Sunday, August 30, 2015

Balanced Breakfast

Balanced Breakfast
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper
I'm still working through my series I've dubbed "The Desert Breakfast Club". 
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day - and my personal favorite. Though it's highly likely that it's probably the coffee part I like best. What's even more important is a balanced breakfast. This Cactus Wren puts the term balanced breakfast in a whole new light. He literally has to balance on needles to get his breakfast. This guy is really taking balanced to a whole new level as he is doing the split to balance and get at the saguaro fruit.



This painting was a challenge for me - the multiple saguaro and oodles of needles. How to represent the needles without overdoing or underdoing. I'm kind of torn about whether to crop out some of this painting. So, I took it my laptop and played with the image. Here's the side by side. Once I looked at them side by side, I think I like the fallen saguaro in the background because it a) gives the painting depth, b) points to the wren, c) keeps the wren off center vs right in the middle, and d) just adds interest in general. As I was putting together this post, I realized there is even a third landscape crop which maintains the fallen saguaro, but gets rid of excess saguaro at the bottom


Original 18 x 12
12 x 9 (Portrait)

9 x 12 (Landscape)

I'd like to hear your opinions on "to crop or not to crop".  Of course there is always the shitake drawer too. My friend Paula named it the shitake drawer. They are paintings I think look like sh*t and they get stuffed in the drawer to stay in the dark to see if they grow (or I grow as an artist). It's the "I'll get back to that later" paintings.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Breakfast: Party of Two

Breakfast: Party of Two
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper
This is another of the Cactus wren series and also of the "Breakfast" series. The photo resources are from my June visit to Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens. I liked these two wrens together, sharing their breakfast. I liked the angle on this shot of not only the saguaro, but the birds as well. One bird, engrossed in the meal, the other gazing into the distance ensuring they get to keep it all to themselves. I seriously considered naming this painting "The Breakfast Club"...but two does not make a club. I've been seeing a group of starlings every morning gathered at sunrise together by a telephone pole. Those guys are a club - like clockwork in the same place.

There are a few others in this Desert Birds and Breakfast series so far. Two I have published - Daybreak Dining and Breakfast: Saguaro Side Up.  I do plan at some point to reprise Daybreak Dining with it's Gila Woodpecker in a stand of saguaro to a larger format. The first was a study/test run. There is a 3rd, Breakfast: Over Easy, which I haven't published yet because I'm still working with it - pondering as the case may be.I do have some quail I'm considering as well. For now, I'm ready for a change...but I'm not quite sure what it should be. That means it's time to go to yoga and clear my head so more creative thoughts can be set free.

Here's the original photo and a few progress shots. I've still been staying "in the zone" and forgetting to set a timer and take photos. I did a watercolor underpainting this time for a change of pace. My watercolors and watercolor paper have been calling my name....







Sunday, August 23, 2015

Home Sweet Cholla

Home Sweet Cholla
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper
Here's another Cactus Wren from the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. My friend took me to where he knew she had been building a nest in a Cholla or Chain Fruit plant. 

I really took some risks with this painting. It's one of the loosest paintings I've done in some time. I had been thinking on this painting for awhile...since June in fact. Once I decided on the crop of the photo, I did my usual thumbnail in my sketchbook to sort out placement and value. Once I sketched this one in, I decided to add some clear texture to create the texture of the cholla in the sunlight. I also did some around the nest area. I had alot of fun with this painting and it came to be in a matter of about 3 hours. I suppose all the thinking paid off as did just doing what I felt without judging my thoughts.

Original Photo

Cropped and light adjusted



Friday, August 21, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Breakfast: Saguaro Side Up

Breakfast: Saguaro Side Up
18 x 12
Pastel on UArt 500 Sanded Paper

Happy places - one of mine is the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. As the heat builds when spring transitions into summer, it's important to get there extra early. My last trip was in June and I arrived a bit before sunrise. As I waited around for the gates to open I met a wonderful photographer who lives in the area and frequents the garden. We chatted for awhile and as the gates opened, he led me to an area where the birds were expected. Sure enough, there were Gila Woodpeckers, Canyon Wren, and hummingbirds. I was in heaven with two of my favorite things - cactus and birds. It was a beautiful morning. I met a generous and kind person and my life was richer for the moment of living in the now and being in gratitude of the beauty of nature.

This is a painting of one of the shots I got of a Cactus Wren enjoying his breakfast. Today, I felt like I was "on". The Fred Soll Resin on a Stick incense burning (Frankincense and Sandalwood) was calming and playing was my new favorite album I Love You by The Neighbourhood. This painting just flowed....it felt so good. It's a spiritual place where I go, losing time and being one with the gift I was given.




Monday, August 10, 2015

Home Grown

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Home Grown
12 x 9
Pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper
My friend Gaynor is a fabulous gardener. She grows some amazing tomatoes. Tomatoes that taste like tomatoes - not red Styrofoam. These are "proper tomatoes" according to her. Big, lots of chambers, good and RED RED RED. When I saw these on the turquoise blue cutting board, they screamed "paint me"! So I did. I really enjoyed doing this painting. It was simple and clean. If flowed easily. It was refreshing and felt really good. 

Here's a few progress shots. I'm still a bit out of sorts with keeping up with my progress shots. My incense wouldn't burn either - time to ditch the incense sticks that are troublesome, and just get out some new ones. 






Sunday, August 9, 2015

Figs on Board

Figs on Board
9 x 12
Pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper

Here's a little painting with some figs on a cutting board. I enjoyed putting the purple figs together with a green bowl. I also couldn't resist including my dishcloth with the red, purple and pale green squares with yellow stripes trimmed in gold separating the sections. I really need to paint more. I'm off my usual schedule and so eager to get back to it. 

I went to pick up a few things for a party about a week back. I had been wanting to paint figs, so I thought I would pick up a few figs. One does not need 16 figs unless you have really big plans for them. Next time, I'll have to make some figs and bleu cheese or brie or something. Instead, the deer will get to enjoy some figs (along with their watermelon rind). 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Daybreak Dining - Study 1

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Daybreak Dining - Study 1
9 x 12
Pastel on Wallis Sanded Paper

This is a study of a Gila Woodpecker dining on a cactus flower/fruit in the early morning sunlight. I'm not feeling particularly good about this painting. I do like the subject and I like the composition. What I struggled with was deciding how much detail to work into the cactus. What drew me to this image was how the light hits the woodpecker and the tops of the cactus and the glow of the thorns. I'm wondering if perhaps it's the brown under painting. Perhaps it should be terracotta and/or gold to warm it up. Hmmm..yes...that may be it. Eventually, this will be a much larger painting- 19 x 25....IF I can work this out to something I like better.

The original resource photo has a background of trees - which I thought detracted from the focus - the cactus and Gila Woodpecker. I experimented with the photo on my tablet and colored in the background with sky. I decided I liked sky better than the green background. I may try it again with the trees instead.