“Rainbow Owl” is a flatly patterned, colorful painting with a limited palette, created as part of my bird series of watercolors. It started with a wash of bright, loose stripes in orange, lilac, and pale green. I studied several photographs of owls and made various sketches to refresh my hand with the basic proportions, posture, and shape of an owl. After that, I made a simple outline drawing of an owl in pencil over the striped painting, and traced over it in ink.
I painted the background a dark grey,
and when it dried I drew leaf and berry shapes across the painting in ink.
I painted around these shapes with a very dark forest green.
Then, to bring more color unity to the painting, I painted the berries bright orange while the green was still slightly wet, so the brightness of the orange berries would vary over the painting and give it a little artificial depth.
After it dried, I signed it, and I thought I was done. Then I noticed three small dots of grey paint which had splashed into the body of the owl, marring the broad green stripe across the owl’s wings.
Removing watercolor from paper can be risky. I could end up with scuffed paper, which can happen if it is rubbed vigorously while wet, which would rather ruin my little painting. It would also be possible that I would remove, along with the dots, the color underneath, wrecking the soft wash of color. Replacing it can’t produce just the same effect as a fresh wash of paint. I considered adding more lines in ink to the back of the owl, as a fix, but I wanted to keep the simplicity of the painting intact. My choice then, was to try and remove the dots with a slightly damp mop brush. I think I ended up with great results, removing only a trivial amount of the color behind them. Here is the finished result:
I had great fun playing with these colors and shapes, adding little details of feathers in the outline of the owl and letting the watercolor swirl amongst itself to create variations over flatly painted areas of the composition. This painting is for sale on Etsy, along with many more of my paintings and drawings.
Edit: I’ve painted another owl and have written about it here.