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.
I had a busy week in my hometown of Chesterfield, where I ran a workshop on creating coloured pencil pet portraits on May 9th, 2015. I also took the opportunity to catch up with family and friends. Once back in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea, my partner John and I decided to take a day off from work to relax and enjoy nature. We took our bikes and brought our cameras to capture new reference material. We rode up the coastal road through Cresswell and stopped at Cresswell Pond to observe the waders. Eventually, we ended up at Druridge Pools, where we found a few hides dotted around the lake. We rode 20 miles and took some fantastic photos, despite experiencing soreness the following day.
I love immersing myself in nature and taking photographs to incorporate into my work. It's just as important to me as the quality of my art products. My goal is to capture the rawness and essence of the moment, taking into account the surroundings and weather conditions. It's truly an honour to witness wildlife in their natural habitats and be able to offer a glimpse into their lives.
Karen M Berisford
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