Whooo Loves You? A whimsical owl on canvas

This was definitely an art in progress—shaped from ideas that popped into my mind each step of the way.

I had a large canvas with an old painting on it that I had decided to scrap, so I spray painted over it in blue to make it look like the sky.

So, what to do with a canvas that looks like the sky? Why not mount a real tree branch on it.

I did just that by finding a loose branch that was the right size for the canvas, set it down into place, and used a pencil to draw a light outline of it on the canvas. Next, I used my smallest drill bit to drill tiny holes in a few strategic places on either side of the outline, where I would be using fine wire to secure the branch to the canvas. I found that the wire worked well enough to skip the need to use glue.

So, what to do with a canvas that looks like the sky and has a tree branch in the middle of it? Why not put a bird of some sort on it.

So I decided to make a great big bird out of clay. I sketched a rough picture of an owl in the approximate size that I wanted to make it. Then I mixed up some homemade flour/salt/water modelling dough that my daughter and I used to play with together when she was little (so easy… 2 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1 cup warm water—stir together, knead, then start making stuff!). I rolled out the dough, and following my sketch, used a small knife to cut out all the shapes I needed to make my owl.
As I cut the pieces, I set them on a baking sheet, then baked everything at 200 degrees for about three hours, until all the pieces were dry and hard. (The larger pieces baked longer than the small pieces.)

I took a break from this project for a few weeks because I had a couple of other projects I wanted to work on first. When I went back to it, it was time to paint all the owl pieces. I decided that I wanted to make it colourful and whimsical instead of realistic, so I picked out my acrylic paint colours and just jumped in with both feet, making up the colour combinations and design patterns as I went along. (Most of what I do isn’t very pre-planned—that’s what makes it fun to me. Some people wouldn’t want to work that way. Different strokes for different folks.)

Once all the pieces were painted, I used heavy-duty carpenter’s wood glue to affix them to each other. So far, so good.

So, what to do with a canvas that looks like the sky and has a tree branch and an owl on it? Why not incorporate the dried leaves I had tucked away in my craft cupboard. I laid them out on the canvas and got the idea to write positive words on them, as if spoken by the owl. I pictured this mixed media project as something a young child would enjoy—as a piece of art to hang in their room or even for display in a kindergarten classroom, and using words that are easy to read made sense.
So, what would this colourful owl say to a young child?
How about, “Whooo loves you? I do! I do!”
And that’s exactly what I painted in white and gold acrylic on each leaf after spraying them with a clear gloss preservative.

I wanted to make some kind of way to hang it on a wall, so I found a perfectly shaped tree branch (it’s funny how the nature supplies that I need always seem to be sitting right there on the ground in front of me, just when I need them!) that was just the right length. I stripped the old bark from it with a small knife.
Then I laid it against the top of the canvas, in the spot where I wanted to place it. I marked four dots on either side of the branch where I wanted to secure it to the canvas, then I used my small drill bit to drill holes on the marked spots where I planned to run wire.
Next, I ran thin but sturdy wire through the holes, wrapping it around the branch (as shown in photo) to secure it. The curved shape of the branch makes it perfect for hanging!

And that’s the story behind my latest project.


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