And what exquisite white heart-shaped faces barn owls have. Their eyes are deep pools of burnt sienna with black edges and murmurs of reflected light. Tones of pinks, ceruleans, ochres can be glimpsed beneath the snowy feathers which are wrapped in a bonnet of creamy caramel punctuated with white and black polka dots. Most surprising of all, their fierce beaks are a delicate shell pink! Unfortunately neither their looks nor their usefulness have been sufficient to ensure their futures; they are, of course, as endangered as the barns they depend upon. Jon and I have seen only one in the wild.
I could never have dreamt up such loveliness; I think most realist painters simply recognize it and then feel compelled to attempt to honour it wherever it is found. That's where our hearts reside.
Addendum: I emailed this to The Owl Foundation just to check if it looked my barn owl was correct; to my enormous delight, the reply simply said "We think it is Barnaby," as if they had guessed how important it is for me to paint the specific rather than the general, the individual rather than the group, that dear survivor rather than anyone else in the world. If you know anyone who might be interested in purchasing it from The Foundation, please contact me for price. Thanks.