Owls are a fascinating bird. They can be elusive and have such a variety of sizes and expressions.
I’ve captured the Burrowing Owl as a handmade art print before, but I am often asked whether I have any owl art cards. After being asked again this week, I figured it was time to create one.
My card is based on a photo I took at a Canmore (Alberta) event The Festival of Eagles we attend each fall. Rescue birds from Alberta Birds of Prey Centre are brought to our town to give people a great up-close look at the birds.
Since I am creating the card in black and white, the challenge with this card is to capture all the different textures of the Great Horned Owl’s feathers with simple line work, without it looking too busy.
To start, I sketch the bird on a piece of tissue paper, then use a very simple transfer method to get the drawing on the block. I draw with a very dark pencil (4B-6B) to sketch the bird, then lay the tissue drawing face-down on the block. Using a bone folder, I trace over the back of the drawing, and the graphite easily transfers (in reverse) to the block.
I use a variety of carving tools (small & medium V-tools and a U-gouge) to make the art.
Here is the fully carved block, before inking. (Click to see it bigger.)
Next, it’s time to ink the block and start printing cards. Here is a video of that process from my Instagram account.
Once inked, the cards are placed on my art studio clothesline to dry, held in place by bamboo clothes pegs. This can take several days, but it’s been very hot and dry in Canmore the last several weeks, so the upside is that my prints are drying a lot faster this summer!
The next step in the process is preparing the cards for distribution. I hand-sign every card, plus fold it and package it by hand in my art studio. Each card (blank inside) is matched with a white envelope, then placed in an acid-free wrapper. My cards are sold by me online, but also by local stores like Canmore’s Cafe Books and Le Chocolatier.
As much as I love creating, there is something really satisfying about sending my art out into the world.
Here is the final hand-printed card “Great horned Owl”.