Lots of time to waffle on a title for this quadriptych as I try to claw back some time time in the studio! I see these leucistic deer as liminal figures in a dormant California winter landscape that is cut through by a highway – traces of which have caught the deer’s attention as the headlines of an oncoming car approach.
Starting work on a new painting today, Anemone Tea is the latest in my Birds and Teacups series. I’ve paired a Steller’s Jay with an antique blue flow Chen-Si handle-less teacup and saucer and deep purple-blue anenomes, signifying forsaken love.
Sketching my subjet with thinned oils onto primed board.
Sketching in the background drawn drom design elements in the teacup and saucer.
Blocking in background tones.
Flushing out my bird.
Arranging my flowers and filling out my cup and sauser, staying loose.
Working lights and darks.
Still working it…
Detail in the sinking sun.
So happy to get to my first painting of the white hummingbird I had so gleefully stalked with my telephoto at the Arboretum in Santa Cruz a few months back. I have lots of plans for all photos I took of him but I wanted to start with something for my Birds & Teacups series. I paired him with a white Limogues T&V demitasse, which is a delicate and glowing as the bird, and a magnolia grandiflora bloom. If I’s wanted to be matchy-matchy I might have painted whit ivy, which seems to be depicts on the handle of the demitasse, but there’s enough magic and mystery going on in this image and I really loved the the scale of the flower compared to the bird and the cup.
Quick oil sketch in rose and vilolet tones.
Blocked in a whole lot of loose color, working largely dark to light.
Placing more halftones and highlights.
Good day’s work but I ran out of daylight and objectivity. By Monday I should have more of both!
This new Blue Sailor painting is so much fun to paint, even though it’s supposed to be about the mass of micro plastic in our ocean and how jellyfish (and their relatives like the By-the-wind Sailor) take advantage of this oxygen depleted, polluted environment to out compete other species like krill which are already suffering from the melting of ice sheets (their nursery) and as the base of the food chain, will adversely effect so many animals like penguins, seals and whales. The garbage in the sea is expected outweigh the biomass of fish by 2015!
A playful image tackling a serious subject … I get to play with dolls while In the Navy runs through my head all day long!
Another in my Birds & Teacups Series, Violet Tea I is still very much a work in progress…
Quick oil sketch…
Some lovely loose brush strokes suggesting violets…
Sketching in the background…
Filling in here and there…
Wiping off the gestural background that I was afraid was building up too much…
Blocking in some shadows and loosing my loose violets in a pursuit of realism…
Sharpening up details, but there’s such a long way to go in terms of drama (which will come from the lighting) in this piece…..I’ll post more when there’s more to see.
Here is the finished painting, which is now on exhibit at the Los Gatos Museum Gallery.
I’ve started work on a new commission this week which I’m calling Among the Hedgerows and Hydrangeas. My challenge here will be to blend my realist style with a softer nod to impressionism. I must learn to make sure what I see doesn’t interfere with my creative license!
Initial oil sketch – note the water fountain / urn that will soon disappear….
…..in favor of a garden sprite! It’s loose but not lovely…yet….
It’s starting to get that turn of the century feel I’m after but too loose for my taste, I like a painting, especially of this size (16 x 20″), to hold up to closer inspection.
I think I’m starting to head down that realism path …. no worries….it’s only paint!
I love to start a new painting with the new week – fresh start, fresh paint and all the those days stretching out before me like an empty road. I was able to race ahead with an image I’d already worked out…a cute, vintage Japanese bamboo demitasse filled with lucky bamboo against the lush pattern of a period cheongsam (that used to fit me). I loved this combination but wasn’t sure what bird to pair it with until I saw these Japanese White Eyes in Kawaii last winter (yes it takes me a while to get to all the ideas I have filled away). I love how their chartreuse feathers and little white eye rings act as a perfect compliment to the vignette.
As usual, I keep the initial oil sketch very loose, making sure only that the teacup is centered.
Next I loosely blocked in the background – there’s not much detail in the fabric anyway being some kind of watercolor looking satin and velvet burn out affair (I wish it sill fit me!).
The teacup came next.
Then the bamboo.
Then the birds were roughed in, all I could manage for the day.
Today, with the paint a bit set, I was able to come back in and start working on the details. At this point the birds are starting to develop personalities and the teacup is taking on it’s character. I’ll bring fresh eyes to it tomorrow, but it’s well on it way to being complete!
This week before Halloween seems a good a time as any to begin work on my barn owl. This bird, who goes by the name of Owlivia at the local Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Center, is paired with an Aynsley teacup (circa 1939) filled with trumpet mushrooms. I love the woodland magic of this combination – now to try and do it some justice with paint!
Loose sketch in oil.
Loose dark background.
Blocking in the owl.
Blocking in the table, feet and mushroom perch.
more tomorrow ( I hope) … the chainsaws are coming….
The chainsaws were only intermittent today and I was able to really start laying in some details in my owl and work on the appropriate background contrast to really make her glow. In the white of her face there are lots of other hues – lavenders, blues, greens, ochers and rusts. It’s these subtle variations on white that create depth and volume and vitality.
Chainsaws came back for a few days to finish off the oak so I wasn’t able to complete the painting but at least I have the owl standing on a mushroom now instead of a pair of oversized gulab jamuns!
I’ve begun a new bird & teacup piece. This time a Purple Finch (the only red bird I’ve shot) with a Coalport teacup paired with some vintage redwork embroidery, calico and red and white striped tulips. I start, as always with a loose, painting directly on the prepared board.
I really should have worked the background first but I decided to block in my reds instead.
Eager to see some tulip action I painted these in loosely as well, letting the pigment pull through the brush strokes.
I was eager to see the finch too .
I worked on the teacup next, as it supports both the flowers and bird, I wanted to make sure they felt well integrated.
Dobbing in the foreground to feel where the shadows would fall.
Filling in the vintage linen embroidery backdrop I experimented with a crosshatched look.
Dropping the crosshatching, I tried more definition and a brighter backdrop.
Wanting a deeper shadow I try blocking in dome darks but the grays are all still too wet.
I end up wiping it off down to the initial sketch with a rag dampened with mineral spirits.
I begin to apply the darks in a more controlled way – a muddy mess is a nightmare!
More to come….
Finished! I’ve messed around with little details until the painting told me I was done.
I couldn’t resist painting another Pansy Teacup and Lesser Goldfinch combo. I decided to keep with the ring theme too. I think it adds to the symbolism of the pansy - “Think of me”.
There will still be pattern in the background but I painted in the base first, after my outline sketch. Notice how the hue is warmer closer to the light source then gets progressively cooler and darker further away.
I painted in in the male Lesser Goldfinch right away – I like to make sure I get my main focal point right before I go too far.
The female Lesser Goldfinch is my secondary focal point. Having more that one focus helps to move the eye around the painting.
Roughing in the flowers and teacup and ring. Throwing caution to the wind with my use of whimsey!
The trick from here on out is to balance refinement with freshness. I had to call it a day here and hope that I don’t wreck it tomorrow!
A little birdie told me to get out my tea cups again! This time it’s a bluebird of happiness alighting upon the forget-me-nots plucked from my garden and an art deco teacup I found at a local antique shop.
I began sketching with my brush and thinned oils directly on the 12 x 12″ canvas.
Sadly, my sweet little drawing was off center and it’s important to me that the tea cup remains dead center in this series of little square paintings, so I wiped it out with a cloth and began again – this time measuring out my center point with a little dot.
Happy that I had my tea cup centered, I began to develop its volume using warm and cool hues and light and dark values.
Next I wanted to make sure my bird was going in a good direction, and blocked the blues. I started to work in bits of the background and flowers, working the composition and color story.
Not forgetting the forget-me-nots, I began layering them in behind and over he bird and draped over the edge of the saucer. This helps to develop the illusion of a depth of space. It’s pretty and light with bits of white showing through.
But I want to sculpt the image with shadows, anchoring the objects with a sense of gravity, so I layered in some darks. Tomorrow, more highlights!
Oh I’ll be thinking of a title too – I have the working title of Forget-me not Tea and Feathers, but maybe I’m also thinking along the lines of Souvenir of Happiness, or Remember me Blue….
OK, I didn’t see this coming yesterday! Today I woke up and wondered what my bluebird would look like with the rust breast of the male. It was a brave decision to make as I was pretty in love with the very simple color palette going on, but I thought this color break in a sea of blue might add a focal point and help the bird pop. Maybe I’m not so brave – it’s only paint after all!