Friday, September 13, 2019

Next steps

Adding the middle ground seems to give the piece more weight, helping with depth. At this stage, I was finding the bottom a bit distracting but tried to ignore that as grasses will cover a lot of it.


The spruce grouse has been painted. I've lightened it so it does not appear as a big dark blob and disrupt the flow and focus of the painting. The grouse is still in the normal range of feather colors but does not instantly draw one's focus. You see the mountain lion's movement and then wonder what he is going after before you see the grouse.


When I first started painting the mountain lion its colors didn't seem rich enough. I wanted its warmth to contrast with the coolness of the vegetation.  Grabbing some richer yellows, reds, cadmium orange, and burnt sienna is helping with bringing out a more vibrant coat.

Monday, September 9, 2019

New painting - Mountain lion

I've had this idea for a while and since I have been in "big cat mode", now seemed the right time.
The concept was pretty straight forward - cat climbing tree after a bird. The execution contained some surprises which required alterations to my original design.

A soft background was painted to aid in the feeling of depth.  No sharp edges and muted colors. The slope of the hillside is the opposite direction of the cat's upward movement.


Here I have started with a tree bough. I find it easiest if I mix three separate greens as base colors. Other colors will be added depending on whether parts of the branch are in sun or shade. My plan is also to have another tree in the upper right which is closer to the foreground.


It was clear to me that when I was done with the tree the mountain lion is climbing that the tree in the upper right would just not work. With its trunk out of sight, it would only add confusion to which branch belonged to which tree. My original thought was to make its boughs warmer but I decided that would not make enough of a separation. Back to refreshing all the sky colors and painting them over where the other tree would have been.
This for me is the ugly stage. The tree is okay (maybe needs some more warmth on the trunk) and I like the sky but the painting feels flat. Time to press through that feeling and work on the small trees and brush in the middle ground.

Friday, August 30, 2019

To print or not to print...

That is the question.
Artists take different approaches to this question. I know one artist who makes prints of every painting. There are others who never make limited edition copies.
Most of us are somewhere in between. From my roughly 40 oil paintings a year I average making two into limited edition canvas giclee prints.

So, how do I choose?
Occasionally I have a client who would like a canvas giclee print of a painting I have done and I decide the image would fit into my print selections.
More often, I have one painting each year which I believe would have broad appeal.

The proofing process is a time-consuming project. With my professional printer we constantly tweak the canvas print until it looks like the painting when they are placed side by side. It is not uncommon for the printer to use more than 8 separated layers to achieve the desired result. A part of the water might be adjusted differently than a small section of the reflected head. A little more peach here, more contrast there, more saturation over here. Even with scanning directly from the original, tiny alterations are essential. If I painted it this way, why have the canvas print look differently?

Once all the adjustments are made, it is time to decide on sizes and how many. My largest giclee canvas editions are a total of 75 which can include three different sizes. I have some editions which are only 35 prints at one size.

Stealth - Amur Tiger (see post below) will have canvas giclee prints available. I've decided on three sizes: the original (24" X 34"), 17" X 24", and 12" X 17."  I haven't decided how many in each size, but the total will probably be 65 or less.

I'd like to share two more thoughts on prints.
First, some artists believe that to call a copy a print, it must be an original print, hand pulled. I treat the subject with the common public perception in mind. Many understand the word print as the old method of off-set lithographs. I do canvas giclee "prints" and make the details clear in my Certificate of Authenticity.
Secondly, some artists like to hand enhance their canvas giclees. I am not a fan of hand-enhancing. It can confuse the collector with a piece that is somewhere between a print and an original. If the artist is hand-enhancing to make the piece look more like the original, they might want to find a printer with the expertise to do that. And, if I want to put paint on something, it will be an original. Another consideration is that the longevity of the paint on top of archival inks and canvas is unknown.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Finished

Stealth - Amur tiger
24" X 34"
Original oil painting

The colors might seem a bit different than you have seen in the posts leading up to the finish. The above image is from a scan of the painting - a more accurate representation of the painting than the quick in-progress photos with my phone.

Thanks for following along! 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

More fur


Above, almost done with the non-white fur color. Just the tail remaining.

Below, the white fur (titanium white and cadmium yellow deep) on the tiger is painted. I've also repainted all or portions of the stripes. In painting the more orange fur, much of each stripe was covered. By painting the stripes first, then the orange fur, then the stripes again, I am able to blend the fur colors into each other creating a more natural looking coat.


Next up, sparkles in the water, revisiting the tiger reflection, and the leaves.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The tiger

The eyes are the first part of the animal I usually paint. They help give the rest of the painting life.

Even though most of the stripes will be repainted to blend into the golden orange coat, I like to paint them next.

 For passages like these, I like to use a small flat angle brush. Each stroke lays in a block of color in the direction of the cat's fur. The "white" of the coat will be last.


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tiger reflection

When I started the reflection of the top of the tiger's head I realized that my color was not dark nor rich enough. So, I increased the intensity with burnt sienna and burnt umber to give the section that pop. Some of the deeper colors are also repeated throughout the reflection.


The sections of lightest white reflection have been added.
Note: I have kept the white in the reflection dull by painting it a light gray. This will help the reflection read like it is in the water.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Reflections continued

Setting the stage for an abstract reflection of the cat is the sky reflection. I used Rembrandt ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, titanium white, and a touch of Van Dyke brown, plus Michael Harding's Phthalocyanine Blue Lake.
Premixing four blues worked well. Once they were blocked in, I realized that I needed a deeper richer blue swath from the lower left.
(Note: My new selection of Michael Harding oil paints have been a wonderful addition to my palette. It seems I can create more exciting and a greater variety of colors.)


Continuation of the ripple line.


Start of the cat's reflection. This is going to be tricky, but fun.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Reflections

One of my favorite things to include in my wildlife paintings is water. There are so many color variations to explore. While painting a mirror image can be effective, I find abstract reflections more interesting.


This stage, when I block in the colors, I find the most distracting. It is time to grab some blending brushes.


The first stage of the blending is complete. Next up is the lower section of water and then the cat's reflection. As I work through the piece, all the sections of the water will be continually modified until they feel right.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Nova Scotia/ Bird Islands

Just back from Nova Scotia and what a trip. Lots of painting ideas! Quaint fishing villages, expansive scenery along the Cabot Trail, informative maritime and sailing museums, dramatic lighthouses in fog (and brilliant sunshine), and pastoral landscapes were part of the exceptional trip.

Cabot Trail

Cabot Trail



 The highlight was spending time at Bird Islands off the coast of Cape Breton Island. These islands are nesting areas for Atlantic puffins, razorbills, black guillemots, Great cormorants, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, and black-legged kittiwakes.

Bird Islands

Razorbills
Atlantic puffins

Thursday, April 25, 2019

And now for something completely different

Right now I am working on paintings for the Louisa Gould gallery on Martha's Vineyard. Not only do I paint different subject matter than my usual wildlife genre, often I am exploring more vibrant colors.

I've been wanting to paint beach umbrellas. So many fun colors. While I didn't want the beach to be devoid of people, I also didn't want it to look so crowded that the viewer didn't have a place to sit! Working out the composition (including removing a few umbrellas) took some careful planning.


Now we are talking colors! 


I thought the sand would be more difficult. I mixed three sand colors (a light, medium, and dark) and painted more light against dark the closer to the bottom left. I found the less careful I was in placing the color, the more natural the sand looked. A fourth darker cooler color was used for the shadow underneath underneath the umbrellas.


Summer Bouquet
10" X 15"
Original Oil

 

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.