Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Work in Progress - Surfbird

Still a Work In Progress

I'm still struggling with this painting. It just isn't going where I wanted it to go. The scene around the bird feels flat to me, so I shall have to work on creating depth in it. And the bird just feels blah to me. Funny how I'm struggling more with a subject that's typical of my work than I did with the landscapes, which were new to me. I guess it is all about expectations - I expect more of myself when I paint birds. I didn't expect much when I did the French doorway or the landscapes so I just let the paintings happen. They were experiments, just as the abstract background of this painting was an experiment. I will have to try to approach all of my subjects with that experimental mindset!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Of Snow and Sea

Two snowstorms paid a visit last week, leaving everything in a blanket of the white stuff. It still feels too early for snow to me, but it's a La Nina year so I suspect I'd better get used to it. It's going to be a long winter.

I've mentioned the multitude of magpies on campus in previous posts. Their antics are wonderful, and now with snow on the ground I can see signs of their visits even if I miss seeing them.

After snooping around the birdfeeder, this magpie flew off,
leaving a beautiful pattern in the snow for me to discover.

I discovered this collection of tracks right outside our front door.
I wonder what they were doing.

While it is clearly winter outside, it is summer in my studio - at the beach no less! This painting is not finished yet; a few problems have slowed my progress a bit, but it's been enjoyable to loosen up and experiment.

Step 1

Step 4

I built up the sand and sea colors with layer after layer of thin acrylic glazes painted over the original background. I wanted to keep the textures but define the areas as beach and surf. I am very happy with the background, but I'm having trouble with the bird. As I develop the details even further than this photo shows, the bird image feels cut and pasted on, rather than belonging with that background. Looking at this photo now, I almost wish I had left the bird like this instead of adding more details. I'm going to let the painting sit for a few days and perhaps a solution will come to me.

Meanwhile, a very happy Thanksgiving to all of my US friends out there!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Spring Flowers in Autumn

Nearly all the leaves are off the trees now, and I have to scrape the frost off the car windshield every morning. Fall is well on its way to winter. I have summer stored in my computer though, in all the photos I am still slowly processing from our trip. The sunshine, warmth, and potential subject matter will sustain me through the long winter.

Pencil sketch of trillium

I believe this is Pacific trillium, Trillium ovatum. It was blooming in profusion at the DeVoto Cedar Grove along the Lochsa river in Idaho. Such a peaceful place. The only sound was the river, extra high this year because of all the snow in the Rockies. The smell was of rich, damp earth. And the ground under the silent, towering cedars was strewn with trillium.

The DeVoto Cedar Grove always makes me think of my father. He grew up in Idaho and loved the Lochsa river. He fished, hunted and camped along the river as a young man and then as a father he brought our family here on vacations. In many ways he was not well-suited to be a parent, but he did pass on to me a love of nature and art and I will always be grateful for that.