Monday, April 19, 2021

Pet Portrait Commission Completed

 


Portrait for Emily V.  - these are the 7 pets that have been a part of my client's mom and dad's family during their family's lifetime.  It is painted in acrylic and measures 20" x 30".  I will make a floater frame - for which the material is arriving today.  I have enjoyed putting this together - 
it has turned out perfectly! 

I will be adding the 'up close and personal' photos of each pet below to show detail of the animal as soon as my email or iPhone communicate with one another - always some kind of issue it seems with iPhone these days.  

This was such a huge challenge for me to paint!  I have angsted over it - but in the end it turned out exactly as I hoped it would.  Many hours, lots of painstaking planning occurred on this one.  The photos, as you can believe, were not as helpful as I wanted..many were old photos of pets who have passed.  Of the 7, only three are still with the family.  

The black and tan dog, Casey - 3rd from left, is a three legged dog and the 
client wanted that reflected in the painting. 
She lost her limb to cancer, was given only 6 mos to live 
and has lived on for 2 years already. 
What a nice gift of life.

NOW, I can't wait to move on with some weaving and some more acrylic painting.  The studio awaits!

Truffle
Calvin
Casey
Chili
Wyatt
Reese and Flickerfoot

Thanks for stopping by.  Feel free to leave a comment.







Wednesday, April 7, 2021

First Layer of Commission Portrait(s)

 



First layer (very rough) almost there - working on the likeness and playing with the sizes and those crazy striped cats on the right - they were sisters.
The cats are bigger than normal in my painting - but having much smaller faces in this composition
just didn't do it for me. Using acrylic paint on 20" x 30" canvas.
Seven LOVING souls - I can feel their specialness, each one. Some or maybe 
one is still here, the rest have passed.
(My easel is backed up to a window, that is the light
shining through the unpainted canvas.)
Decision, decisions, always in the works - what to do with the background when I get there?



Monday, March 29, 2021

The Beginnings of a Commissioned Piece

 A few months ago I was approached online with a commission request. A possible client wanted me to paint her parents 'past' and present pets in ONE painting.  I thought, 'cool, I can do a few in a painting' - great challenge.  Lo and behold, it is 7 animals.  SEVEN...seven!  4 dogs and 3 cats.  OK.  I can do this.  Other life happenings have been filling the void..have had the photos of these pets for a couple of months.

AND..other commission work, matting and framing for a show, family issues, ME taking care of the homestead for the winter have taken precedent - not excuses - but many artists who work at home, will tell you LIFE gets in the way, very often.  

Yesterday I plowed through.  After working most of the day - my first sketch of the composition was completed.  Honestly, I was thinking - where do I start?  What have I done?  Questioning myself if I could do this and why did I take it on?  

I have to give some of the credit to the many places online that I get my 'nudging'.  I do these tasks daily - I listen to Danny Gregory's Podcasts, watch Ali Cavanaugh paint beautiful watercolors on Patreon, listen and watch Kim Casebeer and Kami Mendlik paint on Instagram - I get a world of encouragement just by watching and listening to others. (It's like that instrumental crescendo in "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles is playing all the while - in my head.)   

AND finally - there - voila - STEP ONE - completed (charcoal on newsprint).  Now I can go forward with getting the plan down on canvas and begin painting.  Only in one case, do I see any of these lovies side by side for comparative SIZE reference.  The client supplied me with who is the biggest and suggestions from there, that there is a three legged pooch that she wants shown (black and tan, up front). Most have passed, so the photos that she has, are the photos I will use.  Some photos show what I need, some do not..I have to make it up a little with research and artistic license - scary to say the least.  I am making the cats larger than they should be, but putting much smaller cats with dogs - bugs me.  Watercolor was my first choice on Aquabord but substrate choice of a bigger size calls for acrylic on stretched/cradled edge canvas.  It will be 20" x 30".  Sometimes DOING art seems so hard.  Why?  I hang a sign over my easel and refer to it so much these days..."It's Supposed to be Fun".  And IT IS, once I get past the 'heebie jeebies' of that first step.  If I can DO this one - I will have proved to myself, I can do anything.



 Quick photo, bad lighting


The Sun in the Morning, but OH That Moon at Night!

 For two evenings past - I missed the opportunity to photograph the rising full moon..but not last night.  Had my tripod at the ready and the camera waiting for the moonshine to peak over the Wet Mountains. The moonlight is so bright as it travels through the night.  









































Spring? Not yet...

Living in the Colorado high country after the first day of Spring has come and gone is like flipping the light switch ON and the OFF and then ON and then OFF.  And with each sunrise you don't know what to expect...dry deck and stairs or ICY deck and stairs once out the door.  Not to worry, after I shattered my left ankle in a slip on ice out the door several years back, I always 'cleat up'.


I love that days are like this.  Lots of layers of clothing to start out the day - then all the way to short sleeves by mid afternoon, only to layer back up later.  

For the past two years I have been involved in Project Feeder Watch/Cornell Ornithology Labs, a program that counts birds. By signing up you spend an hour or two each week observing birds and their behaviors and report them to the website.  

This past couple of weeks with weather changing we have had some new visitors to the feeders, as well as some antics by the frequenting birds.  Crows are a part of who visits often for the fact that I fill up the suet feeders which they command being in charge of - pushing/displacing the Magpies to the ground or away.  Hundreds of House Finches fly in every hour or two to make a mess of my deck - with their feeding frenzy. but I love watching them.  When they all come in - it's like a scene from the movie "The Birds".





Crows made these wing marks in the snow near my front deck, upon closer examination, there were also mouse prints in the snow.  I would assume the mice were scrambling from the field to the underneath of the deck where they frequent..also going under the house.  However, crows won on many counts it appears. I put 'redneck' mousetraps under the house - and catch up to 20 mice a bucket over a period of several weeks..but I will let the crows take care of it anytime they want to.


Monday, March 22, 2021

A New Beginning

 OK, pandemic has interrupted my life LONG ENOUGH!  I am making a pact with myself, ART will come back to life now.  I have never experienced such a 'downer' of a time - the daily irritation of poor leadership and corruption in this country is gone.  I have my second Moderna vaccine under my belt by a month.  Art venues are opening back up for the season. My 'trigger thumb' is getting well from that long break I have taken.  No excuses, no holds barred - it's time!

I entered my first show for the season at the gallery.  It is referred to as 'the calendar show' .  An outside artist judges the art and chooses 13 suitable pieces to be printed into the yearly 'Sangres Art Guild' calendar. I didn't enter my pieces for that purpose, I entered them, just as a way of getting back INTO the groove.  They are a few of last year's 30 in 30 Inktober/pen and ink pieces (see my sidebar for a postcard I made of them) but new to gallery EYES.  Looking forward to a new beginning.  More to come here on the blog, too! 

Just finished and am shipping out today a pastel commission dog portrait.  This was Bella - her owner's said goodbye to her earlier this winter.


Bella - 10" x 14"


The three archival ink pen drawings I entered in the calendar show.


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Goodbye to OUR Last Pup

 Our dachshund, Chaco, was 17 1/2 years old. He started to fail about a year ago. We have fretted and worried about when the day would come that we would have to say 'goodbye' and it came on this past Monday.  We made the decision based on his health issues, bad back with pain, not able to walk or stand for very long, stomach ailments and eating issues, blindness and confusion, I could go on...but the signs were there and could no longer be ignored.  Any 'body function' he had to do he needed help in doing..we were experiencing 'doggy hospice'.   

Through much discussion and definite 'guilt' we had him put down. The vet said that we could do some meds that would help him for a bit, but we would likely be right back where we were in a very short time - that helped tuck away a little of the 'guilt' I felt.  She agreed with us that it was time to say 'goodbye'. 

So - WE SAID our FINAL goodbye's and held him while he slipped away.  It was a heart-wrenching task..one that continues to visit my memory.  But in the days ahead, we will realize it was the best thing we could do.  He was the one of the three we have had the privilege to raise in our 20+ years together.  Now we are a Dogless Home.  We have agreed to NOT think about having another dog for at least a year..and especially since COVID is still around.  I can't bare the thought of myself getting ill, being hospitalized or dying and leaving a dog behind with no one to take care of it.

I would like to share a video I made of him and our other two dogs...but it's too large for Blogger.  It helped my mind -  to put it together.  (anyway, here are a few photos of him)






GOODBYE CHACO...we will meet again someday. We LOVE YOU. 



Thursday, December 3, 2020

Watching Birds

For the second year, I have joined up with The Cornell Lab in participating in the 'Feederwatch Project'.  This is the third week of watching for 2 days and then taking a break until 5 days forward.  During the winter we are limited on the number of species we see, most likely due to the harshness of the winters and the environment not having very many trees. You observe, log your observations and report once a week.  When we see birds it is usually by the droves.  One species in particular is the House Finches.  We have a total of 4 tube feeders and about 4 - 5 times a day, over 100+ birds fly in to feed.  It is like a scene from Hitchcock's movie "The Birds"!  The photo doesn't let you see how many birds are on the deck and the garden area in front of the deck, gathering spilled seed.


We have a suet feeder that is out by that gate along the fence..away from the smaller birds, so as to not displace them.  Crows and Magpies visit that feeder.  And talk about displacement, the Crows always RULE over the feeder.  The Magpies sit on the ground and wait their turn or snatch up anything that the Crows drop.  It is a great pass time to watch these visitors.  It gives me something important to do.  
Here are a few of the crow photos..I think that perhaps there is a Raven or two in the mix at times.  We see both from time to time. Magpies, when they all appear are a flock of about 10 - 20.  Crows - I have counted 30 at one time.







I often paint or draw these birds and I have never had a true resource of my own, over the years. The Feederwatch Project gives me the time and the inclination to take LOTS of photos for my files.
Love painting these birds!








Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Soulful Walking and a Gift

 Yesterday, I was feeling the "ho humdrums" of the times - went for a walk.  After taking the first photo, I felt way better. I think I forget to take in the beauty that surrounds me at times.  Anyway, it made those feelings drift away.  It's drab and gray, but still, even in the prairie weeds and plants, it says 'beautiful high desert at the base of a mountain range'.









Today we are meeting a friend for lunch - outdoor patio ONLY.  I used 
a photo of her cat for practice recently, think it will be a housewarming gift as 
she and family moved to another city this last year.





Monday, November 2, 2020

Oldies but Goodies

 My studio is overrun with OLD art pieces.  Most of these were done over 20 years ago..they are pastels so they lay flat in the flat file.  The elephants have been sold and gone for that time.  I recently found the elephant photos in a photo box  Sad to say goodbye to some of them..when they are your favorites, but pushing myself to say goodbye to more of them.  

I love this patriarch bull.  He was a lot of fun to paint.

This family of elephants - I can't recall selling it, but it's gone.  
It was giant. So fun to get lost in as I painted it.

This boy and his dog were a study from a magazine photo back in the day when I didn't have very good source photos. I allowed myself to use magazines - at times, even tho that's an artist's 'no-no' with copyright laws. Love the colors and the paper color.

This is my dad, Ed.  This pastel was done from a classic photo that we all had a copy of it seemed, but it showed his true character when he wasn't working and taking a break at our annual family reunion.  I will keep it - it's like an 'art heirloom'.  It is quite large, 24" x 30".

In looking at these, I noticed I was MORE careful with edges and took more time in doing a piece.  I would spend days and days on pieces. These days, if it's not done in a day, I usually lose interest unless it's a commission (which have become few and far between).  It's good for my artist's soul to revisit these from time to time, maybe that is why I hoard them. It's also a reminder to maybe SLOW DOWN a little.   
















Sunday, November 1, 2020

Changing Time

 Halloween, time change, an election, COVID, full moon, cold weather, what else can we put on the proverbial plate today?  Lots going on in my world..just staying at home..working as hard as I can on my many projects.  Right now - doing some organizing and tossing of old art.  I acquired about half of a studio's worth of matboard, glass and a newer mat cutter from a closing business and although I probably didn't need any of it, it was an opportunity that arises only rarely.  It just takes up precious space.  Another issue I will need to deal with.  Where is the best place to house it so I can readily use it?  Time and 'try outs' will tell.  My 'she shed' gets fuller and fuller.  I feel like I am on a Merry Go Round, just shifting things in a circle. Do your days ever feel that way?  It's like my own little amusement park.  ha. 

Local fireban is not as stringent as it was. A fair amount of snow has taken care of that, in the meantime, because we like a good campfire, we made one each night for the past few nights in the novelty fire ring that was left here by the previous owners.  Listening to the coyotes, watching the full moon, dressing warm with a good chill in the air..watching the stars.  Being one with the earth.  It feels good.  These times are used for adjusting to a new idea of 'how to live' and stay healthy ~ for the next year or so.  I have to ask myself daily, "What expectation of normal 'can I let go of' - today?" This thought lives large in my mind.  

Hope all is well with you?




Sunday, September 27, 2020

New Pastel - just off the easel

 I used a photo reference on this one for the fox. It was in a cage at a wildlife park.  I imagined it on the prairie.  I have to force myself to use my imagination a little more.  Wild animals - should be in the wild...right?  Thanks to Deb Frank for use of the photo.



Monday, August 24, 2020

Next Three

 Our local artist's guild is doing it's best - during these times.  As you can imagine, like any small business, Covid 19 really put a damper on ART activities and events in towns and cities.  Ours is not alone.  Each month, I am happy to be able to enter a show and display my art.  (It's important to keep yourself out there.)  These are the three that I am entering in a show titled "High Peaks" this next month.  Interesting that you don't have to adhere to the theme.  That's good, because I suck at painting 'peaks' and mountains.  Animals it is - for me!

"Golden Eagle"
pastel

"Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Study"
pastel

"Armadillo"
pastel






 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Wildfires and Forest Fires and an RV Trip

 Right now - there are 10 fires burning in Colorado. None of them are very close to us, but the smoke - on any given day, can drift along the valleys and low spots and get to us.  It does awesome things to the skies at sunrise and sunset.  Our governor has banned ALL campfires and outdoor fires for now.  Many of these blazes are being fought with little or NO containment.  

DH and I recently took a short RV trip to Creede and Gunnison, Colorado.  I noticed that the forests that we drove through were SO dry. I realize this whole state could go up in smoke in a snap. 

Our first stop was Creede. Co (about 3 hours west from where we live).  We met up with relatives and stayed at a lovely RV resort - Mtn. Views.  Here are a few photos from there.


(Brothers Gary and my DH Gene)


I took a few photos going over the passes we traveled in the Rio Grande/Forks area of SW Colorado. The forests there are full of beetle kill pine and very, very dry.



ON the lighter side, we took some time to rent a pontoon boat and go fishing for the day on Blue Mesa reservoir in the Curecanti Recreation area.  We are not big fishing people.  Best we did was 4 Rainbow Trout and put them all back in the lake.  We had a fun day, it was hot and the wind came up near the end of our travels from one end of the lake down to the other (about 13 miles each way).  The campgrounds were crowded and the highway, which was nearby in our sight - had an unusual amount of travel due to the rerouting of the I70 corridor from the fires. Made for an 'not so familiar' noise all night.  Chaco, our dachshund, was with us,  He rode in the boat - his first boat trip.  He did great, but stayed in the shade the entire time - sleeping.  He is 17.



It was nice to make this trip.  We are usually hunkered down on our ranch - avoiding being around people for now.  We did social distancing and mask wearing.  I feel we were not amongst people at all and did extra cautionary things like wiping down surfaces especially on the boat rental and staying out of places that seemed sketchy. Having an RV is a good way to get away for a short trip.  Our 34 foot Monaco Cayman RV is 15 years old but still runs like a champ and has adequate space to make you feel like you are at home. We tow my Jeep Wrangler behind, so if we need to make a trip to town, we can.