Today's little oil study is a Great Blue Heron. My goal in doing this current batch of oil studies is to get better at softening edges. So much for soft edges on this piece! It fought me all the way - so I left the edges harder than I wanted and spent way too much time on it. I do these quick studies in order to progress as a painter and sometimes it doesn't come as easily as I want it to. Though I'm happy with the final piece as a painting - it's not the soft-edged study I had envisioned.
A Spotted Towhee is today's little oil study. This bird used to be known as Rufous-sided Towhee but for some reason, the name has been changed.
I'm hoping to do a dozen (or more) pieces in the next week or two for my oil study project so I can mail them before heading back to New Zealand in late November. With this batch, I'm working on edges. Get a group of artists together and we can spend a lot of time talking about edges...or the lack of edges. The idea is to suggest an edge without painting a hard line. Birds are the perfect subject matter for this exercise.
I love these little guys - their beep-beep-beep calls make me think of aliens (from another planet) for some strange reason. Just as I put the last brush stroke on this piece, I heard one calling outside. It's a sign! When in New Zealand, I miss the N.American birds most of all; hummingbirds, nuthatches, chickadees and ravens.
This is number 307! That's a lot of little paintings. I wish I could see them all framed and hanging together in one exhibition. I really enjoy painting these little guys. For some reason, they usually jump off the brush unlike larger pieces which are sometimes a struggle.
This 12" x 9" oil was inspired by one of the little owls I did for my 75 for 75 oil study project. I painted it a while ago but this morning, repainted the background. Wow - what a difference!
This will be one of the 25 originals I'll be exhibiting at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland - November 14-16.
I'm not sure if this is finished - but I'll know in a few days. I have to live with a piece for a while before deciding if it is truly done. Tern Beyond the Boom will be with the rest of my work at the Horton Hayes Fine Art Gallery in downtown Charleston, South Carolina for the opening of the group show Atmosphere, November 7th, 2014. I'll be at the opening - hope to see you there.
I'm back in the U.S. for two months and while here, have been sorting through some things I left in the U.S. I've found the motherlode....a few little studies that either weren't finished, hadn't been posted or I've saved from larger pieces that were discarded. There is still more stuff to sort through - so stay tuned!
This is a 12" x 9" oil of my favorite kitty model, Mouser. Unfortunately Mouser passed away a few years ago but I still love to paint her. She spent a lot of time looking at the wall - which made her an even better model.
I've exhibited my work at the Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland for about 28 years. It's a huge event - and it isn't just paintings of waterfowl. The show benefits conservation projects for the Chesapeake and Eastern Shore, including school projects, habitat restoration and planting grains for the Canada Geese. It's not uncommon for the show to attract as many as 40,000 people over the weekend. The entire town is involved - so there is lots to see and do. If you come to the Waterfowl Festival, you'll find me, with my work, in the Armory.
This is one of the little oils I'll bring with me.
Maybe I should have titled this piece, I'm Going Around the Bend'. This small 10" x 8" oil is one of the many roads that winds through Ace Basin, about an hour south of Charleston, South Carolina. It is one of my favorite places to paint because of the muted colors of the landscape. This piece is heading for Horton Hayes Fine Art Gallery in Charleston, South Carolina for a show titled Atmosphere, opening November 7th - and yes, I will attend the opening!
The Santa Ysabel Gallery in, where else but Santa Ysabel, California, is having their umpteenth annual plein air group show. It might be the 18th year but I've lost track having participated in most of them. It opens with an opening reception on October 11th. The show will hang until November 16th. Annie Rowley, gallery owner, insists that these paintings must be strictly plein air (painted on location in 'the open air).
This year Annie has added a twist to the show and asked each artist to also bring something different, such as a sketch. As I've been experimenting in my studio work with removing layers by scraping and sanding, then painting over the exposed texture, I decided to do something along these lines for my sketchy piece. Beneath the Landscape was originally painted plein air in South Carolina in 2010 but not quite finished so I stuck it away in a cupboard and forgot about it. Thinking of the scraping/sanding paint removal that I've been having fun with, I removed some of the paint and found an ethereal landscape underneath. I like the process and the outcome so perhaps this will lead to other things.
I'm back in the U.S. and heading for Art for the Sangres, in Westcliffe, Colorado. This little guy is one of ten paintings that I'll be exhibiting at the one afternoon and evening show on September 27th.
Since I moved back to New Zealand almost two years ago, I've been intrigued with the ever-changing landscape that I see out my south-west facing windows. I live in the Bay of Islands - which is on the east coast of the northern part of the North Island. I think the distant hills I am seeing are across the Waikare Inlet on the Russell Peninsula, but regardless, the hills and sky never look the same. This is a quick little oil of the view, painted plein air from my bedroom window. I'd like to paint a series of oils from the same spot to show how different the view is from day to day. This is the first - and perhaps the last. We'll see!
New Zealand has a wonderful little native owl called Ruru, also known as Morepork. At night, in areas of farmland and native bush, you'll hear Ruru calling back and forth to each other, along with the occasional screech of the possum - and in my part of New Zealand, you will also hear the nocturnal call of the Kiwi.
Eva is my fourteen year old granddaughter. This is her second painting in her World Challenge Project. She is selling her watercolors to earn money for an adventure expedition to Cambodia and Laos next year. While there, she and other students will be working on humanitarian projects such as teaching English and building water systems.
Ruru is painted on handmade watercolor paper and is matted with a single mat. The image is 4.5" x 2.5" and is in a 7" x 5" single acid-free mat which will fit a standard size frame.
My fourteen year old granddaughter, Eva, has been drawing for years and working in watercolor since she was twelve. Eva has committed to an international trip with World Travel Adventure Expeditions and will be traveling to Cambodia and Laos. While there, she will visit local communities, trek through native jungles and work on projects for native villages. She and other students will be installing clean water systems, working on building projects and and teaching English. Eva is responsible for raising all of her travel, lodging and food costs. What better way for her to raise money than with her art?
I offered to help Eva by posting her paintings here on my blog, making them available to those of you who have been collecting my work for years. You may have also purchased some of her Dad's paintings (my illustrator son, Shane). Shane and family also live in New Zealand.
This is Eva's small and delicate little watercolor of a New Zealand native tui in a kowhai tree. It is painted on handmade watercolor paper and is matted with a single mat. The image is 4.5" x 2.5" and is in a 7" x 5" single acid-free mat which will fit a standard size frame.
Eva's World Challenge Project #1
New Zealand Tui
4.5" x 2.5" image 7" x 5" mat size
US$ 20.00 plus $5 mailing charge
I always like to do paintings in pairs, so this is another cute piece to go with last week's Sweet Bun'. Tilly is also 7" x 7" and is framed the identically to Sweet Bun. My neighbor has three free-range chooks (New Zealand slang for chicken) who occasionally come to visit me. They inspired the painting.
I try to resist painting cute since I switched to oil, but every now and then I can't resist painting a bunny. And as it is cute subject matter I might as well go all out and give it a cute title; Sweet Bun. This is actually a New Zealand rabbit, which I believe is an introduced-from-England species. But I shortened the nose and lengthened the ears a bit and voila - I have a Cottontail!
Once again, I don't have the name of this boat so it is titled Lively Water. The winter storms in my part of New Zealand must be inspiring the lively water in the last three little boat paintings. But I like what can be done with color and composition on big waves. These last three oils are inspiring me to paint some larger pieces for my galleries and shows. Stay tuned!
The Boats of Opua - Lively Water
8" x 6" oil on panel, unframed
This little painting has been donated as a fund raiser for my town of Opua.
I was going through my stack of small boards to do another piece for my ongoing project, The Boats of Opua, and found this small painting from my previous bird study project. It wasn't quite finished but a few brush strokes and it's done. And it's #300! Hard to believe I've painted so many of these little guys. It has been fun and I've learned a lot.
This is the 14th little oil in my Boats of Opua series. Like the others, it is an 8" x 6" oil on gessoed panel. One of the reasons I'm doing this project is to figure out how to simplify water. I want to paint the feel of the water without the detail. For me, doing a repetitive project such as this, helps me understand the subject matter.
I haven't worked on my Boats of Opua project for a while. I plan to do thirty so I've got many more little boats to paint. This is number thirteen and as I couldn't see a name, it is simply titled, Red Boat. Regattas are held at the local yacht club, just a mile or two from my house, so there's no shortage of painting motifs for the project.
I've probably done a dozen (or more) paintings of roads in this part of the world; Colleton County low country in South Carolina. It is one of my favorite places but you do have to watch out for fire ants, water moccasins, copperheads and alligators! Not forgetting sand gnats and mosquitoes the size of B-52's. But it is a gorgeous area with great color and moody atmosphere.
It must be because of my childhood in New Zealand that I am compelled to paint cows. You would think I would be painting sheep, but cows have such nice lines. When I start a painting, I quickly sketch the subject matter with the edge of a #6 flat oil brush then I make corrections as I paint.
I'm trying to make up for lost time with two blog posts today. I've been very lax about posting lately - but the last three months have been pretty hectic. My son, daughter in law and three grandkids made the big move from Arizona to New Zealand in January. They now live just two hours south of me in my old hometown of Warkworth. I helped them get settled then had back to back visitors for 8 weeks! That is what happens when you move to Paradise and the beach is just down the road.
Down the Grade is a scene on highway 78 between Julian and San Felipe in San Diego County...another of my favorite places for mood and atmosphere, especially in the spring and fall.
I hang in the Santa Ysabel Gallery, between Julian and Ramona on highway 78, where you can see this painting.
I was fortunate to live in Sedona, Arizona for 35 years before returning to New Zealand. While there, I became friends with Beatrice Welles, daughter of Orson Welles and his wife (Beatrice's mother) Paola. Since Beatrice's mother passed away, the Welles' belongings have been in storage. Now Beatrice has the sad job of sorting through everything. You may have seen or heard Beatrice being interviewed in the past few days regarding her Dad's estate, including Citizen Kane memorabilia, that is going up for auction. There's a fascinating interview with Beatrice where she discusses life with her famous father and the upcoming auction, that you can read here: http://www.wellesnet.com/?p=9297 and here: http://www.wellesnet.com/?p=9349
Beatrice contacted me a few months ago, after finding my little watercolor in her parent's collection and asked if one of my collector's might be interested in purchasing it. It is a watercolor on board, 5.5" x 7". The painting will include a personal note from Beatrice giving the provenance of the watercolor and that the painting was purchased by Orson Welles for his wife, Paola.
from the collection of Orson and Paola Welles' estate
Red fox and yellow aspen leaves - one of my favorite combinations! This is an 11" x 11" oil on gessoed hardboard.
Autumn on the Wind (retitled "Last of Autumn")
11" x 11" oil on gessoed board
My painting surface is often untempered masonite that I buy at the building supply store. I've found the most accurate way to cut it up is using a Stanley knife and a heavy metal ruler. When painting a piece that will be floated, it is important that the corners of the board are completely square, so I use a carpenter's square to double check this before cutting. I mark the line to be cut and with my knee on one end of the yard-long metal ruler, and my hand on the other end, I make repeated light cuts until I'm halfway through the board. Then I flip the board over and repeat the process on the other side. It's easy and accurate. If I'm floating the painting, I sand the edges and slightly round the corners.
New Zealand was just hit with Cyclone Lusi. I'm probably just a quarter mile from New Zealand's east coast and the cyclone came ashore in Paihia - just about three miles from where I live. It was a wild and crazy night with wind howling at the windows and rain beating on my metal roof. But my house must be in a sheltered spot as I was surprised when I took a drive the following day and saw trees down and businesses flooded on Paihia's main street. I love living near the sea - the weather is always changing! It beats shoveling snow.