A shadowy bird flew into my vision just inches from my headlight one night last week. I was unable to avoid hitting it. It was a screech owl, the smallest of the owls indigenous to Northwest Florida. I stopped to see if I could help it but the owl had been killed instantly. Needless to say, I was devastated. I knew I needed to honor it somehow.
I like to read interpretations of animal “energy”, or totem “medicine”, after interactions with wild animals. These energies are said to be present in the person experiencing the interaction before or because of the interaction, and can be used for affirmation or guidance in that person’s life. These descriptions are always positive. They are fun and encourage introspection, and are not meant to challenge anyone’s faith.
Owl is a symbol for wisdom, being able to “see” so much and so well, particularly in the night and at dusk and dawn when it is so difficult for us. Its flight is soundless, giving it an aura of invisibility. Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, was sightless in one eye; an owl rode on that shoulder so that Athena could see. It is said that people with owl energy cannot be deceived, because they see what others cannot. Owl people “see” right through others, to their ulterior motives. In “Owl Medicine” (Jamie Sams and David Carson), my encounter with Owl suggests that I use “keen, silent observation to intuit some life situation”.
On Sunday this week fellow artist and friend Leslie Kolovich (SUP Radio Show) came to my studio and we decided to honor the owl by making paintings. Before we got started, another couple of friends came by to look at my oil paintings and possibly purchase one, and then one said she would like to buy my as-yet-unpainted owl on the small 4″ x 4″ gessoboard that I was thinking of using for this project. Because I had chosen the subject, and because it was small, I did not feel the same pressures as I ordinarily would have for a commissioned piece. I started and finished the piece that afternoon while my friends went to the movies.
Meanwhile, using soft pastels on sand paper, Leslie produced a captivating rendition of an owl with magnificent eyes. It’s entertaining having Leslie in the studio. She often struggles with the blank paper, fretting and stewing over how to begin, and then she gets completely quiet, and I look up from my easel after a period of silence and she has another amazing work nearly completed! As she finishes it, she starts singing. Below is her completed soft pastel painting honoring Owl.