Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Finished

Sandhill Spring Migration
16" X 24"
Original oil

Friday, April 12, 2019

Taking Stock

April 12, 2019. Twenty years ago today I became a full-time professional wildlife artist. As this date approached, I have taken stock of my decision.
It would be obvious to look at the tangible results  (awards, ribbons, featured artist designations, magazine articles, sales, etc) but in many ways my thoughts are not focused on them.
I'd like to share some "successes" which I believe capture where I am at in my career.

1.) I still appreciate the beauty in other artists' work  - and see the shortcomings in my own
2.) A new paint color still thrills me. (This week I tried two of my new handmade oil colors from Michael Harding.)
3.) I still work on trying new things - new colors, new techniques, new subjects.
4.) After more than 800 paintings, I still have fresh new stories to tell.
5.) Spending time in the outdoors is still essential to my work - whether it is Africa or my own yard. I can always capture new painting ideas from direct observation.
6.) Stretching my brushes by painting ranch scenes, museum and cathedral interiors, and landscapes also strengthens my wildlife paintings
7.) My collector base is a gift, not merely an asset. These are wonderful people who are touched by the same inspiration I had while painting the piece. For the piece or pieces they have collected, we speak the same language. What a beautiful gift.
8.) A day of uninterrupted painting is still a good day.

Photos from the past 20 years

Linda and her husband Jim - and our closest neighbors  (Note: NOT photoshopped)


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Working on the last bird


This is the bird I have been waiting to paint. He is the one which directs all the movement for the painting.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Sandhill Cranes


Once I completed the snow, the foreground cornstalks looked like they could use some brightening. After mixing a bright golden yellow (cadmium yellow deep, radiant yellow, and a little lemon yellow with titanium white), I added it to the right side of many of the stalks. It looked more natural not having it on all the foreground stalks.

On to the first close-up crane. It was tempting to make her stand out more (eliminate corn stalks in front and directly behind her) but I want the focus to be on the crane flying in. Having a few obstructions around this middle bird will help direct the viewer's eyes to the other bird first.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Snow

Now that I have the shadows in, I begin working on the mid-tone snow. I've chosen to paint it on the purple side in the foreground  and will move to a more blue color in the middle of the painting. (Note: the lighter shadows in the middle of the painting.)


Generally I would finish all the mid-tone snow color before moving on to the bright highlights in the snow. Since these colors are more intense than my usual palette, I thought I should paint in the "whites" to see if it was starting to look like snow.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Corn stalks

I thought painting the broken corn stalks would go quickly. They are abstract blocks of color. However, each one had to be carefully placed. Creating randomness in lines (which mimics the planted rows of corn) took a lot more decision making than I thought.


Time to start playing with the color of the shadowed snow. Mixing this blue took some time. I was struck by the vividness of the color when I saw it in the corn fields. Closing my eyes to recall the color, I would open them and keep playing with the mixing. It seems so bright on my palette (and somewhat unnatural) but I feel I am going in the right direction.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Inspired by Color

Almost all the time, my wildlife paintings are inspired by seeing a species in the wild. I watch their movements, listen to their sounds, and yes, take in the landscape as a possible backdrop. This time is different.

On my way home from the NatureWorks show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we diverted to see the sandhill crane spring migration along the Platte River in Nebraska. I have been there on my own when the count was over 120,000 cranes. Their ancient calls echoed from the river and spent corn fields. With this year's current count at 17,000 (a cold winter meant they would be arriving later) my expectations were quite modest.

We arrived in the late afternoon - just in time to stop by the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center. They generously told us where the main group was, only 5 miles away. The cranes were a bit far from the road, but we could watch and hear them. Driving up and down the snow-covered farm roads we spotted other groups in the last couple of hours of sunshine. As we passed one farmhouse and silo, I asked my husband to stop. There was a group of sandhill cranes but it wasn't the birds which caught my eye. The blue of the shadowed snow against the golden light on the corn stalks was breathtaking. I couldn't take my eyes off it. My inspiration for this next painting.




Check out the wonderful work of the Crane Trust at www.cranetrust.org
It is an organization I enthusiastically support.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Painting with my nieces

At Christmas I had a chance to once again paint with my nieces. It has been four years since the family has had Christmas at our house and each of my four nieces was eager for the painting time.

Katie and Amanda from Colorado Springs had a day start on their cousins Audrey and Olivia from Dallas. As in past years, the girls chose their subjects and reference material from my own photos of the animals. It was then up to them to choose the size of their painting. Once the pre-gessoed Richardson Umber wash board was cut to size, each girl created a grid and sketched her subject.

Clockwise from left: Audrey, Katie, Olivia, Amanda
Left: Audrey drawing her giraffe   Center: Amanda with her wolf

 This was Olivia's first year to join the oil painting sessions and she dove right in. Taking a cue from a recent more modern take on a zebra piece I did, (see below), she opted to do the same and leave the gessoed umber background as is. Using tricky combinations of red to create the brilliant pinks, My 13-year old niece really captured the beauty of this Greater Flamingo.

My painting which gave Olivia an idea of how she'd like to approach her work
Olivia, Age 13

Amanda combed through numerous gray wolf photos I had taken. To accentuate the wolf, she painted a dark background and used a noble pose. One of our friends, who has spent decades in close proximity to wolves in Manitoba, saw the painting and was amazed how Amanda was able to capture the essence of this wild canine.
Amanda, Age 18

Audrey decided on one of the more time consuming subjects, a giraffe. (Stripes and spots always take me the longest to paint.) Her varied descriptive background acts as a wonderful backdrop for her subject, setting the stage for her African vista. Well done Audrey!

Audrey, Age 18

Katie chose a horse, one of the Pryor Mountain Wild Horses which I saw. This was no surprise to any of us as she is in the equestrian studies program at the University of Findlay. Katie knows horse anatomy which is so evident in her painting. Well done Katie!

Katie, 19
Having all my nieces back in the studio painting with me was such a treat. Thank you to Katie, Amanda, Audrey, & Olivia for making my Christmas extra special.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

16 Brushes

When I clean up after a day at the easel, a quick glance at the number of brushes I've used is a good indication of how well the painting session has gone. Two to three and I'm probably just touching up a couple of areas. Five to eight and the painting has gone smoothly. Over a dozen brushes and the piece could be in trouble.

As I looked at the 16 brushes I had to clean, it was clear there were some issues.

 I want that special look to the northern lights. Above I've used all my large blending brushes until they are saturated with color and no longer blend the colors easily. It sort of looks like northern lights but the sky is not terribly exciting.

After throwing in some abstract blocks in the night sky, I've moved to the bear. My first run through with him produced a muddy look so blues have been added.
Below, the last bit of highlight on the bear has been painted.


As I was lying in bed that night, I tried to convince myself that the abstract nature of the sky was what I wanted with the more realistic bear.
Nope, I just wasn't buying it. I had to figure out the color I could see in my head. It seemed every combination of blues, greens and yellows just wasn't quite right. The sky needed to glow.

Then all of a sudden, it came to me. I could mix the Gamblin Phthalo Emerald with Rembrandt Lemon Yellow. The next morning I was eager to return to the studio and use those much loved blending brushes to finish the painting.

Light Show
7.5" X 13.5"
Original Oil

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Finished

Below is the finished painting. I wanted to wait until it was dry to scan it before posting. While my camera can take excellent photos, it is not a substitute for a quality scan.

 Beach Combers
7.75" X 11.25"
Original Oil

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Building Waves

I really enjoy painting water, except at the beginning, some parts in the middle, and toward the end.
Fortunately, I know that and can work through areas and stages which don't look "wet" at all.

This small piece (7.75" X 11.25") is a good example of what I mean.

 At this stage I am blocking in the colors. To me it doesn't look like much at all and the painting is truly in one of those ugly stages.


Using a very soft brush, I blend the edges of the colors together. Sometimes I am a bit heavy-handed and need to add more color blocks. This is also a good time to adjust the depth and hue of the colors.


At this stage I like the painting again. I see form and direction. The addition of the light blue (which is a shadowed highlight) really helped.


The highlights are the fun part. Here is where the wave starts to come together. The "white" is titanium white and cadmium yellow deep. My brush moves around the painting adjusting each section. Sometimes an area which I thought should be light looks better darkened and vise versa.


Near the end of the painting I reach another difficult section. The wave is nothing without a convincing watery stage. Introducing blues and sand colors, I weave them in among the foam.

The birds and sand will be the final segment.

Thanks to my blog followers for your patience. It has been a busy show season and my blog fell among those things which did not get done. I'll strive to post more regularly. Thanks for following.