Creative Process

My pygmy owl and its firefly army


So this is a pygmy own, or a saw whet owl, which I found on a search for ‘New England Birds’. It’s about the size of a softball-sized hailstone. I generally stay away from predators and aggressive, team-mascot birds like Eagles, Hawks, Condors etc because I’d like my theme to be seek happiness via beauty and peace rather than hunting and killing things, and also because I like that humble creatures seek happiness, too.

I relate to insignificant low creatures, sue me.

Also I really liked the burning flowers of my airplane doodle (scroll down a bit) as light sources against the filagrees and fluer-di-li’s, so I threw in those lightning bugs. I have since taken a rasher of verbal excrement from close loved ones for drawing really gross lightning bugs, because I made them the beetles that they are.

Yeah, they’re not cute. Live and learn.

So this is grey paper first penciled as a sketch with an hard HB pencil, detailed with a 2B pencil, and then gone over again to get details right. After that I inked it with a sharpie marker, because I’m on vacation and on the move. Properly it should have been done with a quill pen, but since I’m drawing this in cars, cafes, on family game night, etc etc I stuck to an easier pen. Purists will tell me sharpies suck, and they're not wrong, but remember that this will be scanned and vectorized so the original really doesn’t matter. It’s like the first draft in writing, you throw it all out there with full creative energy and worry about cleaning up details on the computer. Writing is re-writing; drawing is vectorizing.

Then I went over with that damned 30% warm grey Blick marker that is actually pinkish, argh. Still haven’t gotten rid of those because it’s hard to get to an art store, and because Amazon and FedEx are slammed busy for the holidays and because I’m travelling. But I have to get rid of those, they’re terrible. I did greyscale out the image so don’t look for the pink, just rest assured that it’s there and be furious with me.

And lastly I went over it with white ink and a very thin paintbrush. In a perfect world it would be white ink on a quill but I’ve never gotten that to work.

I failed to put a philosophy quote on it because I’m worried that it’s a smallish artwork: I’m trying to create smaller prints so folks will have something cheaper to buy, but the problem is that very small words don’t burn well onto screenprinting screens, and this should end up being less then 10” wide by 8” tall. So I skipped the quote this time.