Friday, February 28, 2014

Robin of Dogwood Forest

Robin of Dogwood Forest, 10 x 8" mixed media on paper, from a photo I took of Marley the Min-Pin
Meet the daring legend who steals from the fat cats and gives to the pups!

I took this photo and could not get over the ears and the jaunty pose. At first I was going to put a vest and tie on him, but then the feathered cap occurred to me and it was off to the races.

This original is available at $225.  Greeting cards and prints are easy to order here.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Drawing Board

Or in this case, the drawing coffee table. This was yesterday afternoon as I was getting started. Click to enlarge the photo.

And several hours later, I had this:

Wrong Side of the Door, 8 x 10". I've emailed this to the kitty's owners, who will have first choice if they'd like to own it. Either way, it's going to become a greeting card and print.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Happy Sparrow Number Four

I wanted at least one of the series to have its wings stretched out, and I wanted another vertical format image, so I'd have two verticals and two horizontals in the set of four. So I picked a slanted landing surface (a branch with rose hips, from a photo I took late last summer) and played until I made it work.

When I do things as a series, there's a trend where they get more complex and time-consuming as they go. Maybe because I get more confident and adventurous. I love this piece, yet I'm thinking of doing a fifth with a much simpler setting, like the round edge of a bird bath.

Click here to order prints or cards.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dreams that Stick With You

Years ago, I dreamed of crossing a bridge and watching two moons rise in the sky above the Gulf of Mexico.
Sky over Ford Parkway. What if there'd been two moons rising?
I mean, this was 20+ years ago. I still remember it vividly. It's going to show up in my art, as I'm becoming more and more free to be as odd as I really am.

Do you have any of these? Dreams you woke up from and have never forgotten? Even if it was just one image that stayed.

What was it?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Sparrow, and How He Got Here

Happy Sparrow #3 ...

Happy Sparrow #3, 8 x 10", sold
The first two Happy Sparrows were based wholly on snapshots I took of birds on my balcony. For this one, I needed something different, so I found a sunflower photo I took last summer, printed it on plain typing paper, and then drew on that to figure out how to place the bird and where to crop the edges. Before I ever touched my expensive drawing paper, I had this:

The second photo I was using was this one, a moment I screen-captured from a video on Youtube. It's not in focus, and it's the reverse of the direction I wanted -- but I can work with that.

The fourth Happy Sparrow will be in motion, with its wings extended either in flight, or taking off/landing. I'll begin him just as soon as I find the references I need.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Did Not Go as Planned

When you make art, it's common for the thing to miss that left turn at Albuquerque -- and take you somewhere you didn't know you were going.

Sometimes, that's a disaster. Sometimes it's not. It's what happened here ...

Kings of the Goldenrod City, set of three oil paintings on canvas, each 20 x 20"
First of all, these were supposed to be abstract, and they were supposed to be a continuation of my Cracked Concrete series, and there were supposed to be four of them.

If you look closely, you'll see the cracked concrete pattern in the lower parts, peeking through. It also gave me the basic division of space that I used between the lighter "ground" and the red "sky" areas. But once I got those lines and divisions in place, it all just stalled. Totally. These canvases sulked on the wall of my studio for something like six months, and might be there still if I hadn't had a DEADLINE OMG DEADLINE looming.

The first thing I did was recognize that the red paint I had already applied -- which up until then was a diseased patchwork of blotches -- had been a real mistake. I decided, if I was going to make a mistake, I ought to make a BIG MISTAKE, and I put a ton more red in.

Those odd, gourd-like "houses" are based on dry goldenrod stems I'd collected a while back. Something makes homes in these things while they grow, and then drills out, leaving neat little doors behind in the fall. I loved them, but the paintings needed something alive and in motion, and then I was playing around online and found a documentary about crows. I paused it repeatedly, took screen shots, and off I went.

By then I was running out of time, so I pulled the fourth canvas, the one I had the least idea what to do with. It'll reappear soon enough, not as part of this set but as its own thing. Not what I'd planned, but what happens.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Branching out

Olive Branch, above, 14 x 18" canvas in oil paint and wax medium. This is a commission for the Mount Dora Olive Oil Company in Florida. I'm adding a few shots of the work in progress for those who are curious about how these things take shape. 

 Above are two of the four thumbnail sketches I did. These are about 4" wide, and you can see I was trying out some different shapes for the branch and facing or slanting it in different directions. The bottom sketch is more finished because I liked it better and thus continued to work on it. 

 When I put the design on the canvas, I did it originally in a red-clay-colored pastel pencil. I didn't photograph that step because the pencil is a soft color, not very dark, and doesn't show up well in photos at all. You can see that I kept the basics of the design I had in the thumbnail, but made the branch somewhat more graceful, with fewer bare spots or abrupt curves. 

The photo above is of the stage at which I had taken a brush and some dark paint (mostly raw umber) and drawn the graphic-style outline with that.  I then left it to dry before continuing. 

Next, I had to start mixing the greens and browns I wanted. Greens are tricky, and what looked nice and neutral to warmish on my palette, looked really minty-blue on the canvas. I had to keep adjusting it.

The shadow you see on left is mostly cold wax medium, which is this translucent stuff about the consistency of Crisco, and you mix it with oil paint; and in this case I applied it with a palette knife, like skimming a wall with a trowel. Eventually I covered the whole surface in it, making the colors lighter as I moved toward the right. Wax medium lets me build up a lot of transparent to semi-transparent and then opaque layers really quickly.

When you start with a transparent layer and then put opaque layers over it: *poof* instant feeling of depth. It's really fun to do. The rest of the painting process was one of applying layers of transparent, translucent, and opaque paint, with the brightest and most opaque "foreground" or focal area in the lower right quadrant. That's also where I used the coolest, bluest colors in what is otherwise a very warm painting. Had I used the same colors all over, in the same proportions, it would have been pretty but not very interesting -- more like wallpaper.