Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Letter

The Letter, watercolor, 5" x 8". Private collection. The finished Hornbill painting. Well maybe. Will revisit it a few more times before framing. Seems there is always room for a little tweaking.

It doesn't look much different from the last post, except for the curtains and a few details.

I very much value feedback from other artists when I get stuck.  Showed it to Ruth Fiege ( last week and she suggested upping the highlights. She was right of course. A bit of white gouache perked him up.

Am going to begin putting watercolor on the Alice in Wonderland drawings I posted awhile back. Had been doing so many acrylics that I thought the ability to watercolor left me. Got some confidence back with this Hornbill, and am pretty excited to add some color to the Mad Hatter!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hornbill painting progression cont'd

This is the next step in the progression of the Hornbill watercolor. As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s being painted on Crescent watercolor board, so it looks a bit different from my other recent watercolors.

My idea for this painting came from seeing a Hornbill at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo this past spring. The pic I took of it with my phone was terrible so these resources are from a book. But I really love Hornbills--they seem very intelligent, and have a crabby affect.

I most often use watercolor and acrylic, and in combination once in awhile. Sometimes ink, and sometimes collage, too.

I look at my work and see quite a bit of diversity, and tend to worry about that.  And the other day it dawned on me that the variations are all about the surface I happen to choose.

That is probably obvious to most artists, but I am a pretty slow study, especially about analyzing my art. Guess it’s because talking about my work or thinking about it after it is complete isn’t something I do often (or with much comfort).

Usually I grab whatever paper or board or panel that happens to catch my eye. Then I draw on it or brush in an outline. And then the pic falls into place. Or not. And then it’s finished and on to the next.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harry Potter Owls for There With Care

Was fortunate and happy to receive a request to do a couple of paintings of Hogwarts owls.  They were commissioned for two of the actors in the Harry Potter movies, as thank you gifts for their continued support of  There With Care ( ) It's an amazing organization that provides practical support for children and families facing critical illness.

As preparation, I drew the six owls above, practiced a bit of watercolor on one, and then picked the two I liked best for the final artworks.

The inspiration for the owls came from this series of sketches I drew on a plane to Seattle a few summers ago. Quite a few paintings have come from those sketches and the one below:

Watercolor works a bit differently on Moleskine paper, but I kind of like it.

This is the finished Slytherin Owl, for Tom Felton, the actor who plays Draco Malfoy.

The finished Gryffindor Owl, for Devon Murray, the actor who plays Seamus Finnegan.

Both owls were done in brush & ink, with watercolor, on Arches 300 lb cold press paper. It was enjoyable work, and I was pleased to be able to do these paintings for a very fine organization.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friar Owl

The hardest part was figuring out how to put an owl in the habit of a monk. I posted a few sketches I did awhile back—here are a few more.  Most of them were less than successful, but it was in my mind to do this, and so I figured it out.

Friar Owl, acrylic in panel, 5" x 5", private collection.  Saint Francis of Assisi liked birds very much.  So do I.  This is not a picture of St. Francis as an owl.  It is a small painting of an owl who is a Franciscan friar.
This was painted with matte acrylics on a hardboard panel.  I painted the panel black, then drew the outline with brush and white acrylic. Many of the numerous layers of paint are peeking through.

I like this sketch better than the finished painting though.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Big Rains

Had a couple weeks of big rains every day. One early morning, after what I thought was the biggest, I went around my neighborhood looking for ideas.  Somehow the flat light at 6 am suited my mood.  The little gulch was washed out and the birds were silent--unusual for that hour.

The Observatory reflected in a lake that was the baseball field.

After so many days of heavy rain, the fungi are rampant. 
This little house on my block is abandoned.  All the water has made the yard around it emerald. It's a beautiful Arts & Crafts cottage.  Like many of the great little houses around here, its days are probably numbered, and it'll get torn down to make way for yet another look-alike, ugly, pretentious trophy-house. I've been photographing it quite a bit lately--my dream would be to make it into a studio. The reality will be just using it in a future painting.   

Next post: the finished painting of Friar Owl.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A watercolor painting in progress

Working on a painting of a strange bird character reading a letter.  Drawn on crescent watercolor board, the surface takes watercolor very smoothly and layers are easy to build on it. The head needs some lights pulled out and will add some color to the beak, and then I will continue to paint the rest.  I began this as a demo during an art guild presentation.  I like it so far and am enjoying the process.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Owl Friars and a Green Glass Owl

Was trying to paint outdoors last week, during some very hot weather, and the paint was drying too fast. To avoid being frustrated, I drew in my sketchbook instead.  These little Owl Friars are continuing a streak of owl art that I've been exploring for the past few years.

Owls in art and design have been pretty ubiquitous over the past few years, maybe due to a renewed interest in the1960's. Then as now, owls were everywhere. (My mom had them all over the house--from owl trivets to owl shaped candle lanterns.) Or maybe the owls in the Harry Potter series re-started the fascination.

My own interest was piqued when I found this fat, green, owl-bookend in a junk store. It was designed in the 60's by Joel Myers--a thick glass slab of an owl that I like very much. Since then, those peculiar and very fun-to-draw birds have been pretty regular in my finished work and sketches.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Snails in our garden and a watercolor study of them

Some snails have made our garden their home. I never see them sludging along, but find the empty shells underneath my plants in the spring.  They are just common garden snails--Helix Aspersa--but I like the way the shells look and feel, and have been collecting them for years to add to my cabinet.

Some call them pests, but they haven't harmed my plants as yet.  The underside of this yellow green Hosta seems a favorite place of theirs.

My collection of shells (plus robin and dove eggshells) was the choice for this drawing/painting-from-life study, although the hue of the stripes ended up pretty intense.  I had placed them on a copper dish, so everything was substantially warmed up. The true colors of the shells are much more beautiful.

I love the poetry and other writings of Gerard Hopkins.  His concept of "inscape" (the observable identity of an object) and especially "instress"--where the object one is observing literally thrusts its energy/identity into one's being--always comes full force when I'm drawing from life.  These snail shells give out a very powerful, yet peaceful energy.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Angel in the Snow

Angel in the Snow, acrylic on deep wrapped canvas, 4" x 12", private collection.
This puts me in mind of my illustration days--has a children's book feel to it.

A detail

Another detail

The finished piece surprised me--guess they all do in a way.  But this one definitely developed with a life of its own all along, and emerged very different from the initial picture in my mind.  Maybe because I was painting it in front of an intermittent audience, and wasn't thinking about each step.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Angel in the Snow (in progress)

Was lucky to be asked to demo paint during the Cherry Creek Arts Festival this year, outside Creator Mundi Gallery. Had in mind a color scheme that I saw in a David Wiedman poster—pretty much magentas, blues, and limey greens. Here I had painted a rough in black over a magenta ground.

Wasn’t able to stick to it, mostly because the limey green made the angel’s halo look like a hat.  With a few gentle suggestions from others, I used ochre for the halo and checkerboard pattern on the clothing—good choice.

I like the pic so far. Today I will finish it—was so hot outside yesterday that, even with Slow Dry Retarder, the paint was drying as I mixed it. 

A particularly great festival this year.  I looked good and hard at other artist’s works.  Continually blown away by the ability so many have with color—novel approaches that seem effortless and are incredibly appealing. Check out, for example, the work of Emma Ginsberg , Cori Dantini , and Chris Vance  Their output is incredible—obviously all that work pays off in their art.

Will post the finished painting tomorrow.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Silas (The finished version from a previous posting)

Mixed media on deep canvas, 4" x 4", private collection.
 I found a very old (1890) edition of Silas Marner that was disintegrating and used some of the pages for the collaged parts.  It wraps all around the sides of the canvas.  This owl was done for the Creator Mundi Gallery.  

I will be doing painting demos there on Monday July 4th during the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.  If you are down there, stop by and say hello.  Their address is 2910 East Third Avenue in Denver.

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