The Beginnings of Grey Owl


In the beginning all is possible. All is probable. I have wood, I have tools, I have desire, now to pick a project. Or better said, for the project to pick me!

I open my awareness and simply follow my curiosity to see where it leads.

My library is filled with delicious books on animals. I select a few and curl up on the couch with a hot cup of hazelnut coffee to indulge. After about an hour I discover my next piece (or so I assume since everything is subject to change).

A Great Grey Owl speaks to me and asks to be revealed. I pursue this inspiration further, finding photos and tidbits of Grey Owl information. This playful journey reveals images, facts, stories, and even a writer who called himself Grey Owl and spoke on conservation of wildlife in the 1930’s.

Finally an image manifests itself in my imagination. I pull out the sketchbook and begin to explore lines and form. What is the overarching energy of this artwork and how can I best support and communicate this.

Every piece of art is a story. As the artist it is my job to communicate and tell it visually, using all the materials, elements, structures, and skills at my disposal. My preliminary sketches are rough but will tell me what I need for the next step, which will be the search for reference material.


I pull out my books on owl anatomy, coloring, feathers, etc.,  then head to Google images to find the photographs that will help me construct my image and make it realistic.

Nine photographs make the cut. I work them into a composite image that will form the basis, along with my sketch, of the final artwork. Today I will select the wood, evaluate grain patterns and decide on layout and positioning of the final image. Hopefully I will burn the eyes before night comes.

Burning the eyes is critical for me. The eyes are the windows to the soul. I connected with Grey Owl for a reason, there is much to learn from him. But in order to do this I need to create an energetic connection. Once the eyes are burned in, the piece is alive and the Subject itself will direct me in the process.

Call it imagination or call it shamanism – however you name it – I know that it forms a bond with me and I can hear Owl think, I can feel the cold wind between his feathers, I can hear the rustling beneath the hard packed snow beneath his powerful talons, I can listen to what this amazing bird has to teach me and what he wishes to teach you.

So as I finish my work on the computer gather my references and sketches, sand the wood and prepare to begin, I say a prayer of thanks to Great Spirit for the inspiration and release my expectations to the cold December wind. I am here for the ride and I’ve been doing this long enough to know that this piece may die an early death (it may never reach completion) and that is okay.

This moment is enough.

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