Aug 31, 2012

Save a Deer, Shoot a Hunter

No, of course I don't want to you really shoot a hunter! I got your attention, though, didn't I?

But, seriously, we should protect wildlife by banning all hunting, right? Hunting is a cruel and unnecessary sport and hunters are just evil people who enjoy torturing animals and watching them suffer, right?

Well no, actually, I don't think so.

You're thinking, What!? You're a wildlife artist! You love wildlife! You love nature! You contribute to wildlife conservation! You care about animal rights! How could you possibly not support a hunting ban!? How could you not think hunters are horrible, cruel people!?

It's quite simple really.

First of all, the sad reality of this world is that it revolves around money. Wildlife conservation would not exist without money and hunters make huge contributions to wildlife conservation efforts through hunting licenses and through the support of organizations such as Ducks Unlimited and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Like it or not, without hunters there would be a whole lot less wildlife conservation going on.

Secondly, hunters aren't horrible, cruel people either. Well, not all of them anyway. I'm sure there are some bad apples out there just as there are in any group. But many hunters care very deeply about nature and wildlife. Now, I personally can't understand how you can love something and then kill it but I have met and talked with hunters enough to know there are such people. I don't know understand it but I know other people can feel that way somehow (just like I can't understand how anyone can like brussel sprouts but I know some people do!). I can tell by the looks in their eyes and the sounds of their voice when they talk about it that they love nature more than anything. These particular types of hunters are ethical and compassionate and have no desire to cause pain and suffering to the animals they hunt. Many are willing to let "The Big One" get away rather than hit it with a sloppy shot and they abhor sloppy, unethical hunters as much as we do.

I'm all for the ethical and humane treatment of animals but when attitudes become extreme then logic becomes flawed. While I appreciate the intentions of IDA, for example, something they said in an article about how to better reduce and control the deer population seemed a little absurd to me.

"Hunting does remove some animals from the population, but it does not keep deer populations at a continually reduced level. Immediately after a hunt, the remaining animals flourish because less competition for food exists, allowing the remaining animals to live healthier lives, and resulting in a higher reproductive rate."
"In Defense of Animals believes that sport hunting is not only an ineffective wildlife management tool, but a cruel and unnecessary practice. Sport hunting should be banned, allowing deer populations to regulate themselves naturally." (source)
I have to wonder if they've given any thought as to how nature regulates deer populations "naturally." Some people feel that "natural" is always better. But if you think about it you'll realize that nature is often more cruel than humans. What IDA is saying above is that they want to see an end to the hunting that allows some animals to "live healthier lives" and instead let the populations increase until nature causes all the deer to suffer, since nature regulates populations through starvation and disease. This is an odd choice for an organization that supposedly cares about animals since starvation, malnutrition, and disease cause far more pain and suffering than a bullet. I don't know about you but if I had to choose I'd much rather take a bullet through the heart than die a slow agonizing death through starvation.

So try not to hate hunters, at least not the ones who are ethical and support wildlife conservation. They're doing more good for wildlife than they're doing harm to it. They're human like you after all and, whether you want to believe it or not, humans are part of nature too.

Aug 30, 2012

Wolf Pup and Flower Blossoms Painting - Finished

Finally finished my little wolf pup and spring blossoms painting. Not that it's taken me this long to do it. I've been working on other paintings as well.

Still trying to think of a title for this piece. If you have any suggestions let me know!

Wolf pup and spring blossoms
6"x6" oil on Gessobord
Available for purchase here.

Aug 27, 2012

Running Palomino Mini Painting

Here's a quick little mini paint sketch I did from the photos I took yesterday at the Hollywood Hill Saddle Club Western Games event. This is one of the horses in the event, obviously with tack and rider removed.

No, it's not as detailed as my usual work. But, as I said, it's a mini painting, and a quick one. I completed it in just a few hours, sort of was a warm-up exercise. (My larger, highly-detailed paintings can take 4 weeks to complete, so I hope you can see a difference!)

Gold Lightning
5"x7" oil on Gessobord

Here's the reference image I used, in case you're curious.

Aug 26, 2012

Photographing Horses at the HHSC Western Games

I had a good time today, spending much of it at the Hollywood Hill Saddle Club western games event. I took a lot of photos! And, hopefully, from all these photos I will be doing some horse paintings soon! Until then, enjoy some of the photos.

Getting ready.

And they're off!

Some were really intense.

Others were just kickin' back.

She's thinking please don't knock it over!

Go! Go! Go!!!!

I think this horse is smiling for the camera!

On the home stretch!

The End!

Aug 25, 2012

Coloring Book Page - Mallard Ducks

I have another coloring book page for your kids to print out and enjoy. This time it is of two mallard ducks in flight over a pond colored golden by surrounding autumn foliage.

As with the previous coloring pages, have your kids download it, print it out, and color it or paint it any way they want, realistic or wild and crazy! (Click on the image to see a larger version. Then right-click on the larger image and select "save image as..." to save it to your hard drive.) If they want to color it realistically they can use the image below of my original painting as a reference and try to match the colors.

If you'd like to send me your child's finished colored page I'd be happy to share it on my blog here. You can email it to me at

Aug 21, 2012

New "Brush the Cat" Painting

To go along with my previous "Brushing the Dog" painting, I did a cat version. This kitty seems to be enjoying the paint brush as much as the dog, if not more! :)

No, this is not a picture of me working on a dog painting. The paint brush is actually part of the painting!

"Brushing the Cat"

6"x6" oil on Gessobord

(Available for purchase here)

Aug 19, 2012

New "Brush the Dog" Painting

Here's a new fun little painting I did today. No, this is not a picture of me working on a dog painting. The paint brush is actually part of the painting!

I came across a photo of my sweet yellow Labrador retriever, Hannah, the other day. I don't remember exactly what she was doing in the photo. She had her nose in the air, maybe sniffing something interesting. But, to me, it looked like she was stretching out because she was enjoying a good chin or back scratch. I liked the angle and pose, so I wanted to paint it. It wasn't the typical "pet portrait' view. But what to do with it? Well, since she looked like she was enjoying a good scratch she needed something to scratch her, so I got the idea of having the paint brush stroking her back, and it became part of the painting.

"Brushing the Dog"

6"x6" oil on Gessobord

(Available for purchase here)

Ooooh, doesn't that feel soooo good! You can tell she's loving it, can't you? Haha!

When I was almost done with this piece I sort of liked the way it looked with a bit missing in the lower corner so I stopped there. Leaving it unfinished emphasized the idea that the dog was actually being painted by the brush in the image.

What do you think? Should I have finished that lower corner or not?

Aug 15, 2012

Wolf Pup and Flower Blossoms Painting - WIP

Started a new mini painting recently. It's a wolf pup sniffing some apple blossoms.

Oil on Gessobord

Aug 14, 2012

Golden Eagle Painting Revision - Finished!

I think I'm finally done with my golden eagle painting revision. I finished up the tree line today. It may need a touch here and there but it's pretty much done.

Here are the stages of progression.

Original version:

Changing the sky:

Second sky revision. I wanted a darker, more stormy look.
Adding mountains:

Second mountain revision. I wanted more rock/mountain and less snow:

Added trees:

Done! Yay!

Aug 12, 2012

Interesting Animal Facts - Elephant

Having recently done a small paint sketch of an elephant...

....I found this article about elephant facts particularly interesting.

Some highlights from the article:

Elephants are the only mammals that can't jump.
Elephants can live up to 70 years.
Elephants purr like cats!

Aug 11, 2012

Hollywood Hill Saddle Club English Horse Show

No, not Hollywood, CA. Hollywood Hill is a neighborhood of Woodinville, WA, a suburb about 20-30 minutes outside Seattle. Parts of Woodinville are still somewhat rural with lots of horse property. In the "Hollywood Hill" area of Woodinville they have a pretty well-organized Saddle Club that puts on horse shows and events nearly every weekend.

Today I attended their English show in order to take some reference photos of for possible horse paintings.

I took a lot of pictures, but not many came out well. Good thing I'm a better artist than photographer! lol
Anyway, I picked out a few of the better shots and I thought I'd share some of them with you today.

I liked this (above) shot for the pose and expression. The horse seems relaxed, and the rider cheerful.

This image I liked for its sheer beauty. Both horse and rider are just wonderful to look at.

Another beautiful duo. I have a thing for dark horses. I love the way their dark coat shines in the sun and shows the ripples of their muscles. The rider also has a lovely, cheerful expression.

Another lovely horse and rider team, well-balanced and moving confidently.

Again, another dark horse that appealed to me for her lovely coat sheen. She was also well-mannered and moved beautifully.

This photo I liked just for the lighting and expression. The alertness of the horse, and the lovely side lighting were nice. I also liked the expression of the rider as she waited in anticipation for the announcement of the competition results.

Oh, being around horses today brought back a lot of memories from my horsey days! I'll have to share some of my horse ownership adventures with you in future posts!

Aug 8, 2012

New Mini Wolf Mom and Pup Painting

I'm working on a mini painting of a wolf mother and pup while my eagle painting dries enough for me to continue on that.

Here's the initial sketch:

And here's the painting in progress:

Wolf mother and pup
5"x7" oil on Gessobord

I changed the background a bit from the sketch. It was originally going to be some rocks, but that seemed too cold and hard for an affectionate mother-baby scene. I decided spring grass, trees, and flowers would fit the mood better.

Aug 7, 2012

Wildlife in American Art

I bought this book, Wildlife in American Art: Masterworks from the National Museum of Wildlife Art, a while ago but just today sat down and really took a good look at it.

It's a beautiful book and I wish it had more artwork by each artist. But that doesn't mean it's a skimpy book. It's a huge book, actually, and covers a lot of artists. It goes clear back to wildlife artist Marcus Catesby, born in 1682! Covering that much history, there obviously was room for a whole gallery of works from each artist. Nevertheless, it's very interesting and informative, and a must for anyone seriously interested in wildlife art.

Aug 5, 2012

NASA's Curiosity Lands on Mars!

Sorry, I was too busy watching the Mars landing to think or blog about art tonight. The NASA rover, Curiosity, successfully landed on Mars just moments ago and I've been watching live!

Here's the NASA update:
Mars Curiosity

Why do I care?

Well, not only because it's making history, but because I've always had a love of astronomy. I have a love of all natural sciences, actually .... including those related to wildlife, of course!

But, truth be told, when I first attended community college at age 17, I planned to study astronomy. However, when I learned there were few career choices for astronomers ... much like art! ... even for those with a PhD, I was encouraged by parents and teachers to pursue a more "practical" career path.

Yeah, I did. I got my degree in Business Administration, and that career path died along with my soul there.

Haha! But it's never too late to start over. So, again, my paint brushes are fired up and ready to go! Will I make history with my art like Curiosity just made history? Who knows! But I'll have a lot more fun trying than I will in business admin!

Aug 4, 2012

Golden Eagle Painting Revision - WIP

Got a bit more done on the revision of the background on my golden eagle painting. The sky is pretty much finished and I'm working on the mountains now.

Next I'll be adding some trees to the mid-foreground. It's a good sized painting, 20"x32", so it's taking some time. But it's getting there!

Here's the original version, in case you hadn't seen it before.

Aug 3, 2012

Animals You've Never Heard Of - Takin

I'm sure some of you have heard of a takin, but many people have probably not. It's not a commonly mentioned or popular animal. According to Wikipedia a takin is a sort of antelope-goat creature that lives in the Eastern Himalayas. It looks a bit more like a cross between a cow and a mountain goat to me.


In any case, it's an interesting creature. I thought of it because someone posted a pic of it on Facebook today, showing a new baby takin at the Highland Wildlife Park.
Someone mentioned that it was an odd creature. But I found this picture to actually be quite cute. He looks like a big brown lamb!

What do you think of takins? Odd? Interesting? Or Cute?
Had you ever heard of one before now?

Aug 2, 2012

Research Your Subjects - White Tiger Facts

Not long ago I finished a white tiger painting. Before I painted it I did a lot of looking around online and in my wildlife books to learn about the animal. Besides just looking at lots of pictures, I read a bit about white tigers too. This is important to do. Don't rely on images you see online for accurate information on how to portray your subject. They may be inaccurate, or you may overlook some detail if it's not pointed out in a descriptions somewhere.

When looking at artwork of white tigers online and comparing the facts I'd read I noticed a few errors. Many otherwise very good artists had inaccurately painted or incorrectly described their subject. We aren't talking kids' finger paintings here. I saw some very nicely done, professional paintings of white tigers that were excellent except for the obvious fact that the artist had not researched the facts about the subject.

I won't name names or show images because this isn't about picking on any particular artist. It's just to point out that not researching your subject, and portraying it inaccurately, can diminish the feeling of realism in the work. Now, of course, if realism is not your style then do whatever you want. But most of these paintings were realistic in style and I would assume the artist intended it to be an accurate representation of the animal.

So what were these flaws? Mainly yellow eyes, and being called "Siberian" tigers. But also some more subtle things like overly stark white fur with jet black stripes.

The facts are:

White tigers are Bengal tigers. There's no such thing as a white Siberian tiger. Any accounts of a white Siberian tiger have never been proven, or have been shown to be crossed with Bengals. I see many white "Siberian" tigers in paintings. I suppose it is due to the fact that a white tiger looks good in the snowy Siberian forest. Perhaps we can call that "artistic license"?

White tigers do not have yellow eyes. Almost all white tigers have blue eyes. Occasionally, they will be greenish-blue.

White tigers are not albinos, therefore they do not typically have stark white fur. They often have a tinge of orange left in their white fur, like this cute little guy.

(Image source: A-Z Animals)

Their stripes are also often muted brownish-black to brown rather than being jet black.

White tigers are actually pretty rare in the wild. Most white tigers are in captivity, and have been inbred, resulting in all sorts of health issues and abnormalities.

Ok, so what? Most people who view a painting of a white tiger will not know these facts. So who cares? True, most won't. But chances are, if someone is a collector of wildlife art, they will know these things. You don't typically spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on art if you don't have a love of the subject. And if you have a love of the subject, you know these things.

And who I am to preach about it? I have made some mistakes in my paintings. I'm definitely not perfect. But, as artists, we should always be striving to improve ourselves and our art. It's not all about painting techniques and honing our brush skills. It's also about studying and knowing our subjects intimately. Don't forget what you're painting because you're so focused on how you're painting. Always be learning inside and outside the studio!

Aug 1, 2012

My Past Life - Chauffeur

Whatever we do for a living these days, whether art, or CEO, or whatever, most of us probably had some "interesting" job in our younger years, not necessarily related to our career goals.

I had to be amused when I came across an old picture of me in a tuxedo. This was back when I was about 25 years old or so, working as a chauffeur in the Los Angeles area, driving limousines. I was going to collage at the time and this was the perfect job for a college student because it was mostly evening and weekend work.

I wasn't so bad looking back then. Sad what age does to you! LOL

By the way, being a chauffeur is not nearly as glamorous as many people think it is. There were many long hours driving. Weekends were busiest. Sometimes so busy, like during prom or wedding season, I would not sleep all weekend. I would be driving a prom group until 5:00AM only to have to be at a wedding by 11:00AM. Well, I got to sleep from 6:00AM to 10:00AM, right? No. The reality was, I was often cleaning vomit (and other unmentionables) out of the back of the limo during those wee hours in between, getting it ready for the next customer. Not a glamorous job at all.

It wasn't all bad though. I did occasionally get invited to some parties and night clubs, and meet some interesting people. But there were the obnoxious and unruly groups too. It was a crazy job!

So what has this to do with wildlife art? Nothing really. I'm just sharing some of my pre-wildlife-art life. So wherever you are in your life, whether you're doing art full-time, working your way to it, or working some crappy job and just dreaming about art, remember we've all been there at some time in our lives, doing something we'd rather not be doing. But whatever it is, it all brings us to where we are now, makes us who we are now. Having crazy jobs has allowed me to appreciate even more the time I spend doing my art. Had I never done anything else, maybe I wouldn't appreciate what I have. It's always good to remember.

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