Sunday, March 31, 2019


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
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.