A flying unicorn mural: First Friday Art

This is a flying unicorn mural I painted in my daughter’s room when she was little. She could not decide between a flying horse and a unicorn so I painted both in one. 😀

I prefer working on small projects and had never worked on something so large. Piles of eraser dust accumulated on the floor beneath my rough sketches. I used acrylic paints, and a lot of patience, to complete this mural.

flying unicorn mural

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First Friday Art

Kingfisher art – sketches & paintings: First Friday Art

Today I’m sharing kingfisher art. I drew the following images several years ago. In studies such as these you attempt to capture the essence of the subject. You’re not going for detail in this type of drawing.

Sketches of birds

John James Audubon

I’m also sharing images of belted kingfishers from a couple wildlife artists. The first painting is by John James Audubon. It’s featured in The Birds of America, published in 1827. I was fortunate to see a volume of this book in a library at a university.

At present, there are only 120 complete sets of The Birds of America known to exist. The 435 engraved plates used to create the original books measure 39″ x 26.” These enormous illustrations helped educate the public about the importance of birds. Interest in The Birds of America persists to this day. In 2018, a full set sold for $9.65 million dollars.

Kingfisher art by Audubon

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

This second illustration, by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, features a Black-billed Cuckoo, a Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and a pair of Belted Kingfishers. This plate was in Birds of Massachusetts and other New England States, published in 1925. This three-volume set was written by ornithologist Edward Howe Forbush and illustrated by Fuertes.

You may not recognize Fuertes’ name, but he was a gifted artist and ornithologist. In fact in 1891, at the age of 17, he became the youngest member of the American Ornithologists’ Union. He admired the work of Audubon but had his own style of painting.

Paintings of Kingfishers & Cuckoos

Both of these artists worked from specimens they collected in the field to create their kingfisher art. Audubon is known for positioning freshly-killed subjects with wire armature, a revolutionary technique at the time. However, Fuertes put more time into studying birds in their natural habitats. Some think this knowledge gives his paintings an added “sense of vitality“.

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Woodland scene mirror: First Friday Art

Woodland scene mirror

This is a woodland scene, painted and carved onto a 10″ x 10″ mirror. I created this work with acrylics in a folk art style and carved around the edges of each element. A meandering creek hosts a coyote, raccoon, and leaping salmon. Tall evergreens border the shore. The bald eagle is soaring over snow-capped peaks in the distance. This woodland scene is loosely based on where I used to live.

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A husky pocket pet: First Friday Art

Here’s a husky pocket pet I painted on a rock. This breed can sometimes be a handful.

A husky pocket pet by Siobhan Sullivan

But in the right hands, they’re great pets. Here it is curled up in a cozy blanket.

Painted rock by Siobhan Sullivan

My first dog, J.C., was part husky. One of the things I remember most about her was her thick undercoat – a common trait of huskies.

After brushing her, I understood how people such as the Coast Salish once made blankets from dog fur.

A Woman Weaving a Blanket by Paul Kane. 1856.

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Sockeye salmon 2-sided rock: First Friday Art

Today I’m sharing a sockeye salmon 2-sided rock painting I created. On one side you see what this fish looks like when it’s spawning, and on the other side you see what it looks like at other times in its life cycle. They look SO different!

Sockeye salmon travel from the ocean to freshwater to spawn. Kokanee are a landlocked version of sockeye. If you’re lucky enough to catch one, they are especially delicious smoked.

Here’s a video of sockeye spawning in the Adams River in British Columbia, Canada. The 3-minute video, by Luke Gibson of Life of Luke, shows aerial and underwater shots of the fish. I loved his creative solution to filming underwater shots on a limited budget! A true artist will always find a way to work around obstacles.

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Snowy plover on scratchboard: First Friday Art

Snowy plover by Siobhan Sullivan

Today I’m sharing a simple drawing I did of a western snowy plover on scratchboard. This drawing shows stippled sand, waving beachgrass, and an alert snowy plover ready for action. This tiny shorebird is classified as a federally threatened subspecies. In Oregon, certain areas along the coast restrict activities from mid-March to mid-September, when plovers nest. Snowy plovers also breed on alkaline flats in eastern Oregon.

If you want to see how an amazing group of animators interpreted shorebirds, watch Piper from Disney. The star of this Oscar-winning short is a sanderling, but snowy plovers show similar behaviors. The artists who made this film spent a lot of time studying shorebirds and it shows. Enjoy this clip!

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Gentle lion on a box painting: First Friday Art & CFFC

Here’s a gentle lion on a box painting I did several years ago. I was going to sell this acrylic painting but decided to keep it instead.

Gentle lion by Siobhan Sullivan

It’s the perfect size for a stack of sticky pads. They serve as external hard drives for my brain. 😀

Painting on a box by Siobhan Sullivan

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (CFFC) – Non Alive Animals

Black-necked stilt pen-and-ink: First Friday Art

Here’s a black-necked stilt drawing I created with pen-and-ink. The rushes surrounding these birds echo their tall slim form.

Black-necked stilt by Siobhan Sullivan 2020

Here’s a stilt I saw in the spring in Harney County, Oregon. Black-necked stilts have an almost regal quality to them. They move as if in a procession, slowly and deliberately.

Steens mountain tour, black-necked stilt in eastern Oregon 6April2018

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Sheepdog & pine basket: First Friday Art

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.

Sheepdog & pine basket

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.

Pine needle basket

First Friday Art

Hope you liked my sheepdog & pine basket artwork this month. Do you have artwork you would like to share? Include a First Friday Art tag on your post.

A calm jay painting: First Friday Art

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.

Calm jay by Siobhan Sullivan Oct 2020

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.

Jay getting a drink

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.  

First Friday Art

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American kestrel study in pencil: First Friday Art

American kestrel study

This month, for First Friday Art, I’m sharing an American kestrel study I drew in pencil. When I took an ornithology class in college we learned about anatomy by studying specimens in a museum.

These sketches helped me learn more about birds, but they also turned out to be great tools for future works of art. I have referred back to them when working on pen-and-inks and paintings.

Here’s a photo of an American kestrel I saw in Malheur National Forest last year. They have beautiful coloring.

Kestrel in Malheur National Forest, Oregon April 2019

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Grizzly Drawings – pencil and pen & ink: First Friday Art

I’m sharing grizzly drawings for First Friday Art this month. I found this pencil drawing tucked away in a forgotten file drawer. This bear, in a typical bear pose, is feasting on a salmon.

Bear drawing in pencil by Siobhan Sullivan. September 2020

When I flipped the pencil drawing over, I found this on the back. I forgot it was there! The fur is not drawn realistically, but this stylized pen-and-ink is interesting. The bear looks so content.

Grizzly drawings by Siobhan Sullivan. September 2020

Maybe I’ll let these grizzly drawings out of their lonely drawer and do something with them. There must be an empty wall somewhere…

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Outdoor pronghorn painting: First Friday Art

Outdoor pronghorn painting by Siobhan Sullivan August 2020

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.

Out building prior to painting near Bend, Oregon August 2020
The shed prior to painting
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Tiger painting in acrylics: First Friday Art

Here’s a tiger painting in acrylics I did on a small wooden box. I liked how the eyes turned out on this piece.

It’s time to share artwork since it’s the first Friday of the month. If you have something you would like to share, use the First Friday Art tag.

Tiger painting in acrylics by Siobhan Sullivan July 2020

Prairie falcon pen-and-ink: First Friday Art

It’s already First Friday again! Today I’m sharing a prairie falcon pen-and-ink drawing I created. This drawing shows their dark “armpit” marking. That’s one of the ways to distinguish them from peregrine falcons.

Prairie falcon pen-and-ink by Siobhan Sullivan

Here are a couple glimpses of a prairie falcon flying high above the 9,734 foot peak of Steens Mountain in Oregon.

Prairie falcon from the peak of Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019
Prairie falcon from the peak of Steens Mountain, Oregon 28 August 2019

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Happy Friday!

Feather on scratchboard: First Friday Art

Here is a crow feather on scratchboard I created long ago in a scientific illustration course.

On the first Friday of every month, the city of Bend usually hosts an art walk through the galleries in town. The galleries serve snacks and drinks and highlight local artists. Since the First Friday event is not happening this month, I thought I would share a piece of my own art.

Do you have artwork you would like to share? You can include a First Friday Art tag on your post.