I’ve always been fascinated with birds of prey and the sport of falconry. One of the birds commonly trained for hunting is the Northern Goshawk. Here’s my rendition of a beautiful wild goshawk photographed by Nicoli Gianluca.
Goshawk No. 1
Right now the painting is at the Big Sur ‘Convergence’ show at UCMB. You can get more information about that show here. I should get it back some time after August 2020. It is for sale while at the show, so if you’re interested in it (and Rhapsody, the other goshawk painting I made), it’s a great opportunity for anyone on the West coast to get a look at it in person.
“Rhapsody” and “Goshawk No. 1” will be hanging in the Big Sur/CSUMB Convergence show in Salinas, CA from Feb 7 to August 12.
Goshawks in the Ozarks
Unfortunately, the goshawk doesn’t make an appearance often here in the Ozarks. There were a few instances reported of sightings, most likely when one was off course during migration. So I’ve never seen one in real life. I found lots of photos online, but could not reach any of the photographers to get permission. I couldn’t find anyone local who had a good photograph.
But Instagram is rich with photographers, and I found Nicoli Gianluca (from Italy) who responded to my permission request. If you are a fan of falconry or bird photography, you can find him as @accipiterhook.
The first ‘real’ painting I made was a raptor, and so were the second and third paintings. So I love painting raptors. But after the third Kestrel I decided to try a few different things to see if raptors really are my favorite, or if it’s maybe only kestrels. So I painted a crow, a pelican, and a fox. And I painted a twisted tree.
I really liked all of those subjects too, but I missed doing raptors. Now I’m working on a new series of a different raptor, the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). I’ve never seen one. But it’s Rob’s favorite. I had thought the kestrel was his favorite, but he’s since said it was a goshawk. So either he has favorite birds like I have favorite colors (can’t pick just one, lol), or he changed his mind.
At any rate, I began the first goshawk during the last weeks of 2018. It presented new challenges. Not only is it a different bird in appearances, but it’s a different size. This canvas is much larger than my previous largest thing ever painted. It’s 12″ x 18″. I had put off starting it because the size intimidated me. There’s so much more room for mistakes! Maybe that’s not true, but there’s more room to *see* the mistakes is closer to an accurate statement. It was the most difficult thing I’ve painted yet.
For this one I wanted to do something different than with the previous paintings. I like the rubbed and speckled backgrounds of the others, but I wanted *more* this time. But I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. And then, too, again being a larger canvas made me reticent to start on top of not knowing exactly where or how to start. So I decided to just paint something.
This is what I came up with.
That background started out as a random painting with no image in mind. Once it began to look like hills, I added the mist. Or rather I subtracted it. I decided I rather liked it and decided to use this as the backdrop for my Goshawk No. 1. Note added: Now that I’m nearly done with the painting, I think I’ll go back to my original type of background. I am not loving this washed out landscape much.
Sketch in location of the Goshawk
Before I can go any further with it now, I have to fix the eye. After the outline, the eye is the part that holds everything else up. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough.
Blocking in Color
Usually, I am adding too much black and have to take a lot of it back off. In this case, I’m finding it hard to add *enough* black. Part of that is due to the size of the canvas. It is physically a lot more paint than I’m accustomed to using. The other part is that this bird has a lot more black.
The beak on this painting gave me LOTS of grief! I had to rework it several times until I was happy enough to leave it alone. During the effort of getting the beak right, I found that I hate this paper I’m using. It didn’t hold up well to lifting the color repeatedly and repainting, so I ordered some heavyweight paper from Arches to try. I’ve heard it’s the best. We’ll see if it holds up to my technique, lol.
Black- from wood char made here at Wild Ozark
Brown- from sandstone found here
Yellow- from sandstone found here
Yellow- from sassafras leaves
Gray- from shale found here
Greenish- from a sandstone found here (only found one of these so far)