Saturday, February 28, 2015

Three Chicks

Three Chicks
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock
I'm continuing to get ready for the Artists Alliance of the Hill Country Studio Tour. This is a new piece I'm considering adding to the show. In the line of some early work - "Rick's Chick" and "Flower Chick", I'm adding a third chick. This one is three specimens of the succulent commonly known as "hens and chicks". This painting puts the blooms and the plants together, where as "Rick's Chick" is just the plant and "Flower Chick" is just the Flower. I really like hens and chicks - both the plant type and the chicken type. I just wish they didn't freeze. Someday, I'll have a green house where I can over winter them. Looking forward to spring, sunshine, dirt and digging! Hope these guys give you a feeling of spring and summer.

Thanks for stopping in and reading. If you like what you see, I hope you'll take a moment to pass it along and share with your friends on Facebook or your social media preference.

Until next time - Anna Lisa

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Practice and the Pursuit of Secrets

Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.  - Ludwig van Beethoven


Whether your art is music, 2D or 3D visual art, dance, writing or something else, there is one exercise that holds true for all - practice practice practice. But what does Beethoven mean to "force your way into the secrets of your art"? I interpret this as being relentless in our practice so that we learn every nook and cranny of our craft. I also feel the statement encourages us to learn how our art resonates with us and what it feels like when it resonates, which to me is the experience of "the divine" - being in alignment. I know it's going well when I'm not fighting w/the painting, when I'm relaxed and it just flows. I often lose time in those spaces - time flies when you are having fun. Sometimes it means getting back to basics. Occasionally, I get complacent and dive straight into a painting w/o a plan (thumbnail sketch), planning my color palette etc. Sometimes it works, and sometimes not. A failed painting is enough to remind me to review my steps. When you draw the same object several times, each time you learn something more about it. When you practice that dance sequence or lines of music, you learn something new each time. You learn it until it becomes a part of you, second nature. That's part of the blogging process for me as well. It's part of my artistic history keeping, seeing what works and doesn't work ,including posting the progress shots when I take them.
There is no better teacher than experience and to gain experience we have to practice our craft. When I rekindled my artistic journey, I was thirsty for knowledge of the technical aspects of painting and drawing, but I also wanted to learn more about the business aspects. One of the resources I read was from Jason Horejs "Starving to Successful". In that book, one of the things covered is production volume. The author describes suggested output of 80+ paintings a year, and breaks it down into weekly goals. He notes how the typical response to this volume suggestion is "won't my quality go down?". Au contraire! The quality goes up! My own personal experience finds this to be true. I took up the daily painting movement challenge with the goal of course to paint daily. Painting small not only can lead to a finished product every day, but also encourages more experimentation and relaxed work since it's "only a small piece". I don't always achieve my goal to have a painting every day. When I travel for work, I take my sketchbook and doodle - practice practice practice. I draw what I see in airports, my hands, my feet. I doodle the jack rabbit in my back yard from my animal photo inventory. Over the time that I've been honoring this practice, truly, my competency has gone up - and I've learned a few "secrets". Fact is, they are not secrets at all. They are simply the product of practice, learning and honoring the divine gift I have been given.




Friday, February 20, 2015

Splendor at Sunrise


Splendor at Sunrise
18 x 12
Pastel on Canson Mi Tientes Board
in Indigo Blue

Just like with the supermodel photo shoots, it's best to take photos for painting at those magical light moments in the early morning and evening. The light is golden and the shadows are long - which makes for very interesting paintings. The contrast between light and dark is what draws the viewer's eye. Truly, everyone and everything is usually more visually appealing during those enchanting twilight hours. 

This painting is a revisit of "Suncatcher" (12 x 9) from December last year. I liked that painting very much, and it sold very quickly. This is a larger version I am making specifically for the Artists Alliance of the Hill Country Studio Tour April 11-12. Recently, two of three paintings I entered were accepted for a juried competition - and they happened to be the Agave in the bunch, so those will be otherwise occupied at another exhibit during the studio tour. Therefore, I'm creating some new bigger painting stock for the tour event. I'm also gearing up for an Art and Wine Event in Belton, Tx April 28th 12-7pm. More details to follow on the event in Belton. Details on other events are on my Facebook page and my website.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sweet Spire

Sweet Spire
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper


A few summers ago when my big Blue Agave bloomed, I had the opportunity to gaze upon it's beauty from my studio window. As it crossed from spike, to buds, then finally went into full bloom, it became a fly thru diner for the hummingbirds. I guess I never really thought about it before, but of course Agave flowers are just like other flowers, filled with sweet nectar for the hummingbirds. It was such a treat to watch them zip about enjoying their smorgasbord tower of treats. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Stapelia Supernova

Stapelia Supernova
7 x 7
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper

Stapelia is a fairly innocuous succulent. Fleshy spineless upright spikes form the green plant itself. There is nothing spiny to prick you, just a fuzzy softness. Then the innocent little thing begins to bloom in mid to late summer. It puts out these very odd shaped buds that are almost like air filled balloons that terminate in a point drawing out into a tendril. Then the five petaled flower opens and curls backwards revealing creamy yellow petals striped a blood red and covered in tiny little hairs. Then, you begin to notice something a bit odd - flies start arriving and when the wind blows just so.....oh my what a smell! It's not like roses at all. This little Stapelia is also known as the "Carrion Plant"...and it smells of rotting meat. It pollinates with flies. Despite the odd nature of the plant, I find it absolutely fascinating. Nature always finds a way. I like unusual plants, and this one is pretty high up on the list.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Rusty Spurs

Rusty Spurs
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Paper
On a recent photo shoot in the front yard, I noticed one of the blue agave had a "burnt" sort of leaf. It was a wonderful dark orange or rusty color.  Rusty sharp spines, I thought of rusty nails and tetanus shots. But these aren't really nails, more like little pointed spurs..like a grass spur or sticker burr. I really liked how the rusty orange color blended in with the turquoise of the agave. Those are two of my favorite colors together - turquoise and rust. Reminds me of the magnificent red rocks and endless turquoise skies of the great Southwest United States. I've added some progress shots below.

I'm in the process of doing a few more larger botanicals to add to my stock. I had TWO of my botanicals accepted to the 2015 Austin Pastel Society Juried Exhibit. Thank you to our judge Mike Beeman. This is absolutely thrilling, yet it also means that I need to make more pieces for the upcoming Artists Alliance of the Hill Country (AAHC) Studio Tour in which I'll be participating. I want to be sure I have some big stuff to choose from. You can see details about both shows on their respective pages (see links above). I'll also be sharing details as events on my Facebook page. I hope you'll check it out, LIKE my page, and please SHARE. 





Sunday, February 15, 2015

Eye on the Prize

Eye on the Prize
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock

Alert and ready to dart at a moment's notice to the feeder. Eye on the prize - the sunflower seeds. Back and forth never stopping to stay at the feeder. Always returning to the branch to crack open the seed. How do they not get a headache?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Golden Girl

Golden Girl
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock
As the days get warmer, I take my easel four wheeling. Well - through the house and out to the screened in porch. My honey was wonderful enough to put 4 all direction caster wheels on my easel. It's such a pleasure to work outside and hear the birds I am painting. 

This little lady is the girlfriend of the male lesser goldfinch - the rude dude. For every pot there is a lid - or so the saying goes. She is a bit more drab than the screaming yellow male, but she is no less pretty. Sometimes, I see them together at the feeder - opposite sides. This was one of those times - I just transferred her to a field. I often see the finch in the fields close by as they forage for thistle seeds.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chickadito

Chickadito
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock

Celebrating 100 posts and near 5000 views!! 

There is no better bird that I can think of to celebrate 100 posts with than our little chickadee. The chickadee is a busy little bird. His song "chick a dee" is often clear and we do a call and answer when I'm out in the yard. It's like the Mocking Jay in "The Hunger Games" series. I hear the little guy call, I whistle back, and he returns again. My oldest sister called our Dad her little chickadee - busy all the time. My Dad lived to be 98. I attribute that longevity to clean living and always staying on the go in his yard. He mowed his yard until he was 92. Now, clean living didn't mean clean eating - as he was quite the Milky Way addict. He kept them in the freezer - yum!! When we were children, we got chocolate milk before bed. When living in his senior community when he was 95, he observed one of the staff sitting on a bench crying. He promptly went to his apartment and returned with jelly beans. What a guy! Here's to you Chickadito!!! Thanks for teaching me to stay busy!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Banana Split

Banana Split
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock
In Texas, we have a variant of the Lesser Goldfinch.The Cornell Lab of Ornithology "All About Birds" site lists the bird as the "Lesser Goldfinch - Texas Form". The male has a black back with white patches - almost resembling a ladder. Honestly, he's a rude little dude. He's very territorial and possessive of the feeder, frequently chasing other birds off the feeder when they land. I had a friend who called them the "Flying Bananas". 

When I zoomed in on this photo to paint, I realized this guy was holding on to the feeder while he ate. Usually, if I have a photo of a bird on a feeder, I take some artistic liberties and put him on a tree branch. In this case, I just had to pass on what I saw - he's doing the split. Hence, the name of the painting - "Banana Split"! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Take a Penny

Take a Penny
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock
The Titmouse is a funny little bird. He generally never sits at the feeder very long. He stays only long enough to grab a sunflower seed then promptly flies up to a tree branch with his find. He then proceeds to pound away at the seed until it opens and he has prize. A friend once said to me it was as if he was at the check out counter and was taking a penny from the tray to pay his bill. Now, whenever I see the titmouse take his seed, I think to myself "Take a Penny". 

Still working on the archival card stock. I like the change and smoothness. There is a reasonable number of warm shades in green, terra cotta and raw sienna from which to choose. I got ALOT of painting done over the weekend - so lots to share coming up.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Raspberry Jam

Raspberry Jam
11 x 8.5
Pastel on Archival Card Stock

I can hardly wait for spring. We've a few nice days lately and I've been out with the camera taking photos of birds. This house finch with the red head reminds me of my mom. She used to say it was as if someone took these birds and dipped their heads in raspberry jam. This little guy was way high up in the tree. I was fortunate to get such a clear shot of him. 

For a change of pace, I've moved over to some smooth archival card stock. It's a completely different experience painting on the smooth face vs textured paper or sanded paper. It works best with NuPastels and lays down like velvet. I like the super soft texture with feathers. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Solo

Solo
12 x 9
Pastel on Art Spectrum Sanded Rich Beige


I moved back to sanded paper today and back to the Waxwing pair I had been working on previously. This is a shot of the bird prior to his/her buddy showing up when they became the "Waxwing Duet" from yesterday. He's not Han Solo - so there is no Millenium Falcon. This guy is just solo...for the moment.



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Waxwing Duet

n
Waxwing Duet
12 x 9
Pastel on Canson Paper
Here's another doodle of the Cedar Waxwing that visited over the weekend. Painting on Canson pastel paper forces me to be more decisive and efficient with my strokes. The paper does not allow as many layers as the sanded paper. I needed a change from my usual process and am enjoying the change. I also enjoy the Cedar Waxwing. They are such elegant birds and have such a quick season with us. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Berry Bandit

The Berry Bandit
12 x 9
Pastel on Canson Paper
This time of year, the Cedar Waxwings arrive in search of berries to eat - cedar berries, yaupon berries, and pyracantha berries. Sometimes, from the freeze and thaw cycles, the berries are a bit fermented and we end up with drunken birds lying about. Yesterday, the Cedar Waxwings caught my attention while I was in the studio painting. I heard several birds hit the dining room windows in rapid succession. Since they flock, they probably all got confused with the window reflections. A quick check revealed that none had knocked themselves out or gotten injured. So, I went out w/the camera and snapped a few lovely pictures. They flew away too soon. I hope they return. You can expect more Cedar Waxwing paintings to come. I also got some shots of a red headed house finch and a titmouse. This painting was a quick "doodle"...but I liked it and thought I would share with you.

Likely, it's time to replace our "Bird Alert" window decals. If you have problems with birds hitting windows, these little decals do they trick. To us, the decals look like frosted glass images of leaves or whatever pattern you choose.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Evening Agave Star

Evening Agave Star
14 x 10
Pastel on UArt Sanded Paper
This is the last of the cactus star series. This is a baby blue agave in one of my gardens out front. I move the pups from the bigger mamma ones to different places. I know eventually, mamma will have to be replaced, so these are getting ready.

I was glad this last agave was very point. I felt very pointy this morning. I kept bumping into things. So when I started to paint, I was frustrated and just put pastel pencil to paper in a rough sort of way. Fast and furious. As I continued to paint, I calmed and this took shape. That concludes the four stars.




The Four Stars
Four 14 x 10
Pastel on UArt Sanded Paper