Feb 28, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 29 - Swallowtail Butterfly

Next up in my miniature paintings project is a Two-tailed Swallowtail Butterfly. This was fun to work on because, doing a little research for it, I learned there are a lot of swallowtail butterflies that all look very similar. Learning the little details that distinguish them was interesting.

This butterfly lives throughout much of the western United States from the mountain states to the west coast states, and from southern Canada down through Mexico and into Central America.

Most states have an official mammal, bird, flower, and butterflies. The Two-tailed Swallowtail became the official state butterfly of Arizona in 2001. So for those of you in Arizona you now know your state's butterfly. :)

And, in case you're curious, Arizona's state mammal is the ringtail, the state bird is the cactus wren, and the saguaro cactus blossom.

 6"x6" oil on Gessobord

Feb 26, 2013

The Rabbit and the Hare

Something a little different. I'm thinking of getting back into children's book illustration. One of my previous children's books was criticized for being "dark and murky" so here I'm doing something a little lighter, brighter, and less realistic than my usual style. To be fair, the criticized book was about things like electric eels and catfish which swim about in mucky waters! But, nevertheless, children's books should be brighter and more colorful. So here I'm going for more light, bold, clean colors as well as a little more cartoonish style.
This painting is for a story about about a cottontail bunny and a hare (or jackrabbit, if you prefer). The story is about how the hare thinks he's better than the cottontail bunny. In this scene the hare teases the bunny about her small feet and short legs. He brags that his long legs and big feet enable him to run faster and jump farther than the she can.

I tried to exaggerate the hare's long, lanky features here, and make the bunny compact, to emphasize the differences the hare is pointing out to the bunny. I also wanted to make the hare a little ragged and maybe not so attractive, since he's not a very nice guy, while the bunny is cute and cuddly, nibbling innocently on her clover.

 5.5"x9" oil on Gessobord
Available here.

Feb 20, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 28 - Wolf Mother & Pup

Next up in my 60-paintings-for-$60 or less project is a mother wolf and her pup sharing an affectionate moment in the warm spring sunshine.

 5"x7" oil on Gessobord
Original: SOLD

Feb 15, 2013

New Landscape Painting - Kalispell, MT

Something a little different today. More of a landscape painting than wildlife.
This is from my trip to Kalispell, MT a few years ago for a wildlife photo shoot. We had to get up really early! This is some of the scenery along the way to the photo shoot location, probably around 5:30AM. Ugh, way to early for me! But it was beautiful!

 8"x10" oil on multimedia board
Available here.

Feb 12, 2013

Gratitude - My Country!

They say it's good for your mood, and even your physical health, to stop from time to time and be grateful for things in your life. Today, I was thinking about this country, the United States of America, and how grateful I am to live here. No, this isn't about politics, freedom ... or gun rights!
This is about the land! The amazing natural beauty and biodiversity all within one country. There is so much natural beauty here. So much wildlife to see and enjoy! But it's not just for the wildlife. It's also for the people who live. There's every place a person could want here.

Don't like the cold? Want a warm sunny resort? Move to Florida!

 Don't like the heat? Want to get far away from civilization? Move to Alaska!

 There are so many choices. From the arctic circle in Alaska to the tropical climate of Florida, from the mountains of Colorado to the deserts of Arizona, there's something for everyone. How many other countries have all that variety within their borders? Very few!
I'm not saying this to brag. But as a wildlife artist, this diversity also means there's habitat for so many kinds of wildlife to see ... and paint! How can I not be grateful for that?!

Feb 9, 2013

Wildlife Quiz - Ocelot or Clouded Leopard?

Do you know how to tell the difference between an ocelot and a clouded leopard? They are very similar! Here is a picture of both. Can you tell me which is which? No cheating! Make your best guess before Googling! What are the distinguishing differences? Leave your answer in the comments below. I'll give the answer in the comments later.

Feb 6, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 27 - House Finch

When I took the reference photo for this painting I wasn't exactly sure what kind of finch it was. It looks very similar to the purple finch and the Cassin's finch so I had to do a little research to identify it accurately. The "purple" finch isn't really purple. It's more of a rose colored red so at first glance it's easy to mistake one for the other. The house finch is distinguishable from the purple finch by the red being a little more red-orange than rosy red. The banding on the belly is also more distinctive on the male house finch than the purple finch, although the banding is more distinctive on the female purple finch than on the female house finch. It's a bit confusing. The Cassin's finch has less red than either of the other two, looking more like it has a red cap rather than a whole red head and upper body. Here's a nice web page showing the differences between the 3 finches: Red Finch Identification.

 5"x7" oil on Gessobord
Original: SOLD

Feb 3, 2013

The Superbowl and Art

What does the Superbowl football game have to do with fine art? Nothing directly, really. But it does make me pause and wonder about things I get hung up on in life, and in art.

Did you know domestic violence spikes 10% in the hours after a team loses a football game?

I personally do not understand why people get so hung up on a team, why they feel their lives revolve around that team winning or losing. Why people get depressed when their team loses, why men beat their wives, kick the dog, yell at their kids, etc, I'll never understand. I like football. I watch it. I have team preferences. I'm from Seattle so I have to root for the Seahawks, of course. But if they lose I don't get depressed. I don't get angry. I don't really care which team wins because it has no effect on my life.

It has no effect on YOUR life either! Be kind to your wife, your children, your dog! They had NOTHING to do with your team losing! And even if they did influence it (which they don't!) why does it matter SO much to you that your team lost? Does it mean you will be stupider tomorrow? Does it mean you will be fatter? Sicker? Lose your job? NO! It has NOTHING to do with YOUR life! Get over it!

Somewhere in here I think this relates to art. Things about art we get hung up on and can't let go of that don't really affect our lives. Maybe you're jealous of another artist who has success. Does that mean you can't also have success? No. But for some reason we feel better when our perceived "enemy" loses, even though it has no real effect on our lives and our success or failure.

What things in art do you need to learn to let go of?

Feb 2, 2013

Miniature Painting - No 26 - Great Blue Heron

More miniature wildlife paintings on the way! My little junco painting sold the other day so it's time for another bird painting. Here's a great blue heron for all you bird lovers out there.

 6"x6" oil on Gessobord
Original: SOLD

I took the reference photo for this guy at at Juanita Bay Park in Kirkland, WA. He (she?) was amazing to watch. When I first got there he was standing on a log by the water. He slowly waded out into the shallows and started fishing. He was so good at it he made it look ridiculously easy. He would take a few very slow steps, stop, then after a pause, stab! Fish down the hatch! He'd take a few more steps, pause, stab! He came up with a fish every time. He never missed! How he managed to get a fish every single time was amazing. He was one deadly predator. I was in awe of his skill, but couldn't help but feel a little sorry for those poor fish who seem to have no chance against him. A truly amazing bird to see in action!

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