To help celebrate the holidays this year, I’m sharing two pieces – a sheepdog & pine basket. I painted this Old English sheepdog on a rock for a friend. Doesn’t it look comfortable? This breed’s fluffy coat makes them appear much bigger than they are.
I’m portraying this rock on a small pine needle basket that I usually display on a wall. Though I’ve made pine needle baskets before, I didn’t make this one.
This piece was in an antique store so I don’t know its history. I love the pinwheel pattern in the center. Some unknown artist put a lot of time into creating this basket. Its delicate center, surrounded by the strength of the bundled pine needles, is tied together with radiating lines of tiny stitches.
California scrub jays are usually a loud and active kind of bird. I shared this painting I did of a calm jay exactly four years ago today after a hectic political season. I wanted to show that a sense of calmness can return even after a time of chaos.
The jay pictured above, and the one below, appear calm on the surface. But underneath those calm exteriors, there is a flurry of activity. Their minds are running through a lot of “what ifs” and their bodies are ready to spring into action.
Today we are facing many challenges and “what ifs.” It may be difficult, but I hope you’re able to capture moments of calm, no matter how brief, before you flutter to your next destination.
I have been busy filling up space and time by creating a High Desert mural. I recently posted more details on creating my Outdoor Pronghorn Painting. This weekend I added three additional paintings to the mural.
As I mentioned in my post about the pronghorn painting, I use photos I have taken and other sources to do my first sketches. I like to refer back to field guides and set them up for easy viewing.
Creamy white paint is painted onto each piece to make the colors stand out. Here are the three back painted pieces.
Once I start applying the colors, the piece of paper I use for cleaning my brushes and trying out color mixes becomes a work of art.
Why did I choose these specific critters? They are all characters in books I’m working on. I once heard an author speak about surrounding himself with “artifacts” his characters use while he is writing. I’m displaying some of my characters so that I’ll see them every day, even on the days I’m frustrated with writing and revising.
Black-billed magpies are one of my favorite local birds. In my work-in-progress book, the magpie character is named a Chinese word that means “bright.” They are very intelligent birds.
The golden-mantled ground squirrel helps save the day in the book she is featured in. Her name means “green” in Spanish because she is the protector of green petrified wood.
The American badger is featured as a secondary character and is also featured in a fable. Though unnamed, the badgers are important characters.
I particularly liked how this painting turned out – especially the eye. This badger is guarding some of the rocks featured in my I like rocks! post.
With the addition of these three animals, my High Desert mural is complete. Well… at least until I come up with another idea for a book. 😉
Here’s an outdoor pronghorn painting I did in our backyard. It’s the first Friday of the month so it’s time to share your First Friday Art. If you have artwork you would like to share, use the First Friday Art tag.
We have an 8 x 16 foot shed in the backyard and it had a boring blank west-facing wall. It needed something to make it more interesting. I thought of painting a pronghorn, one of my favorite critters.
I developed an appreciation for pronghorns many years ago when I did fieldwork at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon. Pronghorns, AKA antelope, are native in parts of western North America and they’re common at the refuge.
Steps taken to create the outdoor pronghorn painting
First I brightened up the side of the shed with some leftover light blue paint. Then I sketched out the pronghorn from pictures I had taken, supplemented with other source materials.
For some people doing the initial sketch is easy, but it’s not for me. Do you know what the picture below is?
Eraser dust! I did a lot of erasing and redrawing.
The next step was back painting the silhouette of the pronghorn. I used an off white paint – more leftovers – to help the colors pop.
Next I sketched over the white paint.
Then I painted in the big blocks of color and added shading. The last thing I paint is the eye. It can give a painting life.
A dead juniper branch and igneous rock collected from my property helped the painting fit in with our High Desert setting.
There will be more High Desert creatures added to this piece. I’ll start work on a badger, black-billed magpie, and golden-mantled ground squirrel.
I filled up some of my empty space (and empty time) creating this outdoor pronghorn painting. Hope you are finding time to be creative!
I decided I needed to spend some time giving art wings. Here’s a painting of a scrub jay that I worked on this week. It helped me cope with some of my stress. Jays are one of my favorite birds and the most common one in my neighborhood seemed to be the perfect subject. Click here to see another of my jay paintings and to read an entertaining post about jays.