Jan. 2012 6

Paint-along: Owl Clock

A while back I showed you a sketch for what would become my first paint-along project. I’ve had this done and sitting above my fireplace for a while now, but I just haven’t gotten around to putting together a post. As a note, you don’t have to make this into a clock. Make it a cute painting with what ever colors you want. It will look great in any house. Or print out the owls small and make little personal paintings as gifts to friends.  This is a beginner level painting for sure, just about anyone can do it. I promise! It only seems long because I explained the steps as I went.

First a word about my painting style. For the most part, I blend on canvas. There are only 2 parts of this tutorial that require this technique, but it’s easy to follow along. Secondly, I almost exclusively paint with craft paint. I know it is a little taboo not to use “real acrylics” but craft paint is way cheaper and I’m used to it now. I typically buy what ever is on sale, but just don’t buy the ‘gloss’ ones. And lastly, I buy cheap paint brushes. I tend to buy the multipacks that come with a variety of sizes. I recommend getting a basic one (like this one that I own) and a thin line brush set (like this) to start out with. And for this painting, you’ll need a large brush, around 2″.


So here’s what you’ll need:

-16×20 canvas, primed

-Clock kit

- Balsa wood: 1 square (or round piece) ½” thick. And 1 long piece cut to length to fit just inside the canvas stretchers

- Scissors

- Large Brush (about 2″ wide)

- Detail/thin line brush

- Small brushes

-Angle Brush (optional)

Paint Colors:


-Dark Brown



-Light Blue

-Light Purple

-Skintone/light peach





The Background:

1. Take your large brush and dip it a little bit of water. Then dip it lightly into the light blue paint.

2. You are going to take long strokes, the length of the canvas, with the blue paint. By adding the water, you are giving it a more translucent and layered look. Streaks of lighter and darker blues are good. But for the first coat, it should be pretty light over all. Let dry (use a hairdryer to speed this up)

First Coat

Second Coat

3. Now you are going to do the same exact thing, just a second coat. Let dry completely.

4. Tracing the birds: (the following is PC based, sorry Mac people)

4.1 Right click on the images below

4.2 Click “Save Images As”

4.3 Navigate to where you want your images to be saved, in this case the desktop, and save the image

4.4 Now, right click the file icon, select “Open With” and then select Paint

4.5 In paint, go to “File” then “Page Set up”

4.6 In the bottom right corner check “fit to 1 by 2”. This will expand the image to a larger size.

4.7 Print. Cut and take the image together so it is one complete Owl.

4.8 For this step you can use normal pencil, but charcoal works amazingly better. Cut the owl out close to the outline. Cover the back with charcoal.

4.9 Place the owls on the drawing where you’d like them. Tape with painters tape or with scotch tape.

4.10 Trace with a pencil. This will transfer the image to the canvas.

5. Now for the branches. I added a little bit of cream to the brown to make a slightly lighter shade of brown. This way, it won’t blend in too much with the owl. Using the Medium brush, free hand the branch so that it goes across the page and under the owl’s feet. Add some smaller branches if you want. While the light brown is still wet, add some dark brown to the lower side of the branches. Blend on canvas.

Light brown

Add dark brown


6. Now it is simple “color by number” so to speak. Here’s a break down of what goes where. You’ll want to mostly use the small brushes and maybe the angle brush for filling in the spots. You’ll probably need multiple coats of each, which can be time consuming. Make sure in between coats, you let the paint dry, otherwise you’ll just smug off the old paint.

7. Now comes time for the outlining. I know it seems scary but there are two tricks to this that will make your life way easier. First, use a long skinny brush and long slow strokes. This will make a nice smooth line. Secondly, add just a little water to the paint to thin it out. Thick clumpy paint will hinder you in making a nice line.


Sign your painting! It’s your work of art



To add the clock:

- Cut a hole in the center of the owl’s tummy large enough that the shaft of the clock and get through.

- Hold your long piece of balsa behind the canvas. Using a marker, go through the hold in the tummy and mark the balsa wood

- Glue your ½” piece of balsa to the long piece on the opposite side of the board from where you just marked (so you can still see the mark)

- Now you are going to drill through all of your balsa wood, at that hole location. You’ll want to use a bit that is large enough that you can slide the clock shaft through easily.

- Mount your balsa wood to the back of the canvas, I used hot glue and it worked just fine.

- Install clock according to kit directions.



Done!!! How beautiful!

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