This night drawing of a screech owl tried to KICK MY BUTT.

It didn’t even wait til it was a night drawing. It started right away.


In my previous post, Comparing 4 Colored Pencil Papers, I tried out some different ones in full drawings, and this one was SUPPOSED to be the one for Daler Rowney Smooth Heavyweight. 
Cutest little photo of a screech owl! The drawings were going to be just the birds for all these, so I could finish the project at some point, but that I could at least test out the paper enough to figure out what I thought of it.

Right away this paper fought me. It doesn’t like getting dark very quickly at all. Also, note that you’re looking at these photos from very close up, and all pencil can look kinda messy with your nose pressed against the paper….don’t judge your drawing til you look at it from a few feet away asi if hanging on a wall.

I worked on this during this month’s Open Studio Zoom, and the attendees got to hear my constant griping about the paper fight. LOL! Yeah, Zoom is where things get real, and it’s why I rarely do live streams anywhere, nobody needs to know how grumpy I get if art supplies don’t work! I went the powdered-pencil-plus-blending-solution route and darkened it for a night scene but….it was going to need far more work than I had time for before the video was to go live.

This drawing was set aside and I drew some happy little baby birds…..less real estate to cover, lighter values to render. However – I wasn’t about to let this owl get away and tell me it defeated me.

Nuh uh. 

No way.

You are not kicking my butt!

Tutorial: How to Approach a Night Drawing (Screech owl)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Feathers n fronds

The owl’s feathers needed to go much darker; when going powdered pencil crazy I softened all of it, and had to dive in deep with some blacks; some because markings were black, some because the grey was dark enough I needed a more absolute black with more pigment than my scrap of a Prismacolor had to offer. Luminance to the rescue. 

The moss was something I’ve never tried before in colored pencil, and honstly I want to try it again after all I’ve learned from this experiment. It needed more preplanning than I had done here, clearly, and a paper that would allow me to put the darks down then pop lights on the tips. Nonetheless, even thought it looks messy close up, I was liking the distant view.

Both areas could handle a little light pencil on top of those layers, but nothing had a real pop of white, which would have been nice. (Looking at you with love, Pastelmat…) Remember when creating a night scene that you want to be dramatic, make the moonbeam limited–let it go from really bright light to midtones and darks quickly, so in an area like the chest, which is white, it went to blues fast to keep the focus up on the face.

Partially lit twigs

When light bounces around, it’ll add highlights to things like nearby twigs, but they aren’t as brightly lit as the main beam of moonlight – so the highlights are less, and usually picking up colors in the scene nearby. These twigs were far too sharp and were trying to steal attentin, along with the mosses behind them – and I ended up cotton-balling them so they softened and darkened.


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Photographing pencil is hard

lest you think it’s just you – it’s not easy to take photos of pencil. Graphite or colored pencil, same same. The surface is reflective, and if you have enough light around to see by, you get a shine on the surface, whether with a phone or camera. Since my phone is also dying, add that to the troubles!

This drawing is much more elegant in the transitions of value and softness….here’s one view on my desk from overhead…it amps up the colors and sharpens edges on my phone. Bleh. 

And then on the other side of the room away from sunlight, and though color is more accurate it doesn’t capture the softness of the branches. 

In my shop

I posted all my birds in the shop yesterday and sent an email to the suscribers over there on my fine art site….if they’re still available, snag one quick if you want it. The Kingfisher  sold within just a few hours last weekend!

Get your World Watercolor 
Month swag before it runs out!


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