Hey everyone, I hope you had a good week! I’ve recently gotten back into painting and before my summer courses start on May 26th, I finished up a painting for my Aunt Kate.

I haven’t painted since last year and it feels really good getting back into the swing of things. I chose to paint an owl for my Aunt because:

  1. My grandma had been asking me for a WHILE to paint an owl for Kate’s upstairs.
  2. Kate is a nurse and Florence Nightingale actually had a pet owl (connection between nursing and owls).

The story behind this owl, as mentioned above, is that she was a pet of Florence Nightingale’s. Since my Aunt is a nurse, I was wondering if there were any connections between nursing and owls and found out that when Florence was in Greece in 1850, she supposedly rescued a baby owl that fell out of its nest and had her as a pet for five years. I thought that was really sweet and looked up an image of the owl (shown below) and decided to paint her as a gift. To further the connections between owls and nursing and Greece, I also got Kate a necklace with Athena and her owl on it. Florence’s owl’s name was also Athena, I found out.

Owlet: “Athena.” (1850-1855.) On Display At The Florence Nightingale Museum, London, UK. (The Bird Was A Beloved Pet, Belonging to Florence Nightingale.)

I love expressionist art and I really wanted to create something loose and freeing. I also love experimenting with color and texture so I really pushed the warmth of the brown tones in the owl in contrast against the cooler blues and greens and yellows of the background the branch Athena rests on. Shown below are some progress shots of my painting, it took around 10ish hours to complete across two days. I really just eyeballed the piece, it’s not an exact replica of the photograph nor did I want it to be (hyperrealism isn’t my thing).

To explain my process a bit more in depth, I gesso my canvas using homemade gesso (I use a 2:1 ratio of white paint to water which helps smooth the canvas allowing for brighter colors as acrylics tend to dry darker after application). I’ll do 2-3 coats of my gesso, allowing the coats to dry in between layers and once fully dried I map out my composition using black paint and covering the black with white if I make any mistakes (almost like the black is my pencil marking and the white is an eraser). I then block in flat colors or simple gradients until finally I add more detail until I’m happy (or just sick of) the piece. Paintings are never finished in my opinion, there’s always work to be done. Am I 100% happy with this piece? No, of course not, but I did the work with the time I had and seeing as my summer courses start in few days, I really wanted to knock this one out so I can work on other pieces I’ve started.

I hope y’all enjoy the painting/the mini history lesson and, until next time, take care!

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