Michael Shapcott "The Girl and the Owl" Juxtapoz Ad for  Urban Muse

Thanks to Urban Muse, my painting "The Girl and the Owl" is featured in this month's Juxtapoz! It's my first major appearance in the magazine, I'm psyched, and I'd love to share a little about the piece with you all. 

The owl is traditionally a symbol of the feminine, the moon, grace, wisdom, mystery, and the night - symbols women have also been long associated with. The barn owl in particular has a heart-shaped face which reflects the ability to link the heart and the mind, another characteristic women can be identified with. I wanted to create a piece where the girl and the owl mirrored one another, both sharing this same spirit in two different bodies.

I started the piece with a detailed drawing on a canvas I primed with gesso. I wanted the girl and owl's expressions to mimic one another and I put the owl in the girl's lap so it's heart-shaped face rested just in front of her own heart. Many owls lay their eggs in the forks of trees and and so I placed them in the V of two branches of a tree with the yellow flowers symbolizing a nest-like atmosphere. I liked how there were layers of enveloping - the owl cradled by the girl and them both cradled by the tree branches.

Michael Shapcott "The Girl and the Owl" paintingMichael Shapcott "The Girl and the Owl"  UnderdrawingPainting is really intuitive for me and I don't plan anything ahead of time so I just ran with the emotion of the piece and began the painting process by splattering and freely smearing bold colors on the figures. As the painting progressed, I started to get clearer urges and went with purple tones for the background to suggest a dawn or a dusk time of day. I think of that in-between time as a great symbol of the melding of two things - night and day, human and animal, the tame and the wild, birth and death. I painted markings on her face to suggest a warrior, a tribal or an ancient quality that I felt reflected strength and soul and the bond we have with all living things.

This was a really important piece in my progression as an artist. Not only was it enjoyable to plan and bring to fruition but I feel like it was a good step in bringing more of a composition and story back into my work.   

Thanks for reading a little bit about the painting and thanks again to Curt from Urban Muse for showcasing the piece.

- Michael Shapcott -