at bottom right as I said I would and took note of the comments with regard the small branches near the tail feathers. . .they did look a little out of place.
Now if y'all look closely, I can't just rub 'em out coz there's foliage BELOW the tail and below the branch which comes from these small twigs. I tried erasing the top one of these two where no foliage came from and it wouldn't rub out completely . .so then I was stuck . . .so converted it into greenery instead of the stark lonely twig. Also thickened up the foliage that was already on the left.
Anyway, it's signed, it's done, I sick of it, and it's time to move on!! LOL
PS Welcome back Chook!! . . . nice to see you back on deck!! :)
01-05-2003, 01:15 AM
I think this is a spectacular piece of work. Very dramatic and well rendered. Congratulations!:clap: :clap: :clap:
01-05-2003, 01:35 AM
As always, a pleasure to follow along on your journey! It turned out fabulously. :D Thanks for sharing this.
01-05-2003, 05:52 AM
Superb.....Thanks for sharing your wonderful work with us:D
Just outstanding!! Can't find words to reflect just how wonderful this is. How large is this painting. I am sure its in here somewhere, but can't seem to find it.
01-05-2003, 09:14 AM
Excellent work..thanks for letting us watch the progress unfold. It was a pleasure.
Had to laugh at your comment about moving on...thats when I know my work is finished..when I'm sick of it....:D
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