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Painting of a Screech Owl | Ozark Birds of Prey

It’s not often that I get decent pictures of wildlife, let alone birds of prey. Slowly, I’ve managed to find some photographers with photos I can use to reference some of my series-in-progress of Ozark Birds of Prey. Several years ago I had the fortunate opportunity to not only get one, but several photos of three little Eastern Screech owl fledglings. And so now you get to see the progression of my painting of a screech owl.

Here’s the one I’m doing in this painting:

My photo of an Eastern Screech Owl. It's the subject of a painting using Ozark pigments in oil.

Grumpy Little Fella

When I came home from work one evening just before sunset, in late March, I saw three little owls sitting in the grape vines by the gate. They were fairly close, but not close enough for me to get a good pic with my cell phone. So, I opened the gate and drove to the house to get my tripod and Canon camera.

I didn’t expect they’d still be there when I got back, but it was a happy surprise to see they were. They stayed on the vine, curiously watching me as I managed to get some decent pictures of them. At the time, I hadn’t discovered my paints yet, and so hadn’t started painting. But I kept the photos filed away with my others.

The Progression of my Painting of a Screech Owl

Ozark Pigments in Oil

I try to stay away from harsh chemicals, so except for occasionally cleaning my brushes with turpentine, I use only oils. When I make the paint, I use linseed oil. While I’m painting with them, I use walnut to thin the paints when necessary. I have my paints in walnut oil between painting sessions, and at the end of a painting I wash them all after rinsing with turpentine. The oil is simply food-grade walnut oil, but eventually I’d like to get some lighter-colored oils to try, like poppyseed.

Painting of a Screech Owl

Medium & Substrate, Size

I make the paints with linseed oil, dilute with walnut. It’s on a 9 x 12″ birch cradle-board.

The Colors I’m Using

  • green siltstone
  • magnetite
  • brown sandstone
  • black stone (maybe bitumen)
  • shale
  • red sandstone
  • russet sandstone
  • yellow sandstone, limonite
  • titanium oxide
  • a blended mix of limestone, bone ash, and neutral colored sandstone

The blended mix is what I used for the shadowy background branches. I haven’t found many uses yet for this paint that I made, because it’s not opaque enough. However, it is working wonderfully to give the effect I wanted from the branches in the back.

Since I don’t have any blue pigment sources here, most of the time my blue skies are gray.

I love working with the Ozark pigments in oils! The colors are so deep and rich, and I like the way I can make multiple layers and different effects. While I still use the watercolors when I need quicker cleanup or greater portability, I think the oils are going to be my focus for the rest of my life.

Stay Tuned …

I’ll update with my progress as I get it finished. I’m taking my time with this painting of a screech owl. The feathers are going to be a long part of the process. Today is Wednesday, May 10 2023. Tomorrow I’ll be out and about all day, so I won’t get to work on it again until Friday. I’ll bring it to the studio with me on Saturday to work on while I’m there.

Update: Today is May 13, Saturday and I did bring it to the studio. It’s almost finished now. Tomorrow I’ll see if I need to add any other details and sign it if it’s done.

Update: Added the finishing touches on May 14!

Red morph eastern screech owl, in Ozark pigments by Madison Woods.
Wet paint, finished. Grumpy Lil’ Fella, in Ozark oil pigments (and titanium white)

Until the painting is varnished and ready to hang, there is a discount to purchase it.

The Wild Ozark Studio

I’m at the studio every Saturday and visitors are welcome! It’s inside Alpena Mercantile, 214 Hwy 62 W, Alpena, AR. There’s also some other artists in there with me. So if you’re in the area, please stop by. If you’d like to see my original work on a different day, I’m happy to go out there by appointment, so just email me at madison@wildozark.com 🙂



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