I spotted this sailboat coming into Opua the same day I watched Rock and Roll Star (#9) arrive. It was a pretty smooth day but I like painting choppy water so I exaggerated just a bit. I think the name of this boat is Nola, but it was a bit too far away for me to be positive. Have I mentioned that I just love painting boats! This is the 12th painting in my Boats of Opua project. Eighteen to go!
Hoping that my blog followers, collectors and friends have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah or Holiday Season. Wishing you a happy and healthy 2014. What more is there anyway, than health and happiness?
Cheers from my little corner of the world in Opua, New Zealand.
This boat is anchored at Opua. It caught my eye because the solar panel and wind generator implies that it travels long distances and might be from another country. As I painted it, I zoomed in on a photograph of the stern of boat to see if I could read the name. It is the Wonderland from Boulder, Colorado. I'd heard of this boat but didn't realize she was still in Opua.
About eight months ago, an American vintage wooden schooner, The Nina, sailed from Opua heading for Australia, but never arrived. On board were seven people including Evi from Boulder, Colorado. Sadly, this is her boat - waiting for her to return.
The disappearance of The Nina made international news, especially here in New Zealand as Opua was her last port. It hit a storm, lost all sails, and hasn't been heard from since. I was one of thousands who spent a lot of time searching satellite maps of the Tasman Sea for The Nina, through Tomnod. Tomnod is a company that uses crowdsourcing to analyze satellite images in searches. Volunteers like me, look at the satellite images on our home computers and tag anything that looks out of place. In the case of the Nina, we were looking for a bright orange life raft or a boat. If multiple people tag something (crowdsourcing) then the experts take a look. Many believe The Nina is still out there in the Tasman sea, waiting for a rescue. I hope so.
This is the tenth piece in my latest painting project, 'The Boats of Opua'. I couldn't find the yacht's name on the hull so it is titled, 'Dry Dock'. November 1 - April 30 is cyclone season in the South Pacific, so many of the yachts that are sailing the world or the Pacific, seek safe harbor in my part of New Zealand. I'm guessing this is a good time to have work done on the boats as the Opua boatyard looks pretty busy.
On Tuesday afternoon, I spent some time wandering around the marina, photographing boats. This yacht caught my eye as she looked like she had just arrived in New Zealand. I watched as the sail was lowered and she continued into the port under power. Her name and port were on the hull; Rock and Roll Star, Plymouth and she was flying the Union Jack. I googled the name and found that the boat is owned by a couple who started their sailing adventure in early 2013. They were in Tonga a week or two ago.
I must admit, I cheated a bit and punched up the colour of the sea and made it a little choppier. The water in Opua is often this colour, but that afternoon the sea was flatter and grey.
The Boats of Opua - Rock and Roll Star
8" x 6" oil on gessoed board, unframed
This little study has been donated as a fundraiser for my town of Opua
I'm not sure if this is a boat-passing-through or if it is local...but I've seen it anchored in the bay at Opua. I had to use my telephoto lens to zoom in on the stern in order to read the name, Companion.
This is my 8th painting for my Boats of Opua project. Twenty-two to go!
This is the seventh little oil in my latest project, The Boats of Opua. I've seen the Bullion Rover in Opua more than once, so my guess is that it is a New Zealand boat - possibly a local one.
At first I painted it with the boatyard behind it, but it was so busy I wiped off most of the other boats and just suggested a couple in the water behind the Bullion. I wonder how it got its name?
I'm learning a lot with this latest project. My bird project was all about simplification of subject matter. Painting small oils of boats makes me concentrate on values and color, otherwise the boat gets lost in the clutter of the background, other boats, reflections, etc.
#5867 has such a nice shape, I had to paint it. I saw it in the boatyard at the Opua Marina a few months ago. Perhaps it was getting a new paint job. This is the sixth boat painting I've done for my latest project, The Boats of Opua. Once I've completed a dozen or two, I'd like to use a few as studies for larger paintings.
I started a painting project a while ago and now that I'm back at home in Opua, New Zealand, I'll do some more boat pieces for the project titled, The Boats of Opua. Opua is usually the first port of call for yachts sailing the Pacific. This is where they go through biosecurity and immigration. It is also a great place for armchair sailors like me to wander around the docks...admiring the boats, wondering where they're going and where they've been.
This is the Gannet, from Falmouth, Maine. I saw this yacht a few months ago, so perhaps by now it has sailed on to another port. When the painting is dry, I'll paint the name on the boat.
I was in South Carolina in early November, attending a group show at Horton Hayes Fine Art Gallery in downtown Charleston. It gave me a chance to spend time at Ace Basin, one of my favorite places to paint. It's a wildlife management area, open to the public, and a great place to bird watch. Though I painted this 10" x 8" in Horton Hayes Gallery, it is typical of the roads that run through the Ace Basin area.
I leave for New Zealand in just two days. Today is a cold, rainy day in my current U.S. location, so I'm looking forward to heading home to summer. It is time to sit on the deck, soaking up the sun and enjoying my peek of the sea.
Through the Woods
10" x 8" oil on gessoed board
Available at Horton Hayes Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina.
This 11" x 11" oil is titled Mystic, as in Van Morrison's Into the Mystic, one of my favorite songs. Mystic started as a 14 x 18, but it was a bit too soft and ethereal for a larger piece so I cropped it to the current size.
A few years ago, a few artist friends and I rented a house near the Blackwater Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland, with plans to spend a lot of time painting. A hurricane changed course and headed right for us so we bought storm provisions (a case of wine and a bushel of crabs), lashed a canoe to the tree on the front lawn and waited for the storm. This was the view from the front window of the house!
Baker's Dozen is inspired by scenes I've seen at the Blackwater Refuge, near Easton, where I visit every year. I can also see how my 75 for 75 bird study project has influenced a lot of my recent work. The idea for this particular piece came from one of the studies.
I've cropped the image so you can see the edges of the painting. Once the painting is dry, I sand the edges and round the corners with a fine sandpaper, then float the panel on black foam core, leaving about 1/4" of foam core showing between the edge of the painting and the frame. A lot of my paintings are framed this way as it gives my work a more contemporary look.
This scene is one of my favorite places at the Blackwater Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland. I've painted it over and over again at different times of the day. Though this 11" x 11" oil was done in the studio, it was inspired by the times I've painted the scene on location.
This 16 x 20 oil was inspired by a trip to the Blackwater Refuge in Easton, Maryland one November. It was blowing a gale, yet sunny and the hunkered-down geese were catching some wonderful side-lighting. It was one of those scenes that I knew would become a painting. With studio oils, I work from photographic reference to remind me of the motif and the shape of the geese - but I do a lot of changing and embellishing. There is no photograph that looks like this painting.
I painted this little oil on location a while ago, in Sandspit. It's just east of Warkworth, New Zealand - my original hometown before I moved to the Bay of Islands. My son, daughter-in-law and three grandkids are moving to New Zealand in a few months. I'm really looking forward to taking the kids to Sandspit to swim, which is where I swam as a kid. It's safe and shallow.
This is a little shorebird that I saw at the Blackwater Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland, last November. Perhaps a Yellowlegs?
Some paintings are difficult to photograph. Wet paint reflects light and some colors don't photograph as well as others. The color of this little painting looks accurate on my monitor but the paint is reflecting light. Oh well.
One November while at the Blackwater Refuge in Cambridge Maryland I caught a glimpse of a harrier soaring low over an open field. The light on its wings and the flash of color have been on my mind ever since, so I had to paint it.
In the northern part of New Zealand, Taiwan Cherry trees have been blooming everywhere. DOC (the NZ Department of Conservation) regards them as an invasive species and would rather they be eliminated. They naturalize and spread into the bush, displacing natives trees but the native Tui and Pigeon them love! For the past week or two, there have been dozens of tuis in a large Taiwan Cherry that I can see from my window. The back of my house is elevated 20 feet above the surrounding bush so I've also been seeing the large pigeons zip past the windows with several tuis in hot pursuit. The song of the tui is beautiful - so you can imagine how two or three dozen sound when they're all singing at once. I am in heaven!
There's a boatyard in Opua where boats are in dry dock for maintenance. It's a busy place with workmen on ladders painting and sanding. This yacht is Te Moananui of Mangonui. The literal translation of the Maori; moana = sea, nui = big. The Big Sea. Mangonui is in Doubtless Bay about an hour north of Opua. Mangonui claims to have the best fish and chips on the North Island. I'm still taking my own survey!
4 1/2" x 6 1/2" oil on panel, unframed
US $125 plus $7 shipping
This is the second painting in my new project, The Boats of Opua. This is the Nunki. Like many of the other yachts berthed at the Opua Marina, it's from an international port...San Francisco! I can often pick out these boats as they have a lot of equipment on deck, including solar panels, but the Nunki didn't give any clues other than the name of the port written on the stern. Maybe she's been in port for a while.
Other than three crossings across the Pacific by passenger ship, I'm an armchair sailor. I've read Joshua Slocum, Sir Francis Chichester, Robin Graham's Dove, and a dozen others. I've also read biographies by those that didn't make it, including Survive the Savage Sea. So I look at the yachts berthed in Opua and wonder where they've been - part of the reason for this project.
This is the first oil in a new series titled, The Boats of Opua. As I live a mile from the Opua Marina (Bay of Islands, New Zealand) and I've always been fascinated with boats, I thought this would be a fun series. At 6" x 8", the boat paintings are a little bigger than the 5" x 7" bird series and are more intricate so they're a little higher in price. But like the bird series, my purpose for painting them is to understand how to paint without laboring over unnecessary brush strokes.
It is always difficult for me to get back in the painting mode after I've not painted for a while so I've decided to work on a little boat project while in New Zealand. It's a logical project as I live in the waterfront community of Opua, Bay of Islands. Opua is not much more than a little grocery store/post office, a cafe and restaurant and lots of businesses that cater to the yachting community; sail makers, marine engine repairers, etc. As it is the first port for international yachts arriving in New Zealand after crossing the Pacific, there are almost more yachts than houses!
I feel sorry for those of you who are sweltering in other parts of the U.S. as I am enjoying beautiful temperatures (in the 70's!) in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Today I'm visiting one of the galleries that carries my work - The Walt Horton Fine Art Gallery.
There's a beach about a mile from my house where these little guys hang out. New Zealand has the pied stilt and the black stilt - but pied/black hybrids are common, which is what these birds are. Like the rest of my little studies, this is a quick oil done on gessoed masonite.
Time for another chickadee. I've not done one for a while and I do love painting them....though they're not always the easiest bird to paint. This is one of the reasons I've painted so many chickadee studies - hoping it'll get easier. This one didn't quite 'jump off the brush' but it came a little easier than some. I had to fight to keep the background simple.
I love painting roads - maybe because I like travelling but I think it might be a compositional thing as a road is a handy tool to lead your eye into a painting. When painting on location, if there's no road in the foreground, I'll often suggest a path if the composition is a little lacking. A good example is a 24"' x 36" oil I did a few years ago, Soft Rain Falling. This is one of the few paintings I've kept. It hangs in my living in New Zealand to remind me of some happy painting trips in the hills of San Diego County.
I'm not sure if this New Zealand Teal is the extremely rare Pateke (Brown Teal). I saw the bird at The Kiwi Housein Otorohanga, south of Auckland. My artist friend, Lindsay Scott, lives a few hours south of me in Tawharanui where she has the Pateke breeding on her property, so I'll ask the pro what she thinks!
Sometimes, keeping my studies simple is like pulling hen's teeth. This little guy didn't take me any longer than the other studies - but the detail happened in spite of me fighting it all the way. As I keep saying, the purpose of my studies is to become more painterly - to say more with simplicity and brush work. Two steps forward and one step back. I know many collectors love detail but by the time many artists have been painting for 30+ years, we want to say more than detail has to offer. I want to paint mood, light, color......which doesn't require more brush strokes but rather saying more with each brush stroke.
This is a New Zealand Falcon. They're found in most parts of New Zealand but are considered an uncommon endemic. Endemic = a species that is natural or native to a specific place. I've seen a few but the harrier, an abundant native, is most likely the bird of prey that you'll see in New Zealand skies (or on the roads)! I see them flapping madly trying to lift a dead possum or hedgehog off the road before getting run over. Consequently, I've seen quite a few flat harriers on New Zealand's highways.
New Zealand has a wonderful little native swallow called a Welcome Swallow. I'm not sure how it got its name but I like to think that the little Welcome Swallows that I see zipping around outside my house, are welcoming me home. They're very similar to the Barn Swallow of North America but the Welcome Swallow's tail isn't as long and glamorous.
Today's little 5" x 7" study is another New Zealand species, a white-faced heron. It's a small heron - about the size of the tri-colored heron in North America. I see many more of them than I did when I lived in New Zealand years ago and my bird guide says they're 'an abundant native'. I've seen them in a variety of habitats: along the coast, amongst the mangroves and in paddocks. They're cute little guys!
Today's little oil study is a New Zealand tui, one of my favorite birds! They're nectar eaters so are commonly seen on the flowers of the flax when it is blooming. They have a beautiful liquid song.
The tui is difficult to paint. From a distance it appears black but when you're viewing it up close, you see the iridescent green and blue (and some brown) on the bird.
282 - Tui
5" x 7" oil study on board, unframed. US $85 plus $7 shipping. SOLD
Today's little oil study is a 5" x 7" of pied stilts, a New Zealand species, similar to the black-necked stilt found in North America. I see pied stilts and oyster catchers on the beach near my home in New Zealand but they're also found along rivers and pastureland, as with the black-necked stilt.
Whether you're into painting birds or people, sketching is so very important in your growth as an artist. I've got lots of sketch books that I've kept while travelling but not many of birds and animals other than those critters that stand still for a very long time, such as flamingo, stilts, etc. I recently discovered Youtube and have been using it as a resource for sketching birds. Rather than stop the video, I sketch the birds while in motion. The beauty of using youtube is that you have a second chance to get it right by replaying the video. These are some of my quick studies done from youtube. I wouldn't use youtube images for finished paintings that you plan to sell as the images are protected by copyright.
I use a soft pencil - sometimes a ballpoint or fine-line pen and I try hard not to erase. If I need to smudge or soften a line, I use a kneaded eraser. As we all know, the more you do something, the better you'll get - so becoming better at field sketching moving birds, is my new goal.
There are 3 spots open for my watercolor workshop this coming weekend, March 2 and 3rd, near Auckland, New Zealand.
I'm donating my time to teach the workshop to benefit Tiritiri Matangi, a sanctuary for many of New Zealand's native birds. The predator-free island is just a short ferry ride from Auckland. We'll spend the first day hiking on the island with several guides, observing birds in their native habitat. While the guides tell us about the birds, I'll chat about gathering reference (taking notes, sketching and photographing) as preparation for studio paintings. If time allows, I'll do a quick watercolor demo before heading back to the mainland on the ferry. The following morning, we meet at a classroom in Birkenhead and will spend the day painting birds. I'll do a demo in the morning, then you can paint the same bird as me (I'll provide the reference material), or you can bring your own photographs and paint your own bird. I'll spend time with each of you while you're painting. In the afternoon, I'll do another demo - then you paint until quitting time at 4 pm.
If you are interested contact: Mary-Ann Rowland at email@example.com.
If you have any questions, email me or give me a call at 09 402-5014.
It's been a long time since I've been in my studio, which was in Sedona, Arizona and is now in Opua, New Zealand. I sold my Arizona house in October, arrived in New Zealand on December 6th and I had a house under contract by Christmas. Move-in day was January 18th but my 20' container with all my 'stuff' didn't arrive for another week - though parts of my big easel are still to be delivered. My new hometown is in the Bay of Islands, called the Winterless North because of the subtropical climate. I found a cute little house on two acres of native bush, just a mile from the beach and a couple of miles from Paihia.
This is the first day I've had a studio to work in - so I decided to get back into shape by painting a little winter robin for my 75 for 75 project.