I begin every wildlife painting with the animal’s eyes. I believe the intensity of the eyes expresses the tension between the warmth and harshness, kindness and cruelty of nature. Perhaps instinctively, I’m drawn to large-eyed creatures – especially owls – because I want the subjects of my paintings to look at the viewer as much as the viewer is looking at them. More importantly, I want the viewer to have an awareness that the subject is looking at them and to focus on its gaze. It’s sort of like gazing into the abyss and contemplating both the light and darkness there. My process involves a careful balance of technique and intuition, building up layers of oil paint to create depth, contrast, and character. Not every area will be detailed. I concentrate on the interplay of colors and forms, working to create a compelling focal point with increasing abstraction and negative space towards the edges of the painting.