Friday, October 26, 2012

A New Brush

Original Oil
4.5" X 9.5"

Painting stripes and spots are a challenge. Zebra, tiger, giraffe, leopard, and cheetah pieces seem to take so much longer to complete. Here I decided to go crazy and do a miniature with stripes. However, I did make a stop at an art supply store and bought some fresh teeny-tiny brushes.

WOW! Not having to repaint sections because of the brush's frayed ends actually made working on the! Why I don't buy new brushes more often is beyond me. Much of the tiny detail in this piece was done with one brush and it cost $2.99.

The tiger is first in a group of small pieces which will be joining some larger pieces for the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland. November 9th - 11th, Easton will be one hopping town with paintings, sculpture, decoys, duck calling, dog trials, carvings raptor demonstrations and of course music and great food.

My work will be hanging in the Armory and I'll be there the entire weekend. For all the details on an event not to be missed, see  I hope to see you there.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Twenty-one months

Sheep Country
Original Oil
22" X 34"

My last four paintings have been from my recent canoe trip on the Noatak River. I often feel inspired when returning from a trip, especially one of that magnitude.
But like most artists, many of my painting ideas have been rattling around in my head for months or even years. The above piece is a 21-month-er.

I was visiting my sister in Colorado Springs and we had a little bit of time to run over to Glen Eyrie in hopes of seeing the Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep which sometimes hang out on the slopes. This time we were in luck. As I stepped from her car with my camera, I think I said I wouldn't be long. After all, the bachelor herd of bighorns were in a nice group.

Hmm. About an hour later after climbing all over the hillside, I finished. Not wanting to disturb the animals meant a lot of walking and positioning. The rocks and the light kept changing and were brilliant.
Fortunately, I have a very patient sister. Now that I had hundreds of reference photos the real work began.

Some of the "work" was letting the ideas percolate.  In the back of my mind, I knew I had some pretty neat landscapes from Colorado. Every now and then I'd come across them when searching for other reference. One day, the rocks, the light, and the sheep all came together in a rough idea and I went back to those 100 or so photos.

The next task was to design the composition. The drama of the landscape spoke to me and so rather than making the animals the stars as I usually do, the Bighorns are small to make the landscape shine. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Some heavy lifting

Titans of the Tundra
15" X 34"
Original Oil

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the thrilling sights on the Noatak River canoe trip was watching two musk ox bulls fight. But, the scenery was not as dramatic as I like for a painting.

Since carrying almost 1/2 a ton of musk ox to a "prettier" spot and then making the trip back to carry the other one would have been a chore, I chose to employ a bit of artistic license. Near the beginning of the trip, we had Mount Igikpak in view. This is the tallest mountain in Gates of the Arctic National Park. A short hike up the slopes one afternoon afforded us a better view. We saw musk ox tracks near the river but it wasn't until a few days later I spotted the first musk ox. (the mountain team saw one closer to the mountain.) Further downstream we saw the pair of bulls.

In this piece, I used the scene from the tundra with Mt. Igikpak, the first musk ox I saw, and one of the sparring pair to create the composition. Much easier than packing the beasts upstream!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Artist Friends

Double Feast
15" X 24"
Original Oil

It might seem pure artistic expression emanates from isolation, an artist ivory tower. While it would be romantic to say inspiration springs from one as Athena sprang fully grown and armed from Zeus, I find it not quite that easy. Sometimes it takes generous artist friends to complete a painting.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with patient and very talented artist friends. This time I called upon Lee Kromshroeder. Though we kid each other on our different painting approaches, I greatly respect his talent and his advice. I was at an impasse, knowing the painting needed more but not sure what direction to take. After sending him images 3 and 4, we talked and he gave me some good suggestions. Mainly, he said I needed to have more transition between the bright foreground grasses and the background (see previous post). Also, the tail he thought could use more directional texture.

Once I finished those suggestions, my friend Selena came up to the studio to work on her music while I painted. Her good eye was bothered by the fox's nose and she rightly thought it was too skinny. A quick correction made all the difference.

Maybe in this case the title can have a double meaning. The fox has two sik-siks for dinner and I had two good friends help me complete my painting vision. Thank you Lee and Selena.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fox - stage 4

Work in progress - stage 4

There has been a lot of painting done since my last post. Sometimes when you are on a roll, you don't want to stop and take a photo.

To recap, I painted in the fox. Next I played with the right side grasses because I felt they needed to be brighter. The background was a bit light so I darkened it and then warmed up the foreground. I wanted an anchor so the blue shadow near the middle far left was added.
Lastly I painted the sik-siks.

The painting is not done. It is getting there, but now I need to sit and look at it. I'll set it across the room, sit in my director's chair and do the quick glance. That is when I look at anything else, distract my mind, read a magazine, then look up and try and see what it needs.

This may take longer than I thought. The cat thinks sitting in my lap is a perfect place to nap!