Lots of paint, heavy brushstrokes, and vibrant colors give this mourning dove the look I was going for. With anything, if one studies a subject long enough, its true colors will show through time after time.
Here are three recently finished miniatures in oil: Lemon Drop, Barley, and Ruby. Respectively, they are a yellow warbler (oh, spring has sprung when you see these beautiful birds in your trees), a barn owl from the Schlitz Audubon Nature Preserve, and a ruby-crowned kinglet.
Just a bit outside of my comfort zone, I wanted a very limited color palette for Meringue. In actuality, I drew from seven different tubes of paint, but still achieved the look I was going for. If you've ever observed a soaking wet bird in the rain, Meringue is a gentle view of that bird, having fluffed her feathers as best as she could, yet still only able to form stiff peaks.
A part of me just can't stay away from painting miniatures. This little sanderling was having a lot of fun on the beach. Well, that's what I'd like to think anyway. Their little legs are some of the fastest moving legs on a bird you'll ever see. Fun!
This painting is composed of several layers to add depth, especially in the bird's feathers. Purple turned out to be a nice surprise at the feet, so I went with it to add interest. Although I'm not particular fond of painting on canvas versus a smoother surface, I am very happy with Ivy.
Ink drawing on Strathmore cream paper - 8-1/2 x 6"
This is a fish crow that cried outloud, not shy in any way, wanting a morsel to gobble from any human passerby. I had nothing. I've mentioned several times how nature talks to us, and those that choose to listen may have to block their ears every now and then.
Benny is a downy woodpecker foraging on reeds at the Lewis Nine Springs E-Way in Madison, WI. My visit last spring started with a few raindrops that gave way to warm sunshine and abundant bird activity. When I was close to finishing this work, I toned down the oranges, added color to the reeds while increasing contrast, and gave detail to Benny in many layers.
I can think of few things more peaceful than swift, busy little chickadees and airports. Both exude chaotic visual forces, like tiny volcanic eruptions meant to interrupt. Yet, the more I am engaged, the more I am at peace.
Snowy egrets have all sorts of looks. When the air is still, their plumage looks delicate and silky, but when the wind blows, their feathers blow every which way. This particular egret was hunting for food in the ocean on a windy day. As you can see, this painting's style is loose and free. It's nice to change things up every now and then. Great expressions can still be accomplished with tiny brushes, a needle, and a magnifying glass.
I recently moved to Duluth, MN and had to put painting on the back burner. Now that I'm settled, here's my first piece from my new home. This green heron is from the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Florida. I constantly go back to my photos of the birds there. It's a fascinating place, and figuring out when I can return is always on my mind.
Georgie is a long-eared owl who resides at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. She may be a he, and doesn't have an official name, according to their staff. Well, obviously I've decided to change all of that, so heeeeere's Georgie!
There are shorebirds, and then there are white ibises. These guys always seem to steal the show when it comes to size, numbers, and consistency. You can always depend on a visit from these birds if you're wading in the surf.
Here's a robin where I pushed the color palette, starting with his orange belly and then adding complementary colors from there. Robins don't have blue feathers, but who cares! Experimenting is fun, and I bet you still know it's a robin, don't you?
This is a little song sparrow I saw along the boardwalk at the Nine Springs E-Way in Madison, WI. These birds are often overlooked because they are quiet flyers, frequently low to the ground, and camouflage easily with their surroundings. What they lack in ostentation is made up with a distinctive and pretty call.
Rousseau is becoming a popular bird. He just won another award, this time 1st Place at Plymouth Art Center's Alive in the Arts Exhibition now through Aug. 2nd. Gallery hours are Tues.-Sat. Noon-4 p.m, Sun 1-4 p.m. Free admission.
Juror and notable artist, Craig Blietz, commented about Rousseau:
"The mark making in this piece is stunning. When viewing this work up close, one can witness this artist successfully bringing together a great variety of squiggles, smears, patches, lines, and other such touches into a symphonic abstraction. When viewing this painting from a distance, this abstraction is cloaked as it all morphs into its cohesive subject matter. Pure illusion. Thrilling to look at!"
Thank you, Craig Blietz!!!!
In other news, my newest painting....
Killdeer at Nine Springs
Oil on Canvas - 11x14"
My most recent painting stems from the Lewis Nine Springs E-Way corridor in Madison, WI. A few weeks ago, I visited this area on a rainy morning. A group of photographers walked together on the other side and slowly headed out when the rain got heavier. Sandhill cranes were coming and going, and I suspect these may have been what the photographers were after. I continued on, not quite dressed for prolonged rain, but brighter skies were off in the distance.
This killdeer (above) was at my turnaround point. Nearby, a mother goose splayed her feathers over her eggs, and goslings from another family followed their parents to a safer distance into the water. Red-winged blackbirds, sparrows, swallows, goldfinches, cardinals, orioles, warblers, and herons were all active. I saw my first American Bittern, spotted sandpiper, and a pair of northern shovelers during this outing. It's also the first time I'd ever seen a Canada goose battle a mink (photo below). Notice the red-winged blackbird watching in the distance. One last broken egg was nearby. Nature is harsh, no doubt about it.
The American White Pelican is one of the largest birds that spends its summers in Wisconsin. They migrate in flocks like Canada geese, except they are very quiet. They can be easily overlooked because of this and their mostly white feathers. Their landing takes forever, hovering in circles. Think of a really long spring coil pattern with no ending.
This painting depicts a ruddy turnstone splashing the beaches in the warm sunlight of Sanibel Island. These shorebirds can be found along many shores throughout the coastal regions, and are often blazing the salty sands alongside sanderlings. As their name indicates, they turn over stones looking for food.
Eastern Phoebes in the summertime, now there's a familiar sound that means home. Along with the Eastern Wood Pewee, this bird's call reminds me of harvesting vegetables from my Dad's garden on hot and humid days, aka doing chores.
This is the second painting I have done of Tskili, a great horned owl from the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee. More of her fluffy feathers are showing in this one. In order to obtain a soft look, I used a couple of different brushes to soften the initial paint application.
Rousseau, my painting of a blue-winged teal in Lion's Den Gorge, Grafton, took the People's Choice Award at New London's Wolf River Art Festival, held Jan. 23-24. Hooray! I was so excited!!!
In addition, look below to see my newest bird, Tskili, a miniature painting of a great horned owl who lives at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee. Tskili was taken from her nest as a baby and fed inappropriate nutrition and also became imprinted on humans. She is now a permanent resident of SANC and has a delightful personality.
And finally, you are invited to The Arts Mill's 2nd Anniversary Event and Peep Show, held March 22, 6-9 pm, 2013. As many of you know, this is where I have a studio where I display my work and also paint on occasion. (I split my painting between home and the Arts Mill.) This event is coupled with a Peep Show, a juried Exhibition of Fine Art Nudes. I've added new, signed prints of some of my latest work, too. I hope to see you there!
This is a painting of a yellow-crowned night-heron in J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge. I was one of the lucky ones able to watch him stalk a bug, up close and personal. He paid no attention to us humans, and was solely focused on breakfast. This chap swayed his neck back and forth like a king cobra and wiggled his tail feathers just before striking. As far as birding goes, this remains one of my favorite experiences.
This piece was sold at The Arts Mill's 24-Hour Auction, held Saturday, Jan. 26th. All pieces had to have been created in 24 hours on 11x14 inch canvases.
In 2012, I joined a community garden. I can't remember the last time I stood next to a sunflower and admired its beauty. One day, I walked over to another gardener's plot and stood underneath one. I felt really small. When it comes to plants, sunflowers are pretty cool.
Ospreys will always remind me of visiting my friend's family cabin in northern Minnesota where these raptors nest across the lake in the summertime. Besides ospreys, loons are fairly abundant as well. Santiago's name comes from the main character in Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea.
Sometimes as a way of breaking out of the monotony, or just for art's sake, I paint something new and different. Meet Chip. He's a little rascal that eats my mom's birdseed and chews on her house. Referring to the background, I have seen the back and forth brushstrokes come out in quite a few of my paintings. It's something that feels natural to me when creating.
Here's a painting of a fisherman that I finished yesterday at The Arts Mill where I rent space to show my artwork and paint at my $20 desk that I got at a local thrift shop last year. It rained all day. I welcomed visitors that dodged the raindrops while a great blue heron hunted for food and preened just outside on the Milwaukee River. It was a great day. A pot of coffee and Coltrane on the radio topped it off.
Otis is a tree swallow from Broughton Sheboygan Marsh Park. The day before he came to life as a painting, he got caught in a windstorm and received specs of dirt, pollen, and other debris all over the sky. I spent hours cleaning him up, so now he's much better. Transporting wet paintings with inadequate coverage only invites trouble. If you ever want to know just how much stuff is in the air we breathe, just paint something and set it outside on a windy day.
This was one of those paintings that evolved on its own. Originally, there was more to the scene and it was painted on a larger canvas, but after working on this particular figure, I let him develop into a painting all to himself.
Continuing with the cat theme, this is my bad cat, Mandy. She is a Texan and I was smitten by her flirtatious window rubbing at the San Antonio animal shelter when we laid eyes on each other. Her personality is "Play with me, or I'll torment you," except when she's sleeping, of course.
This painting's style is a result of getting to the studio and realizing I had only one brush to work with. You're probably wondering how that is possible. It comes from transporting brushes back and forth between my studio and home. Since I paint in both locations, I incorrectly assumed I had more brushes at the studio. Now if I were like the late artist Mary Nohl, I might have cut my hair to make some more brushes, but I did not.
Yellow is such a fine color. It's cheery, bright, and lifts my mood. If you're familiar with goldfinches, you've noticed that they sing when they're flapping their wings, then stop singing as they glide through the air. This scenario is repeated until they land. I had to laugh when my husband voiced his opinion on this. He said, "It's because they need to get rid of the air in their lungs to help them glide more aerodynamically." Thought-provoking or just plain ludicrous, what do you think?
My focus on this little piece was to incorporate bright colors, shadows, and light while not being afraid to let my brush strokes fall where they wanted. I've painted quite a few new pieces in the past few weeks and have fallen behind on blogging. I can't wait for this crazy world of communication methods (web, blog, tweets, etc) to settle down. Will it ever? You can always check out my website for more new pieces, too.
Agatha sat on the docks by herself, surrounded by dozens of barn swallows zipping through the air snapping up bugs. She wasn't sure which direction to go, because she wasn't one of them. She is a northern rough-winged swallow and she really stared at me when I took notice of her. Within moments she took flight, hopefully in the direction where more of her kind were flying.
Early spring, an injured heron took refuge near my home. This painting is inspired by that bird, who coincidentally managed to fly away from some kids throwing rocks at him while he was recuperating. One of my friends made a comment to me recently referring to bad behavior. She said, "They just weren't brought up properly." Isn't that the truth.
Just outside of my window, there is a young oak tree favored by a pair of song sparrows. The male likes to sing high up in the leaves, while his mate prefers rustling around in the lower branches. Chances are, you've heard their song many times, and probably paid no attention. I know I have until now.
I am pleased to announce my oil painting "Fishin' Pole" has been accepted into Gallery 224's upcoming exhibit Fish and Ships in Port Washington, WI. Opening reception Friday, June 29, 5-7 pm. Exhibit runs through Sept. 2, gallery is open Saturdays, 9-3 pm.
S/N Limited Edition of 125. Prints available for $95.
Taking cover within this fall-colored bush in Lion's Den Gorge is a Nashville Warbler. I knew nothing of this bird when I first saw him last September, and had to search for his identity when I got home. Much of my interest in painting comes from learning new things during the process, and it's especially neat when that information is a species of bird unfamiliar to me. This is my largest oil painting to date, and is the reason you haven't heard from me in a while.