“His Eye is on the Sparrow” 8in x 8in – watercolor on 140# Fabriano paper
This painting was partly inspired by the song so loved by gospel singer Ethel Waters, “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”
Although the watercolor painting is sold I since painted the same scene as an oil painting, 11 x 14 inches, oil on canvas.
Young Hare – 4″ x 4″ watercolor on Arches paper
Click to bid
I had a lot of fun with this one – painting layer upon layer of very transparent glazes to build up the suggestion of fur.
Many years ago, my husband and I read Watership Down at the same time, passing the book back and forth as we’d read chapters in our spare time. I can imagine that this might be Fiver or one of the other watchful young rabbits.
Here’s a closeup of the head:
Study of a chicken … 5″ x 6″ – gouache on recycled paper
I thought the recycled paper worked well for this. In fact, the little bits of fiber in the paper reminded me of the sort of straw and dust found in barnyard environments and gave me a nice midtone to work against.
11″ x 9″ Watercolor on 140# paper. Available.
This was my (very) early morning project for Wet Canvas’ weekend drawing event, in which reference photos are provided to draw or paint from. One’s work or work in progress must be posted within 2 hrs of starting.
Well, I had a dilemma. I liked parts of two photos but I wasn’t sure either one would make a good painting on their own. So I composited the two in Photoshop and used that as my ref.
Something I observed this week at LACMA when I wandered through the 18th century landscape galleries. Almost all of the skies were full of interesting cloud formations – and the reason appeared to be so that certain landscape elements could be highlighted by the sun, and other, less interesting parts thrown into shadow. Hmm, pretty clever those Dutch. So it occurred to me that I could make a more interesting pattern of light and darkness on the ground if I put some clouds up into the sky. (Look at the horse photo and you’ll see it’s a clear day.) The fluffy clouds I experimented with in Photoshop were my way of seeing if that solution would work. I also wanted some strong diagonals in the composition so I exaggerated that with color and shadows.
I am frustrated today because my Yahoo email is bouncing and every reactivation request I’ve put in is not working. I get error messages back that reassure me that Yahoo is working hard to upgrade its sites to serve me better and if I don’t hear anything after 4 hrs to get updates here (and then it shuttles me to a generic FAQ page. Updates? Hah! Nada.) I don’t know what else I can do now but wait. I’ve followed all the steps including trying to reactivate myself from a group I moderate.
So this lack of results has put me in a rather peevish mood, but since it’s Halloween and the time for the thinning of the veils and such, I’ll tell you a story of synchronicity.
Many years ago, oh best beloved, my dh and I were on an expedition in Egypt searching for ancient artifacts using remote viewing. It was tiring and hot but we loved nearly every minute of it, and cherished the moments that we could see other parts of that beautiful and fascinating country. One early evening, our drivers took us out to Saqqara where we watched sunset near the bent pyramid of Zoser. We sat on a hillside covered with loose rocks and rubble. I put my hand down and picked up one rock, turned it over, and there was a hieroglyphic of an ibis, headless. But the body clearly told me what kind of bird it was. That was a rare moment, holding a piece of history in my hand, rescued from what looked like a landfill.
Flash forward ten years or more, to another turbulent time. We were working on a show that had to do with native americans and the settling of the west, and I was looking for some props to use in filming a sequence. A chance visit to a garage sale (unrelated) turned up a bead loom with a bead weaving half completed. There was the ibis-like wading bird, again … but this time, without a tail. It felt like a visitation from an old friend.
Ibises in art seem to speak to me in some way. A benign, good way, even if they are headless. So, today when my dh had a meeting in Beverly Hills and offered the opportunity to ride along and go to the LA county art museum, I jumped at the chance. I had HAD it up to here with bouncing emails, thankfully a rare occurrence. On Halloween the museum was empty. I had the place to myself and I reveled in it. You can imagine my smile rounding the corner into the Egyptian gallery and coming across this beautiful bronze of an ibis which may have once been on a royal standard. I just had to stop and draw it, head, wings, tail and all.
When I got home tonight, I did a little research on the ibis and its symbolism. The bird is sacred to the Egyptian deity Thoth, the civilizer of men, who taught music, medicine, writing and magic and was associated with speech, literature, the arts and learning. And most appropriate today, on all hallows eve, Thoth was the author of the Book of the Dead, and he who helped or punished the departed as they made their trek to the underworld.
On these days when some believe the veil between worlds may thin, who knows what power ancient symbols may still hold – even if only to grant a smile and a moment of relaxing drawing pleasure.
I painted this of Mandu, from life, the Wednesday before she died. She was laying on our patio in the back yard, enjoying the warmth of the cement that had been heated by the sun during the day. We kept putting her on a big thick sofa pillow to cushion her bones, but repeatedly she’d walk off of it and lay on the radiant stones. Perhaps it felt good on her arthritic joints. From the angle where I was sitting, I could only see her two hindlegs – her forelegs were tucked underneath her. This last month, every evening after work, we had a ritual. We would take her outside for supervised fresh air and a little walk, which she seemed to enjoy, even though she appeared to be nearly blind. I tried to draw her on most of those occasions.
Last night, just before morning, I dreamed that I saw her sitting in a big flat bowl of butter and cream. She was practically wallowing in it, but lapping in a very ladylike way. I like to think of her being that contented, wherever she may be.
At the Wild Animal Park in San Diego we road a tram around a wide open savannah styled area, and at one point passed by the elephant territory where this baby was tossing hay into his mouth. Due to a tram breakdown in front of us we paused for a little while there, but not long enough to get a detailed drawing, so this was drawn later from a photo my husband took for me. I prefer to draw animals from life if they hold still, but that’s just not always possible. Still, I learned something from this experience that will help me the next time I encounter a live elephant and am not passing by at 10 miles an hour.
More often than not these days I’m trying to match the paper and art tool to the subject matter rather than drawing in one journal consistently. That’s why I have so many different books going, I suppose. For example, yesterday’s Hollywood and Highland jazz concert was drawn in a very smooth paper Moleskine with a brush pen. Using a brush pen on coarse recycled paper would have made it difficult to get fine detail. Trying to draw an elephant with charcoal on the “toothless” Moleskine would have been equally challenging. The native palms I posted a few days ago was done in a journal with white paper that accepts wet media. So I always have to remember to date the drawings to provide some sort of chronology. I don’t have one journal, I have a journal group or cluster that move forward like a mooing herd . It’s an odd system, but it works. And the variety of paper and media keeps me challenged and experimenting. And what’s more fun than that?
At the end of a great weekend, with everyone safely back home, or en route, I took a few minutes to paint these koi from a photo reference. In real life, they don’t hold still very well. This study will help me draw them when I encounter them again in the gardens.
These koi are from Mulberry Pond at Descanso, where they swim lazily all day in an idyllic setting. The pond got a total makeover this year, complete with a waterfall and other deluxe features like a special ledge that the koi can hide under if herons or raccoons come around. One of the days we were there we saw many small koi, less than an inch long, swimming in the water, proving that the koi are reproducing. Sadly, they will be eaten by the larger fish. If not, the pond would probably become overrun. I would have liked to have saved one of the small fry but I’d probably get caught for poaching. And I’ve never poached anything but a salmon.
This quick sketch is watercolor and colored pencil in my large size Moleskine cachet journal. Now, back to work for me.
Yesterday we went to San Diego Wild Animal Park, and these are some quick sketches I did of some gibbons. Because they were in motion most of the time, there was not much opportunity for detail. A suggestion of posture and behavior was about all I got.
I’ll write more later when I scan some other sketches, but overall the place was a disappointment. A realistic habitat is fantastic for the animals and important for conservation, but when many of the animals are so far away that you can’t see them, it leaves a little bit to be desired. These gibbons were among the few that were close enough to a viewing area to be seen. If you wanted to get see the giraffes closer than the distance of a few football fields from a moving tram, you had to purchase a special pricey photo safari on top of your park admission. If you’d like to see a cheetah run (or see the cheetah at all, in fact) sorry, that’s another special event.
I know that the costs of admission go toward caring for the animals, but I felt that the park overpromised and under delivered. The commercial that showed how close you could get to see the lions only applied if the lions deigned to go up next to the plexiglass window. There were only two lions on display, perched on a hillside quite a distance away. I’ll try some drawing from photo references we took.
I’ll have more to say about the good parts later.
As well as doing portraits, I’ve been doing a series of sketches of Mandu’s features – her tail, her paws, her eyes. More will be posted later. I’m exploring using different media to see which represents the texture the best. The graphite pencil seemed best for the smooth fuzzy tail as well as her scruffy flank. A few additional strokes attempt to describe a corduroy cushion on an old pressed wood oak chair. Northern noonday light was coming in the window to the right.