I was approached by a returning customer from the USA to create a Coloured pencil portrait of a Barn Owl and offered to create a few mock ups of compositions before I began as I always do. As a lover of photography I have a large photo reference library of various animals and birds including Barn Owls and so put together 5 different compositions one of which was the 2 Owls on the wall which became the basis of the portrait. The second stage was creating a few mock ups of the Owls within different backgrounds and finally, with the Owls and background in place the last collection of mock ups made were with various walls for the Owls to stand on which were in focus and added interest to the final composition. Many of my Wildlife portraits are created this way.
I chose a tan toned paper to work on which matches the warm tones of the Barn owls as well as giving strength in colour to the lighter tones such as the whites. The tonal background will be created using Derwent's Coloursoft range pencils which are soft and blend well for great effect and the Owls & the wall will be created using the caran Dache Luminance pencils which are ideal for very fine detail and strength of colour. A base layer of tones and loose detail is first applied to the whole of the portrait before I then apply the stronger & finer details to completion.
The Barn Owl at Cresswell, Northumberland (UK)
This portrait is based on actual Barn Owl territory at Cresswell in Northumberland (UK). It is a 40 minute cycle ride from where I live along the beautiful coastal route of Lynemouth through to Cresswell pond, this place regularly has Photographers set up waiting for this little guy to make an appearance. Sitting in the undergrowth of the wide open field which connects to a lagoon where you can regularly see Avocets, Oystercatchers & even Otters on the rare occasion, is an area overlooking the coast and is ideal for field mice and voles. I wait patiently as I see him in the distance, flying silently and hovering on numerous occasions, not at all phased by the long line of photographers with their huge cameras on tripods waiting to get some great photos themselves. There is something breathtaking about seeing such a Bird in the Wild and feeling honoured that this Owl continues it's daily journey passing close by whilst I click the rapid fire button on my camera. Here are some of those photos.
After having spent a hectic week back in Chesterfield (my old home town) to run my Coloured pencil 'Pet portrait' Workshop which ran on the 9th of May (2015) and catching up with family and friends too, once back home in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, I decided to take a rare day off from work to recuperate and myself and my partner John Graham, decided to head out on the bikes with our camera's to hopefully capture some new reference material and simply enjoy Mother Nature in all her glory! We headed off up the coastal road through Cresswell stopping off at Cresswell Pond to spend some time in their hide looking out at the waders and ending up at Druridge Pools who also has a few hides dotted around their lake too. A 20 mile round trip gathering such great photos were totally worth sore bottoms the next day!!
the natural beauty that surrounds us, so I feel very privileged to have seen such an abundance of Wildlife in such a short space of time - these few but well enjoyed, walks and cycles out have always left me thinking one thing as I stand there admiring each view "I want to paint"!
So in the next few weeks, I will be going back to my first love in Art and that is Birds. I taught myself to draw with Coloured pencils working from bird Illustrations in books when I was little and have always held a great passion for these feathered animals, so have decided to produce a collection of paintings of these beautiful creatures and hope to offer prints once completed too. Progress images will be posted and all Original work will be available to purchase if anyone wishes to buy!
Photography by www.johngrahamart.com and Karen M Berisford
Karen M Berisford