Here's the start of my latest painting; a portrait of a barred owl, size is 8"x10". I am using acrylics on Ampersand Aquabord. Earlier this year, I painted a similar piece for a miniature art show. When I was working on the miniature, I thought to myself that I'd love to revisit this piece and paint a similar one in a larger format. Since I didn't want to repaint the exact same piece, I chose a similar but different pose from my reference photos.
I started by lightly sanding a little of the texture from the Aquabord. The Aquabord comes already primed with a textured surface similar to that of watercolor paper. However, it comes with a little more texture than I'd like so a light sanding does the trick. I then tinted the board a medium gray color.
After lightly sketching the owl in, I started painting some of the background in the upper left-hand corner. I want to keep the background loose and abstract, keeping the focus on the beauty of the owl. For the background effect, I apply the acrylic like a watercolor wash; I dampen the surface a little and when the paint touches the surface the colors softly blend together. I then add playful drips and spatters.
With the owl, I started working on the eyes first. This is the most important part of the painting; realistically capturing the barred owl's deep, dark, soulful eyes. I worked the eyes to near completion. I then radiated out from the eyes loosely blocking in the owl's feathers.