Due to other pressing art matters I’ve only been able to work on this guy on and off for the past week. It was nice to get back to him today. Here’s a progress shot of where I ended the last time I had a chance to paint:
In order to render the feathers on the head and back, I paint the shapes and details a few shades lighter than they should be. Then I take a thin wash of brown paint and glaze over the top of everything. You can see the results of this first layer on the owl’s back in the picture above. Once the glaze is dry, I rework the light spots, add mid-tone details, and then the darkest accents. After repeating the whole process a few times, and reworking it again and again, I start to get something like this:
This is where I left off today. I still have more work to do on the owl, and then it's on to the cactus. After the painting is completely finished, I'll glaze over the eyes in order to lower their value and decrease their impact. I'm leaving that for the very end so I can make the decision in the context of the entire composition. Next time I post, you'll see the final product!
Here are the first faint washes on my Elf Owl painting, which kinda looks like one of Toulouse Lautrec's Moulin Rouge posters at the moment (I think it's the colors):
Painting on black is tricky. To help with the process I created a black palette that would facilitate accurate color mixing, but a gray palette may have been a better choice since I find myself constantly mixing my colors a few shades too dark.
For this painting I want to avoid a strong atmospheric effect in order to keep it natural history-esque, which is why I'll be mixing warmer colors than what you'd normally see in a moonlit scene. I'll continue to post progress shots as the painting continues!
A few years ago I worked at a wilderness program for at-risk youth in Arizona’s Tonto National Forest. At night I used to sit by the campfire after everyone had gone to bed and listen to little barking noises in the trees above me made by Elf Owls that were drawn in by the firelight. Those experiences were the inspiration for my next painting of an Elf Owl, along with this natural history print I found on the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr stream:
I love the black square of India Ink framing the fish, representing the darkness of the deep-sea environment where this species can be found. I wanted to use the same technique for my Elf Owl. Here's the quick thumbnail sketch for my final composition (Nothing too fancy):
Over the coming days I'll be posting progress pictures so you can see how it comes together!
Welcome to my blog! My name is Alex Warnick, and I’m a natural history artist specializing in bird illustration. I’m the youngest in a family of nine, and ever since I was a kid, I have been surrounded by people who are fascinated with nature. I remember my dad transforming a room of our house into a model of the local ecosystem (complete with a fish tank featuring the flora and fauna of a nearby river, dragon fly larva that hatched and flew free in the house, and frogs that found their way into adjacent bedrooms…it was short-lived). Between us we have reptile enthusiasts, tree enthusiasts, wildflower enthusiasts, butterfly enthusiasts, and lots of birders. I also come from a family of artists, and the artwork of aunts, uncles, cousins, and even second cousins hung on our walls and inspired me. Summer days and after school hours were filled with painting and drawing as an outlet to express my fascination with nature. Like my dad I also have a desire to bring nature inside and surround myself with the things that fascinate me, but instead of fish tanks, I use fine art. Over the years it has become a passion that has transformed into a lifetime pursuit. That’s why I paint. And for many other reasons, which I’m sure will come out in this blog at some point. Along with tutorials, pictures of my work, and other general thoughts. Thanks for your interest in my blog!