Oct 31, 2012

Miniature Painting - No 2 - Seagull

Today's miniature painting is a seagull in flight. This is also from a reference photo I took in Astoria, OR, the same trip as when I took the deer photo for the previous painting.

I love backlighting like this, with the light shining through the feathers from above. And the bright white bird against the deep blue sky had such nice contrast. I think blue and white are always lovely together, like snow and water.

 Seagull in Flight
7"x5" oil on Gessobord

As I mentioned previously, I've been doing smaller works to try to loosen up and prevent myself from obsessing over tiny detail. This hasn't worked very well because I usually just manage to find a smaller brush to do smaller detail. :) But, in this case, I managed to resist my temptation to use a tiny brush and got some nice thick painterly brush strokes in there. Please comment and let me know what you think!

Oct 30, 2012

Miniature Painting - Painting No 1 - Deer

This is something I've been working on for a while but just blogged about. I want to do a series of miniature paintings.

I have been told by numerous people, including experienced gallery owners, that my paintings are priced too low. I need to raise the prices. But I don't want to do that just yet. I want to keep them affordable for anyone for a while. Along the lines of the a-painting-a-day idea, I want to do miniature paintings to sell at affordable prices. These paintings are not true miniatures but will normally be either 5"x7" or 6"x6 in size.

To start off here's is a Columbian Blacktail buck. I took the reference photo for this painting while visiting Astoria, Oregon, a couple years ago. I'd gone to see the Astoria Column, which has an amazing view of Columnia River gorge, and the deer were wandering the grassy areas around the park.

Part of the reason I'm doing these smaller works is to "loosen up" and try not to obsess over fine detail. This buck is an example of a looser, more "painterly" work.

(Update: Sold 10/31)

Oct 23, 2012

Artists Struggle With Titles

I recently read a forum post about an artist's frustration with naming artwork. I can relate. I struggle with titles too. But, as difficult as they are to come up with sometimes, we can't neglect this important step in creating and sharing our artwork. Titles can really make a huge difference for our art. Art doesn't always speak for itself. That doesn't mean it's bad or complicated. It just means viewers need to be pointed in the right direction. A title can evoke an emotional response to a painting that the viewer might not otherwise notice without this prompting. The title can give them so much more information about the story behind the painting, or what the artist was experiencing at the time. You want viewers to have that emotional connection. It helps them remember your art ... and you, the artist!

Here is my favorite example, a blog post I did a while back about a western artist, Jim Clements: The Importance of Good Title

When I first saw that piece, I thought it was beautiful simply because it was well done and the colors and lighting were lovely. But then I read the title I was nearly in tears. I will never, ever forget that painting now.

So, yes, thinking of titles is as much fun as going to the dentist for most of us. But, as you can see, it can have a huge impact. So it's very important, like it or not.

If you are struggling with a title try to think of something emotional related to it. Is the mood of the scene emotional in some way? Is it rainy and gloomy? Is it sunny and happy? Is the subject doing or feeling something emotional, possibly? Cowering? Sulking? Celebrating? If the subject itself is not emotional, perhaps you can use an emotion you were feeling when you first saw the scene, or how you felt while creating it.

If the artwork itself does not evoke an emotional response, try to think outside the box. Maybe go with a color, flavor, or sent that evokes emotion. Sounds crazy. But, I once painted a simple snow leopard cub. He wasn't doing anything in particular so I couldn't think of a title that told a story. But the colors I used had blue violet in the rocks behind him, and his fur was sunlit creamy yellow. The color combination made me think of some boysenberry ice cream I'd recently had that was most delicious! So I ended up calling it "Boysenberry Cream". Not brilliant perhaps. But better than "Untitled" or simply "Snow Leopard Cub" I think. Even though boysenberry ice cream may be unrelated to snow leopards, because of the color relation, it can still have an emotional impact. Who can't relate to enjoying some boysenberry cream pie at a family get-together, or some boysenberry ice cream on a hot summer day?

If all else fails, try Googling paintings that have a similar subject/style to the one you're trying to name. See what other artists are naming similar paintings and, when you find one you like, see if you can make your own variation of it. "Untitled" is definitely not the way to go.

In case you're curious, here's the snow leopard cub painting.

Oct 20, 2012

Waterfall Wildlife Painting - WIP

I'm still working away at the waterfall painting, among other things. I'm getting very close to finished with the background. Getting some foreground vegetation in now. Here's an update on the background progress.
Next the really fun part starts ... the animals! I have not decided for sure yet which animal will take the stage. I've mostly decided but I'll keep it a surprise which one I'm leaning toward. :) Not to fear, however. It was down to deer or wolves. Whichever you wanted, you won't be disappointed, though. No, I'm not going to put both in one painting. But I already have a second painting in the works for the animal that didn't make it into this painting. I think the setting for in the second painting will fit that animal even better. So you'll be happy with it too. Stay tuned!

Oct 17, 2012

Coloring Book Page for Kids - Black Bear

Here's a new coloring book page for the kids.
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 foreststudios@yahoo.com.

Oct 14, 2012

Beagle Puppy Painting on Etsy

Here's a mini painting I did of a beagle puppy, the third in my "paint the pets" series, you might call it.

 "Paint My World - Beagle Puppy"
5"x7" oil on Gessobord

In this series I had the art paint brush painted in as part of the image itself, the paint brush creating the world that it, and the animal, are both in. In case you didn't see my first two in the series, here they are again.

"Brushing the Cat"
6"x6" oil on Gessobord

 "Brushing the Dog"
6"x6" oil on Gessobord
I'm mentioning the beagle pup painting here because I had this painting in auction a time or two and, based on feedback, I'm getting the feeling people really don't like buying art through auctions. If they want to buy a painting, they want to buy it now, not wait a week. On top of that, they don't like the anxiety of worrying they'll be outbid and lose the painting. So I have decided to start moving more of my artwork to Etsy and PayPal so people can just buy it immediately, without dealing the auction. This is one painting I just moved from auction to Etsy so it can be purchased immediately with no competition. I hope by having more artwork available for immediately purchase, and less artwork in the auctions, that it makes things easier and more pleasant for both of us. :)

Oct 12, 2012

Artists Don't Work!

Artists don't work. They just goof off all day! Have you ever heard that? I have many times throughout the years. Non-artists seem to have no idea how much time and effort it takes to create a piece of art. Let's not even talk about all the years and years of practice and classes and workshops and reading books and watching videos. Forget that. I'm talking strictly the time put into one piece of art, in my case a painting. They seem to think I just whip up a painting in a matter of minutes without any effort at all. Here are some of the comments I've received as a result of saying I do wildlife art for a living.

"It must be nice not to have to work!"

"You're so lucky to be able to just goof off all day!"

"Really? I wish I didn't have to have a real job, either!"

"It must be wonderful to just have fun all day!"

"Wow, I can't believe you get paid for doing nothing all day."

There are many variations on these, of course. But you get the idea. Non-artists seem to think I just sit around in a blissful state of art nirvana all day with not a care in the world, art just flowing through me like water through a stream! Yeah, that really would be nice!

The reality is, art is work. As artists we are definitely not goofing off all day. It takes time, effort, and patience to create a piece of art. And all that time is definitely not always pleasant. Sure, once in a while you can get into "the zone" where the muse takes over and art just seems to flow effortlessly from your fingertips. But, despite common belief, that rarely happens. The reality is creating art takes conscious effort. And, like any project, it does not always go as planned. Artists struggle sometimes. They make mistakes. They have to redo things. Sometimes no matter what they try, it just doesn't work and they have to throw it all out and start over. It's not all fun and games. Creating art can be frustrating, tiring, and even boring (yes, painting leaves on trees for days on end can get boring after a while), just like any other form of work. Sometimes artists even wonder why they're doing it. Art is anything but blissful nirvana all day. It's work, just like any other job.

So why do we do it? Why not just get a "real job" like most people? Because, despite the difficulties, there's a passion to it. There's some crazy drive in us to get it done despite the frustration. I'd say it's a bit like climbing Mount Everest. You're tired. You're cold. You've got frost bite. You're wondering if you've lost your mind. But that mountain peak beckons you for unknown reasons. So you keep trudging on, despite the cold, because you have to reach the top. It feels so good to reach the top!

OK, I've never tried to climb Mount Everest, so maybe this isn't a fair analogy. I'm sure, in reality, I'd rather fight my canvas than fight the elements there. But you get my point I hope.

In the artist's case, we keep trudging on despite the frustration, because we want to reach that finished piece of art! It feels so good to finish a piece! It just has to be done!

Maybe climbing mountains is nuts. And maybe creating art is nuts too. But in any case, never assume that either does not require a lot of time, effort, and work.

Oct 7, 2012

Bears in My Back Yard!

I love wildlife. I really do. And I love seeing it close up. Well, most of it at least. But there are, of course, certain animals you don't want to get too close to. Bears are definitely near the top of the list there. 

Since we moved from the suburbs to a more rural part of Washington last fall I have seen a lot more wildlife. I've seen deer, coyote, and bobcat wandering right down our street and through our yard. But I had never even heard of a bear in the area. 

Well, surprise, surprise. Look what I woke up to right on my back patio the other day.

I still haven't actually seen the bear. But after Googling "bear scat" and consulting with some more knowledgeable rural folk, it's definitely been identified as black bear poo. 

OK, that's not a big deal, knowing there are bears in the area. There are a lot of wooded areas around here, after all. But the fact that this bear chose to do its thing on our brick patio, as you can see, is a bit unnerving. 

I had originally hoped it was either from a really big coyote, or a neighborhood dog. But after looking closely it was obvious the scat was full of berry seeds and fruit pits. I did some online research about black bears and their preferred diet this time of year is fruits and berries. Yikes! Definitely not a neighborhood dog. Oddly, despite the fact that bears are after fruits and berries this time of year, they did not bother our raspberries or Asian Pear trees.

Why this bear decided to wander into our yard, poop on our patio, but not bother our garden or fruit trees is beyond me. Perhaps it was telling me it was time to paint a bear. It's been a very long time since I painted a bear. And the last time I painted a bear it was a grizzly bear. I don't think I've ever painted a black bear. I guess it's time to appease the black bear gods! lol

Oct 2, 2012

Waterfall Wildlife Crossing Painting Progress

Here's an update to my waterfall wildlife painting. I've obviously filled in a bit more of the background/foreground. But I also did a Photoshop mockup of potential wildlife to add to the scene.

I think I've pretty much ruled out bears at this time. Though bears are more often associated with streams and waterfalls than are deer and wolves, that's just the problem. If you do a little searching online you will find there is no shortage of paintings with bears by water. I want my painting to be a little different. There seems to be less artwork depicting deer or wolves by waterfalls, creeks, rivers, streams, etc., so these subjects makes the painting more unique.

But now I have to decide which one. Deer seem to match the color of the autumn scenery better, and add a sense of peace and tranquility. However, the wolves are more unique and add some excitement to the scene. I have had some comments that the lighting in the version with the wolves makes them stand out more and is, therefore, a more appealing choice. But I could paint the lighting similarly on the deer too, so that's not really the issue. It's just a matter of which animal has a wider appeal.

Would you prefer to see wolves or deer in this sort of setting? Let me know what you think.

Shop Art Supplies

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...