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.