Monday, November 28, 2011


As I mentioned in the last blog, the right side of the painting appeared awkward to me. It was time for some editing before I continued. I knew if I didn't make some changes now, it would nag at me until I did.
First, I took out some of the greenery in the lower right and made a more prominent grassy background with a more orange-yellow color. The lower right horizontal branch appeared to be too long so I broke it. In the middle right, the angled branch swooped and I straightened it.

Hmm. Seems better, but I was not sure it was quite right.
Enter Thanksgiving. We had my good friends Selena and Matt Schopfer and artist Krystii Melaine and her husband Michael Cecil over to the house. After our feast, we headed up to the studio to take a peak at the leopard. Selena has seen many of my paintings in progress and I value her opinion. Krystii has a keen eye. The consensus was the broken branch was just not working. It drew the eye. The husbands added that it looked like the soft greenery was growing out of the leopard's tail. Not quite what I was going for!
Time for some work.
Here is the result. I may not be done with this right side, but at least it is not driving me nuts. I'll revisit it once I get a little further in the painting.

Friday, November 25, 2011


One of the challenges I have with a larger painting is seeing all of it on my easel. My custom easel is built with a vertical bar on either side. A horizontal adjustable hand rest is attached to each of the uprights. In order to see the entire painting I have to remove the vertical bars and do without my hand rest.
Once I have the background and rock roughed in, I will reattach the bars for painting the leopard and use my hand rest for details throughout the piece.

Here is the start of the background. I think I'll be playing with the right side of the painting. It appears awkward at this point and I'd like to have an easier flow to the piece.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thinking Big

This summer and early fall I had a wonderful time creating small paintings on a variety of subjects. But every now and then, it is time to go big. This leopard called for a large format. So I gessoed a 30" X 52" piece of untempered hardboard and began drawing. I haven't worked out the background yet but I know I want to go back to some of my Serengeti fig tree references.

After I finished my rough drawing, I used a light turpentine wash of raw sienna and burnt sienna over the entire piece. Once that was dry (about an hour) I added more pigment and painted the deeper wash in those areas which would be darker.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


As a wildlife artist, I look for inspiration in the natural world. Sometimes I find it continents away, sometimes out my back door.
I also am inspired by my fellow artists and eager to return to my easel after a show. The Waterfowl Festival in Maryland was no exception. The quality of the work is some of the best you will find anywhere and this year it seemed as if each artist stepped it up quite a notch.
Matthew Hillier's luminous paintings show how a master handles light. One gull painting in particular was my favorite of the entire show.
What Terry Miller can do with graphite continues to amaze me. Terry's use of negative space and depth makes it impossible for me to choose a favorite as there are so many I find mesmerizing.
From Amy Poor's joyful paintings (her turkey piece was one of my favorites) to Lyn St. Clair's leaping foxes to Mark Eberhart's striking work, they used a strong color palette to really bring their pieces to life.
There are so many more artists I could name. While it is important to spend hours in the studio creating work, I learn so much from my fellow show artists. The three main points I packed in my suitcase and brought home:
1) It's all about light. Use it, push it, play with it.
2) Depth and negative space are critical. Without them the piece can be flat and uninteresting.
3) Don't be afraid of color. It draws the eye and is just plain fun!

Inspiration is all around us.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I had great polar bear encounters in Manitoba. My husband and I were alone when we had a spectacular experience with this large male bear north of Churchill along Hudson Bay. There are few things like being on the ground with a wild polar bear.Sea Bear
7" X 10"
Original Oil

Monday, November 7, 2011

Waterfowl Festival

It is that wonderful time of year again. The Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland will begin Thursday, November 10th with a VIP reception and continue November 11th -13th open to the general public. The ticket price for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is only $10. Not only will you see great art from around the continent (paintings, sculpture, carvings), but there are also goose and duck calling contests, dog trials, raptor demonstrations, and much more. Three days of entertainment for less than the price of a 3-D movie!
I will be in The Armory with my fellow painters. (This is the first year all of us will be in one room and we are looking forward to it.) You will be able to see 25 of my original oil paintings..... while they last!
; )

For complete details on the show, see

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Rush Hour
12" X 30"
Original Oil

The last caribou I painted was the big bull. For him I have some slightly warmer tones and sharper lines to give him additional focus. As if with that rack he needs more attention!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Caribou on the Move

The first area I tackled after the sky was the foreground tundra. I opted to paint it with loose broad strokes rather than "noodling" detail. Hints of red pop for the fall colors along with other complimentary notes. I felt for this kind of piece that if the foreground had more definition, it would detract from the caribou. You don't know how tempted I was to go in and paint more detail but I resisted and I think the painting will be better for it.
Next I began with the far right caribou and started working my way left. The lead caribou does not have a discernable eye. I don't think with this loose treatment he needed one.

Editing is a tricky game for artists. How much do we "say" in our paintings and do we let the viewer finish the story? Will the viewer's eye see the movement, feel the story, hear the hooves sweep across the tundra? How much detail do we need in order to have the painting "read" well?

I have come to conclusion that the answer is different for each of my paintings. It depends on the story.