Monday, October 24, 2011

More Experimenting

I just can't seem to stop painting new subjects. And I am finding these 5" x 5" Gessobords a bit addictive as well.

A few years ago, Paul was lucky enough to be invited to Paris to present an academic paper. We jumped at the chance to go to the City of Lights. Despite the raw November weather, I was in heaven. And I discovered a fascination with all of the old doorways scattered throughout the city.

This particular doorway really inspired me. It was in a lovely old neighborhood near the Sorbonne. I don't have much experience working with perspective, but by carefully studying the photo and working the angles over and over until they looked right, I was really pleased with the result. I then sketched the doorway onto the Gessobord with vine charcoal and started painting in layers of color.

Obviously I took some artistic license with the doorway. There are some things that make sense in a photograph but I don't think I'm at the point yet where I can make them translate well into a painting. The beautiful, intricately designed metal panels in the windows were one such element, so I made them look like glass instead. The wood panels in the upper windows were not aesthetically pleasing at all, so they were replaced with glass, too. I also filled in the chunk of doorway that was missing in my model.

The wood texture on the door was fun to paint, as was the stone archway and building. I continued to build up the color and details carefully layer by layer.

Voila - the finished painting. My husband was so thrilled with it that he begged me to let him hang it in his office. How could I say no?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Photo of the Day - Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Ever have a day like this?

We spotted this perplexed gull on a ferry pier in Seattle, WA this summer. It was trying to eat a starfish, but the starfish was too large and kept getting stuck in the bird's throat. The gull would try to swallow the starfish for a while, then it would cough it up and patiently try a different angle. At one point you could clearly see the jutting outline of one of the starfish's arms in the gull's throat. I have a distant memory of hearing about this sort of thing happening. I consider myself (but not the gull) lucky to have witnessed it. Unfortunately the ferry we were on left the pier before we got to see how this situation resolved itself. I suspect the starfish won, but the victory was likely short-lived as other birds probably came and pecked away at it, or it eventually dried out and died. A starfish version of "from the frying pan into the fire"? Ah, the trials of life...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pittsburgh Aviary

On our road trip this summer we made a special trip to the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This has been a favorite place of ours for many years and I was happy to visit again. It is essentially a birds-only zoo, so I was like a kid in a candy store. We'd had a long drive from Kentucky that day, so we only had a few hours at the Aviary before it closed but I took full advantage, snapping reference photos and sketching when I could.

African or Jackass Penguins; so called because they are said to make a donkey-like sound.
They were being cute but quiet when we visited.

An Inca Tern sporting its chic white mustache.

Victoria Crowned Pigeon from the rainforests of New Guinea.
Imagine this as your typical city pigeon!

Rhinoceros Hornbill. How cool is that?
I am in love with these guys. Plus they sit fairly still for sketching.
The Aviary says they are from the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and Borneo
so I will probably never get an opportunity to see them in the wild.

Monday, October 10, 2011

First Snow

When the clouds finally lifted over the weekend and revealed the first snowfall on the mountains, it lifted my heart as well. There's not much that is as beautiful as snow-capped mountains.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Visitor

Pencil sketch of the mystery moth.

I went hiking with a good friend on Saturday evening. The last time we went for a hike together we had to walk back in the dark, so this time we brought flashlights to avoid potential twisted ankles or surprise attacks by bears. When we arrived back at her house, this lovely moth was waiting for us near the porch light. Except for the delicate black marking on its wings and fuzzy body, it would have blended in perfectly with the wall. Notice the lack of antennae - just two stubs; I thought that was interesting. I have been trying to identify the moth, but I haven't found this specific type yet. I suspect it is in the subfamily Acronictinae, but I'm no expert. Has anyone seen one like it before?