Friday, July 31, 2015


Having an M.S. Degree in Geology makes me rather particular about mountains. They are not some amorphous blob or a series of triangles but rather they have an underlying geology which dictates their form. Understanding that, just like knowing the muscles and bone structure of an animal, is essential.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Finished elk painting

Call of the Wild
30" X 50"
Original Oil

 Hmmmm, I thought it was finished. An artist friend of mine made a great observation. Even though I moved the calf away from the bull elk, he isn't far enough away. Sigh. My friend was right. Why did I not see it before? This means repainting the calf, painting out the other one, and changing the reflection. Maybe if I just painted out the calf.

Before I did anything, I went to my computer. Using my photo program (Paint Shop Pro) I could try out both options: moving the calf and taking it out all together. Both looked better than my current arrangement. The big difference is I feel the calf tells part of the story and is the only animal reacting directly to the bull's call. Decision: calf stays in and moves.

Below is the completed painting.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

The big boy

The purples and blues on his shadow side will make his warm sunlit areas stand out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Fun part

Usually I save the animals for last. Not only can I use some of the background colors to unify them with the landscape, but I so enjoy painting the animals. Saving the best for last.
I'm really bumping up the warmth of the cow elk. The ears on the main cow were laid back, indicating anger and were distracting. I'll need to play around with those before she is finished.

Monday, July 20, 2015


When I work on water, I like to have a large block of time. It is with blending wet into wet that I can achieve the soft look of water.
This water was a unique challenge. The reflections are in bands. Starting with the right side, I begin painting in the stripes. To see more detail, click on an image.
1-establishing the darks
2-adding some warm colors and blending
3-the left bands before blending
4. Blended.
Some adjustments were made from three to four. For instance, the bright yellow bush has a more yellow reflection.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Finished Lioness painting

Sister Act
30" X 60"
Original Oil

To see this painting in progress, see posts beginning May 8th. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Elk continued

After filling in the trees on the right, I mixed the color for the small golden deciduous tree on the left. Cadmium yellow, titanium white and yellow ochre for the bright area and raw umber and yellow ochre for the shadow side. I thought I had the color perfectly mixed and began painting the tree. It was much too light and therefore dull. Adding more cadmium yellow and yellow ochre really made the tree "pop."

The tallest tree on the left was driving me crazy so I shortened it (no chain saws were involved and no trees were injured.) Now the deep background is over the top of the tree.

Figuring out the color for the background light rocks was a challenge. I knew the feeling I wanted but couldn't quite see the color clearly enough in my head. However, I knew of a sage grouse painting by James Morgan which I thought had a touch of the peachy color the painting needed. Looking in my Birds in Art catalogue when he was Master, I found the painting  - and the color.
A simple mix and I had it.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Next Painting

My lioness piece is done. When I have the scan of the completed painting later this week, I will post it. In the meantime, I will start posting my next painting in progress. It is another large one (30" X 50".)

I debated whether to paint this piece on Venetian Red gesso rather than white gesso. The deciding factor was that I really wanted to push my colors and think the red gesso helps me do that.
The first step was the upper right. Here I went wild with some electric blue (ultramarine blue as the base.)

The trees are painted with cooler tones. If I can keep the background cool, the warmth of the foreground will shine. With a warmer sap green, I mixed in some ultramarine blue. I also played around with a smattering of permanent green medium and chromium oxide green. The darkest darks have some paynes gray. For the lighter color on the trees, I used naples yellow.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Almost Done

Since the last post, I have finished the foreground lioness's legs and darkened her shoulder. This photo with my camera exaggerates the darkness of her rump. But, I will double-check to make sure it isn't too dark in the morning.

The major last step is the grasses. More will cover their legs with some extending onto their bellies. A danger would be to make the grasses too light which will distract from the cats.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The second cat

I'm back to work on the second cat after 3 weeks on the east coast. This may be the second cat I am painting in this piece, but this lioness is really the first cat in the work. She is the more important cat. Her body is in full view and she is the more foreground cat.

I have painted her with warmer colors than her sister. Her head also needed some brighter and more yellow (warmer) paint which I have added since the last blog. These slight adjustments will bring her further into the foreground and help set her apart from the other lioness.

Color helps distinguish the position of the cats in the painting but it is important to have distinct differences between the cats. I've already pointed out the slight difference in their right ears with the background lioness's ear breaking the plane of the background. When designing the composition, I made specific choices on their different body positions.
The close lioness has a scar on her nose and some black spots near her neck. In addition, her shoulder blade is more rounded and her face is fuller.
While all these distinctions are important, my favorite is their eyes. The background lioness seems more timid and unsure while the close lioness appears focused and determined. Some of this is achieved by pupil size and iris color. The rest from feeling - working with the eyes until I could feel a difference in attitude.