I had a keen interest in the roosters we saw in southeast Asia on our world trip. They were everywhere in Bali and Malaysia, and I loved their colors. The ones that particularly got my attention had iridescent blue green feathers with reddish accents like the one in my painting. I found them irresistible.
This is an older painting as I’m still getting back into my schedule. I’m preparing for a show here locally at the Mentor House Gallery to open October 9th so that and other things left unattended during my recent absences have been gaining my attention. Hopefully I’ll have a new painting tomorrow.
This week life has gotten in the way of my daily painting schedule, mostly having to do with art. Over the past ten days I’ve been heavily into re-painting a painting I created this Spring. I’d entered it into a show, actually two shows, without realizing they ran simulainteously. Must have been distracted. Of course it was accepted into both shows, so to make good I agreed to re-paint it for the second show, which they were happy to have me do. I finished it yesterday and shipped it out along with another painting for the show that had been accepted.
Today, Dave was off and wanted to go to the DuQuoin State Fair in southern Illinois. State fairs are a tradition in my family, having gone to the Indana State Fair every year of my childhood. We’d spend the day looking at all the farm animals, checking out the manufacturer’s building, and eating lots of food on a stick. It was much the same year after year, but it was something we looked forward to. Now Garrison Keillor has written an article about state fairs in the latest edition of National Geographic, and I find that my home state State Fair is one of a dying breed, most of them except for the few that have found a way of holding on to their success have gone by the wayside. So we went to DuQuoin and checked out the choices of food on a stick (we selected corndogs for tradition — you can’t beat that) and a lemon shakeup to wash it down. Then we took in the trotters and donated money to the Illinois Gaming Board. We looked at a whole lot of milk cows and saw a competition for the adult division of Western Saddle Riding. I petted a few horses and lamented still this late in life never having owned one.
We ended the day in the sheep barn where we were the only visitors and watched one of the owners shear some of his sheep for their show on Saturday. We found out from him the various breeds that were there and also what the modern technique for sheep castration is. (If you saw Dirty Jobs this week you’ll know why that came up as a question. No, they don’t do it that way, only in the old days. So much for reality TV.)
In any event, we tottled on home at about 3:30pm having decided we’d had enough fair experience for one day. No ferris wheel rides to jangle my fear of heights, no salt water taffy to rid us of fillings and create the need for more. And I brought home a prized souvenir of a large handful of sheep’s wool gifted to me by the sheep farmer who kindly answered my questions. Now I’ll have to find how to card it and spin it.
Today’s painting is from several years ago painted from a rooster in Bali. He was just one of many I saw during that trip and became enchanted by. Appropriate for today’s activities, though there were no roosters. Imagine that. A state fair with no poultry barn. How strange.
I love birds but I especially have a fondness for hawks, eagles, and owls. Back in the mid-80’s I went on a bird banding trip through Earthwatch banding hawks and eagles from the top of the Goshute Mountains in Utah. I’ve been hooked ever since.
These four owlets (see the one with his back to us on the right?) were part of a clutch raised in Benecia, CA two years ago by Freda and Diego, a barn owl couple who’ve been residents in an artists’ studio building for several years. They used to have a web cam which posted on its own website and also Cornell Ornithology bird web cam site. I watched them from when the eggs were laid in March 2008 through their fledging some two months hence. They have incredibly expressive faces and bobble their heads up and down and side to side when they’re trying to focus on something. It’s extremely endearing and I fall in love everytime I see a new set. This year, Freda and Diego’s cam wasn’t functioning so I watched a nest box from Italy, TX.
This is a similar painting to a couple larger ones I did two years ago from the same clutch. They appear as in a fog because of the low light in the box, with colors muted and their shapes almost ghostly. Lots of pale washes and softening edges to get the foggy effect and indistinct shapes of the trio, intent on some unknown curiosity on the box floor.
The lady finch was one of my first daily paintings, almost a month ago, Our sunflowers continue to bloom and dry out, attracting the pair of gold finches. What a delight! My kitties, Dove and Chaplin, get excited to see them on the flowers so close to their perch inside the studio window. But the window pane keeps everyone on their best behavior. The finches watch the window while they eat just to ensure those humans and cats stay safely inside.
One of the sunflowers rests right at window’s edge. This week its seeds were at just the right stage and so we’ve been blessed with particularly close views of this spectacular mister. Today’s effort is in honor of his visit and the privilege it’s been to have him share my flower garden.
Maybe the title is redundant since sandlings are little regardless. But I just think of sandpiper birds that way. I had to look this guy up to see exactly what he was. A sandling, as it turns out. They are the whitest of the sandpipers and they can easily be spotted racing up and down repetitively at shore’s edge. He’s in winter plumage as they migrate to the artctic and subarctic to breed and change plumage there to their summer ware.
I love these little birds but unfortunately I’m not loving this painting as much as I’d like. Some days are better than others and this is not one of my “on” days. He definitely has motion but the surf isn’t quite what I wanted. And unlike the heron I did flying against the sky last week, this solo bird doesn’t hold his own so well in this composition.
We’ve had a pair of robins build their nest on our side porch for the past two years. They like the curve in our downspout as it angles down from our roof. It’s a perfect spot since it’s sheltered from the rain, and from our perspective it’s perfect, too, because we can watch the progress of events from Dave’s studio window. Mama doesn’t get disturbed and we get a ring side seat.
The nest has remained in place since Spring until last week when I got busy with porch cleaning, front and back, knocking down the remnants of mud dauber nests, their progeny having made their way out as evidenced by the holes at the ends of the little tubes. I never discourage them from making their nests since I like watching them form perfect cylinders, just like human potters, with mud and a bit of saliva. Well, of course we humans don’t use spit, but you get my idea. So while I was at the process of tidying I decided it was time for the robin’s nest to go, and I pushed it down with the broom handle. To my surprise, it remained wholey intact, a wonder at the birds’ ability to form such a strong temporary shelter made only of mud and grasses and yet successfully helped to rear two baby robins this year. Stuck in neatly among the dried golden grass swirling in the interior was a perfect black and white feather.
For my painting I looked up images of robin’s eggs in nests to get the color and configuration right since my nest was empty, save for the feather. Babies have long ago flown and I see lots of robins everywhere, as we do all summer and especially in Spring when everyone is busy raising their families. That little feather is like a true feather in their cap, the nest, for having done well yet again this year.
I started painting my commission today so I needed something quicker than the images I’d chosen of scenes from Singapore. The guy on a bicycle cart will have to wait until I have a little more time for that complex composition. For today, I’ve pulled out an image from northern Florida, taken from the grasslands of Amelia Island a few years ago. Such a lovely place. We took lots of pictures of those marshlands with their endless sea of grass. There were egrets and great blue herons patrolling, ghost-like spirits silently sweeping through the clouds. Aren’t his shadows great against that dramatic sky?
Clouds are a little more challenging than they look. Lots of wet on wet and then layering subtle colors as they begin to dry. A little dab here and there with a dry paper towel to pick up color helps to lighten and soften areas to make the clouds have more dimension and character.