Saturday, November 29, 2014

A lot of Birds

This painting is 26" X 44".  Not the largest I've painted but for the amount of detail in the birds it feels really big.

I don't want to rush the painting of each bird but as I work on this second to last bird I am really anxious to get to the final bird. The whole painting rests on the biggest bird.

Time to take a little break. Not only is it good physically to move around the studio after a long painting session but I can return to the easel refreshed and excited about the bird I am working on.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The back two birds are softer and as I move into these closer birds, the details are sharper. These latest two birds set the palette for the colors in shadow. I want the blue to be noticeable but not so bright that it distracts from the main bird.

This "shadow" blue was tricky. I ended up mixing a lot of my blues, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, manganese blue, and Sevres blue to find just the right hue.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Vulturine Guineafowl

This is one cool bird. I saw my first vulturine guineafowl in the wild in Kenya. The black and white feathers are striking but it is the cobalt blue breast which makes this bird a standout.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Choosing a subject

An artist friend of mine (Donna Yde) asked me how I choose my subject. The answers vary. Sometimes a color comes to me and I choose the subject because I feel like painting blue or red or yellow.
Sometimes the idea that has been rolling around in my head for years is ready to be painted.
Sometimes I want to switch continents from my last painting or move to a different class within the Animal Kingdom.

This painting is all of the above. I really wanted to paint a brilliant blue. The idea has been hatching since 2009. I just painted North America and wanted to paint Africa and since my last piece focused on a mammal, time for a bird.

Monday, November 17, 2014


White Hunter
20" X 38"
Original Oil

For this painting the title came before I even picked up a brush. The hunter is after white geese (Snow and Ross) but the title is also fitting for the large white hunter entering from the right.

Friday, November 14, 2014


First up, decoys. These are wind sock decoys. In the olden days up here, hunters used to use toilet paper strung in the willows to decoy in the birds. (guess snow geese are not the brightest in the avian world.)

Often when my husband and I are trekking down the shore a long ways, we opt not to bring the heads. Sticks with wind sock bodies. Seems to work just as well.

In flight it is often hard to distinguish Snow geese from Ross geese. Hunting regulations categorize them together as white geese.

Ross are smaller and do not have as thick or large a bill. A large adult Ross is bigger than a juvenile Snow goose and each species can have smaller and larger birds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The landscape

This scene is beside Hudson Bay. With a 14-foot tidal change, the landscape changes dramatically throughout the day. That browny-black  area is the dried seaweed pushed up by the tide. Streams come into the Bay from the tundra and low tidal areas form numerous wet areas like the foreground.

Walking along the Bay can be almost impossible in areas. You can sink up to 18 inches or more in muck. By the time you get your boot out (hopefully still on your foot) you have an extra 5 pounds of mud on each foot, black oozing mud which reeks of anaerobic sulfur.

I prefer the higher ground.

photo by Linda
Walking back at the end of the day. 
The tide is out and this stretch is easy compared to most. 
My husband in the lead, my footprints will be next.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


With the landscaping taking shape, you can now see the emerging story.

Each fall I head north to remote camps north of Manitoba. I don't hunt but do understand the necessity to reduce the snow goose population now devastating the tundra with its population explosion.

Snow goose hunting is a whole other sport in polar bear country. Do you really want to bag a bird when you see polar bear prints all around your blind and yesterday a polar bear was in the blind? To add to the excitement there are also wolf tracks. You walked from camp. There is no ride back. And I don't have a gun.

It would not be an exaggeration to say this is not for the faint of heart.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Starting Over

I was tired. Concert week (I sing with the Spokane Symphony Chorale which performs with the Spokane Symphony.) We had 4 rehearsals and two concerts in 6 days. Not a lot of time to paint.

And, I had an uneasy feeling about my painting. Something wasn't right. I had already painted the sky and the birds. Why not forge ahead and figure out the problem as I go? No, I needed to listen.

So, after the 2nd concert I headed to the studio to rethink my composition. The piece didn't have the energy I wanted. I worked on figuring out a more effective composition until 2:30 am. Yes. That was better, much better. And it just so happened to be the same size as my original concept.

Out comes the palette knife and I scraped off paint from my board. Grabbing turpentine I washed off the remaining paint. After waiting for it to dry, I re-gessoed the board. Off to bed at 4:30 am. The board was ready the next morning for drawing. I did think of photographing the "destruction" of the original piece for my blog, but it was 3:30am and I didn't want to walk back over to the house to grab my camera.

Fresh start.