Sunday, March 23, 2014

Flower of the Sun

When will warm weather come?

We had 13 snow days this winter!  And, that doesn't count the weekend wintry days!  It doesn't count the number of inside recesses we had due to cold or rainy weather either.

I'm ready for some summery days and thought painting something summery might help.

My dad grew this sunflower.  He grew two or three rows of them.  He thought he'd make his own bird food.  Well, he did... but it didn't work out like he thought.  Once the seeds in the middle of the flowers matured, the birds helped themselves.

Click Flower of the Sun if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Cat and His Boy

Who's got your back?

What a sweet and peaceful image of a comfortable friendship!  I think that Cody THE Cat has got his friend T.J.'s back here.  

As I was thinking of a just-right title for this painting, I kept coming back to the friendship and the fact that the cat seemed to be responsible for, watching over, protecting the little one.  It reminded me of Nana the big Newfoundland dog who was the children's nursemaid in Peter Pan.  Then I thought of the fifth book from The Chronicles of Narnia, The Horse and His Boy.  It fits. This cat does not seem to believe he belongs to the boy; in this cat's mind, the boy is his.

Cody THE Cat showed up at my sister's family's farm and pretty much took on the role as overseer of all who come and go there.

I'm kind of a fan of every inch of this canvas.  

I was worried about getting enough depth in the background, so I started at the back and worked my way forward.  It's always a little scary (and exciting as I get more confident in my own abilities that it will work) to put a line of trees on top of a perfectly beautiful sky.  Then again, to set bigger more detailed trees down right on top what's already a lovely line of autumn trees and bushes.  Then again, again, to put that dark shadowy line at the base of what was a really nice background. Whew!

When I tackled the water, I took the opposite approach.  I started at the front or bottom and moved back or up.  I created nice water with the ripples and movement.... sigh...  it takes a deep breath and some confidence to put brown lines and smudges of golds and rusts and greens in the water.  Then once the color is there, to rake it back and forth to make it look ripply takes an even deeper breath and a self reminder that it can be completely painted over and redone when / if it gets completely ruined. When it worked out, I thought I'd feel relief, but I felt more disbelief... Whew! 

One step at a time... adding sticks and weeds... tedious... then a pole... bright red... and straight across my pretty ripples... excruciating!  
Who says painting is relaxing?  And, what are they painting anyway?

The next challenge was in color.  T.J.'s shirt was actually blue, the same blue as the pond.  And Cody THE Cat was practically camouflaged as he was the same color as the leaves!  I took a few liberties there (a.k.a. cheated).  I didn't think either would mind.

How odd that the easiest part of this painting was the little fella at the center of it all.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cardinal in Winter

Did you just make that up?

I don't usually make things up in my paintings.  I pretty much paint what I see.  Whenever I start making things up, it usually leads to trouble - shadows don't match, proportions are off, colors don't agree... I'm rarely successful  with painting from my mind.

I finished this little bird once.  It looked just like the photograph... and it looked awful, just wrong... as if I'd made something up.

The snow on the branch was so thick that it looked fake.  The blank space around the little cardinal looked unfinished.  The angle of the limb didn't make any sense. The little guy had his eyes closed. His back feathers looked drab. So... I took a completely finished and dry painting and started making things up.  
- I gave him a little slit of an eye.
- I grew a few little background twigs in front of and behind him.
- I scraped off a couple of inches of show.
- I skinnied up the main branch.
- I added some purple to his dark feathers on top.

Then I signed my name.

It's been a harsh winter here in Northwest Arkansas.  We've had some beautiful snows.

Click "Cardinal in Winter" to purchase this little painting.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mama Cow

What just happened?

A baby!  
She has a brand new baby!
So sweet!
She hadn't even had time to lick the little thing all over yet.

I wish I could say she was happy to show off her little calf, smile her little bovine smile to show her pride in the little thing.

But the truth is, I think she was down right annoyed that I was staring, coming too close, clicking pictures.

I just couldn't help it.  You don't get to see a newborn too often.