With the return of Spring, I love taking time out of the studio to get into the field for sketching and photographing reference materials. There is nothing like being there to see and watch the many birds/animals, both large and small, who are the subjects of my artwork. Springs brings on a flurry of activity among the many bird species returning to the area and ample photo opportunities… provided I have the patience to sit quietly a period of time. And then there are those moments when a bird just won’t still still for more than a few seconds. I end up blundering around through the brush in an effort to get a good photo or a better look at it. This Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was one such bird, and after following it all over the yard and up and down the driveway, we ended up right back at the tree where we started.
I know Spring has arrived when the Canada geese return to our pond. While it is still covered with ice, it won’t be long now. The ice is opening up along the edges and at the beaver dam where the water is running faster as the temperatures warm up and the April rains have begun. When out for my daily walk, I stop by the edge of the pond for a few moments of quiet reflection. I think the geese have gotten used to seeing me and I like to think their honking is more of a greeting now rather than an alarm since they no longer distance themselves when they see me.
I’m taking time this year to go back to my art reference books and do some “self directed study” on creating strong compositions in artwork and to get a better understanding of the ways to work with color. I’m also trying watercolor on Aquabord, which is a board with a clay board surface made for watercolor paint. When finished, the artwork is then varnished and framed without the need for matting or glass. Whoa… The idea of putting ANYTHING liquid on top of a watercolor painting just makes me cringe in horror, but I’m told it really does work. So… here goes your favorite artist taking a leap of faith! Here are two new artworks using the Aquabord. One is finished and, as you can see, the other is in the works. The biggest challenge I’ve noticed so far is that glazing colors doesn’t work very well on this surface. Or, perhaps I haven’t got the technique down yet. Also, the paint tends to sit on the surface longer than it does with regular watercolor paper so I have to wait a bit longer for it to dry before applying the next layer of color. I could use a hairdryer but I prefer to let it dry naturally so I can have a better feel for how to work with the surface.
Here’s a look at this painting from start to finish and one I’ve been working on for some time now. You can see why!! I needed time to work on it when I could give it my undivided attention and winter is such a good time for that sort of thing! This painting will be part of my upcoming solo exhibit, “Birds Eye View” to be held later this year at the Jaffrey Civic Center in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Look for news on this event in future posts!
Title: “Social Networking”
I started this painting at the end of last year but had to put it aside for a while. Time to bring it out and get back to work on it again. Regrettably, we didn’t have any flocks of Red-polls at our feeder this year. I’m having fun working on this as every day shows progress as I work my way down the feeder. Not quite at the halfway mark yet, but I’m close! It’s almost been like having them at my feeder. I’m working from multiple reference photos I took. I’ve had to mark the birds I selected from each photo in order to keep track as I switch from one to another. So far, so good!!
With the thought of warmer temperatures coming in the next month or so, my husband and I were inspired to make some nest boxes for wood ducks and a barred owl. I think the owls might be nesting now; however, there may yet be a “late romance” for a pair of owls who will find this box just right. We wanted to get the duck boxes up while there was still ice on the pond but these 60 degrees days have made the ice unreliable to walk on. Installing the boxes may have to wait until we can get our boat in the water now. Colder, more seasonable temperatures are expected for this week so there may still be an opportunity to get them up before the spring migration of waterfowl comes to our area.
Early one Sunday morning, we just happened upon this adolescent moose foraging along a stream near our house. I’m not sure who was more surprised…us or the moose! This was before we just got a dumping of over 35″ of snow and we haven’t seen it since but it’s encouraging to know moose are around the area. Given the decline of moose in New Hampshire, it was encouraging to see it looking so healthy too. We had seen the tracks of two moose, a mother with it’s calf early last year, so I’m assuming this one is now old enough to have separated from it’s mother. I hope to catch sight of it again for the simple enjoyment of watching it mature to an adult. I recently read the moose population in NH has gone from 8,000 to 3,800 in recent years due to ticks and other environmental factors. Hope there is a solution soon or we will no longer have this beautiful creature sharing our world. Been a while since I’ve created a painting of a moose… I think it’s time for a new one.
Two of my paintings, yes… TWO, were accepted into the North East Watercolor Society’s annual juried member’s show to be held in the Orange Hall gallery at the SUNY Orange Community College located in Middletown, New York. This is my first time with this event! The exhibit is open from February 6th until March 22nd, 2017. If you live in or around the area, be sure to check out the show!
An open reception will be held on Sunday, March 5, 1-4:15pm with awards announced at 3:45pm. The gallery is open: Mon-Thurs 10-8pm and Fri 9-6pm. For directions go to www.sunyorange.edu/culturalaffairs
Stage 1: Here’s a peek at the stages of a work in progress currently on the drawing table. A lot of little details in this piece and that’s not even including the birds yet! But, that’s part of the fun for me. Along with my imagination, I’m using parts of several photographs for creating the composition. This image shows the completed sketch with masking so I can work on the background without having the paint bleed onto the birds, flowers and leaves.
Stage 2: I’ve put the first layer of color in the sky, then another soft wash of a transparent green (using Viridian here) over the blue along the bottom half of the image.
Stage 3: In this phase, I’m working on completing the flowers and leaves while painting my way down from the top. Lots of little details and subtle shading here, with the flowers adding a nice “POP” of color bringing the foliage into the foreground.
My artwork will be featured on a new puzzle available in 2017 at retail stores and also wholesale by the Sunsout, Inc. puzzle company! I have to thank my brother Phil, for his kitten, my friend Karen W. for her puppy and my neighbor, Laurie M. for her quilt as they provided the models for this painting. I’ve been told a puzzle needs to be challenging but not too hard to finish or it’s just not fun. I think I’ve struck the right balance with this one and hope you think so too. I can’t wait to see it in stores!!