birds

Sandhill Cranes in Flight Study




Despite the lack of posts here, I am indeed alive and well!


  I'm thinking of doing a much larger painting of this crane study, hoping to convey their grace in flight, not details.
Stormy: 'Oh, won't you please play with me...'

Coming soon...
a completed painting of Remy,

pictures of our very own egg production team,

and the reopening of my etsy.com store.

Pilgrim Goose Pair

8x10 acrylic on linen board, contact me for availability


Mystic Prairie Eco-Farm in Wisconsin breeds Pilgrim geese (and more) and takes lovely pictures and videos of them.   They have given me permission to use their photos as references for which I'm very grateful.  Pilgrim males are white but the females are white and buff/gray.  Do they look in love to you?.

Acrylic paint is challenging since I like to paint slowly and blend-blend-blend, and it dries FAST!   I'm trying to adjust my expectations to the medium...and work with its advantages, texture can be one.  I could have gone back on this one and grayed down some of the saturation and played soft/hard adjustment with the edges but I decided against it...


I turned a certain age this year and in keeping with my pledge to myself to regularly step outside my comfort zone, I present my first ever canning project:  volunteer jalapenos from my husband's garden.  Also, I've canned tomatoes and knitted a few dishcloths/potholder thingies (another first).  




Fire plans, knitting, and goat cheese

This quote sort of  explains my personal experience with the Melrose paint-out this year...


"When a picture isn't realized, you pitch it in the fire and start another." (Paul Cezanne) 


I've hung one from Melrose but I don't like it enough to post it...maybe it should really burn...it will be a very long time before I paint palm trees again.


However I have a painting of my cat that I will indeed post soon.  He is such a cutie it is hard to mess him up, or so it seems so far.  What do you think?




If you are by chance like me and admire fluffy dogs, but don't yet live with one, here is something you should know...Chow and his winter coat...and this is only pile #1, pile #2 was almost as big.  He is a really great dog and we do love him very much!








Happenings in our 1 acre, spring bird scene:  Carolina Wrens fledged 4 little short-tailed cuties from the shoe box we taped in the rafters of our pole barn/carport, Bluebirds are feeding chicks, 3 Purple Martins have moved into the gourds,  Chickadees chicks are in 2 boxes, the non-stop-coach-like whistle of a Great Crested Flycatcher make our yard sound like a playing field,  murder of 6 crows visits regularly looking for hand-outs, Northern Parulas are our tinyest and cutest bird-bath-bathers.


Oh yes, looking back at the (draft's) title,  I have learned to knit, albeit haphazardly...and have started making goat cheese which is currently, as of today, available for sale at Earth Pets Organic Feed and Garden in downtown Gainesville 'For Pet Consumption Only'.

'The Sandhills'



11x14 original oil on hardbord

This is a actually a family group I photographed on UF's beef research pasture.  The non-migratory Sandhill Cranes we have here are usually in pairs or family groups, as these were.  I took the liberty to 'mature' the juvenile who still had a plain gray head, I'm not sure why.  Okay, it was just too much fun to paint those bright red crowns.

If I were one to expound on my painting method this might be a post for it.  I could go on and on about how one as a painter has to make a choice between doing photo realism and doing painterly, impressionistic sort of work.  I could say that if you want your painting to look like a photo then why not buy/frame a photo?  Why even paint it?  Just to get a bit of texture?

The postures I chose were taken from three different photos.  I chose them because I hoped to bring movement, and with luck, some of their grace, to the painting.  The background is meant to be lacking in detail and loose.  There is little mystery in the cranes themselves but there is purposely no feather by feather detail.  Maybe you are familiar with overgrown meadows with the mauve sort of color of the common weed dog-fennel in winter?

This painting is being shown at the Gainesville Fine Arts Association, Central Park Medical Center Show, 'Affairs of the Heart' through early May.

When at the Charleston Southeastern Wildlife Art Exposition (coming up this weekend) a few years ago I was astonished by the prevalence of photo realism.  The most revered wildlife painters painted this way, just very large.  I'm sorry to say that, in my opinion, almost anyone can indeed paint photo realism, it is just a matter of how quickly.  Since then I've seen that wildlife and animal art in general has a bad name among many fine art artist because of the prevalence of photo realism in the field.  Nevertheless, this is a lovely and enjoyable event to attend in charming Charleston.

'Light Rooster' and Eggs


8x10 original oil on hardboard

Painting chickens is very enjoyable for several reasons.  Their feathers are colorful, iridescent, loose, flexible, and variable, which frees me to push color and push lots of paint around.  Also, they are large and always in motion; that helps lessen my tendency to make stiff, statuary-like bird paintings.  But fun they are, stiff-looking or not.

Who knew buying eggs could be fun?  Several months ago I started getting my eggs from a local lady who has Cuckoo Marans (terra cotta eggs), Araucanas (blue/green eggs), and New Hampshire Reds (cream eggs).  Opening the carton is always a pleasure.  I especially love the variable shades of the blue/green eggs.


Some day I'll have my own chickens, and certainly Araucanas, but until then I enjoy several farm blogs and visit the HenCam by Terry Golson.

'Dark Rooster Strutting'


8x10 original oil on hardboard (Gessobord)

This rooster painting is inspired by a rooster that lived on the beach at a cottage we rented in Tobago in '05.  He's in the lower left with a buddy, rummaging in beach wrack...my husband is on the porch.


The beach there looked like this...


There were incredibly colorful native birds, this blue-crowned motmot was my favorite...he was a flashy guy but very shy.  A good photo of him eluded me.


Just past sunset these fruit-eating bats would come right through the porch to the same sugar feeder (hanging in the middle of the porch shown above). I watched them for hours sitting very near.



Looking back through these photos makes me wonder why we haven't considered returning?  We survived the drivers in Trinidad once, perhaps we could again?

Another 8x10 rooster is in progress.  

Three Geese


6x8 oil on stretched canvas

In keeping with my slow but steady theme of farmstead animals, here are some geese I put together from the free photo reference library on wetcanvas.com.  I try to use my own photos, mostly because I'm picky about the perspective, angle, and composition but also because few folks give up their photos for free.

Stormy looks back from his bird feeder look-out post on my desk.  The feeders are quite active during this chilly weather.




I hope everyone had a good holiday and that your New Year is off to a pleasant start.  Things are looking up here I'm happy to say.

"At the Marsh Edge"





6x6 oil on stretched canvas, original $40 (including $5. for shipping)

Biddeford Pool, Maine

The Purple Martins are starting to nest in our gourds so I have swallows in my mind. This nestbox and dinghy are in my reference photo taken last summer, but not the Tree Swallow, my best guess as to who uses this box (hopefully not starlings!).


At the top, a side-view shows it painted a harmonizing gray so that the small piece does not need to be framed. I do this to all my paintings that are on stretched canvas, as opposed to linen panels, which must be framed.


"Called for Dinner", Rhode Island Red chickens at Dudley Farm


This painting (10x8 oil on canvas - SOLD) was fun other than struggling with the shadowed background's value. I had it much darker, in all transparent colors, but it just seemed too dark. But could I justify it being lighter than the dark side of the chickens? For better or worse I added some opacity to it and lightened it up. I also added the fence rather than leaving the gap behind the building empty.

These chickens were in "there's the lady with the long skirt and the food calling us!" mode when I took the reference photo for this. It was a fun challenge to try to capture their movement.

If you have not gone to Dudley Farm State Historic Park, they have heritage breed livestock and the staff dresses in early 1900s farmstead clothing. The farm is not a re-creation and quite old by Florida standards. It is located just west of Gainesville only a few miles from my house. Here's a link to their home page's photo gallery: http://www.floridastateparks.org/DudleyFarm/Photos-Park.cfm
and the photos at their Friends site:
If you are local, they are selling fresh eggs for $2/dozen there! Their larger flock of chickens are Plymouth Barred Rocks; I took some great pictures of them but I'm not sure I'm interested in tackling those barred feathers in paint.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker




(9x12 oil on canvas - SOLD)

This painting is not as dark as shown (hope you like it!).

Often I've considered painting extinct or endangered species; as a statement of what I think is important and as an attempt at spreading the word about conservation. But this painting was not my idea, done by request for a fellow bird lover. And I painted it at a time when loss is a fresh wound for me personally. So it is only now that it is finished that I dare reflect on possibly having painted a "ghost bird", a bird that none of us may be so lucky as to see alive again. Yes, like everyone should, I hold out hope that he may indeed still be found in Florida or in Arkansas but he may have already disappeared. Even in these recent years while conservation & search efforts have intensified.

Please follow these links for more information on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker:



Incidentally, I used photographs of skins and of Pileated Woodpeckers as reference material for the painting.

Chickadees!


(SOLD)
A while back I kept thinking of a painting of crows flying in to roost on a dead long-leaf pine, several of which stand in neighboring yards, victims of lightning and/or beetles. I painted that for myself & it hangs here by my desk (did I post it here?). Recently I had been thinking of occasionally Carolina Wrens, but mostly of chickadees, in various poses. So when I decided to paint on this solid oak board from an old cabinet, it had to be birds...five of them.

The board is 27 x 4 inches. I've photographed it on a wooden wall, not a good choice really. My husband wants to keep this but I've had some unexpected expenses & will consider offers.

An older pastel painting


Forgive me for posting such a low quality image...This is my favorite of a group of birds I did in pastel as an illustration for an interpretive sign that was installed at a park in Broward County (FL). It was about 5 years ago, at my last "real" job. I'm not sure if I'm going to sell it but I may put it up in the gallery if some of my work has sold while I was away.

Eastern Screech-Owl - Gray Morph




This 9x12 oil painting was painted with a buyer in mind, who I recklessly did not present a sketch to..I'm not one to put lots of time into doing a drawing unless it is the final product, I think this is from starting out painting with pastels, where the 'drawing' is the painting. After making a small study, that I did not like, I plunged in knowing that she may not wish to buy it. I will hang it in the gallery if it does not meet expectations, no problem. Perhaps I'll do a red morph in a green setting next time? (the photo was taken outside and there is a glare reflection at the top & the painting is a little lighter overall than shown) This is depicted as a gray evening with only a bit of light, from the left, which lets the green algae on the live oak trunks brighten a bit.



Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

A couple of years ago I painted this little 5x7 acrylic for my Aunt Nita, my only aunt, who I love very much. Our polar opposite views on politics & religion make conversations a dance sometimes. In the South people tend to avoid talking about anything unpleasant so communications and relationships can suffer miserably, in silence.


Anyway, I tend to enjoy painting the less colorful females of bird species. It then comes as no surprise that my favorite birds are entirely neutral in color, North American favorites anyway. Among many others they include Carolina (or any) Chickadees, Swallow-tailed Kites, Gray Jays and all Terns. How cute is this?

It was one of those fledges that came out of the box, with no tail, that I was afraid I, or the dog somehow frightened out prematurely...so after putting him & another back a few times, I took his picture quickly and turned him over to his furious parents in a low tree.

Purple Martins Fledge!



After having this housing setup for 6 years, 2 of those in S. FL, we finally had ONE brave pair nest all alone, and very late in the season for them. We live in the Jonesville area and the closest colony I know of is at the Archer Rd. dog park but there could be others. The last few years we have had late season visitors check out the gourds but this year they showed up mid-season and we are thrilled that a pair actually stayed and today 4 fledglings are out flying around with the parents. The parents are 2nd year birds, the male for sure anyway, he is not yet in fully dark purple plumage as he will be next year. The plumage difference is more subtle on the female in 2nd vs. 3rd year birds.

They used the gourd with an enlarged hole but if anyone wants more details just let me know. I'll just say we know now to toss the porches and to enlarge all the other holes for next year. They have been a joy to have around and I can't wait to see if we have more next year!

Here is a link to the conservation organization we bought our housing from, the site is full of greats facts and photos: http://purplemartin.org/

p.s. the photo above is before they nested and it's an adult peeking out from the gourd. I may have missed my chance for a "family portrait".