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Close up of owl stains

I once collaborated with an owl which resulted in a very special painting called ‘Final Cut’. The blank canvas was stored in my attic where, unbeknown to me, the owls were breeding. The result was an owl-soiled canvas. Instead of replacing the canvas I felt strongly encouraged to work with the beautiful stains which reminded me of the petals of an Iris flower. So I started painting thin, transparent layers of petal over the owl stains.

Iris flower

As the ‘flower painting’ progressed I became aware of the shape of a human figure pushing forth out of the centre of the Iris. The bald head intrigued me until I realised that it was a bird’s head.

Figure with bird’s head

Up to this point I had been working on the bottom half of the painting only. I had no idea what I was going to paint in the top half. Discovering the bird’s head brought the answer : the Iris petals transformed into the wings of the bird which extended upward. They came together at the top, creating a pointed arch which suggested a sacred space.

The Final Cut

Stepping back from the painting, eventually, I became aware of overtones of The Phoenix Rising and a birthing. The fact that my collaborator, the owl, is a powerful symbol of transformation and ancient wisdom adds another layer to witnessing this birthing process.

What the creative process of this painting taught me:

  • Embrace ‘accidents’. Life always happens for me (the owl stains)

  • Often I have to take the first steps into a new direction in my life before the rest of the way is revealed. (Initially all I could see was a flower)


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