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Tawny Owl with Blue Tits by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "Mob Rules"
17 x 17"
Acrylic on Board
Tawny Owl with Blue Tits

How to Buy

“Mob Rules” is a painting that has been in my head for years, and I am very excited to finally be able to bring it into being. All of us have observed, at one time or another, songbirds mobbing a much larger bird. I see it frequently here in Arizona, where gutsy little house finches and sparrows routinely dive-bomb ravens and even hawks to warn them from their territory and keep them away from their young. I’ve never been fortunate enough to see songbird mobbing an owl, but it is an image that has been in my head since five-years-of-age when I watched Disney’s Bambi. Early in the film, a flock of chittering birds circles the head of the wise old owl until he shouts “Hoo!” and they fly away; little did I appreciate at the time that the animators were not describing something fanciful, but rather an actual behavior. I have been very excited about UK song birds ever since my first visit to England in 2012. It is a phenomenon that other bird-lovers will understand entirely, that when one enjoys both birds and travel, one can be surprised and delighted even by that which may be quite common and even mundane to jaded locals. As common a visitor as they may be to backyard bird feeders, I still can’t take the acid yellows, indigo blues, and lime-peel greens of the Blue Tit for granted. I initially intended to have the owl in this piece mobbed by a group of mixed songbirds, likely Goldfinches, Long-Tailed Tits and Blue Tits, but as the piece progressed, I decided to err on the side of a simpler composition and a more reductive color palette.

I encountered the Tawny Owl at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Newant. His puffed-up chest, languidly opening and closing eyes, and stern little face instantly made him the right subject matter for my long conceptualized but never realized “Mobbing” painting. Several years earlier I did a small series of UK bird paintings called “The Green Tunnel.” In these pieces, songbirds appear suspended in the middle of a wreath of greenery inspired by driving down densely hedge-rowed and tree shadowed country lanes in the Cotswolds. Here, I chose to show a bare-branched grape vine wreath, but the warm greens of the background still suggest surrounding green-gold growth of Spring. It is a fittingly regal roost for the owl, symbolically associated with wisdom and insight. Indeed the centrality and rough symmetry of the image creates a feeling almost reminiscent of an altarpiece. In the context, the Blue Tits could be cherubim wielding sensors, or alternately, chattering children disrupting the quietude of Nature’s church.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
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