Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pelican WIP Continues

American white pelican WIP. I haven't ruined it yet.

I crossed my fingers and toes and continued on with the pelican watercolor. So far so good. I tackled the eye, which to me is always the scariest part of a painting because if you mess up the eye, it tends to ruin the entire piece. There's still a bit more work I need to do to the eye, but it is getting there. 

One thing I discovered during this painting is that American white pelicans have pale blue eyes. I'd never noticed that before.

Old Blue Eyes?

Another interesting fact about the American white pelican is that unlike the brown pelican, it does not dive from the air into the water to catch its food but instead gracefully dips its bill into the water while swimming. When a group of them are feeding, it looks rather like a ballet.

I think I'm on the home stretch with this painting, so hopefully I'll have time to finish it up and post the final piece soon. I think this is the biggest watercolor painting I've worked on to date - nearly 13" x 11". I've really been enjoying the process!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Yup, it's a pelican. And a white pelican at that. Like me, it is happy in both the ocean and the mountains. 

I hate this stage in a painting. I can see the potential in the piece; I like where the painting is going, it looks fresh and not over-worked, but my very next brush-stroke could go either way. It's a real nail-biter. 

Monday, November 19, 2012


WIP very early on.
In between working on two commissions, I'm trying to squeeze in a little time to continue painting some of my own stuff. I've started a new piece; this one's a watercolor on 300 lb. paper. Can you guess what the subject is from this rather messy beginning?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Pastry As Art

A Parisian patisserie display. And yes, they taste as good as they look. But I wonder how they keep tourists from drooling all over their nice clean window...

You may know me as an artist and a nature lover, but I am also crazy about desserts. I love to bake them, I love to eat them, I love to drool over them in pastry shops all over the world. I consider food in general and desserts specifically as art.

There is a point however where my love of eating dessert could lead to some unhealthy excesses, so I decided to feed my eyes rather than my stomach and give painting desserts a try. I figured at the very least it would be a fun diversion from that curlew painting I've been wrestling with. My studio smelled of sugar for days afterwards.

My first ever cake painting. 8" x 8" acrylic on gessoboard. What do you think?

At the Blue Bottle Cafe in the San Fransisco Museum of Modern Art, they take dessert as art to a whole different level. Check this out. The desserts are modeled after some of the art pieces in the museum, including Mondrian and Wayne Thiebaud. I guess that's being able to paint your cake and eat it, too.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tracy Aviary

Front entrance to the Tracy Aviary

I've never been to Salt Lake City, Utah before except while being stuck at the airport between flights. On our last layover there, I was wandering the airport killing time and saw a tourist information sign all about SLC. Well, whaddya know - it turns out they've got an aviary! I tucked that little bit of information into a corner of my brain and continued on with our trip.

A little less than a year later, we had the chance to visit Salt Lake City and the Tracy Aviary was tops on my list of places I wanted to check out while we were there. As it turns out, I'm glad we did. It is an excellent aviary with a nice assortment of indoor and outdoor exhibits and a good variety of birds.

Many of the birds that stop over at the Great Salt Lake during migration fly all the way to Central and even South America. The Aviary has a number of exhibits that display the indigenous birds these migratory birds might see during their sojourn in the south, including Andean condors, Chilean flamingos, and toucans. One exhibit that really caught my attention was the common backyard birds of Argentina. Imagine getting guira cuckoos and southern lapwings in your yard!

Southern lapwings soaking up the northern sun. They are members of the Plover family.

Of course the Aviary had plenty of exhibits devoted to species of birds found in Utah, including hawks and owls, shorebirds, and waterfowl. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a lot of good blog-worthy photos because my camera couldn't focus past the mesh or fencing around many of the exhibits. This is one of the frustrating things I find at zoos and aviaries. Nevertheless, if I were to visit Salt Lake City again I would certainly return to the Tracy Aviary.

A golden eagle giving me the eye.

The incredibly beautiful iridescence on the white-faced ibis more than makes up for the lack of a white-face on this non-breeding individual.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Autumn in My Sketchbook

Watercolor of fall leaves.

Happy November! We reached 70 F this week so it didn't feel particularly like fall here, but the season is still making itself known in other subtle and not so subtle ways (like snow last week!). Here are a few things I've done lately with an autumnal theme.

Graphite sketch of a horse chestnut.

Last summer when we found out we were going to be moving again, I made a promise to myself that I would hit the ground running as an artist in my new community. I guess I succeeded in that regard because I now have 2 commissions to work on. This is wonderful news of course, but it may mean that my blog posts will be a little more sporadic than they have been lately.