Ever since I became a Mom my symbol for my relationship with my children has been the owl. Learning from the energy of the owl has given me confidence over the years. I can still remember how frightening it was to bring children into the world. I didn’t feel able to protect them and I questioned if I was qualified to guide them. Then I saw an owl in a meditation and many meditations after that one. It was a giant owl with wings large enough to shelter me and both my children. On a recent road trip I saw a dead owl on the side of the road. It was very disturbing, so this week I felt compelled to bring the owl onto a reclaimed canvas. Here is the sequence of images as I intuitively painted this owl. You can see how it changes over several layers of paint. I feel like in many ways my relationship with the owl is always changing, too. As my children grow, sometimes at a staggering rate, I feel the owl energy responding to these shifts. It’s a lifelong relationship, children and owls, and so here is one of many owl paintings I may surely create over my lifetime.
My owl begins with some paper shapes glued down on a canvas. Then I take a broad flat brush and blob in some color fields. I’m using my craft paints, because frankly I like the pre-mixed colors and I’m growing less fond of mixing my own colors. This sounds so terrible, because I am a trained artist am I have a special gift for mixing color. Oh well, maybe this is just a phase I’m going through and I will mix my colors again someday. I actually sometimes just like mixing colors right on the canvas. Yes, I am full on admitting to that, too.
Next I am staring at my canvas and looking for the owl to emerge. I knew I wanted to paint one, so I placed the torn paper to loosely represent an owl head, body and wings. But as you will see, this is only a rough guideline to get me going. Again, I am loving these liquid watercolors. I don’t even care that I’m using them on canvas. They are so fun to work with. Again I can feel my college professors rolling their eyes at this idea. All I can say, is I’m hooked on this brown liquid watercolor. I can’t get enough of it!
Another layer and this guy is starting to plump out. I severed the right wing just to see what might happen. You can do this with acrylics, that’s why I love them so much. Very forgiving. Don’t ever be afraid to try something like that. This weird tree emerged in the background, too, along with a radiant sun shape. I’m trying to keep it loose though and I love the brush strokes and big blocks of color, so I don’t want to lose that patchwork feeling. I’ve even drawn in some eyes with black paint. This owl’s face will change a few times.
In the last image you can see that I changed the owl’s body (and species) with the last layer of paint. He just begged to be a small fluffy kind of owl, so I went with it. I am pleased with the energy and the colors in this piece. I think I’ll keep it around for a while.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my process and I hope it will inspire you to try some intuitive painting of your own. When in doubt, just keep going. I like to tell students in my workshops that, especially if they “finish” early. I tell them to expect their paintings to change several times over the course of the workshop. This way they don’t get so attached and they get to experience more accidental discoveries.
Your Creativity Coach,
Bonnie Kelso is a Creativity Coach who uses Creating as a healing modality. She is the author of Shaylee Seakin: Speaking My Truth an interactive coloring book for kids which helps them to articulate what is most important to them. She also facilitates creativity workshops and classes. She is the creator of the ABCs of Conscious Creating, a guided self-study program that delves deeper into the spiritual realm of your unique creative potential.