Goshawk No. 1, Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

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

"Goshawk No. 1", 12 x 17", handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.
“Goshawk No. 1″, 12 x 17”, handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.

Right now the image is at the art shop getting scanned because it’s too large a sheet to fit on my own scanner. Once I get the files, I’ll have prints, note cards, and stickers available for it at Etsy. I’ll also have them with me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville (indoor) Farmer’s Market.

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.

Favorite Subjects

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.

The Background

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.

This started out as a random painting with no image in mind. Once it began to look like something, I decided I rather liked it and decided to use this as the backdrop for my Goshawk No. 1.
A rather barren landscape in brown sandstone, with a rub and speckle before using a wet brush. I like the mist flowing into the scene.

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

The goshawk is traced in with one of the colors that shouldn't interfere with final pic.
The goshawk is traced in with one of the colors that shouldn’t interfere with final pic.

The Eye

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.

This is good enough for now. At least the shape and size is right. It'll take on more character after I get more of the surroundings done.
This is good enough for now. At least the shape and size is right. It’ll take on more character after I get more of the surroundings done.

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

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.

Erased the goshawk beak and re-did more than once to get it right.
Erased the goshawk beak and re-did more than once to get it right.

Palette

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)

The Goshawk Progress Pictures

The progression of Goshawk No. 1 from start to finish.
The progression of Goshawk No. 1 from start to finish. Shows all the ugly stages in between 🙂