I’ve had my eye on this guy for a couple years to find the right moment to make him into a painting. I love Great White Egrets for their elegance and dazzle. A boy do they dazzle in full breeding plumage like he’s wearing.
The painting is toward the middle of completion. I seem to get so involved in laying in the background that I forget to take pictures as I go. But once the water is on you have to go at it fairly fast and direct. I’d need someone standing over my shoulder clicking away to get pictures of the thing in progress.
If the egret looks a little ghostly and legless that’s because I’ve covered him in masking fluid to protect his white while I painting the background. The legs I’ll re-draw once I’m satisfied with the water around him. I’m not that concerned right now that they’ve gone missing under the paint.
Once completed, I intend to include this as my new painting for my submission to the invitational for Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital. The contrast and richness should make an impression.
An interesting letter greeted me yesterday in my mailbox. The folks from Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital just keeping it comin’ it seems. A big envelope showed up yesterday from them, giving me hope that they’d sent my check for the painting I sold from the Arts Ability 2009 exhibition. Wasn’t that, though something just about as good. They’ve invited me to submit artwork for the 2010 Arts Ability show as the featured piece for show promotion. I must have touched a nerve with them since they kept my other painting for continued exhibit in their new gallery on campus and now have chosen me as one of the candidates for consideration of this honor. I can submit up to 6 paintings. Gotta start some new work to have at least one hot off the palate for them.
I’m realizing, too, in looking back at my archives that I’ve been at this blog for a year now. Wow, a lot has happened since then – certainly a lot of paintings and new energy in doing this. Thanks to all of you who check in to see my work and what I’m up to. You’re a valued part of my process.
The weather is playing tricks with us here in Paducah, warming to the 50’s one day and then dipping into the 30’s the next. We had a warm spell over the weekend and so I let the feeder stand empty, knowing that the birds would have enough seeds in the dry grasses and barren flower beds to sustain them. But the past couple days have turned bitter again and so I had Dave fill up the feeder again. The sparrows crowd around around in mad confrontation, and I noticed that the male cardinal has finally learned to muscle his way in with them and stand in cool contrast on the edge of the feeder getting a seed or three while his less refined cousins squabble to get their share. I even had a purple finch (at least I’m calling it that since they’re so close to House Finches) and his mate this morning visit for a while.
With all this activity outside to inspire me, I took one last look at my painting, which had been resting on my drafting table for several day, and added a bit of burnt sienna and french ultramarine in a few places on the three sparrows with their backs to us. They needed a little more definition and color I decided.
So here they are finished, four sparrows on a sycamore limb, waiting out the cold and their turn at the feeder.
Snow forecast for tomorrow. I’ll have to restock their supply.
The little fluffy sparrows are filling out on their limb. I’ve created a composite composition from a couple of the photos I took when they were all feeding during the cold snap from a week or so ago. The two at opposite ends create a nice pair of bookends of action for the two still sparrows in the center. There’s less detail in those two, creating small ovals of quiet that want to fade into the grays and browns of the bare tree and the solitude of winter. The detail in their fellow sparrows creates a nice counter weight.
I’ll post the final outcome tomorrow of this winter scene in miniature. In the final stretch I’ll do the tree branches and add a little more color and details to the birds to bring the composition together.
The days have been cold, really cold, for over a week and have just today climbed above 40 F. I’m a sucker for the birds who are here during the winter, especially if I’m suffering from the extremes. So I’ve been religiously adding food to their feeder almost daily from the beginning of the cold snap. The sparrows are the most frequent visitors, with cardinals, juncos, and a few titmice and black capped chickadees every now and then gracing my presence. The feeder is just outside my studio window so it’s a constant distraction, source of entertainment, and for today, inspiration.
I took pictures last week of the sparrows sitting on a distal limb to the side of the feeder, waiting their turn. They line up in a plump row, little balls of fluff. I’m not particularly a sparrow fan, but everybody’s got to eat. And they’re kind of endearing at this time of year, so round and fit so well with the browns, grays, and sepias of winter.
I sketched out a composition and am in the middle of putting in the sparrows. The only one facing forward has come to life today. The background is a very direct wet-on-wet wash of French Ultramarine Blue, Indigo, Sap Green and Windsor Blue with a tiny touch of Permanent Rose. While it was drying I added a strategic sprinkle of sea salt for effect. Look for the little sparkley circular flares as the taletell sign. Come back tomorrow for another progress report.
A happy belated New Year, and new decade, to everyone! I feel a little like I’ve been hibernating with the bears and other animals that go into that torporous state every winter. It’s hard to stay active and productive during the dark days and cold of winter. The squirrels and winter birds make a continued stream to the hanging birdfeeder suspended from the sycamore tree outside my studio window. Their busyness nags at me to get going to earn my keep and stay vital during this down time of shortened days.
Hey, Mr. Squirrel! You’re eatin’ up all my birdseed! He doesn’t care, even when I actually go out and say that to him in person. He just juts his little face out, pauses for a moment to see if there’s any real danger, and then goes on munching when I obviously appear to be no threat.
I’ve been working for some time on developing images for a children’s story with friends of mine. This is a study for one of the first paintings that will become the book. I’ve not painted a lot of night scenes before so this was a bit of a challenge to get that atmosphere while illuminating the field in the foreground.
In the coming days I’ll give you a peek at my first painting of the year as it progresses. A tribute to my visitors of the birdfeeder. I have them sketched in today and will begin the actual painting tomorrow, as long as I’m not distracted in other directions.
I’m hoping to get back to posting daily. This month I’ve had too many distractions, and heading into the holidays it threatens to only get worse. Today’s selection is from a reference photo I don’t really remember taking. But I seem to recognize the scene from a route we used to walk into centro in San Miguel that first six months we were there, along a back street that really was only wide enough for one car. There were several mesquites overhanging the street with their horizontal orientation. I like them immensely for their character of jutting branches and sense of age.
This is a “quick and dirty” study that I just breezed into, enjoying applying the alternate cool blues and warm burnt sienna to form the tree, my central figure. The wispy terminal branches were executed with a thin liner brush after using the side of my round to do some dry brush technique to show the density of those tiny twigs at branches’ ends.
I’ll be at Harrah’s in Metropolis again this Sunday for another bazaar, this time having to do with food and art. Last Sunday was their first Holiday Bazaar and attendance wasn’t where they wanted it so they invited us back for the coming Sunday when they hope to have more folks out for this “taste” event. Stop by to see my daily paintings, if you’re in the area, which is what I’ll have on hand for the event.
Mexico is all about foods with bold flavors and colors. Peppers of all kinds abound, from mild, such as the banana peppers, to screamingly hot, as in the habanero. Their colors are dark and brooding to lemony sublime. Along with the nopal cactus, peppers are the quintessential national vegetable, served in everything imaginable. Even sweeter things get a dash of chili pepper to add some spice.
Another staple in the Mexican diet is the mango. Probably the most common one is the yellow orange variety, smaller in stature than the bright red one we are more likely to see here in the north. These bright, sunny mangos turn a fabulous yellow gold at their peek, and you see people sucking out the fleshing through a hole bitten at one end while they squeeze from the other, not unlike squirting toothpaste from a tube.
The colors in this tableau almost sing from the page. Warmth at every turn and fold, mimicing the sweet pungency of the mangos and subtle flavors of the banana peppers. That purple crimson on the left? Dried peppers of some persuasion, perhaps pablano, perhaps another kind with a bit more potency. Whatever they may be, they bind the whole together in a mix of robust warm and cool saturated colorsÂ that is altogether Mexico.
This week has been hectic to the point of having to let something slide, and then ended up being the daily paintings. What painting I did was to finish a commission I’ve been working on for over a month now. Some commissions come with the idea and images laid out, making the whole process easy to get under way and complete. Others, like this one, require planning out the composition with the client, a more conceptual approach. There was a whole phase of trial sketches done for approval before the final composition was decided upon.
When you’re putting together a composite picture made up of several elements from a variety of sources, it takes quite a bit more effort to makes sure that they all work together, that light falls in the same direction and that the perspective is right.
This particular commission is to be a retirement present for a women who has worked for the last 30 years advocating and lobbying for children’s healthcare policy in Washington, D.C. for a national children’s health organization. The children are at play doing what healthy children do naturally, a tribute to her several decades of work on their behalf.
Besides changing from Daylight Savings Time, there are a number of signs in Lower Town that Autumn is here. Grass is cut only sporadically these days, the leaves are falling faster than I can keep track, and a lot of people have decorated their yards for Halloween or Thanksgiving. I’ve seen pumpkins and fake spider webs. Lots of mums in bloom and a few orange lights strung across porches. The apartment house on Madison where Linda lives didn’t have its usual fright face in the windows. I missed that.
But just down the street from me Rex and Anita have festooned the entryway into their yard at the hedgerow with an arch of cornstalks and a bright little pumpkin that almost goes unnoticed as it cowers by the base of the arrangement. I thought it would be an interesting composition to focus on the dried stalks to show how something so drab can actually have its own beauty from light reflections and the fun curves that come with the drying process of the corn plant. The pictures I took showed both the structure and the stalks up close. Today’s painting encompasses a part of the arch and the lonely pumpkin in shadow. He’s sporting a little dappled light from the sun peeking through the hedges.