Let’s Paint a Great Horned Owl!

Last month at the art fair, my hubby had the chance to take a picture of a great horned owl that was being displayed by a naturalist. How beautiful and majestic!


Let’s have some fun by trying something new….

We are going to paint the owl on velour paper. Velour paper feels like suede and comes in a variety of colors. It cannot handle many layers of pastel so go lightly. I am using Carbothello pastel pencils with a light sketchy stroke.


Step 1: Using  a dark gray pastel pencil, draw in the basic shape and features. This is your road map. Don’t worry about being perfect, you can always cover something up if you need to. If you ever have the chance to try velour paper, do so, it is so much fun to run the pastel on the velvety surface…..ohhh…ahhh.


Step 2: Fill in the browns and reds. I especially love the orange/red in the great horned owl and if I love it so much, I may just exaggerate it! Why not!


Step 3: Now fill the owl in with a dark purple and dark blue. In my picture it really looks black, however, if you use black pastel it will look really flat and lifeless. Try to stay away from pure black and pure white in whatever medium you use. It will help keep your subject looking fresh. Also, notice I’m not covering the whole paper. I’m leaving some of the gray velour paper to show through. This makes the subject feel not so heavy.


Step 4 final: POW POW POW! Wow, do you see how this picture comes to life when we start adding bright light colors? In this step I used the lightest gray (almost looks white) for his chest, on his talons, a few feathers here and there, and just a bit on his head. I used an orange for the base color of the eye and then highlighted it with a bright yellow. I went crazy and added a few touches of blue and even hot pink. Yesssss!

“Seeking Owl”
pastel on velour

I hope you enjoyed this free quick step by step pastel demonstration on how to paint a great horned owl!

To purchase the original click here, it will bring you to the available pastels for sale page.

To purchase a print or greeting card, click the box:

Sell Art Online


  1. Great work to the both of you! I am adding this to my “Art to Do List”
    Velour paper with pastels. Wow, I am excited.
    Owls, I love the eyes and their mysterious ways.

  2. Lana: Thanks! I love them too, wish I could run in to them in the woods though…they are so hard to find!
    Carol: Yes, they have the biggest eyes! I wish I can find them more in the wild. Thanks!

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