Monday, November 30, 2020


Continuing the compressed time line for this painting, here are the next steps for the piece.


The foreground in the previous image appeared too cool so I have warmed it up.
The leaves have a "designed randomness" to give them a natural feel.

The leaves now have the general shapes I was going after but are a bit dull at this stage. 
Once they are dry they can be glazed with brighter yellows, oranges, and reds.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

My backyard

Sometimes the inspiration for a painting is right in my own backyard.

 This is a piece I have wanted to paint for several years. One afternoon several ruffed grouse walked through our yard. One male captured my attention when he walked past a pile of wood we hadn't stacked yet. The leaves, the texture of the wood, and the grouse's almost camouflaged feathers made for an intriguing concept. 

In designing the painting I wanted the wood pile to be seen first and then the grouse. Once you see him, you wouldn't be able to un-see him.

The Wood Pile

Well, I haven't painted a wood pile before. It seemed like the center was a good place to start.

I started working on this piece while I was waiting for Feast, the previous painting, to dry so I could scan it. Rather than my slow progress blogs, I thought you might like to see a faster evolution to a painting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Word Origins

I'm a pretty good singer. For decades I sang with the Spokane Symphony Chorale, the chorus group with the Spokane Symphony. We sang in German, Latin, French, even Russian with such pieces as Brahms Requiem, Beethoven's 9th, Carmina Burana, various operas, and did a Holiday Pops concert. 

For the past several years I have taken a break from the group because my art shows and painting commissions kept me too busy to attend all the rehearsals and even make all the concert dates.

I have a deep love of music and the vocal component in particular.

So it is not surprising that yesterday while painting I broke in to song. The music I was playing was just what I needed and my voice echoed softly around the vaulted ceiling of my studio. 

Scratch, our cat, was sound asleep..... until I started singing.

He immediately got off the couch and came over to me. Putting his face up to mine and looking intently at me, he gently trilled. It was a bit disconcerting that he was trying to comfort me from whatever great distress caused me to make those sounds. Granted, I haven't done vocal exercises in a while, but was I really that bad?

That leads me to word origins.

gerund or present participle: caterwauling
    Might this follow the following word origin?

cat er = counter         wauling = wailing

Caterwauling: the act of a cat stopping you from singing

Have a beautiful, safe, and amusing day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


For the lion, I used the same approach as I did for the jackels. Create substance but not overly fussy detail which would distract from the backlighting effect.

To complete the scene, the grass needed to be painted. The above in progress image has grass suggested in the foreground. Even at this stage, the foreground seemed a bit plain.

The new color I used for the background bushes, Richeson's manganese violet, would create interest and continuity.


Below is the scan of the completed painting.

Feast        Original Oil    15" X 24"

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Black-backed jackels

 When I had a chance to see some original N. C. Wyeth paintings, the ones with backlighting especially drew my attention. It seemed the drama was intensified.

I came across this lion with his zebra on an early Namibian morning. Black-backed jackels were hanging around hoping for a morsel. The backlighting intrigued me and with dozens of reference photos, I had the start of an idea.

There were more than a dozen jackels in the area. The question was how many to include and in what positions to put them relative to the lion and to each other. I opted for three. They make a group but don't overwhelm the scene.

As for position, I thought an overall triangular composition would work.

With photo reference, backlit objects can be underexposed, flat, and lacking in detail and color. As a wildlife artist I do use my photos for reference but that is just the beginning. Much of my painting will come from the time when I lowered the camera to study the colors, lighting, atmosphere, and interactions.

In this type of backlighting, I want the jackels to have substance but not a lot of fussy detail.

Next up, the lion and the highlights on the jackels and zebra.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Grasses and Zebra


For grasses, I like to imply varying textures. By using lights, darks, and broken areas, one's eyes tend to fill in the grass without having every blade identified.

Now for the dead zebra. I am not a big fan of showing lots of gore. I don't want my painting to be a horror scene even though predator/prey interactions can be bloody. However, painting lions and zebra frolicking together would hardly be very realistic. The goal is to show the majesty of the lion without being overcome with sadness for the zebra. It's a thin line.

Most of the zebra is painted except for the highlights.