Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Finding Your Own Photo references, "On Glove - Eurasian Eagle Owl" Colored Pencil Painting

On Glove - Eurasian Eagle Owl 16" X 12" Colored Pencil On Ampersand Board
As an artist who respects copyright laws, I'm always up for a sure bet in obtaining original photos to create paintings from.  Sure there are sources online where you can obtain wildlife photos - copyright free.  However their use is prohibited from entry when applying to major juried art shows.  Besides what fun would it be if you didn't have the "adventure" of getting out in nature and up close and personal with your subject! As I get older "Adventure" is one of my goals.

I'm not a stealthy photographer, even in my own yard I scare away the birds from the feeder.  Unlike my friend Kathy who sits calmly with her glass of vino and gets fabulous photos to paint from.  I need the "sure thing", the guaranteed close up shot, the it can't run, fly away, scamper off - shot.  And I have paid dearly for these opportunities.  But what adventures!  From game reserves, to tours and class lessons.

The Male Eurasian Eagle Owl in my recently finished piece was an amazing specimen.  Several years ago my husband and I spent a few days over the Thanksgiving holiday at The Homestead in rural western VA.  On the blustery Friday after, we decided to take the Falconry class they offer on the estate.  "Sure bet" remember.  Hoping for some up close and personal photo ops.  We started with the smallest raptor an American Kestrel, which I had the pleasure of having a private moment with.
That's me before I let my natural silvers come in.
Getting photos of the peregrine falcons in flight was amazing too, although they are not as cute as the little guy above.  The finale experience was the Eurasian Eagle Owl which was A M A Z I N G.  Did I say before that I love owls! Well this guy did not disappoint!  According to Wikipedia: The Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo) is a species of eagle-owl that resides in much of Eurasia. It is also called the European eagle-owl and in Europe, it is occasionally abbreviated to just eagle-owl.[3] It is one of the largest species of owl, and females can grow to a total length of 75 cm (30 in), with a wingspan of 188 cm (6 ft 2 in), males being slightly smaller. Females can weigh from 1.75 to 4.6 kg (3.9 to 10.1 lb) and males can weigh from 1.22 to 3.2 kg (2.7 to 7.1 lb).

He was ruthless in his gaze, as the handler had him "On Glove".  This woman was fearless!  His wing span was immense by my standards (almost 6 feet). He had confidence in letting us know with a penetrating gaze, that he could rip us to threads easily.  

Working on rendering him I wanted to blur out the background to simplify and put focus on "his majesty".  I debated taking out the glove and placing him on a branch.  But the fearless stance of the woman handler just had to play a part in my piece, and as I thought of a title, it just had to be there also.  Plus it was great fun to capture the leather texture of the glove and it's stitching. (It was little protection for his talons or beak.) The windy November day had his ear tufts and facial feathers moving and ruffling.  I loved the movement it lent to the stationary composition.  

Living in rural VA we have wonderful Barred and Screech owls serenade us at night from the stream at the back woods of our property.  They call back when you mimic their calls.  When I listen to them each Spring I remember my encounter with this Male Eurasian Eagle Owl and respect their space.  I do love when they perch on the top of our conservatory's roof and serenade me to sleep.  

Where can you find adventure, original photo references?  In the weeks to come I'll be listening for my owls, Spring is on it's way!

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