Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snow Bird ( in gouache)

Merry Christmas!!!!!
I finally have the image complete for my Christmas cards and here it is! I considered many ideas....geese on a frozen pond, a wintry landscape, a pheasant strutting in the snow, but I kept coming back to this bright, red Northern Cardinal all puffed up to stay warm on a cold, gray winters day.

I know that this is an often seen image on a holiday card, but I had lots of reasons for choosing it. The extremely cold weather in our valley, the gray skies and softly falling snow that followed it, the way the birds at my feeders all puffed themselves up to stay warm all contributed to this image. But I think mostly I chose it because we don't have cardinals here and I miss seeing their bold colors accenting the subtle shades of winter. I grew up seeing them in Illinois, loved to watch them at my feeders and listen to their beautiful calls. I guess I may have chosen him because he reminds me of my childhood home and lots of folks think about that this time of year. I hope this little bird brings as much cheer to you as he does to me!

Christmas is just a short time away now. Hopefully, you all are getting your shopping done and starting to enjoy the holiday festivities. Don't forget to take time to remember why we have this season in the first place. It's not about Santa, reindeer and gifts. It 's about the birth of a Savior, the hope of nations, Jesus Christ. And considering the condition of our world these days we need this hope more than ever.

Many, many blessings to everyone this Christmas season and prayers for a better New Year!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Goldens in Pencil

"Not a creature was stirring.....". I just completed this Christmas card for a client and thought I would share. This originally started out as a normal pet portrait order and my client wanted it in time to have holiday cards made. However, when she sent me her photos most of them were of her two Goldens sleeping! At first, I thought ...."how am I ever going to make this work in time for her to get cards made?" (She had only contacted me the week of Thanksgiving and we didn't have time to get more photos.) Then the light bulb went off and this idea came. Since she wants to use them as her Christmas card why not make them sleeping under the tree? And this is the result!

I have to say I'm pretty delighted with the final drawing. It was a good challenge for me to think beyond the "normal" portrait and take what at first looked like something I couldn't work with and make it into something special and unique. Now, where are all those photos of Maggie sleeping........? Hmmm! More ideas are starting to roll around in my head!

Well, I'm off to work on some other commissions and maybe I'd better think about a design for my OWN Christmas card!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Peregrine Falcon - Two ways

Well! Time certainly does fly by when one isn't paying attention! I'm not really sure where two months just went to, but it was just September a few days ago.....right? Amazing how life just seems to continue on without us!

In the past few months I have taken some time to play with some new ideas, new subject matter and different paint. I haven't had a particular agenda other than to let myself really "play" without feeling pressured to create a finished painting or one that is even marketable. It has been both a frustrating and a freeing process, but I'm glad to be doing it. We will never grow if we don't try new things. Even if they don't work out....and I had quite a few that didn't work out....what I learned was worth the effort. I plan to continue down this path for awhile so even if I'm not posting here be assured that I'm still painting. I am just in an experimental mode right now and not every experiment is worth revealing. Some of them are just very personal. And some of them are, well, shall we just say.....butt ugly!!

This post, however, is to show a few of the experiments that didn't turn out too bad. Now, you may think that these look a lot like my other work and you'd be right except my other work has been mostly dogs.
I decided to start my experiments with studies of birds. I'm kind of a closet bird watcher anyway, so this just seemed a natural step.

These two paintings are peregrine falcons that belong to a falconer friend of mine.
Peregrines are amazing hunters to watch and can reach speeds of well over 100 miles per hour when they start in to their stoop on their prey. They hunt by circling high into the air. When they spot their prey they fold their wings and become a teardrop shape hurtling through the sky. In the last seconds they unfold their wings and hit their prey with closed feet, knocking the bird unconscious. After that, it's lunch!

I found the whole falconry process quite fascinating and have ideas for several paintings, but decided to start with simple head studies first and work my way out from there. I started with the pencil study just trying to figure out how to draw feathers. I decided not to confuse myself with color just yet as feathers are not fur! Feathers lay a lot like shingles, but they are not evenly arranged. Then if you add patterns like spots or bars to the mix, well, you've got quite a challenge!!

After I was satisfied with the pencil study I started with the color. This one is done in acrylic. Wow! This much detail takes a lot of work! Both of these studies are only 5" x 7" and I'm glad I didn't try any larger for my first attempt. I was, however, pretty pleased with how they both turned out, though I really think I'm more partial to the black and white version than the color.

So these are representing some of the new directions I'm looking at heading in. Both of these are available for purchase. Inquiries can come to me at kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

I am fascinated by all the living creatures around us. It amazes me just how well adapted each creature is to it's environment. God's creativity astounds me!!! And I would really like to draw attention to Him by showcasing some of the awesome creatures he's created through my art. That's my hope anyway! Hope you enjoy these!

Friday, September 4, 2009

An Artist's Play Day

I have been told that artists are "different", that we don't think the same as "normal" people, nor ,apparently, do we see things the same or even behave the same. I'm not really here to discuss other artists. I'm here to let you in on a little part of my world if you care to peek. You can judge for yourself if I see things differently!

Today I allowed myself some "play" time. It wasn't for very long, but it did allow me an opportunity to recharge a bit. I allowed myself some time to take my camera out in to nature and just let my "artist child" play. This, I am discovering, is a great way to foster creativity, to fill the well so to speak. I just allowed myself time to listen, watch, discover, explore and just tried to remember what it was like for me as a child when my greatest joy was to go out into my yard and pretend I was a naturalist observing and recording all the nature around me.

This is some of the natural world that caught my "artist childs" eye today.....
A viceroy butterfly was sunning itself in some thick vegetation near the water.
I found the back sides of these wild sunflowers to be quite beautiful with the sunlight shining through their petals. ( is this what is meant by artists seeing things differently??)This little chickadee had been feeding in the sunflowers, but retreated to the safety of the trees when Maggie barreled through the patch of flowers in hot pursuit of who knows what!I found this beautiful blue craw fish claw lying in the sand. I'm not sure what causes the blue color as craw fish are usually a burnt orange.

I was lucky enough to catch this osprey out looking for breakfast and got a few quick shots before it plunged into the river and came up with a nice fat fish. Unfortunately, I couldn't get to the rivers edge for all the brush so I didn't get any great shots of the catch. Oh well, maybe next time!

Growing right next to each other in a shady patch along the river were some vibrant blue elderberries and their color complement, these orange rose hips.

I enjoyed my little play date today and whether you are an artist or not I would encourage you to take some time, even if just for an hour, to go outside and remember what it was like to be a child again. Let your imagination run wild! Let the sun warm your face, let wet sand squish through your toes. Take some time to get close to the earth and see what wonders you can discover there. I guarantee you will feel much better for it!

Thanks for taking this little journey with me today! Enjoy yourself and be blessed!!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dark Chocolate - Chocolate lab in Gouache

Wow!I didn't realize that so much time has slipped by! August has been a wonderfully busy month filled with canning garden produce, painting, vacation and family visits from folks out of town. The pace has not slowed down now for several weeks and I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures and a little relaxation!

Here is one of the commissions I had the honor to paint this month. This is another of my "Past to Present" paintings featuring Rico, the Chocolate Lab, as a puppy and young adult. He really is a gorgeous boy and has a rich, dark chocolate color, hence the name of this painting. Rico may be a sporting breed, but his owner doesn't hunt. However, they love to play in the rivers near their home so we put some of the local scenery in the painting.

Well, I'm off to prepare for out of town guests. Hope everyone's summer has been wonderful! See you soon!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weekend in the Mountains

Last weekend we packed up our camping gear and headed out to Red River, Idaho to reacquaint ourselves with camping in the wilderness. We were doing this in preparation for an upcoming ATV ride we have planned in August. Since we haven't been camping in..... oh, at least 10 years, we thought it would be a good idea to do a test run before we actually rode off into the real wilderness and encountered problems we didn't prepare for. It was a good thing we did this as we had a few minor difugalties along the way. A few good things to remember for next time....

When you get out of your vehicle to admire the scenery don't stand on an anthill!

Make sure the camp stoves and lanterns are in working order before leaving.

Pack lots of mosquito repellent!

We did find time to do some relaxing things like pan for gold, ride the four wheeler trails and watch the abundant wildlife. And the night sky was absolutely spectacular!! I had forgotten how many stars you can see when you get far enough away from civilizations lights.

I took two cameras with to capture the flora and fauna and was rewarded with some great shots of the wildlife. I also took with my sketch book hoping to find a quiet moment to sit and sketch, something I haven't done in many, many years. At least, not field sketching. The voracious mosquitoes didn't allow for much of that though. Even though I had on repellent they were bound and determined to bite me on any exposed spot they could find! Mostly they tried for my eyes and ears....very annoying when you're trying to sketch! I did find this baby robin clinging to a small shrub in some tall grass. His parents were busy collecting food for him all day.
I was able to get several photos of him and managed to get a sketch done as he was sitting very quietly and hardly moved. I watched him all day until it got dark. In the morning he was gone and my hope was that he found the strength and courage to fly to a safer spot.
I was also able to get a photo of this frog that sat in a little pool where my husband was panning for gold. He seemed perfectly content to share his space with Brian and allowed me several pictures. It wasn't until I tried to catch him that he dove and swam away. I think I've identified him as a Columbian Spotted Frog.

I'm planning on trying to do some more field sketching this week just around the area where I live. If mosquitoes don't carry me off or ants aren't attacking me I'll try to get some of the sketches posted!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Four Chessies in Pencil - Final Portrait

Here it is.....the finished portrait! I am very pleased with the way this turned out. I decided to leave the background unfinished so the focus is all on the dogs. I thought it might get too busy with four dogs and all the coat patterns and opted for the simplest solution. This will look awesome with a gunmetal gray mat and black frame that compliments the graphite color. It will have a very classic look. I have emailed an image to my client and will be anxious to get her reaction, but thought I'd share it here first.

Well, this commission was the last one I have on my books at the present time, but that's okay. I have been waiting for a little break so that I can take some time for a creative sabbatical. It's not that I won't be working on some art work of some sort, it's just that now I get to play a little. I have been making notes to myself about some new ideas for months and now I will finally get a chance to try a few of those out. So.....keep checking back to see what's new as I will be posting the new stuff here!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Work in Progress - 4 Chessies

Almost done! As you can see a lot of progress has been made since my last post. I am on the final dog and with any luck should have it all complete by the end of the week. I have been concentrating primarily on each dog individually first. After I have them all in I will go over the whole drawing and make adjustments to values so that each dogs image will stand on it's own and not completely blend in to the next one. As I said before, there are actually three different colors of Chesapeakes represented here and I want to try and capture that. I will also be deciding whether to include a hint of a background with these four. The photos were taken outside near a pond and Chessies are definitely water dogs. These dogs, however, are not used for hunting so that type of background will not work. These dogs are primarily show dogs and much loved companions. My client has left the design up to me so I will have to give that some thought. Sometimes the best design is the simplest.
This image shows a close up of one of the dogs. I wanted to show some of the pencil strokes and shading. Unfortunately, it doesn't show the finer detail as well as I'd like it to, but it does give some indication. Chessies have a very wavy coat pattern and it can go in several different directions at once. There are curls and waves and ridges that are created as the hair goes different ways. On some areas it looks like someone has brushed the hair in the wrong direction, against the grain so to speak. This makes it very challenging to draw and sometimes it requires me to turn my work all around in order to properly draw the contours. I often work on a piece upside down because on difficult patterns it allows you to draw the actual pattern instead of the way you "think" it should be.

I also wanted to show a closeup of the eyes. No matter what else you do this part has to be right on. This is the heart, soul and personality of "this" dog and if I can't capture that it's of no value to my client. The eyes are by far my favorite part and I spend a lot of time around this area working to get it right. I could be quite happy zooming in and cropping paintings this tight all the time. I can look in this dogs face and see love and intensity and wisdom and maybe just a bit of longing to go do something fun!

Anyway, it's time to get back to work. Sometimes it's hard to finish a piece especially one that you really enjoyed doing and if it turned out really well it's hard to let it go. I have really enjoyed this one. I hope my client will be as pleased with it as I am.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Four Chesapeakes in Pencil - Work in Progress

I have started my latest commission of the four Chesapeakes done in pencil. I thought that I would share a work in progress and talk a little about that. There is quite a bit of work behind the scenes before I actually get to the stage that is pictured here. It involves a lot of "thinking" first, in this case about the placement of the four dogs. I first blew up the photos that I took and then began laying them out and playing with the positions to see what would yield the most pleasing arrangement. Once I came up with a design I did my sketch up on a sheet of tracing paper so that any additional changes could be made on that and not ruin the good paper. I chose to do this drawing on Stonehenge paper and transferred my sketch to it using a sheet of graphite paper between the tracing and the Stonehenge. Then the drawing was ready to start.

I use a variety of pencils to accomplish all the shading, but my favorites are an HB, H, 2B and one that's so old that it's letters have worn off, but I think it must be something very hard like a 4H or so because it makes very light marks that are more like scratches. This actually scars the paper and when you go over it with a softer pencil like the HB hair texture appears. Just in case you don't know an HB is the familiar #2 pencil we used in school. A 2B is softer and makes a dark mark and H is hard. Starting with the harder pencils I lay in hair patterns and then build on those with softer pencils to get the texture and values right. I'm simplifying it a lot here. The process does take some time and a little patience, but if done right can create some awesome detail and depth.
Here is a little closer view of two of the Chessies. The first one is pretty much complete and I'm just getting started on the next one. In color these two have pretty much the same coat color which is called sedge or a reddish brown color. For the other two, one will be darker ( a dark brown) and one has a lighter coat (called dead grass) so the challenge will be to depict those changes in black and white so it will be obvious that they are not the same colors.
This last photo just shows my work area. I have all my reference laid out along with all my pencils. It looks a little messy and cluttered, but works pretty well for me. I will be working along on this for the next few days and will include another post before I finish. Hope you enjoyed this little peek into the process!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dancing with Cheyenne - Colored Pencil Portrait

I finally got my commission finished of the "black" horse of a different color! As you can see she's got a lot of red to her coat which did not make her a truly black horse. This painting was both a pleasure and a challenge to do mostly because of her color which changed in different lighting and at different times of the year and I had reference photos taken from many different times. So....after about three attempts with watermedia I finally switched to colored pencil and the piece started to come together. There is a lot of subtle shading with many different pencils to achieve the coat color and the sheen. There not only was the red, but in the shadow areas I could see shades of purple as well. A very colorful black horse, indeed! I delivered her to my clients last night and they were thrilled. Thank you Dale and Linda for trusting me with another painting of your treasured pets!

I currently have one more commission to complete. The next one is a black and white pencil portrait of four Chesapeake Bay Retrievers. I am really looking forward to starting it as this piece features my favorite breed of dog. It's a bonus that I have also met each one of these wonderful canines in person and was able to photograph them myself. Also, this piece will be a nice change of pace as I will not have to worry about color and will be able to focus on drawing the coat patterns and detail.

After this last commission is complete I will be taking a little break from pet portraits or at least not actively pursuing commissioned pieces (though if any come my way I certainly will not turn them down!!!). I am not planning on doing any other shows this summer. What I will be doing is taking a little time to dream, plan, and decide what direction my art work needs to take. The pet portraits have been a most wonderful journey and I will continue to do them, but I believe there is much more in me and I need to explore what that might be. I hope, in the coming weeks, to play with new mediums as well as new subject matter. Keep watching my blog to see what develops!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Max - Yellow Lab in Acrylic

This is one of my favorite paintings!! I did this for the last show I had in April and was working in a smaller format and looking to try something a little different. This painting is done in acrylic and is 5" x 7" in size. I had originally sketched it out to be larger with more background area around it, but thought it was lacking something so I started playing around with cropping it close and scaling down the size. By coming in close I was able to better capture the look in this pups' eyes.....so serious for a Lab puppy! The other things I like about this painting are the warm and cool colors next to each other and the fact that I loosened up just a bit and painted a little more impressionisticly and not so detailed. I used more blues and lavenders to create the shadows and details. It was really a fun painting to do and it is for sale. Inquiries can come to me at kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

I am currently working on another commission. It's slow going trying to work it in between the rest of my life right now, but my clients are some very understanding friends. It's a fairly large piece, 16 x 20, of their horse and has been a little challenging as it's a horse of a different color. It's black, but has a lot of warm highlights and in certain light looks very reddish which has been hard to capture. I will post it when finished which I hope will be this week.

Well, I have the day off so I guess I'd better get to that painting and get it finished. It's a beautiful summer day outside and my garden is also begging me for attention. There's lots of weeding that I'm getting behind on and I also have some veggies that are in need of harvesting. Maybe that will wait until this evening when it cools off a bit. Then I'll go play in my garden, relax and watch the hummingbirds visit my feeders.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cavalier King Charles in Gouache

Well, in spite of having a J.O.B. I have managed to complete one of the commissions I took from the dog show in April. This little guy is Seamus and he is a delightful Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Thanks go out to Tom for trusting me again with creating another painting of his champion dogs and to Family Tree Images for the use of their photo.

I am still trying to adjust to my new schedule and I am finding it a bit challenging to try to fit in quality painting time. I honestly do not know how some women who are also artists find the time to paint and still care for family and home and not be insane or exhausted. I'm feeling a little of both lately. It's very hard for me to keep creative juices flowing and not be totally overwhelmed. If anyone has a great suggestion as to how to do this I'd really love to know! In the mean time I will keep plugging along and hope that this situation will even out and I will find some peace with it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Me and Maggie

Thought I'd post a recent picture taken this past weekend of me with my dog, Maggie. It was an awesomely beautiful spring weekend and we were clowning around in the front yard. I didn't think posting the picture previous to this would be as good since it looked a lot like I was choking her. She doesn't like having her picture taken and you can tell she doesn't look really amused.

Some things have changed in my life recently and so I'm taking a step back to re- evaluate the direction I'm heading. Our household has been affected by the economy and my husband has been laid off. It looks like it will only be for a short time, but he works in construction so it's hard to tell. I would love to say that I make tons of money from my artwork, but that is not yet the case so ........I have made the decision to ( temporarily) work for someone else at a J. O. B. This has not been an easy decision for me since I have always believed that I would make my living from my art. I fully intend to continue with my painting and still do the outside job, but you, my readers, may notice that I may not be posting as many paintings in the weeks ahead. Hopefully, I will be able to keep up with it all. If you're a praying type, please pray for my sanity as it tends to slip a bit and I get a bit grumpy when I neglect my creative side for too long!

I am trying to keep the right perspective about all this and be thankful for what help I can be, but my heart will always belong to my art and no other job I do has ever been able to satisfy me. Perhaps this will be a time of strengthening my dedication to my art and maybe it will take a new path all together. Being a creative soul I always have ideas of new things to try so maybe this will be a time of experimentation. On my website is a quote from a friend of mine about life being a long journey, so perhaps this is just another turn on that journey. I'm not sure where it will lead and sometimes that's a little scary, but I'm on the journey just the same so I guess I'll look forward to what's ahead. If you join me we'll find out together!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dogwoods in Bloom

I recently participated in Art Under the Elms, an arts and crafts show associated with the Dogwood Festival here in the LC Valley. It's a beautiful time of year here in the valley and the festival takes place just as all these gorgeous dogwoods come in to bloom. It's a wonderful way to welcome in spring! I took a little time out to snap these photos to share with you all. The first photo is my booth, the next shows a grouping of these trees in a historic part of town and the last is a closeup of the dogwoods themselves.

Well, I have to say that I was really looking forward to doing this show. It's a great, fun family event with lots of food, great artists and lots of activities for everyone. I was really hoping it was going to be a big money maker for me, but the jury is still out on that. Since I do mostly commissions sometimes it's hard to tell how successful an event has been right away. Sometimes it takes a few months for folks to decide just what they want.

Now that these shows are behind me I'm going to take a well deserved break and see what my next move will be. In the meantime, I'm going to try to make some time to enjoy the spectacular springtime show that God is unveiling!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Lewiston Dog Show 2009

Greetings! Can you say "Hi! I'm really cute?" I just finished my first show of the year, the Lewiston Spring Cluster and this little Chihuahua was just one of the many faces that stopped by to visit my booth.Thanks to all who took time out of their very busy show schedules to visit my booth and share their wonderful stories and pictures of their dogs. It was truly a pleasure meeting you and I hope to visit with you again soon. Also, thanks to my past customers who came by to say hello and order from me again. I feel so privileged to continue to paint for you!

I thought I would share just a few of the 200 plus photos I shot while I was there. ( Digital cameras are sooo wonderful.....you just keep shooting and shooting.....!) There were, of course, all shapes and sizes represented and I am always amazed at the diversity that parades past my booth at every show I attend! There was the very large like this Tibetan Mastiff....
and the very small like our Chihuahua friend above. There were some like this Dalmation that looked like they were not too sure they were really enjoying themselves......
"Oh no! I think I've been spotted!!" (Sorry, I couldn't resist! She just has that look like she really wants to hide.) And there were some that just seemed to be genuinely happy to be there like this Bernese Mountain Dog.All in all I think it was a pretty good show for me. I made some sales and took in a few commissions and made some new friends both human and canine. I have a few days off now to recuperate and prepare for my next show this weekend. I'm anxious to see how my artwork will be received at this venue. This next show is an art festival and not related to dogs at all. It will be the first show of this type that I have done featuring just canine art. It's a very popular show in my area and I've never seen anyone doing any dog related art there before so it will be an interesting experiment! I'll report back next week with the results!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Golden Retriever Puppy

Copper is a Golden Retriever puppy that I had the opportunity to photograph last summer. I was able to take lots of reference photos of him and got quite a few that I will be using for paintings in the future. This is the second one I have done of him titled "Copper Highlights" because I really like the way the sun reflected off the color of his coat illuminating the copper colors there. This is painted with acrylics on a hardboard panel and is 6"x 6". It would look awesome displayed on a small, decorative easel sitting on a desk or bookshelf. It will be included in my upcoming show at the Lewiston Spring Cluster Dog Show, April 17th - 20th in Lewiston, Idaho. If it doesn't sell there it will travel with me to the next show at Art Under the Elms at the Dogwood Festival, April 24th - 26th also in Lewiston, Id. It is for sale priced at $175.00 and inquiries can come to me at kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

Only ten more days left now until my first show. I have finally come to a point where I can't think of one more thing to paint, or one more card to make that I could have finished in time for these shows so I guess I'll give myself a break and trust that I have done everything I can to get ready. I will run through the last minute check list and tie up those loose ends, but time now not to stress. I need to relax a little, maybe play in the dirt for therapy (it's warm enough here to start some spring planting!), and think about conversations I will have with people coming in to my booth. You know, mentally prepare.

So, since it's a nice day I think I'll start with playing in the dirt. Somehow, for me, digging up weeds and feeling warm earth in my hands (and if it's warm enough....under my bare feet!) is great therapy for me.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bald Eagle in Acrylic

The weather today has been typical March... a little rain, a little snow, mix in some wind and even a spot or two of sunshine and Voila' ! a perfect day to stay inside and paint! That's what I would have liked to do, but instead I had to take pictures to the framer, run some errands, you know, everything that kept me out in the weather and away from the studio. The count down is on with only three weeks until my first show of the year so I'm running like a chicken with my head chopped off. I woke up this morning at 3 a.m. with my mind whirling with ideas and things I need to remember to do. Good thing I keep a note pad on the table next to the bed so I can jot things down! Eventually, I got back to sleep right in time for the alarm to go off!! Arghh!

Today's painting is another eagle done from the same reference as the last. It is 6" x 6" painted in acrylic on watercolor paper. The reference photo was taken on a bright sunny day against a clear blue sky, but I wanted to do this one with a dark background to make the bird stand out more. This painting was done more as a study just to see if the color and contrast would work, but it is for sale. If you are interested email me..... kindredspirits@clearwire.net and I'll get you a price. Also, keep watching my Etsy store as I will be adding more items in the days to come. You may even see this eagle there.

Well, I'm hearing things blowing around and banging into the house. Since I'm in the basement and can't see I guess I'd better scamper upstairs and see what this March weather is doing now! Blessings til next time!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Song Sparrow in Acrylic

Here is another of my miniature paintings (4" x 5") featuring a song sparrow perched among early spring twigs. I spotted him as I was out on one of my morning walks. Actually, I heard him first since, as his name implies, they are quite the singers. It was an overcast, drizzly morning, but that did not damper his spirits any or his song. I chose to paint this piece with a very muted palette of colors that make you have to look just a bit for the bird since usually you have to do just that. They are small birds and blend into their environment very well especially on a rainy day. The best way to find them is to follow the song. So perhaps you need just a bit of spring on a rainy day. Just click on the ETSY button and follow that to my store where you will find this little songster for sale priced at just SOLD.

And by the way, Happy Spring!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eagle 1

"Eagle 1" has landed! Sorry, I just couldn't resist the play on words! This is the first of the miniature paintings I've been working on for my upcoming shows. Living in an area with two major rivers gives me great opportunities to view a lot of wildlife. We have several eagles that work the rivers in search of food and I came across this one on one of my many morning walks. It was gracious enough to sit on it's high perch and allow me to photograph it, though it looks none too happy about it. I was actually able to get quite close. Not all of them are as cooperative as this one was...most fly off about the time I get close enough for a really good shot. I was able to get several nice photos before this one took to the skies so there will be more paintings in the future, hence the name "Eagle 1". This one is done in acrylic on a masonite panel. It is 5" x 7" and is for sale for $175.00. Inquiries may come to me at kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

Lots of exciting things have happened since the last time I wrote. First, the Art Show at the Dog Show has posted images of all the winners on their site so now everyone can go and view who the lucky 50 artists were that won awards. All of the final entries are on display so you can see the competition and judge for yourself. It is an awesome display of canine art. Please take some time to take a look.

I have recently set up a storefront on Etsy which, if you're not familiar with it, is a site dedicated to selling all hand made items. Right now I have only my ACEOs listed, but in the next few weeks I intend to have original artwork, prints and note cards available for purchase there. You can get to my store through this link ctempleart.etsy.com. Please drop by for a look. If there's something not there that you would like to see drop me an email. I do commissions and requests!

That's about all the news for now. I'm off to complete the three miniature paintings waiting for me in the studio. I'm working on three at once... a black lab puppy, a yellow lab puppy and a golden retriever puppy all done in acrylic. With any luck I'll have them done today!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Feathered Elegance

The weather outside can't decide if it's winter or trying to be spring. The last two days I woke up to snow and cold in the morning, but by afternoon the sun has come out and all traces of snow have melted away only to return sometime during the night. But I guess that's pretty typical for March!

I snapped this photo on one of my outings and as you can see there's a little spring and a little winter in this picture. This beautiful ring neck pheasant was out searching for food right along the road and was not bothered at all that I had stopped my vehicle to snap his picture. I took quite a few actually, and he never moved off. In fact, I finally got tired of watching him! I think things would have been a little different if I had actually gotten out of my car. Sometimes vehicles can be great wildlife blinds because the animals get used to them and don't feel threatened, but if I had gotten out and pointed that "thing" at him ( the "thing" being my camera!) well that would have made him nervous and I'm sure he'd have flown off. I got some great reference material though....nice full body shots and close ups for detail. I'm formulating a few ideas for paintings so I'm sure you'll see this handsome fellow again.

I'm still working away towards my shows in April. Finally got most of my cards done, have inventoried my paintings and I'm starting to work on some prints. I have also decided to do up some miniature paintings, 5" x 7" or less, to offer as quick sale items of original work. They will be priced accordingly and I've decided that they will not be framed. That will save me time and money and if they are done on wrapped canvas where the sides can be painted they will work perfectly to hang without frames in a grouped display or on a table or desk on a small, decorative easel. These will most likely feature wildlife and probably some dogs, but either way I will post some here for all to see.

Time to get back to work and wait for the sun to melt the snow!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"It's My Chair" takes Third!

"It's My Chair" wins third place in the Drawing category at the Art Show At The Dog Show competition I recently entered!!!!! ( See my post from Feb. 13, 2009 for details about that) I just received notification today. It was wonderfully exciting to first be juried into the show and that had me floating on Cloud 9 for days, but this is even more exciting! I was in tears again! I can't tell you how blessed I feel to have had my artwork recognized this way especially knowing the quality and talent of the other artists that were chosen for this show. Thank you, God, for giving me this talent and helping me to use it! Big, wet, sloppy dog kisses of Congratulations go out to all who were chosen for awards!! Please click the link to the Art Show At The Dog Show website above to view the winners. They are not posted just yet, but should be soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Masson - Truck Dog, Too

Meet Masson! Masson is a Golden Retriever/Husky mix that also shares "truck dog" status with Melvin and Matilda, the two Yorkies I introduced here a few weeks ago. Both pieces were done in graphite pencil. All three dogs share a home with a wonderful, young couple and will soon be gracing the walls of the new house they are buying. Congratulations!

Life in my world has been pretty hectic lately as I continue to prepare for some upcoming shows next month. There seems to be a never ending list of things to get done.....more paintings to paint, framing of those paintings, note cards, prints and ACEOs to create and package, business cards and brochures to print. There have been days when the amount of stuff I have to think of becomes overwhelming and I feel like sitting in the middle of my studio and crying/screaming/rejoicing! I'm not sure which I really want to do.....sometimes all three!!! Those are the days when I usually have to leave it all behind and go outside somewhere for a good long walk and have a really long talk with God. He's good about listening to my ranting and raving and He will gently remind me that he's there and not to worry. Of course, me being me, I don't always listen and choose to become a basket case anyway! I can just see God shaking his head!

Well, it's time to be off to work again! Check out my website www.petportraitsbycatherine.com to see the new updates there. Thanks and blessings to my wonderful friend, Judy, for all her work on creating a beautiful site for me!!

Until next time........!!!!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sporting Dog Series - Yellow Lab

It's Monday!!! I'm finding my tail is dragging a bit today and I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to be doing any painting today. I spent a wonderful, long weekend with my husband as we celebrated our 21st anniversary. We really enjoyed our time together laughing and sharing and going places and now it's back to work for us both and even though I work from my home some days it's still hard to face the work week, especially when you've had such a lovely weekend. You just don't want that to end, you know?

Well, that said, today I am sharing another painting in my Sporting Dog series that I just completed last week. This one features a very handsome Yellow Lab that I'm calling "Past to Present." This painting is also done in acrylic and I am really enjoying the results I'm getting. Having the ability to change things as you go is very appealing and I used that characteristic in this piece a few times. It came in very handy when I needed to adjust color and change how the background looked. I originally had the grass going up much higher, but decided that I was losing the puppy in all that yellow so I just painted it into blue sky. In the other mediums I work in that would not have been possible. I'm thinking that acrylic just may become my medium of choice, but I'm going to keep experimenting before I make that a final decision. This piece is 11 x 14 done on hardboard and is for sale though I have not set a price yet. Note cards and prints are also available. Inquires may come to me at my email address...kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

Work on my website updates is moving along nicely and should be ready in a few weeks to publish. I'm hoping to have a page to start selling items directly from my site, things like note cards, prints and even some originals. I'll keep you informed as to when that will happen. In the meantime, I'm just trying to keep painting away to fill my booth for the upcoming April shows I have scheduled. So many things I have going on right now is really keeping me so busy that I'm beginning to think I need a secretary. Think I can find one to work for free???

Everyone have a great week and remember to count your blessings!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Brittany in Acrylic

Recently, I have begun to experiment with acrylic paint. I have wanted to try this medium for some time as I have always heard it is such a wonderful, forgiving medium. However, in my hands it always seemed to be a struggle and I usually ended up throwing the piece away, but one of my goals for this year was to try it again. I'm very glad that I did because this time the results are much more to my liking. I learned, through a lot of reading, that I needed to work in thinner layers and build the paint up gradually. This is not the only way to work with acrylic as many artists I know can really work with it in thick, juicy passages. That technique only left me frustrated. So even though I was looking for a quicker way to paint I still have to handle this medium like I do my watercolors and colored pencils...slower and with layers. It may not always stay this way, but for now it's working better and I like the results.

This painting was done on a hot pressed watercolor paper as I wanted to be able to achieve some fine detail. I really wanted to capture the intense gaze of this Brittany as it locked up on point. I was not so much interested in what the dog was pointing at as I was in the "intensity" of it's point and the look in it's eye.

This painting is 5" x 7" and is currently available for purchase for $150.00. I will also have it available in prints, note cards and ACEOs. Inquiries may come to my email kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Art Show at the Dog Show Entry

I am so pleased and excited to share the news with you that my drawing of my dog Maggie entitled "It's MY Chair" has been selected to participate in a national juried art show dedicated to canine art. The Art Show at the Dog Show is an annual event held in conjunction with the Sunflower Cluster Dog Show in Wichita, Kansas. I am almost beside myself with excitement as this is the first national art competition that I have ever been juried into! My entry will travel next week to Kansas and will then be judged along with many other amazing entries for various different awards and a chance at being awarded Best in Show. If chosen for that honor there will be a nice cash prize and my artwork will become a part of the AKC Museum of the Dog permanent display. That would be VERY exciting!!! As it is, just being chosen to be in the show is a great and wonderful accomplishment as there were 580 entries from 200 artists and from what I've seen of the artwork that was chosen I am humbled by the talent that will be represented there. The art will be on display at three different locations in Wichita. It will be at The Foyer Gallery in the Century II Convention Center, the CityArts Building, and the Sunflower Cluster Dog Show at the Kansas Coliseum from March 3rd -April 5th. All artwork will be for sale so if you have an opportunity to be in Kansas then stop by and enjoy the show!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tiny Truck Dogs- Yorkies in Pencil

These two little darlings are a pair of Yorkshire Terriers named Matilda and Melvin. They are quite the pair! I had the opportunity to meet them both and take my own reference photos. Matilda was quiet and reserved with this wild hair sproinking out all over. Melvin had the terrier spirit, thinking he was much larger than his size and ready to take on the world, or at least that bigger dog he heard barking at the neighbors! Both dogs enjoy going places with their owner like out for walks or gathering wood, hence the "tiny truck dog" theme.

In my neck of the woods you often see dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks and they get the name of "truck dogs". Many of these dogs are working breeds like cattle dogs or border collies and are used for herding or ranch work. They go everywhere with their masters and are usually left guarding the truck when their masters go to town. If you look close you can see a hint of window frame as they peer out waiting patiently for their masters return.

Hope you enjoy these two little cuties! Thanks for looking!

Monday, February 2, 2009

2 Chessies in Pencil

These two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers were a very special commission for a very special friend. She chose to have it done in graphite pencil because it has such a timeless, elegant simplicity to the medium.

Both of these dogs have passed on now. I personally knew the dogs and had hunted with my friend and her husband in past years. It took us awhile to get the right pictures together that best captured Punkin and Belle and because the dogs were so special it brought back a lot of memories and a lot of emotion. Anyone that has truly loved any animal can understand that.

I hope you enjoy seeing this painting as much as I enjoyed doing it. It was a special honor for me to do this for them because it pays tribute to some wonderful dogs and because a part of my life is wrapped up in this, too.

Give your furry friends an extra hug today for the love they give us is exceptional and their time with us way too short.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Januarys' Beauty

Brrrrr!!! It's a chilly 10 degrees here this morning, but the sun was finally shining and cold or not I had to get out and be in it's bright brilliance. We've had so many dark, foggy, dreary days lately that the sun is definitely a welcome sight! We had light snow all weekend and it was fairly warm, about 32 - 34 degrees. As it warmed up the snow started to melt and icicles started to form. Apparently, we must have had an interesting freeze - thaw cycle going on because it formed these lacy designs hanging off my carport. I've never seen icicles quite like these so I snapped a few pictures to share with you.

On my walk this morning I was treated not only to the brilliant sun, but all the beauty a winters day in January can bring... ice crackling on the river as the water moves underneath it, crystal clear blue skies, snow sparkling so bright it brings tears to your eyes, steam rising off the river as the sun starts to warm it and ducks materialize and then disappear in the mist.

Yes, I know many parts of the country are experiencing some very nasty weather, but instead of grumbling about it perhaps we should try to find things about it we could enjoy like the intricate, lacy design of these icicles or the fascinating fact that no two snowflakes are alike. How amazingly creative our God is that he would do these things for us to enjoy! So wherever you live today, stop and take a moment to enjoy this January day. Find something that you love about winter....maybe it's hot chocolate, a warm snugly blanket and a good book. Or if you're like me the awesome beauty of the cold outdoors! Whatever it is remember this......This is the day the Lord has made! Rejoice and be glad in it!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Black Morgan Horse in Watercolor

A slight departure today from the subjects that I usually paint. Most of what I do are dogs, but I live in an area that also has a lot of horses and from time to time I get a commission to paint one. This is a Morgan horse depicted against a setting of misty mountains where he is often ridden on trail rides. There are a lot of awesome wilderness trails near me and you can ride off into the sunset or sunrise and be out and totally alone and be witness to the most spectacular scenery. Sigh! While I can't be out riding a horse into the wilderness right now, I can look at this picture and dream about doing so. Maybe you can, too.

Well, I have my business plan written out and my schedule for the year is starting to take shape.
My first show will be the Lewiston Spring Cluster Dog Show April 17 - 20, in Lewiston, Id. and I was just notified that I was selected to participate in the Art Under the Elms show this spring also in Lewiston, Id. The show dates are April 24 - 26. It is a part of the annual Dogwood Festival here in the valley and is a big event for our area. These are both good sized shows and coming so quickly one after the other is going to really have me hopping! I have a lot to do between now and then! I need to get started producing new work and implement the ideas that I have outlined in my plan. I have only a few months to do it in and I will still need to be working on my current commissions. So you know where I'll be for the next few months.... in my studio painting away! I'll need a picture like this horse painting that I can look at and dream about because until those first few shows are over I will be sequestered away!

Well, time to get to work. Pray for me to be flowing with ideas and the energy to paint them! Blessings until next time!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Line Up - English Setter Puppies

Welcome to 2009 featuring my first painting for the New Year! I've entitled this "The Line Up". It was a suggestion from my husband who thought the puppies looked like they had just gotten caught in the middle of some mischief and were lined up so the guilty party could be identified. Looks to me like they're all guilty, but mostly of stealing ones heart!

I had taken this photo last summer and believe it or not these English Setter puppies had lined up just like this. I didn't really modify the design much from the photo except to perk up the ears on two of the pups because it made them all look too sad or serious. The original photo was shot with them inside a fenced area and it really made them look like they were convicts behind bars, hence the sad looks.

This is the first in my new series of Sporting Dog paintings, just one of my goals for the new year. This piece is done in gouache and is currently for sale. Prints and note cards are also available and I will also feature it as an ACEO on Ebay. If you are interested in purchasing the original or any of the reproductions please email me at kindredspirits@clearwire.net.

I have many new plans for my art business this coming year so please keep watching my blog and my website for new updates. In the works will be a face lift for my website, new portrait sizes for commissioned work, and online outlets to purchase prints and other merchandise featuring my new designs. I'm excited about the new possibilities and I think you will be too. As always, thanks for looking and Happy New Year!