Fantasy oil painting “Owl messenger”

Original fantasy oil painting “Owl messenger” ©YueZeng

Initial thoughts

I love to paint owl. I have ink drawing, gouache painting and oil painting owls.

This time I want to challenge myself to paint an owl with its wings and body, not just a big face and partial body. I also want to put this owl into a story scene. Therefore I choose the castle background with dusk lighting. In fantasy fictions or movies, owls often take the responsibility of delivering message such as <Harry Potter>. So I give this wise bird a letter scroll and a ribbon and it becomes a messenger.

The ribbon is mainly for decoration because it would make the owl an easy target for bad guys if there were any. The idea is the bird can get rid of the ribbon without any problem.

Digital sketch

I practiced painting from monochrome in the digital drawing step. First of all I filled the layer with yellowish brown color. Then I built up light and dark between background and the owl messenger. Next, colors for every detail are only slightly deviated from the surrounding color. The bushes appear green only with this background. Every element in this piece has the same undertone in it.

The process is fun and highly efficient. I believe a lot digital artists do the same.

Digital sketch of fantasy oil painting “Owl messenger” ©YueZeng


I am planning for another owl painting. 😉 Maybe I can paint enough pieces for a calendar.


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My paintings are an outlet to express the imagination I have inside my head that I can not put into words. After trying many mediums, I always find myself coming back to paint and brushes. In my current artistic practice, I use oil paint and mainly create portraits of mythical creatures and animals transfixed in the shifting colours of seascapes and landscapes. There is a natural spirit and magic to these creatures and their energy draws me in. Choosing to paint these creatures as real living wildlife rather than abstractions, I use bold and vivid colours to express the imaginary intertwined with reality, finding magic between the seams. Using a saturated colour palette, I create bold and striking imagery, contrasted between foreground and background, subject and landscape, and light and darkness. Weaving their bodies and the surface of the landscape into each other through organic forms and flowing brush strokes, I find beauty, strength and innocence in these creatures that reflect my inner world.