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Nature Spotlight: Paint A Barn Owl

Colour scheme for a Barn Owl:

Painting colour scheme for an Atlantic puffin

The barn owl (Tyto alba), with its ethereal beauty and silent flight, is a creature that has captivated humans for centuries. Translating the essence of this magnificent bird onto a blank ceramic bisque figure is a journey that combines artistry and admiration for nature. In this nature spotlight I will guide you through the process of transforming a white ceramic bisque owl into a lifelike barn owl. Along the way, I'll also share fascinating barn owl fun facts that will deepen your connection to this awe-inspiring bird.

Barn owl on post left side view

Barn Owl Fun Facts:

Before we delve into the painting process, let's learn a bit about the barn owl:

  1. Nocturnal Predators: Barn owls are true night hunters. Their keen sense of hearing helps them locate prey like mice and voles in complete darkness.

  2. Heart-Shaped Face: The barn owl's unique facial disc helps funnel sound toward its ears, aiding in pinpointing the exact location of prey.

  3. Silent Flight: Barn owls possess special feathers that reduce noise during flight, allowing them to swoop down on unsuspecting prey with stealth.

  4. Ghostly Appearance: Barn owls have a distinct pale plumage that helps them blend into moonlit landscapes. Their appearance is often associated with mystery and superstition.

  5. Nest Selection: These owls prefer nesting in quiet and secluded spots such as barn lofts, hollow trees, and abandoned buildings.

  6. Monogamous Bonds: Barn owls are often monogamous and may mate for life. They display strong family bonds, with both parents participating in raising their young.

Now, let's embark on the step-by-step guide to painting your ceramic bisque owl figure as a barn owl:

Materials You'll Need:

  1. Ceramic Bisque Barn Owl Figure: Ensure it's clean and dry before you start.

  2. Acrylic Paints: Use the colour scheme above to help match your paints to the puffins colours.

  3. Paintbrushes: Prepare various brush sizes for different details. Larger brushes for large areas & small finer brushes for detail & small areas.

  4. Palette or Paint Palette Paper: Use it to mix and blend colors. A paper plate will also work or a glazed kitchen paint which can be washed & reused.

  5. Water Container: Clean your brushes between color changes. Old mugs or jam jars are great!

  6. Paper Towels: Keep them handy for blotting excess paint and cleaning brushes.

  7. Protective Surface: Lay down a protective layer to catch any paint drips, including on yourself.

Barn owl head detail close up

Step-by-Step Guide:

Step 1: Base Coat

Start by applying a base coat of pale beige/cream acrylic paint over the entire ceramic bisque owl figure. Using a white on top for the face & belly. This will create the foundation for the barn owl's light plumage.

Step 2: Facial Features

Using cream/brown paint, define the owl's distinctive heart-shaped facial disc. Paint the eyes with black and add a white highlight for a lifelike gaze.

Step 3: Beak & Talons

Paint the beak and talons with a pale cream/yellow hue. Add detail and dimension by using a fine brush to create texture on the beak and talons, by adding faint detail lines to crevices & outlines in a slightly darker shade.

Step 4: Feathers & Plumage

Mix shades of beige, brown, grey and white to recreate the barn owl's mottled and delicate plumage. Use feather-like brushstrokes to achieve a textured look. If you look closely at their back feather they have little white dots with black surrounds on a grey, cream/brown mottled background.

Step 5: Eyes & Dark Streaks

Add black streaks radiating from the eyes to mimic the barn owl's distinct facial markings. Paint the eyes' irises with shades of dark brown or black. Adding a white highlight near the top of the eyeball to bring them to life.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Examine your painted barn owl figure for any touch-ups or adjustments. Ensure that all the features are well-defined.

Step 7: Seal the Artwork

Once your painted barn owl figure is completely dry (use a hair dryer the speed the process along if you're impatient like me!), apply a clear water based varnish to protect your masterpiece and really make the colours pop.

Barn owl right side view

Painting a ceramic bisque owl figure as a barn owl is a rewarding journey that allows you to capture the spirit of this magnificent nocturnal hunter. By following this step-by-step guide and infusing your creativity, you'll transform a simple ceramic figurine into a lifelike representation of the barn owl's captivating features. As you display your beautifully painted barn owl, you'll not only showcase your artistic accomplishment but also foster a deeper connection to the wonders of nature and the mesmerizing world of these majestic creatures.

Remember you don't have to paint it true to life. Below are some examples of how my customers have painted their barn owls:

Hand painted barn owl ceramic figure by ArtyPax customer


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