Golden Eagle Pyrography Art wood burning


I’m very fortunate in that I have several zoos and wildlife refuges fairly close to me that I can visit to get reference photos for my artwork.  A lot of times I head out with the intent to get photos of a particular animal, but end up with something completely different.   That was the case with the photo excursion.  I wanted a wolf picture, but they didn’t cooperate.   At least the trip wasn’t wasted I got an awesome shot of a golden eagle.   This blog is going to discuss the creation of my Golden Eagle pyrography artwork.  

I included a pattern I created for this artwork, but this is not a tutorial styled blog.   Don’t let that deter you from trying to create the artwork.  The pattern is at the end of the blog.   

To view a time lapse video of the artwork being created, click on the thumbnail to the left.

There is reader submitted art at the bottom of the blog, so please check that out.



If you’ve read many of my blogs and/or tutorials, you already know that I almost always burn in the eye, or eyes, first.   In this photo I’ve got the pupil done and I’m working on the dark cast shadows from the eye ridge.






Here I’m finishing up the eye.  I still have to tone down the white reflections in the eye, but I’m happy with how the eye turned out.






With the eye completed, I started to work on the major features near the eye.  So this means the area right around the eye and the beak.





I tend to bounce around the artwork as I burn in some of the dark lines that help define the shape of the animal.






One thing that has been eye-opening for me was discovering just how much I bounce around when I’m burning.   I’ve watched videos of some amazingly talented artist who start in a small area, complete the area and the final artwork flows from that area.  Not me.  I weave around like a drunk trying to walk a straight line.   But, if nothing else, it demonstrates that there isn’t one set way to create art.




In this photo I’m continuing to bounce around developing the artwork in bits and pieces. I promise, I’m sober during this.  🙂






This artwork presented a new challenge for me due to the size of the artwork and subsequent feather size.  I’m used to working much smaller, so I really struggled for a bit as I tried to figure out the best pen stroke for rendering the feathers along the head.





One of the reasons I do bounce around is that if I encounter an area I’m unsure what to do, I just move onto another area.   So that’s what happened here.  I was struggling with the feathers on the crown, so I moved to the feathers along the neck.




Continued work on the neck feathers.






I’m back to working on the crown and trying out long pen strokes.  An advantage of burning lightly, as I am, is that you can fix bad experiments a lot easier.   I can either gently ‘erase’ by scraping and/or sanding the area or I can burn darker over it.




Continued work on the crown.  At this point I’ve gotten the stroke I needed down, but I’m still keeping the color fairly pale as this type of eagle has a ‘golden’ patch on their head and neck that is considerable lighter than the surrounding feathers.





In this photo I’m starting to work on the feathers below the golden neck feathers.




The feathers shifted in color and size as they transition from the back of the neck to the front.  In this photo I’m working on the transition zone where they shift from golden to dark brown.




Here I’m working on the small dark ruffled feathers on the front of the neck.  They reminded of me how you burn hair in pyrography.  You don’t burn individual strands, but instead burn bands.  Or I guess you could think of it as burning a really, really thick strand of hair.




Continued work.






With the head roughed in, I started burning the feathers on the back.  I say roughed-in as I tend to re-work and fine tune areas several times before I’m happy.  The head was no exception to this.




Continued work on the back feathers.






This photo shows how I used a white charcoal pencil to mark the center vein and then burn around it.






Continued work burning around the charcoal vein line.






The feathers on the back of the eagle were tedious for me to burn, so I worked on the shoulders to take a break from them.   Or I’d fine-tune the eagle’s head.






I’ve got the shoulder almost done in this photo.








Here I’m working on the left shoulder and you can see I’ve got several feathers on the back in various states of progress.







Continued work on the left shoulder.








At this point the only thing I really have left to work on are the feathers on the back, so over the course of several weeks I work a little bit most evenings burning in a few more feathers.




Below are progress photos of the feathers getting burned in.  





Because I didn’t burn them dark enough the first time, I’m re-burning them to a dark brown color.




Continued work.





Here I’m finishing up the last feather. 





With the back done, I did my last fine-tuning of the bird.  Here I’m working on the transition feathers on the face.





Darkening up the feathers below the beak.






Lastly, fine-tuning the left shoulder.






Something I’ve mentioned before is I often mist my artwork with water to get an idea of how it will look once it’s sealed.  What I’m looking for are areas that ‘disappear’ into the background.  This was my final check, but a previous check revealed that the pale part of the beak completely disappeared.  I ended up adding more tone/color to that area of the beak so it didn’t look like a black hook floating in space.



Below is my final artwork next to the reference photo. 

Final Artwork
Reference photo





Looking at the reference photo and comparing it to the artwork I created, what do you think?   My meticulous side is starting to come out as I view the photos and I’m seeing things I wished I had done differently.  So I will quit looking and conclude this blog.

As promised, here is the pattern for you to try your hand at creating the artwork.     Golden Eagle Pattern 


When I look at the final photo of the golden eagle I’m drawn to the head and I like how the eye and feathers along the neck turned out.   I also really like the right wing.  While I’m not 100% thrilled with the feathers on the back of the eagle they turned out much better than the feathers I did on a bald eagle.  Basically, I’m gaining more experience and producing better artwork….usually.  

Like all artists, I have some artwork that I think is really good and others that I’m almost embarrassed to say I did.  I share both with you, so that you see not everything is a masterpiece.  Each project comes with its own lessons to be learned, but the important thing is to stick with it and continue to create art.  

Lastly to answer a few commonly asked questions.   The artwork measures 9 3/4 by 17 inches (24.8 x 43.2 cm), was burned on basswood, and it took me 20 hours to complete it.

Until the next blog,


Sep 22, 2017   

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This artwork was submitted by Douglas Green Sr., and it is a wonderful piece of artwork.  Mr. Green has not been burning for very long, but he is already creating some amazing work.  Thank you Douglas for sharing your art with us!


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