I've been on a cloud-painting kick. When my son was a little kid and we'd be on a road trip, we often talked about the color of the landscape, especially clouds. I would ask, 'if you could cut out a piece of that cloud and put it on a piece of white paper, what color would it be'? When asked to analyze the color, he'd realize the 'white' cloud was actually yellow, brown or even green. Any surprise he also earns his living as an artist? www.blot.com
I'm still intrigued with the color of clouds so today's oil is a cloud study - with a bald eagle. Hope you like it!
These are a few original oils from my Color & Light Series. They are painted on a 3/4" deep panel with birch sides painted a solid color to complement the landscape, so no need to frame this painting though it can be framed if you prefer. They're 4" x 4", dry, ready to ship and would make great stocking stuffers!
Today's 7" x 5" oil study is a Northern Flicker. I didn't realize until I researched it prior to starting the study, that flickers are found all over the U.S. This particular bird is a Red-shafted Flicker.
Earlier this year I painted a study of a raven in flight - looking up at it with clouds behind. I really liked the painting so decided that I'd like to do some cloud studies with the focus on the clouds rather than the birds. I chose a red-tailed hawk as the bird's orange/red tail makes it more dramatic against a sky. But the bird became more important than the clouds, so I guess this is bird study after all.
I decided not to paint a study for today as I got caught up in cleaning the studio. But later in the afternoon, I felt a little guilty for slacking off so I got the brushes out and painted a Steller's Jay. I only need to look out my studio window to see one - they're everywhere. I always associate the noisy Steller's Jays with camping trips. At dawn, they seemed to congregate in the trees over my tent and screech until I got up.
Tomorrow is my granddaughter's birthday so I must go shopping. No painting tomorrow!
It never occurred to me to paint vultures - but I find they're not only popular, but interesting to paint with great body and wing shapes. Judging by the shorter tail, I believe these are black vultures rather than juvenile turkey vultures. I often see these birds at Ace Basin in South Carolina. I don't know what it is about this little study, but I really like it. Perhaps the color?
To see many of the other 5" x 7" oil studies in my 75 for $75 project, click on this link which will take you to the 75 for $75 page on my website. There are still unsold studies available.
After painting birds for 30 years, I still find plenty of species that I've never painted before. This is my first tufted titmouse. I have bridled titmice where I live - but no tufted so I've never been inclined to paint one. They're cute little birds.
If you would like a specific bird species - email me and I'll see what I can do. You would not be obligated to purchase the study - but you would have first dibs.
What looks like an easy subject matter to paint isn't necessarily so. I thought this little guy would be a cinch to paint but I really struggled over keeping it simple. When a critter has fur and whiskers, my natural tendency is to paint them. I think I took more paint off the board than I put on it.
I'm listening to NPR as I write this - specifically to Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. He commented on an author who said he "spent all morning putting in a comma and all afternoon removing it". I know how the author feels!
Today's study is a chicken - or 'chook' as they're called in New Zealand. There, a baby hen is a chicken and slang for a grown hen is chook. I grew up on a poultry farm in New Zealand - perhaps that why I have a thing for the feathered species?
This little study is really just a quick study - but it looks more detailed. The background is a combination of soft edges using my magic-softening brush and some hard edges. I like the feel of movement. I've painted quite a few hummingbirds for my 75 for $75 project so I look at the images of the previous hummingbird studies to make sure each one is different.
I don't know that I've ever painted a peregrine before, but they are magnificent birds - I hope I can do it justice. The study felt a little ho-hum until I put the orange band behind the falcon. I like my brushwork in this piece - which is exactly why I'm doing these studies!
Today's 5" x 7" oil study for my 75 for $75 project is a scissor-tailed flycatcher. When painting a ST flycatcher there is always the dilemma - do you paint a little bird, leaving room for the tail or do you paint a big bird and imply that the tail is there - out of the image. As the tail is really what a scissor-tailed flycatcher is all about, I elected to go with the 'little' bird.
There are unsold studies in my 75 for $75 project. You can see many of the 5" x 7"s in one place if you click on this link. If the little image doesn't have a red dot, it is still available. To see a larger version of the study, just click on the thumbnail.
I'm continuing to experiment on different surfaces, this fox study is done on a 5" x 7" Centurion stretched canvas. It was frustrating working on canvas after painting on gessoed board though it's an ideal surface if you don't want to paint any detail. I'm going back to board, thank you!
I didn't think I'd get one done. It was one of those days that you can read about in today's earlier post. But painting the little 4" x 6" bunny on a completely different surface that I've been used to, inspired me. Perhaps painting birds has me temporarily birded out. So I decided to take a break and paint some critters. I took an old 75/75 painting dud that never made it to the project, sanded it really smooth, sprayed it with some retouch varnish and decided to paint another rabbit.
Like the oil-primed linen panel that I used on today's previous bun, this super-smooth surface was fun! Though the painting looks detailed, it isn't. I painted it - smoothed the edges with my little magic watercolor-mop-brush and it was done. I like it.
My muse doesn't like cold weather so she must have headed south. It has been one of those days where I spent the day wiping off paintings...including my 75/75 study, which was getting out-of-control-detailed. It actually was a nice little piece, but as you probably know, my goal with the studies is to loosen up. Detail is not tolerated.
So I gave up on doing a study and instead, rummaged through my supplies and found an interesting surface that I've not worked on before. At one of the plein air festivals, I was given a Source Tek linen panel, #66 oil primed panel. My friend Lindsay Scott hates oil primed linen so I was turned off it before ever trying it...but to my surprise, it was an interesting surface to paint on!
Today's effort is a little 6" x 4" oil on an oil primed linen panel. I like it. Not sure what I'm going to do with it at this point. The bottom of the painting is actually as dark as the top, but as the bottom is painted in a more opaque paint, it has photographed lighter.
It's a snowy day in my part of the world. The roads that weren't closed were a mess so I made chicken stew and spent the day at the easel.
My first oil study is a tree swallow, which are found over most of the U.S. I came to know a tree swallow on a first name basis some years ago when during Arizona's monsoon season, I drove over a wet bundle of feathers on the road near my home. Realizing it was alive, I stopped and rescued a bedraggled tree swallow. After drying him with the hair dryer (on warm) he sat in a basket on my big drafting table while I painted. Initially he wasn't very responsive, but after dozing under a warm light for a few hours he started to preen himself. A few hours later he was sitting on the edge of the basket singing and preening - even allowing me to scratch his head. Later that day when it stopped raining, I released him where I found him. He flew off without a backyard glance, but he certainly added to my day.
The tree swallow in my study is a male in Spring plumage. The little guy I rescued was a male in fall plumage. (see photo at the end of this post) I really like this study - one of my favorites so far.
215 - Tree Swallow
7" x 5" oil study on board, unframed SOLD
My second study is another vulture piece. I could have sold the first one a dozen times so decided to do another, not so similar piece.
214 - Vultures
5" x 7" oil study on board, unframed
$75 plus $6 shipping within the U.S.
This is the tree swallow that lived to see another day.
I thought about doing this at Thanksgiving - but it was just too....I don't know what....but painting a turkey on Thanksgiving just didn't seem right. So today's study is a female turkey. IMHO, male turkeys are pretty ugly unless the light and angle are just right.
I did another vulture study earlier and posted it here momentarily, but then removed it when I decided to rework the study. It was just too fussy. So I fulfilled my goal and painted two studies for today but I'm only posting one! I really like this study!
There's a storm coming with much colder temperatures and snow :-( so I had to tear myself away from the easel this morning to run errands. But I did get my two 75 for $75's finished and photographed! I can see that I'm straying away from the 'bird study' idea. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing - but for the moment, I'll see where it takes me.
The first study is of baby quail. Many years ago I raised five baby Gambel's Quail from day old chicks. Someone found the chicks huddled up against a big ol' toad on her patio...no sign of the parents. As she watched, the toad suddenly decided it wanted baby quail for dinner. Who would have guessed that a toad would eat a baby bird! The baby was halfway down the toad's throat when she saved it. She took all five babies to the local radio station and I ended up with them. I didn't hear the toad story until months later - but had wondered why one of the baby quail had what seemed to be dry glue on his head. Toad spit!
I've since seen baby California Valley Quail and they looked exactly like these little guys. I'm guessing that young Bobwhite look much the same.
210 - Baby Quail
7" x 5" oil study on board, unframed
$75 plus $6 shipping within the U.S.
My second study for the day is of Red-winged Blackbirds. Like the gull study that I did the other day, I painted little bird shapes with no detail, allowing the group of birds to have impact, rather than just one larger bird.
I've had some emails saying, "but all your studies are sold"! Actually, there are a few left - you can click here to see them - and I realize that you've got to click on each image to see if it is available. FASO, my website company, used to put a red dot on the thumbnail as soon as it was marked SOLD. I don't know what has happened to the red dot system - but I'll give FASO a call and ask. UPDATE: I called my website company and not only are the red dots back but the thumbnails are bigger! Check it out! Now you can see at a glance which paintings have sold.
To keep up with demand, I can raise the price of the little studies - or paint more. I'm really opposed to raising the price so I'm going to try to do two 75 for $75's a day. In time, I may go to an auction system (not Ebay!) but not yet. So here are today's two studies!
The first is a loon. I resist painting loons because they sit so low in the water there's not much bird to paint,. So in this first study, I concentrated on interesting colors and brush work in the water.
208 - Loon
The second study of the day is an egret. I've painted quite a few egrets for the 75/75 project so I tried completely different brushwork on this piece. It looks detailed - and I confess I used a smaller brush - but it didn't take any longer. I flared out the bristles on a #6 round watercolor brush to paint it - and rather like the effect. It's softer. I can see using this technique for more tonalistic pieces.
209 - Egret
5" x 7" oil study on board, unframed
$75 plus $6 shipping within the U.S.
Today, Wildlife Art Journal released an extensive article on me and my work! I'm really honored as it is a well-respected online magazine. If you click on the link, you can read the article without subscribing. Not sure how long it will be 'free' - perhaps just today.
Today's 5" x 7" oil study is of gulls. I seem to be on a trend - painting smaller birds and more background. If you'd like to see many of the other 5" x 7" oil studies that I've done for my 75 for $75 project, click on this link. It will take you to the 75 for $75 page on my website. There are still half a dozen or more available. I've had to delete a lot of the sold 75's - just no room on my website!
I've been wanting to figure out how to paint fields of green grass without rendering...so decided to paint cattle egret in flight. They're seen from coast to coast, but I often see them out in the middle of the desert at the California/Arizona border in Blythe and Brawley, both agricultural areas where it is not uncommon to see mixed groups of cattle egret and white-faced ibis.
I like this piece for its simplicity. I'm so used to painting great or snowy egret, I just shortened the necks and legs - and voila, cattle egret!
This little vulture painting demonstrates exactly why I do these little oil studies. I wouldn't have done a larger painting of vultures...afraid it would never sell. But it doesn't matter if a study doesn't sell because I don't have much time invested in these little guys (a half-hour in this one). Also, for this piece, I experimented using a pre-painted/dry board - an old 75/75 that didn't work. I liked the background color so I saved the board and used it for this piece. I've worked on boards that have been stained a color but never on thicker paint that is completely dry. I usually work completely alla prima. It was fun working on dry paint, allowing a little bit of the under painting to show through. (the gray in the bottom right hand corner). For the background texture, I used thick paint on a large brush and dragged the brush edge over the board. I also put the subject matter smack-dab in the middle of the board. Why not! It's only a study. But I think in this case, it works because the eye goes to the large wing rather than to the center of the vulture group.
So this is why I do these little studies....I can be brave and boldly go where I've never been before. If it doesn't work, I can always turp it out. If it does work, then I've got information I can use on larger, studio oils.
I like this vulture study and am wondering if it will work as a larger piece, but perhaps it will lose the spontaneity if larger. So for the moment, I'm not going to sell it. With a tweak or two, it could be one of my two entries into Birds in Art 2012.
Today's oil study is a little house wren.. I know spring is here when the house wrens sit in my apple tree and sing their hearts out. I have a couple of nesting boxes that are occupied every year. I watch the parents hop in and out the box feeding the young but I always seem to miss seeing them leave.
The paint on this study is pretty thick in some spots so it will take longer than usual to dry. It might be a couple of weeks before it is dry enough to mail.
I intended to post this yesterday but I had 12 people for Thanksgiving dinner. By the time the dishwasher was loaded and everyone had gone, I was ready to enjoy a glass of wine and call it quits for the day.
This is my post for yesterday - Thanksgiving Day. It's a ruby-throated (eastern US) or a broad-tailed (western US) hummingbird. There's very little difference between the two when you're not painting detail.