Art Elements February Theme Challenge - Birds of Prey

The Art Elements theme challenge this month is hosted by Cathy, who selected Birds of Prey as the theme. I honestly didn't really know the definition of a bird of prey. Cathy wrote:

Birds of prey are described as a species of bird that primarily hunts & feeds on vertebrates that are rather large in relation to the size of the bird itself. These birds have keen eyesight and can spot their prey from a long range. They have strong feet with sharp talons to capture their prey and they have curved beaks for tearing at flesh. 

I already have a few owl components in my collection, including two Anne Choi beads. However, I really want to continue with carving for each theme and we just got a puppy and omg it's like having a newborn with sharp needle teeth, no diapers, that gallops full throttle for hours on end. I can only get things done when I put her in her crate or she passes out from sheer exhaustion. I spend her crate time either getting basic chores done or getting desperately needed sleep. However, after a rigorous training session, she was out cold on the towel for muddy paws even though there was a dog bed like 5 feet away. 



So I spent the time finally executing my linocut idea for the theme. I decided I wanted to do a bird I see quite frequently. We live outside city limits, in a suburb that is in the midst of Amish farms. Our neighborhood also has lots of mature trees. Our yard has about 10 large shagbark hickory trees.  We have Cooper's Hawks patroling our neigborhood for treats on a regular basis. When we first built our home in 2006, we were one of the first houses in the neighborhood. It felt a lot more "wild" back then (I miss those days!) The kids each had guinea pigs and would clean their cages outside, with the guinea pigs sitting in the grass. One day I noticed a Cooper's Hawk watching the guinea pigs intently from the top of one of the large hickories. I put the wire enclosure over them to protect them in case that big scary bird swooped down. The guinea pigs just kept peacefully munching grass. The kids were stressed and quickly finished the very much despised cage cleaning chore so they could get the piggies back inside quickly. I took photos that day, but it's been like 10 or 11 years ago and there's no way I'm going to try to find them. Sorry. So I did an carving of it instead. 

Here's the initial sketch:


Progress photo: 


More progress: 


Inking up with stamp pad for the first look at what I had so far:

First (and only) trial run of the carving so far: 

I'm pretty happy with it so far. It's not done as it still needs a lot of clean-up and I haven't decided what I'm going to do with the sky yet; whether I will leave it solid or put in some kind of pattern to indicate sky. Doing a sky was my initial plan, but I kind of like it solid. However, changing my mind is super easy. It's always possible to carve out more...

So that's it for this month. If I get this done in the next day or two I'll update my blog post with additional photos. In the meantime, go see what everyone else did with the theme.

Here is the list of all guests and team members who have been busy creating their contribution to the Birds of Prey theme. Go visit and leave comments on their creations!
















Team Members: 




Jen <---you are here











This is both very cool and a little sad for me to see because I remember something similar from our very small local zoo. It's near the woods and we've had several hawks for guests over the years. Not all of our guinea pigs were as lucky as yours.
Your image of the guinea pig is so perfect!

Jennifer Cameron

Aww. That is sad. Poor piggies. They’re so cute and docile. They just want to munch.

Susan Kennedy

Oh, what a cute idea to take that memory and turn it into a lino print! So creative!

Jennifer Cameron

Thanks Sue!

Cathy Mendola

That is so cool!! I love how the guinea pig really stands out in the forefront. Your carving skills are amazing! I can't wait to see you do some printing with this.

Jennifer Cameron

Thanks! I’m hoping I have time and energy to finish it this weekend. A lot depends on my neck. For some reason carving kills my neck more than anything else I do ☹️


That's really cool.. I can feel the tension! I really like the sky dark, and the bird as a shadow too, it gives it a moody atmosphere.

Jennifer Cameron

Thanks! I could technically see the markings on the bird at the time, but he (or she) was probably 60ft up on a tree and in my mind it made more sense to have it be small and backlit by the sun, appearing in shadow, watching over the piggie.

Hope Smitherman

I'm so glad you were able to eke in a little time to carve! Your story and the carving are delightful. It reminds me of a story we have about a bird of prey (I can't remember if it was a hawk or an owl now) swooping to get a friend's small dog once. Fortunately, our friend was observant too! Enjoy the puppy stage before she gets too big!

Jennifer Cameron

I’m glad the pup was saved from the bird. My husband works in Montana about 1 week a month and one time saw a bald eagle swoop down and take a duck. He was amazed.

Lindsay Starr

I know this is about the raptors, but I love the piggie! The whole stamp carving process blows my mind. I am NO GOOD at subtractive sculpting or carving. it's just now how my brain works.

Jennifer Cameron

I totally struggle with it too. I have to really think about it before I start and make notes on what stays and what goes or it gets really confusing!

Lesley Watt

Pretty impressed that you managed anything with that cutie in residence...your print is very cool.


Your puppy is just too adorable, and that's reason enough to not get anything done even if she weren't keeping you on your feet all day. :)
Your carving is excellent! The trial print could pass off for a horror movie poster - it draws a sense of unease in us, the viewer, who expect something bad to happen to the the guinea pig, who, as the protagonist, eventually ends up unscathed. ;) (Is my imagination running too wild?)


Jen, after seeing the social media sneak peeks, I now know the story behind your carving. I'm glad all the little piggies survived and hope they continued to, under the hawks' watchful eyes :) . Can't wait to see if you detail the sky or not, tho it looks great as is with all the detail. Puppy's adorable!
I wonder if the Hawk is my Spirit Bird ... one day last year I was in the bathroom (ahem) and a shadow appeared in the window. It was a hawk (don't know what kind) that sat out there on the Crepe Myrtle for the longest time. No pond there, just the row of trees in between the two houses ...


Your puppy is adorable! He also needs to be part of a carved stamp one day! I love how you are storytelling with your stamp and can't wait to see the final piece! It already looks really great! You could also make a stamp with different parts out of it so you could stamp it with different colors?

Laney Mead

I like the sky solid it makes the guinea pig really stand out and feels much more dramatic. Totally in love with puppy too ;)

Tammy Adams

Love the story about the guinea pigs. And I am so impressed with your spatial skills in carving the details. I struggle to figure out which parts to leave and which to remove. I conceptually understand what leads to which effect in print, but then i develop a sort of dyslexia about it when it comes to carving. The design is awesome and I look forward to seeing what you do wth it once you decide.

Beth McCord

Love the image of the sleeping puppy - they are so fun and exhausting at this stage.
I love seeing the process of carving - I just don't have the knack for it. I can't see the picture through the process and it just comes out one big mess.
I think I like the idea of the sky left solid - but that is always up to the artist :)

Linda M Landig

I adore your little puppy. Is she a golden? Your description of a baby with claws and no diapers made me laugh! I enjoyed hearing your story of the piggies and that hawk. The piggie looks so real, I can almost hear those funny little squeaky sounds they make. Hope to get a change to see it when it is done.


I love your carving Jen! That poor guinea pig has no idea what it's in for... Oh Puppy!!! She is going to love you to pieces :)

Rozantia Petkova

I love the idea and the Guinea pig is strikingly recognizable on the inked pad! A very unique take on the inspiration!


I really thought this story was going to end very differently! You print is fab - the drawing of the G. pig was perfect. I look forward to a year of monthly prints!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To help us prevent spam, please prove you're human by typing the words you see here.