Friday, October 31, 2008

Autumns Glory - God's Palette

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love all the seasons for different reasons, but fall is special. The world transforms itself into a fantastic display of vibrant color for just a few short weeks and then it changes again, put to sleep by the hand of the Creator only to burst forth anew in the spring.

This time of year fills my senses to overflowing. Many times I find myself with tears in my eyes as I try to take in the sheer beauty of it all. I find myself wishing that I had God's palette and paintbrushes and that I could capture just a fraction of the beauty that I see and pass that on to a world that often only sees darkness. If they could only see God's splendor and beauty in the colors of fall leaves, in the honking of wild geese, in the crisp stillness of an autumn sunrise maybe it would bring a peace and healing to their lives. It always does for me.

As I write this I am reminded of a scripture verse, Phil. 4:8. "Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things just, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." Today I choose to think about lovely things like the colors of fall and pray that God will continue to paint my life with the colors from His palette.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Louisiana State Duck Stamp entry

As promised, here is the work in progress for the Louisiana State Duck Stamp Contest. The painting itself should reach the hands of the judges today and the final judging will take place on Oct. 22nd. As soon as I know anything I will post it here.

For the past few years Louisiana has featured a retriever breed on their duck stamp and their theme was "Retrievers Save Game." This year the breed was the Chesapeake Bay Retriever which is the breed of dog I own. Since I am also an avid duck hunter and have been toying with the idea of entering a duck stamp contest, this was almost a "no brainer " for me to enter. I did say "almost".

I had pondered my design for weeks and had originally come up with a whole different concept. It was much more complicated with lots of background including an elaborate early morning sunrise, flying ducks, the dog and, in the foreground, the mornings successful retrieves. I really liked the sketch and started the painting with colored pencils. After four failed attempts to pull the concept out of my head and put it on paper, I nearly gave up. It was brought to my attention that maybe what I was trying to paint was someone else's style and not an "original Cathy". I must admit that I thought these well meaning friends and my husband just didn't "get it". They just didn't understand the importance of this piece or the judges expectations, etc.,etc. But....they were right! I went back to the drawing board and completely reworked the concept. Everything simplified and changed except for the dog, which features my beloved Jake. That part could not change. It also features a pair of American Widgeon .This first photo shows that final concept.

This next photo shows the work in progress. I had even changed what medium I was working in. This is done in gouache (an opaque watercolor) on hot pressed watercolor paper which is a very smooth surface and lends itself well to very detailed work. I almost trashed this piece as well because the sky was actually started with colored pencil again and was just not working. At this point I was so frustrated I really didn't care. I grabbed my paint and just started slopping it on. Much to my amazement things started to come together! Now, I was encouraged enough to continue and as I did, I liked where it was going. ( Up until this point I was really wondering if an artist was what I was really supposed to be. What made me think I could do this?)

Here is the finished painting that I sent to the contest. This is much more along the lines of what I normally do. Though I love to look at paintings with lots going on in them I don't paint that least not at this time. I've always been much more interested in capturing the spirit and personality of my subject and the rest is incidental. It tells part of the story, but it isn't the story. It's not the focus. So getting carried away with all this other stuff was taking away from the whole idea of the piece.....the retriever.

Now that it's done and sent off I'm glad that I took my friends and husbands' advice and painted from the heart.( Thank you all for setting me straight!) I'm satisfied with the way it turned out and I don't feel like I'll embarrass myself with this piece. I am excited that I reached one of my goals this year to enter a duck stamp contest. I'd like to dream about being the winner or at least placing in the top five, but if I don't I'm still pleased. My prayer is just that it arrives safely, makes it through the judging and gets returned to me without damage.

Well, that's about all for today. I wanted to slip this in because I promised that I would. We're in the midst of the deer hunting season here and at the very start of the duck hunting and as I said...I'm an avid hunter, so I'm off with my husband to the "woodsy woods" as a friend calls it, to look for those elusive creatures!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Ready to Go - Black Lab Puppy

She's got her teddy and she's ready to go! She's looking for someone to love her and give her a forever home.
I posted this piece a few weeks back, but I'm posting it again because it is a part of the Canine Art Guild's new online show titled "Helping Paws". This show is dedicated to all of the many rescue organizations out there who are helping unwanted animals find love, comfort, medical attention and forever homes. Many of the artists participating are donating all or a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their pictures in this show to an animal shelter or rescue organization of their choice. I have selected the Lewis Clark Animal Shelter to be the recipient of my donation. I am donating 25% of the sale of this canine portrait.

This portrait is an 8 x 10 done in graphite pencil and is for sale for $250.00. Anyone interested may contact me by email.

The model for this portrait already has a wonderful home, but so many animals do not. They cannot help themselves and rely on us to take care of them. God made us stewards over all the earth and all the animals both wild and domestic. It is up to us to do what we can. While I cannot personally care for every animal, I can support organizations that are trying to. Won't someone join me in helping? Give this little portrait a forever home and in turn help to give a real animal a chance. And while you're considering my painting take a moment and visit the Canine Art Guild website and view all the wonderful paintings from an international collection of artists. Vote for your favorite. That helps us know we're doing a good job!

Thanks for looking!