These wooly ones were resting, all cozy and content, as the early morning sun peeked through the barn door.
I was on a mission that chilly morning while in Vermont one Fall day. I got up bright and early to make it to the barn first thing. I had hoped to see some little newborn lambs. I missed their births by about an hour... but what an experience to see those new babes!
"Early Dawn Peeks Into the Barn" will be included in "The Best & The Brightest" Juried Exhibition and Sale 2010 and the "Celebration of Art" from January 15th to March 28th. Both events will be held in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The photo shown below of the babies didn't make for a very good painting.
However, I did get a good photo of the 'ladies' resting nearby... it was used for 'Early Dawn Peeks Into the Barn.'
When watching coverage of the Tour de France cycling race this year, we could see acres and acres of them in the fields of France. What it would be like to see them like that! They must be sooooo spectacular!
Sunflowers and whistling...they just make ya feel happy!
This little painting was awarded First Place! in the "Fresh Paint - Emerging Artists" category of the Beaux Arts Miniature Fine Art Show and Auction, to benefit the Scottsdale Artists' School. With this award came a $500 scholarship towards any workshop at SAS! I was thrilled! It was a great event.
Anton Mengs' rendition of the birth of Christ is a truly grand piece with the Holy Family surrounded by the angels and animals as well as those you see in this painting. I chose to paint the Nativity with those you see here. I loved the way Christ is looking at us... with the light and the warmth coming from Him.
I think homegrown flowers are the most beautiful to paint, and I think it's good for a person to get down in the dirt and dig... so gardening is good for me. Time flies when I'm in the garden.
Well... a few weeks ago I had a rude awakening. I was greeted...up REALLY CLOSE and personal...by a rattlesnake!
He had been hiding in the overgrown herb bed. When I started watering the bushy plants he was hiding under, he decided to pop his head up out of the bush, about a foot above, and he just looked at me. He then slithered over and down to a clearing. That's when I saw the rattles on the tail.
Surprising to me, he never coiled and he never rattled. Thankfully, he didn't strike. I might easily have begun digging in that spot. It happened on the Feast of the Guardian Angels. I am very grateful to mine.
Not being any sort of expert on the subject of rattlesnakes, I can only guess that, with the cooler weather, he was starting to get sluggish for his winter sleep. I've heard that rattlers don't always warn you with their 'rattle' when they are around, but I was pretty shocked to have experienced it.
I will definitely keep the garden trimmed closer from now on so those critters won't have a place to hide anymore because I still love... truly LOVE... living in the desert!
A pear... and, most importantly to me, manzanita berries from the mountains a couple of hours drive away. The berries are a beautiful 'apple' green when fresh. They then dry to a warm golden coral color... a treasured little gift from the Manzanita!
This painting has been accepted into the juried "Fresh Paint" segment of the Beaux Arts Fundraiser to benefit the Scottsdale Artists' School, to be held on November 14th. The proceeds from this painting will be donated to them. The Scottsdale Artists' School is a tremendous resource for artists. I am very grateful to be able to attend one of the finest schools in the country.
When I bought a twiggy little bare-root fig tree three years ago, the nurseryman told me it probably wouldn't fruit out if grown in a pot...that it would probably need more room for its roots in order to bear much fruit.
I wanted a fig tree in a pot because I thought it could provide some shade and be movable to spots in most need of shade while, at the same time, be pretty as a potted tree.
As it turns out, this little tree had close to fifty figs this summer...and still counting... and it has really large 10" leaves for shade...and it is a very beautiful little tree in the pot...so glad I tried it.
We had to put our dog 'Harry' down today. We weren't ready for that. He was 10.
He was one of the greatest of the greats, in the realm of dogs. He and our youngest children grew up together.
He belonged to these two. Our son used to tease his little sister and say he had the front half and she had the back half! But Harry was really our son's dog...he trained him, took care of him. He did a good job.
Even while so sick, Harry still wagged his tail when you came home or when he first saw you in the morning.
Of Elizabeth Tolley's 'Between Showers' . oil on linen panel . 6 x 8 . 2009
While away for a couple of days, I was trying out a limited palette of colors that I don't usually use. I decided to practice with the colors that I had taken with me. It was nighttime and I was too antsy to wait until the next day to paint outside...so I started to try some mixtures.
Elizabeth Tolley, whose work I very much like, has an instruction book for plein air painting: "Oil Painter's Solution Book-Landscapes". Her book is filled with her paintings for the purpose of allowing the reader to try to emulate and thus learn from her process. Though I did not use her palette of colors, I did use one of the paintings from her book.
...I'm still deciding on a plein air palette, but I like this little one.
My studio in our previous home...it was great to have a room for a studio...but without a north light window, I struggled with the lighting. This south-light window provided an ever changing light source.
A north facing window gives a beautiful cool light that remains fairly constant for working with a live model or still life set-up. I have yet to be able to work with artificial lights. To me, they seem harder on the eyes. It seems using only natural north light is an advantage...it's pretty tough to beat what God has provided...can't, in fact.
The 'Open Box M' easel here is designed for painting outdoors (en pleinair) but it worked just fine then as my studio easel. I still put it to use in my present studio, from time to time, and for pleinair painting. It proved a worthy first purchase...oh, and there are lots of paint blotches on it now!
These two nests, belonging to a pair of hummingbirds and finches, were nurtured outside our home.
The little hummingbirds built their nest at eye level on a hibiscus bush. It would swing around like mad in the wind...it was unbelievable that the two little eggs stayed nestled in their warm little bed. Their tiny eggs hatched and three weeks later the babies were on their own.
The finch's nest was also found at eye level...but after a year passed, we figured the eggs weren't going to hatch. The mama must have discovered us walking around the area and decided to abandon them...very sad. But what a beautiful thing to see, the precision of the nest and those perfect little eggs.
I love nests...and painting them. We live out in the desert and every spring we have a lot of nests, from all varieties, showing up around the house. (We get plenty of bobcats, javelina, and coyotes, too!)
This was a nest of Gambel's Quail that we accidentally discovered last spring.
A 'Mama' quail burrowed a nest in the humid soil. (The nests are built in the soil for the humidity. If the eggs dry out they won't hatch.)
She layed an egg or two a day, stockpiling them in her nest.
When all was said and done, she had a total of eleven eggs. (They often lay as many as twenty eggs, each about an inch long.)
The Mama would leave for the whole day, feeding alongside the 'Papa', and return to her nest at night while the 'Papa' stayed nearby to guard their nest.
This nest was particularly remarkable for us. We happened to be at a nearby window when it was time for the eggs to hatch. It was incredible. Within ten minutes, every egg hatched and the little chicks dropped down to the ground, scaling down a dangling plant, and gathered around their Mama. One little chick after another popped out of the plants and toppled down. It didn't seem to matter that the eggs were layed in the nest on different days, they all were ready to be hatched at the same time.
In no more than ten minutes, literally, the little babes were with their parents, striding off into the desert...the brutal desert with bobcats, coyotes, and snakes. Incredible.
Our visiting family from out of town were there that morning to catch the whole thing on camera. It all happened so fast. My brother-in-law didn't have the lens he wanted for some sharp photos...I'm grateful he had the camera handy. We couldn't believe what we had witnessed!
This is of the model and artist, Lisa. (If you click on the label 'portrait oil painting' on the right of this page, you can see the other portrait of her in the July 2, 2009 post.) This, too, was painted in Chris Saper's workshop last summer.
I spent much less time with this one, but enjoyed it.
We had a week with Chris and Gamblin's 'Torrit Grey' oil paint! Every year Gamblin Artists Colors cleans out their air filtration equipment (Torit Air Filtration system) and they give away the paint that they gather. They call this color their 'Torrit Grey'.
Each year this Torrit Grey is different and not for sale, but is given away for their annual contest. All of the entries must be painted with no more than Torrit Grey, black, and white. Chris' theme for her workshop was to assist her students in submitting a painting for the competition.
I had great plans to study portrait painting in greyscale that week. I lasted no more than a few hours. I needed to work with color! Chris was happy to let me be a 'rebel' in the class.
As it turned out...Chris deservedly won the Gamblin national contest that year!
This is a cropped and adapted version of William Bouguereau's well-known painting depicting Christ extending His hand down to His cousin, St. John the Baptist.
William Adolphe Bouguereau (1823-1905), a French painter, was one of the most prominent painters of his time. His abilities as a Master have been in dispute by some ever since. Some critics claim his figures appear static. I think they are beautiful, none the less.
Chris Saper is one of the finest portrait painters today. She was the reason I began oil painting...well, one of the reasons. I happened to come across her book "Painting Beautiful Skin Tones With Color and Light" and was thrilled to see that she lived in my city. She introduced me to the Scottsdale Artists' School and to much more.
Chris has been generous with her time and help...always. She is a wonderful, wonderful teacher. I always come away from her workshop with a great deal.
I painted this painting in one of Chris' workshops last summer. It was a joy. Her workshop was again fantastic.
Every year I bring a collection of flowers from our garden to the Scottsdale Artists' School to share and to make my still life arrangement for a workshop with Sherrie McGraw. This year was my fourth year to study with her. Sherrie is truly a master artist and teacher. I have been very fortunate to study from her.
Many of Sherrie's students return every year, without fail, for her workshops. Since most of the fellow artists travel from all parts of the country, they are often waiting for these roses to compose their set-ups. I love sharing them.
As it is, these roses are a dickens to paint...so we all come away with a lot learned.
Thankfully, the 'Abraham Darby' bushes are usually in full bloom when Sherrie comes to town in the spring. They make exquisite bouquets...very frangrant. If you like to grow roses and have lots of room for one of these Austin roses, the 'Abraham Darby' rose is a real winner.
Pere Serra, a Spaniard and one of the most important Catalonian painters from the late 14th Century, painted the Blessed Virgin Mary surrounded by the apostles in a painting he named 'The Pentecost' (1393-1394).
I loved everything about his image of Our Lady, but preferred her isolated from Serra's painting. His painting has her surrounded by the apostles and saints...a stunning image...but here we have Our Lady with Child, presenting us with her 'fiat'.