Snowy Owl Irruption Watercolor Painting

March 03, 2018

Snowy Owl Irruption Watercolor Painting

I recently finished this watercolor, inspired by this year's snowy owl irruption (when snowy owls come south from the Arctic in large numbers). During irruptions they can be seen a lot further south than they normally appear, and often turn up on beaches, farms, and airports. Here in Maryland I've been able to watch 2 snowy owls near the Chesapeake Bay where I live.
I painted this Snowy Owl resting in the dunes of the beach, with shells, grasses, and a view of the ocean behind the dunes. I've been experimenting a bit with my illustration process by not using ink (or limiting it). Pretty happy with how this look turned out. 

Detail: a scattering of shells washed up in the tide: clams, moon snails, whelks, razor clams, scallops, mussels, and a skate case.

snowy owl irruption maryland
This is the owl that inspired the painting. I've been watching this snowy owl for the last couple of weeks out on a nearby farm here in Maryland. The dark barring, which I borrowed for my painting, is typical of a first year owl - which are usually the ones that travel south in irruption years.

snowy owl maryland
This photo is from when I first found her, on a favorite perch on top of a short pump house. She seemed more feline than bird to me, like a cat sitting on a roof. Feigned indifference, casual looks around and soft slow blinks with half closed eyes.

March 7, 2018 Update:
Lucky to have 2 snowy owls within 10 minutes of my house! This one has been roosting in a nearby marina and I finally got some shots last evening. It starts to get active at dusk and often sits on the boats and masts, getting ready to hunt for the night.

snowy owl marina

Prints are available in the shop:

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