I recently completed a sculpture of a beautiful snowy owl. The piece was commissioned by an existing client as a birthday gift for their partner, a Canadian wildlife photographer. One of his favourite subjects is the snowy owl. I used his personal photos, amongst other references, for the snowy owl sculpture.
I rarely sculpt birds, and usually only on commission, because despite their small size they take many hours of hours of work. Most of the birds I’ve sculpted have been specially commissioned trophies for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
We decided on a perched owl looking over her shoulder. We felt this created a very dynamic pose that fully exploited the three dimensional presence of sculpture in the room, which is always something I find very powerful. This angle also worked well with the plinth, for which I used a wedge of local slate.
Bird sculptures require a sensitive approach and very fine detailing. This snowy owl sculpture was no exception. I had to carefully model every tail and flight feather, which I combined with a more nuanced feathering for the head and body. I used a matt glaze apart from the gloss glazed bright yellow eyes.
The main sculpture is made out of my usual fortified porcelain but the talons, being so delicate, are modelled out of metal. As with all my animal sculpture commissions, I sent regular photo updates to my client. As well as keeping them updated, this affords a unique input into the creative process.
The snowy arrived safe and sound on Wednesday and we are both in awe of her. The detail is incredible, particularly on the wings. Thank you so much for such an amazing piece and all the hard work that went into it.
While working on this snowy owl sculpture in the early evening, my local tawny owls started hooting. I managed to capture this on video and share it with my client. At one point the owls were hooting so loudly, I think they must have been perched just outside my studio. I couldn’t help wondering if they could see their snowy cousin inside!