Just a little 5” x 7” ink drawing of a plague bird.
I’ve wanted to do a Bestiary for the longest time. Now, with the plague upon us, I can think of nothing better to do with my time.
The list of beasts I want to do are mostly mythical but I’m sure some beasts living in our touchable dimension will make it into the mix. Not sure how I will arrange it, how many beasts will inhabit it, well, actually I am not sure of anything at all except for the first beast I have started is the Phoenix. The Last Phoenix.
And here’s an anatomical page that looks at the skull, foot, and some of the feathers found on the Phoenix. Held in the foot are branches from the Frankincense tree which the Phoenix uses to build his funeral pyre.
I’m hoping to include a full color image of the entire bird. Then onto the next beast which might be a dragon? Kelpie? Maybe a unicorn?
Since the plague hit and we’ve been self-isolating, I’ve had a tremendously difficult time creating any art whatsoever. I’m motivated but have the focus of a gnat. I sit, I look, I think, I try and I quit and go play WoW. And even then I can only play the game for an hour or less. I wonder if anyone else has “corona brain syndrome?”
The other day I managed to actually finish something. This to me is huge given the condition of my brain.
I started with making watercolor puddles on a tiny 5″x7″ piece of watercolor paper. I made bluish, grayish, yellowish and reddish puddles of very wet paint and tilted the paper around until they moved and bled and did those things pigment in water do.
Then I started picking out random shapes and suddenly I had a painting. It’s called “Plague birds” and I really like it. I hope this means my focus is returning and my brain is mending.
I plan on doing more art in the time of plague and will put them up here and create a plague gallery. Sounds like fun, eh?
It’s a new year and I think I can start working in my office/studio in the new house. It’s not “finished” but it’s now a place I can do some artwork and goof off on the computer.
So I decided to do some exercises to get my creative juices flowing. Since the move, I’ve been totally blocked with all the crazy stuff of setting up a new house and trying to figure out the lay of the land. I’d look at the paper, pencils, watercolors and just stare blankly as they stared blankly back at me. Thus the exercise.
I made messy, splotchy, watery gobs, drips, and drabs on a piece of watercolor paper and then cut them up into tiny bits. After staring at them for what seemed days on end (maybe half an hour or so), I started picking out shapes and colors with a small paint brush and a few watercolors. I tried not to think about what was happening. No drawing just picking and poking.
So here’s a pic of a few pieces of paper and what happened with the first one.
And a close up of the little phoenix that happened to be hiding in the first piece of paper that I played with.
Wonder who else will be revealed.
Happy New Year, everyone.
experimenting with watercolors on a very small scale. 2.5″ x 3.5″
So the little ladybug is done. I really enjoyed doing this very tiny watercolor. Only 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches.
An old internet friend commissioned me to do a double portrait of his sweet dogs, who have sadly passed on. Rooney, a chocolate lab and Magic, a black lab were my subjects. I’d never met the dogs, so only had pictures and my friend’s description of what the boys were like.
It is a funny thing but as I draw, I feel like I’m actually getting to know who or what ever I’m drawing (yes, if I draw a rock, I start to feel I know the rock) and it was the same with these two. Rooney seems such a hopeful, serious sort and Magic goofy and playful. Both seemed open and loving and most of all, loved.
So, here’s Rooney & Magic, approximately 16×20 in graphite. It was great getting to know you.
There is this awesome place in Utah that I hope to visit before I die. It’s the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City. They have a FB page where they post wonderful photos of their birds. I saw a photo they posted of their Wreathed Hornbill (Rhyticeros undulatus), Zelda. I fell in love with her and wanted to draw her very badly. I requested permission to use their photograph as a reference and they granted it. So without further ado, here’s Zelda.
I think she’s the most difficult bird I’ve attempted so far. I hope I did her justice.
My little dog gargoyle was in a show recently at the JAM Gallery in Malvern. This little boy has been yearning for a forever home and he found one.
Thanks JAM for the sale!
Many decades ago, I bought a set of pastels at a fire sale. It was a real fire at a local store where I lived at the time. The owners sold everything in stock that was not too badly damaged. Mostly, things just smelled of smoke. I scooped up a 90 color set of Rembrandt soft pastels for a song (no dance). I recently looked up the going price for the set in today’s market and it was something over $300.
(ack! I did get a deal)
Anyway, I did of few pictures with them, teaching myself as I went along and they were okay. And then my mom died, life got way busier shuffling home, work, kids, 2 jobs, and all the rest that goes with being a single mom with no money. There was really no room (or time) for art. I did a few pastels now and then for friends but nothing worth noting.
So now with my kinda-sorta project of producing works on paper of animals that are endangered, maligned, or misunderstood, I thought I’d break out the pastels and see if I remembered how to make them work. Here’s the test, on a baby robin that I snapped a picture of while he was perching on the cable wire outside my window. Even though his mom was still feeding him, he felt quite proud of himself and his new found freedom.
I have an online friend who is an amazing artist, sculptor, and photographer. Her wildlife photography brings me to tears (literally) with it’s beauty and sensitivity. Recently, I asked if she’d allow me to use some of her photos as art reference for my work and she said yes.
When I saw her photograph of an egret, I wanted to do a minimalist, “white on white” drawing. Not sure if I pulled it off to my satisfaction but I think it’s okay for a first attempt.
It’s been a while since I posted anything here. This is a hard one because my heart is broken. My dear, sweet Loki passed away on Nov. 17, 2016. She was just shy of 16 and the light of our lives from the day we rescued her from a (then) kill shelter at around 6 months old. This month, I was able to finally sit down, go through the many hundreds (maybe closer to a thousand?) photos of her for a portrait. I settled on a photo that I’d taken of her in Feb. 2016. So through my tears, here’s my sweet girl.
The Wolverine, Gulo gulo, lives in the most severe climate in the far reaches of the northern hemisphere. The largest member of the weasel family, looking more like a bear than a weasel, she lives a mostly solitary life. Fierce, stocky and strong, she can bring down prey much larger than herself but due to the harsh climate, the wolverine will partake of most anything she can come by from Elk to rabbits, mice, carrion, roots and berries. Of course, this makes her terribly misunderstood and maligned as noted by the name we’ve given her: Gulo, latin for glutton.
Wolverines need a large territory in which to hunt and mate and are not willing to share with others. A lucky male will usually form lifelong bonds with a few females, whom he will visit from time to time, mating and hanging out with the young until they are weaned. Sometimes the young will go traveling with Dad when they get older until they settle in their own territories.
Highly endangered through hunting, trapping, climate change and shrinking habitat, the numbers worldwide are not known but according to Defenders of Wildlife there are approximately 250-300 individuals in the contiguous United States.
I’ve been fascinated by this animal for many years though I’ve not attempted to draw, paint or sculpt her until recently. This newest sculpture took me a long time but then it takes time to get to know this beautiful, misunderstood creature.
Here’s a closeup of the face. Everything about the Wolverine is sort of solid and square.
Here also, the charcoal drawing I did a while ago.
For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve been concentrating on learning to sculpt in clay. I think I’ve managed to get a handle on the medium and looking back on my sculptures, I believe I’ve progressed reasonably. I’m even rather proud of a few of my pieces, and that, for those who know me, is quite a statement.
There are issues. One is that the art center I go to has become prohibitively expensive. I would buy a kiln but there is no safe place to install it in this teeny, overpacked house. So, my plans to sculpt a series of endangered, misunderstood and maligned animals has become undoable.
Before I began sculpting, my medium was oils, but here again, I have a logistical problem with space. I am working in a tiny corner of the tiny “sunroom” which is actually just an enclosed porch with a lot of drafty windows, ugly paneling and because of its shape, is more shaded than lighted. I share this space with my parrot, Milo. The fumes from turpentine and linseed oil are not so good for parrots. Also a very steeply sloped ceiling makes setting up my easel impossible. Oils are right out.
I decided that I need to develop my ideas using not-toxic materials that can be done in a small setting without spending a fortune. My solution was to learn how to use watercolors and colored pencils. I’m already quite adept with graphite — drawing with graphite is like breathing for me. I used to use charcoal all the time when I was younger, so despite being hideously rusty with charcoal, that’s in the new mix of preferred media.
The first animal I chose to research was the wood stork. By all accounts a most ungainly bird. Ungainly appeals to me. I did some preliminaries and then a graphite portait and a small watercolor. I am proud of the portrait and not too displeased with the watercolor. Here’s the portrait… what an impressive bird!
After I worked on this guy, I decided to look for other ungainly birds (I will return to the Wood Stork, I promise). As a lark, I started sketching flamingoes without giving them any serious thought. Suddenly, while trying to figure out that incredible beak, I realized that I needed to research this magnificent bird who has become not much more than a tacky lawn ornament to most in this country.
so here’s some stuff about flamingoes
as i was drawing their beaks during research, it occurred to me that their beaks reminded me of baleen whales.
and in the United States, we have turned them into cheap, pink plastic lawn ornaments.
Wiki entry for flamingoes is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamingo for more info.
So, this is the work I started with the flamingo. The flamingo (who was once a god) is teaching me watercolor (slowly and painfully), colored pencil (slowly but not so painfully), and a revisit with my old friend, charcoal. I hope you enjoy the flamingoes, and I hope you notice that this magnificent bird is anything but tacky.
One other thing I learned…I’m not very good at taking photographs of art. I also like wolverines.
But more about her later.
I wrote a whole post, added pictures and everything and just before I was gonna hit publish, terrible things happened and I lost it. I can’t bring myself to write it all over again but I will post the pictures. So just pretend you read an informative and witty post while you look at the pictures.
Here are a couple small watercolors I did of crows.
I’ve also been obsessing over Wood Storks. They have this lovely white and black plumage topped by bald, prehistoric faces screaming for moisturizer. They make me want to do a whole series of large, gangly water birds.
Lastly, I’ve done several sculptures but these are the two that are not disappointing.
The Red Fox is finished but the Wolverine is still in progress. The sculpting part is done but he needs to dry thoroughly and will probably not get into the kiln until September.
I’ve been taking pictures for a few years now without the slightest idea as to what I’m doing. By that I mean that I have no working knowledge of how photography works. I know so little, I feel embarrassed each time I pick up my camera and point it at things.
But I’m a stubborn sort of woman and I keep pointing and shooting and agonizing and researching and at this moment in time I have amassed approximately 8,000 pictures that live in my computer.
and i really should do something with them
So I’ve been looking into the vast unknown tips and tricks inherent in Photoshop and Lightroom and looking at things like textures, borders, and all sorts of other things that a 60+ year old artist with luddite leanings feels a little weird doing.
I need to make all this shit work artwise so that I don’t feel like I’m pissing away time and money. Here’s my first attempt at making a photograph look like something remotely interesting. If anyone feels compelled to comment, I’d be interested in your thoughts.
edit: Textures by RuleByArt.com. Great stuff to be had there.
Honestly? Three months since I put anything up? Appears I have a bit of catching up to do.
Since Poor ol’ Punkinhead made his appearance around Halloween, I’ve finished up a few sculptures. The Chameleon came out very satisfying, was in a show and sold the first night! Go lil’ lizard! Here he is.
There’s a couple new sculpts that were fun to do — visual puns of sorts.
Also managed to do a few illustrations, one of which I kinda like. This was for a story, “Bookends” by Michael Wehunt, which appeared in The Journal of Unlikely Entomology, Unlikely Story, Issue 10.
Poor ol’ Punkinhead was out trick or treating last night but managed to scare most doors to close too quickly to get much in the way of treats. Poor ol’ Punkinhead still wishes everyone had a Happy Halloween.
The chameleon I’ve been working on is just about done. Some finessing will happen as it dries, but the sculpting part is done. I’m kinda pleased how he turned out but I am not so pleased with the pictures. My beloved Pentax K10D is dying. I can barely get it to focus and the noise levels are crazy even in good light and itty bitty ISO.
but i have no money for a new one so i’m sad
Here’s my not so wonderful picts of the chameleon. If he makes it through the fire and somebody loves him and buys him, I’ll get a new camera.
Found better pics of poor Fillipe. He was embarrassed by the ones I put up before. I hope he forgives me now.
My huzband showed the security guard where he sometimes works a picture of my (then) unfinished frog sculpture. She immediately named him Phillipe. I don’t know why.
Here he is, all done with his colorful patina. I changed his name to Fillipe because well, he’s a frog and preferred to have his name spelled with an f.
Two views below…not the best phone photo. sorry.
I have five illustrations in the new book, Bad-Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental, edited
by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Jeffrey Lyman, which is now available at Barnes & Noble and soon elsewhere.
Here’s three of the five. You can see the rest of them up in the illustration gallery link way at the top of this blog (*points skyward*) or, of course, by purchasing the book.
I’m pleased with the way they turned out…hope you all like them.