Monday, May 30, 2016

Portrait of a Bearded Iris

Bearded Iris
Oil on canvas, 8 x 10
I inherited my love for iris from my mother. Her garden was always filled with them and I remember looking forward to seeing the majestic flowers every spring. They looked like orchids, their petals were velvety soft, and their colors reminded me of the royal robes worn by kings and queens.  If there had been a variety named "Sunrise," Mom would never have gone to the nursery and purchased it anyway.  There was no money for iris bulbs in her world. You got your flowers by trading with friends and neighbors, or when people had to divide or thin their plants, they might give you some rather than throw them away. Then you would return the favor with some of your plants another time.  As a result, iris were violet or lavender, and occasionally white, or a two-toned gold and purple, but they were still beautiful.  My mother would have been thrilled to see all the colors and varieties of iris available today: black, white and everything in between.

"Sunrise" began life as an acrylic painting but I soon realized that the nature of the flower called for a more direct, impressionistic approach, than the thin layering process I had planned for it.  Most of the time I let the subject, or perhaps the composition, decide the medium,  and in this case, it was good to switch.  The soft blending and subtle colors of the oils were perfect for this beautiful flower.  Less detail, more "soul."  Spending more time with oils lately. It has been like rediscovering an old friend.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Waiting Dog Pastel

Your Best Friend is Waiting for You
Pastel, Image size 8 x 10
Mounted on foam core, matted to 12 x 14
Ready to Frame
Frame not included

 I don't know why they have to stay away so long, but there must be a really good reason. It will be wonderful to see them again when they come home.  I will wag my tail, run around in circles and maybe even bark, but only just a little.  Joy, joy, joy! It will be so exciting! Maybe they will bring me a new toy or give me a treat. I know they will scratch my ears and tell me what a good dog I am. That always makes me feel so happy. I know that they love me and they will always take care of me. But I still miss them when they go away. It always seems like forever, whenever we are apart...

20% of the sale of this painting will be given to AHeinz 57 Pet Rescue and Transport, who save "furry lives one carload at a time."  They are doing a wonderful work and if even you don't buy a painting, I hope you will consider making a donation. Or better yet, adopt a new furry friend. There are many pets just waiting for some people to love. You can read about AHeinz57 here:

email me to purchase
or for more information

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Portrait of a Woman, A Thankful Heart

A Thankful Heart
Is a Heart at Peace

It is no secret that peace is a by-product of gratitude. It is also true that often the most thankful people are those who do not exhibit an abundance of material possessions. It may not make any sense to the rest of us, but it is true, nevertheless. They tend to treasure the simple things in life, the things we all take for granted - love, friendship, beauty, and the joy of living.

That is why, at this time of year, we all can take time out from making and spending money, running here and there, and trying to have a good time, just to say, "Thank you."  I wish I had said thank you more often to my parents, but I can still say it to my husband, my children, my friends and neighbors, my pastors, the UPS man, rhe Schwan man, the guy who reads my gas meter! Thank you for being in my life. Thank you for all the threads you have sewn into my tapestry of living.  Thank you that the world is a better, more interesting place because of you.

A thankful heart is a heart at peace. For that reason, I thank God, for the peace that passes all understanding, for His unfailing love, for the abundant life He has given me.  A teacher of mine used to say, "God's prosperity is when all your needs are met and there is still enough left over to meet the needs of others."
Have a blessed and prosperous Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Not So Gentle Reminder

 Ten years ago today on November 12, 2005 a tornado destroyed several houses here and left the rest of our town looking like a combat zone. It had come as a surprise attack, arriving as it did in November when we are used to thinking more about blizzards than summer storms.  So it took a little time to convince the entire household that a trip to the basement might be in order.  I remember my father, who was living with us at the time, seemed quite content to stand and watch from the window in his bedroom. Barney, our big dog, hid not only because of the storm but because he didn't like stairs and wanted nothing to do with basements. Little Button was ready for me to carry him anywhere. To me it seemed that everyone was moving in slow motion, even my husband, whom I suspected was just humoring me. Then John McLaughlin, the weatherman on KCCI said, "Woodward, you have two minutes to get to the basement" and things did begin to happen.  Somehow we all made it to the basement before the freight train hit. And yes, it did sound like a freight train. There were no serious injuries in Woodward and the town did manage to rebuild and recover from all the damage. But the Woodward tornado will never be forgotten.

Lest we forget...
Yesterday once again we found ourselves in the path of a fierce storm, with almost the same point of origin, traveling nearly the same path as the Great Tornado of 2005. This time it was called a "radar identified rotation,"  and as far as I know, was never observed touching the ground. The winds that hit Woodward were also very strong and very loud, but the damage was far less intense.  Yet it seemed to me an eerie reminder.

I have a personal, more comforting reminder of that day. I call it my "Ebenezer Stone," and hardly a day passes that I don't look at it and remember.
The day before the big storm I had been reading in my morning devotions about a battle between the Israelites and the Philistines. When the Israelites cried to God for help, He sent a clap of thunder to the camp of the enemy, causing them to panic and run away in fear. Then Samuel, the judge and priest of Israel set up a special stone which he named "Ebenezer" because the Lord has brought us this far. For some reason,  I couldn't get this stone out of my mind. It kept invading my thoughts all day long.
Finally I decided to make one for myself.  Done in a hurry, not exactly a work of art.  But from the basement as the freight train was headed our way, I remembered the stone and all the trials God had brought us through before. We would be all right. If the house was destroyed and we lost everything, we would start over and we would be all right. If it all caved in on us, we would be together in Heaven and we would be all right. So we all just huddled together and prayed. And trusted. Now, whenever I see my stone I think of the day of the big tornado and I thank God that all three adults, plus two dogs and a cat, made it through safely. And, no matter what happens, we will be OK.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Jaguar of the Jungle, Acrylic Painting

Jaguar of the Jungle
Acrylic, 14 x 11

An exotic and beautiful animal, the Jaguar is little less known than some of his African relatives. Jaguars live in the rain forests of South and Central America and have also been seen on occasion  traveling the freeways near Los Angeles, California. (Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.)
My sightings have all been in zoos, which isn't the ideal - every artist agrees it is best to observe wildlife in their natural habitats - but it's the best I can do for right now.  Traveling the world and shooting wildlife with a camera ( and only a camera!) has always been a dream,  but it is still a dream, and with each passing year it seems a little less likely to become reality.  I do carry a sketchbook with me wherever I go - just in case. You never know.

This painting was my first attempt to express the spirit of this particular exotic cat. Usually I do big cats in pastel, as that medium just seems to lend itself to fur, especially when there are spots and other markings. For some reason this guy asked to be done in acrylic. I usually go by what they tell me. There is no analyzing it, maybe it is artist's intuition. I just go with the flow. He is a beautiful, incredibly well designed animal.  I love the texture of his fur, his amazing spots and especially his ears and whiskers. Like everything on earth, he is "fearfully and wonderfully made" and, as an artist, I stand in awe of his Creator.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Jaguar's namesake, who happens to be an automobile. The vehicle is described as being well built with sleek, low lines, beautiful color and lots of speed.  Well, that fits. So I googled cars named after cats and found there are at least forty, from cougars and pumas to kittens and pink panthers (that seems like a stretch.)  It would appear that people are fascinated by cats and want to identify with them.

 And I will put in a little plug here: If you have ever wanted to own a Jaguar, but thought you couldn't afford one, here is your chance.  This and many other paintings are available for sale in my online gallery.

The Creative Spirit Gallery, Art by Della Burgus

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Persian Beauty Cat Portrait

Persian Cat

A small pastel portrait of an elegant and beautiful cat. This one was begun in black and white charcoal pencils and finished in pastel for more depth. The serene green eyes and soft fur, with subtle blue and lavender tones in its shadows,  were a delight to render. Persians have always been a favorite of mine, not only for their beautiful appearance but also for the sense of serenity and regal bearing. And I have learned from people who have lived with them that they are also playful, they can be a bit willful, and most of them are very affectionate.

Canson MiTientes is still my favorite surface for pastels.  I like the soft side of the paper, which some artists believe is the "wrong" side. It has just enough texture to hold the pastels without the regular weave pattern that seems distracting for me.  Having said that, I also occasionally like to experiment with other papers,  especially those that are "sanded" and some really nice ones with the feel of suede. Variety and experimenting keeps my passion for art alive.

This and other paintings are available through my online gallery, The Creative Spirit Gallery, Art by Della Burgus

Or email me at

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sunrise: Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken

The sun rises over distant hills casting a rosy glow across the landscape. The colors are slightly muted, more subtle than the colors of a sunset - a bright, cheerful hello at the beginning of a day in contrast to the vivid, dramatic colors announcing its end.
In order to preserve the luminosity of the colors, I worked this one in layers, gradually building them up from very thin to thicker paint.  It was done is a somewhat looser style than my animal and wildlife paintings without so much attention to detail.
The colors themselves are a fairly standard selection - ultramarine with a little cerulean blue and lots of white for the sky, more white, cad yellow hue and a little ochre for the sun, and just a tiny bit of crimson and even more white where the sun meets the blue sky.  The earth was painted in ochres and umbers, with a bit of raw sienna. I am experimenting with  a new addition to my personal palette -quinacridone burnt orange.  Not new, but new to me and it is working out well so far.
Occasionally adding new colors to my working collection is a good way to keep me from becoming bored - and therefore boring. It can be overdone, of course, but a little change now and then keeps me going.
I gave the painting the title of a favorite song, Morning Has Broken. You may be familiar with Cat Stevens' version of it, My favorite is by Michael Card.

This and many other paintings are available through my gallery
The Creative Spirit, Art by Della Burgus