The Owl In The Cemetery

Day 27 - #WorldWatercolorGroup The Owl In The Cemetery Watercolor - #doodlewash

As I’ve mentioned a couple of times before, I live in the middle of the city on the edge of a historic cemetery with large mature trees. The view is really beautiful and all the windows of our row home overlook it. Recently, a large owl has taken up residence there and I often see him when glancing out the window in the early morning and evenings. At night, you can hear his signature “hoo… hoo…” just outside the bedroom window. Thankfully, it’s just a few times and not something incessant and creepy that’s happening all night long, but it’s a notable change. The previous “neighbors” were far quieter since all of them have been deceased for quite some years. Ancient cultures saw the owl as a wise ruler of the night who could see souls, often helping spirits move on to the next place. This has also given the owl some ominous associations with death, but it’s mostly just a symbol of transition. Some say, it’s a signal that change is near.

Though Philippe and I find the presence of the owl rather fascinating, our little dog Phineas is not amused. While heading back to the house after a walk, he’ll hear the hoots from the owl and then perk up his basenji ears for a moment before making a mad dash for the front door to get inside. This might seem a bit spooky since dogs are said to sense things we can’t, but he’s generally always suspicious and easily spooked by anything that changes his routine. To be honest, we’re not entirely sure if he’s scared or just pissed off, but we find ourselves reasurring him that he has nothing at all to fear from the dreaded “hoo hoo monster.” He doesn’t seem entirely convinced, but has grown more used to the idea of the new inhabitant outside the window. Though it makes me think, since nearly all myths and legends associated with owls say they’re a source of wisdom, one does has to wonder what sort of secrets he might be keeping.

Like most things, I simply find the stories that cultures have created for owls fascinating. It’s intriguing to think the owl showed up as a wise harbinger to signal that change is on the horizon. At the very least, there’s just one more day of this month of natural beauty to go before beginning a brand new adventure! It’s always exciting to start a new month and I hope you’ll be joining me for whatever comes next. Change is what keeps life interesting and I love how it helps keep my mind busy with the fun of learning something new. I don’t yet have a clue what I’ll be painting and writing about in March as it’s theme-free at the moment, but I’m excited to find out what happens next. I’m still learning a lot in this art journey and have so much more to discover. But with practice and dedication, I’ll continue to learn and, who knows, maybe one day I’ll actually feel as confident and wise as the owl in the cemetery.

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Red Orange, Indian Yellow, Olive Green, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon with black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
Day 27 - #WorldWatercolorGroup The Owl In The Cemetery Watercolor - #doodlewash
Profile photo of Charlie O'Shields
Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!
Published in By Charlie
49 Comments
  1. Chris Alves 4 months ago

    Lovely owl Charlie, he looks so wise.

  2. Curious to the Max 4 months ago

    Fabulous!

  3. Laura (PA Pict) 4 months ago

    Fantastic painting, Charlie. That eye in particular is glorious. As a cemetery enthusiast, I’m rather envious of you living on the edge of a cemetery.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Laura! 😃💕 Awww cool! So many people seem to think it’s a bit creepy. Lol But it’s really beautiful.

  4. Jodi 4 months ago

    Holy Schmoly! This is an awesome one! That eye! The feathers! The gorgeous background! How do you get the background so close to the owl so smoothly?

    • Author

      Awww thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕 I actually painted the background first and to form the final shape of the owl, like the ear and to the left of the face. Background got kind of muddier than I wanted as I tried to blend it and darken it so it didn’t have a halo effect.

      • Jodi 4 months ago

        Great job!

  5. Margaret Parker Brown 4 months ago

    Gorgeous Owl Charlie! Especially those eyes! Yes, how did you get that background so close to the owl?

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Margaret! 😃💕 I did the background color first to make the contours of the owl. I think wanted to darken it and when back in… got a bit muddy and realized the paper couldn’t handle another layer… 😊 hehe… but hadn’t tried a dark background with a light subject before so it was a big experiment!

  6. Bill Jackson 4 months ago

    Uncanny timing! I was just reminding my sibling of the owl in Sword In the Stone!
    Nice job on the eye Charlie. And the pooch may have gotten wind of the northwest myth of the owl which flew off with the family dog!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Bill! 😃💕 Yay… love Sword In The Stone! Lol… yeah, I’m sure Phineas got wind of that one. Though I’m sure a really small dog would be wise to worry still.

  7. Sharon Nolfi 4 months ago

    Beautiful eye – luminous and surely a window to this owl’s soul.

  8. berolahragageneral4 4 months ago

    Beautiful painting

  9. berolahragacomblog 4 months ago

    Awesome..

  10. GeorgieMoon 4 months ago

    Wonderful painting! I love the way the background looks blurry. The feather details are gorgeous.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Georgie! 😃💕 Glad you liked this one. Actually the background is an unintended side effect of my paper dying because it didn’t really want to take another wash of color and some desparate towel blotting! hehe But it made for a cool effect I can now never replicate. 😊

  11. Great eye Charlie, maybe that’s why your phineas is scared…’he’s watching you, your every move’!….he looks too nice to be scary, majestic birds, so graceful 😀

  12. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 4 months ago

    Your owl is handsome and looks like he’s watching over you. Maybe Phineas is a bit jealous of another creature also standing guard over you and Phillipe. Owls are absolutely wonderful birds, and I love hearing them in our neighborhood. We’ve never been able to spot one but they do live nearby. I love that their eyes are centered on their faces unlike most other birds whose eyes are on the sides of their heads. Though they are carnivores, they clean the area of pests, always a good thing in my book. And though they don’t sing, they certainly have a distinctive call. I’m terrified of the dark (I’m terrified of just about everything) but the soft sound of owls hooting makes me feel safe.

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Sharon! 😃💕 Glad you liked him. Yeah, Phineas is probably jealous… he really does need to be the center of attention. And I agree… owls have a calming quality to their hoots… it’s a pleasure to have them so close!

    • The Goose 4 months ago

      I wish you could hear my hollers at dusk, I have 5 barn owls that make awesome, yet startling songs. Not just a hoo, hoo, hooo, ho, but all kinds of crazy howah howah ha ha ha’s back and forth. Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to grow up in the country.

  13. memadtwo 4 months ago

    It’s good to have birds keeping an eye out for you. And owls are magical, always a positive as well. This one is definitely looking ahead…I think he sees good things! (K)

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Kerfe! 😃💕 I think so too! Well… I tend to always be impossibly positive, so there’s that. But I do think good changes are coming!

  14. rubiescorner 4 months ago

    Beautiful thoughts, and a lovely painting.

  15. Jacob 4 months ago

    Oh, he looks so charming and thoughtful! Great job. You can certainly see why they were so commonly associated with wisdom and knowing. You’re lucky to have them so close by – I’ve heard a few out and about, but don’t think I’ve ever actually spotted one!

    • Author

      Thanks so much, Jacob! 😃💕 Glad you liked this! This one is not shy at all… hehe… so easy to spot like he’s putting on a show. So cool to have there. Also there’s a little deer… but sadly… no seal or zonkey.

      • Jacob 4 months ago

        Aww, a deer too! Unfair! Have you ever doodlewashed a stag? I’m thinking you might have.

        A cemetery-dwelling seal would be quite something, wouldn’t it. I’ll remember that for when I write my will: a seal should guard my resting place at all times.

      • Author

        I did something like a stag… an elk maybe? There have been so many that even I can’t keep track anymore! lol There was that little dik-dik! But a seal would be a perfect. as a guard… I want that when I die!!

      • Jacob 4 months ago

        “There was that little dik-dik” Oh I don’t ever want to grow up.

      • Author

        Me either!! No fun at all!! Lol

  16. Phil Cooper 4 months ago

    beautiful markings on that owl , great painting Charlie, and i’m very envious of your owl in the neighbourhood, i’d love to hear that sound at night 🙂

  17. The Goose 4 months ago

    As an apprentice falconer and raptor lover, as well as an avid dog lover, I can tell you for certain that Phineas is scared of becoming this owls next meal.
    Great stories. Keep them coming! 🙂

  18. The Goose 4 months ago

    Doodlewash, have you ever considered selling a painting? Do you have website or facebook page with them? I’m looking for a Finnish Goshawk painting similar to your beautiful owl painting.

    • Author

      I sell some prints on Society6, but since I’m just practicing in a sketchbook, I don’t yet sell actual paintings except for the rare comission from friends. It’s something I’m considering for this year though! Hmmm… Finnish Goshawk… had to look it up… looks very cool!

  19. hmunro 4 months ago

    “Thankfully, it’s just a few times and not something incessant and creepy that’s happening all night long …” HA HA! Isn’t it funny how thin the line can be between “cool” and “kinda creepy”? At least we can say for certain that your beautiful painting falls squarely in the “cool” camp. Beautifully done. Charlie!

  20. […] words for this thing or that thing simply haven’t been invented yet. So we make them up. The owl in the nearby cemetery that torments our dog is referred to as the “hoo hoo monster,” because it just seems […]

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