Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Introducing Balin

Balin - 7 weeks old
It has been four months since I lost my Maggie and I have been struggling to get past the huge void that her passing has left. I knew that I wanted to get another Chesapeake to help my heart heal and after a great deal of searching, waiting for the litter to be born, then waiting for the pups to be ready, the day finally arrived. This past weekend we brought home my third Chessie pup, this one from Blue Skies Kennel in Cheney, Wa. I am pleased to introduce the new love of my life, Balin.
 Oh, my gosh, he is handsome and smart! (I may be slightly biased here) He is 15 lbs. of puppy exuberance and energy and is keeping me running trying to keep up with him. My garden is now on the endangered list as he happily runs through it taste-testing as many plants as he can before I can catch him. He has trampled my beans, shredded my cabbage and totally trashed my iris by pouncing into the center of them and thrashing his way out. He also loves digging in the dirt, rooting through the compost pile and splashing in his wading pool. All this in just four days! Whew! I'm tired and we've only just begun!
Balin waiting for dinner
When he's not terrorizing my garden he can be too cute for words. His next favorite place is in the kitchen either sleeping by his dishes, snuffling around for lost morsels or sitting in the dishes waiting for food to magically appear in them. I'm hoping he's not going to eat me out of house and home, but most Chessies have robust appetites and all my dogs have loved their food. All have gladly helped me out in the garden, too, and it looks like Balin will follow that path as well.
A sketch of Balin in a quiet moment.

Time to paint will be at a premium for a few weeks as I make the adjustment to having the little guy in my life. Even when Maggie was sick she was still fairly self-sufficient and I didn't have to monitor her constantly. Balin will need lots of supervision for awhile as he grows and learns his boundaries. 

It's a bittersweet time for me as I embrace the challenge of this new pup and start letting go of my Maggie. I already love him more than I thought I could and my house feels whole again. I look forward to all the good memories I'm going to make with Balin and to the time when I get to create his portrait to hang alongside my two other loves, Jake and Maggie.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Springtime Avocets

Springtime Avocets-Acrylic 5" x7"

Every spring we get several kinds of shorebirds passing through and resting in our area as they head for their breeding grounds. One of my favorites is the American Avocet. They are elegant looking birds in their breeding plumage with cinnamon colored heads and uniquely curved bills. The females bill curves more than the males. They swing their long up-curved bills through shallow water to catch small invertebrates. 

I found these birds feeding in a lagoon near my house. The morning was sunny and bright and made the avocets color glow. I especially liked the reflection of the trees in the water in their early spring greens and how that perfectly complimented the rusty red of the birds heads.

This painting is done in acrylic and is just 5" x 7". It is available through my Daily Paintworks website.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gouache Revisited

American Kestrel sketch in gouache  
Things have been sort of hectic lately with family visiting, preparing for a new puppy and getting my vegetable and flower gardens planted. There hasn't been a whole lot of time for painting with all this going on. After a while I start to miss the creative outlet and need to paint something, anything, as long as it feeds the need.

Having just a short window of opportunity last night and a great need to paint I pondered what I could do quickly and feed my addiction. My sketchbook and paints were still laying there from the last time I painted and I thought about how much fun I had playing with gouache again. I then recalled a painting I had seen recently of a bird painted in gouache (opaque watercolor pronounced "gwash" on a toned paper called "Mi-Teintes" (pronounced "me taunts" and is French for "mid tones"). I really liked the illustrative look of this painting and thought I'd give it a try using my current favorite subject, a kestrel!

Well....you can see the result above. I really liked the way this looks and I'm thinking I need to revisit gouache again. Not only does it have a nice matte finish, but it blends easily, covers well and you can get some incredible detail with it. I used to paint almost all of my pet portraits with it like this one of my friends Schnauzers.
I guess I stopped using it because I was looking for a medium that I could paint with that didn't need to be framed under glass so I moved on to acrylics. But recently there's been a renewed interest in this medium because a product by Ampersand, called Aquabord, has come out that allows you to paint water media on a coated hardboard surface that, once sealed properly, does not need to be framed under glass. Of course, I didn't paint my little sketch on that, but the point is that this is a wonderful medium that deserves my attention again. So maybe in the days ahead, as my schedule becomes less hectic, I can find some time to play with gouache again and maybe that funny sounding paper, too!