Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing You a Merry Christmas

I love Christmas trees. We usually have at least one in every room.  This is one of my favorites - my Teddy Bear Tree.  To me Teddy Bears mean comfort,  companionship and joy.  Actually, this tree should probably be called a "Stuffed Animal Tree" because there are also a few poodles, a polar bear or two, and three Velveteen Bunnies. Which, by the way, is one of my favorite stories.  If you have bever read it, or if it has been a long time, you should read it soon.  Christmas is a great time for children, and for those few adults who haven't forgotten how to be children.  It is my prayer that you are included in that.  Because the Bible encourages us to have faith like a child.

Praying for you and your family the happiest Christmas, and a healthy joyful New Year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Equine Art Horse and Bunny in the Snow by Della Burgus

Love in Any Language

Acrylic on Stretched, Studio Wrapped Canvas
16 x 20 x .75
We sometimes chose our friends because something about them reminds us of ourselves.  We have the same interests, the same likes and dislikes, we come from similar backgrounds.  Relationships built on our similarities grow because we enjoy the same activities and share similar feelings and ideas.  But every now and then you meet someone who is entirely different.  He looks and speaks differently from you,  he comes from a different place and sees the world from an entirely different perspective. As unlikely as it may seem, sometimes those differences result in the most magical of friendships. Real love is not so concerned with a person's appearance as it is with his heart.

I began this as a horse painting over a year ago,  but was never satisfied with it. For months it was forgotten, hidden behind a stack of canvases in my studio.  But when I happened upon it again just last week I knew exactly what was needed. The horse was lonely, he needed a friend, so I painted one for him - a little bunny.   I have always been fascinated by the seemingly unlikely friendships between different species of animals. You often hear of dogs adopting baby kittens or cats taking care of squirrels or wild animals.  Earlier this year I shared the story of Bella and Tarra,  a dog and an elephant who have become devoted companions.  While this horse and bunny came out of my imagination, it was inspired by all the true stories of animal friendships.  Despite the confidence we have in our own superiority, we could learn a lot from all of God's creatures - great and small.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Blizzard of '09 - Welcome to Iowa!


We have a good, old fashioned Iowa blizzard this week, the kind we used to have when I was a child. This is day two. Officially so far we have had 14.5 inches, although it isn't clear to me how anyone can be absolutely sure of that. There is so much wind that it is hard to tell what is coming down and what is being blown sideways.  All the highways are closed, but there is nowhere to go anyway. Wednesday, at least, has been canceled in Iowa. My husband was out taking pictures last night, but I believe that God gave us windows for such a time as this. The photo at right is the view from my living room, and I think it gives you a good idea of what it looks like here.

 This is a view of the world from my studio window. We added the room to our house about 23 years ago, and at the time I wanted north light for color clarity, so we have a bank of windows plus a skylight. Now I wonder what I was thinking. No matter how wonderful the window, how great the installation, it is cold in the winter when the wind blows. Even if it is all psychological, I would rather spend my time in some other room in the house.

The neighbors' "snowman" is almost buried by the real stuff. The wind whips his arms around, giving my dog something to bark about.

Speaking of dogs, they don't like this much either.  Larry had to shovel some snow off the deck this morning, just to get the door open for them to go outside.  Then he had to scoop a  path for them. They were grateful, but sure didn't stay long.  Barney usually loves bounding through the snow, but he hasn't been out much, except to bark at the snowplow -which seems to be the only vehicle running today. Button has a better idea...

Monday, November 30, 2009

Siamese Cat, Close Up Acrylic Painting

When I Look in Your Eyes, II
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
9 x 6 x .75

Another painting inspired by the song, When I Look in Your Eyes, from the Dr. Dolittle musical.  This is a close up of the unmistakable face of a Siamese Cat, with the beautiful, intense blue eyes.  This is number two in a series of "face paintings," which focus especially on the eyes. You can see different things in the eyes of different animals - wisdom, patience, playfulness, sadness, joy... I know they know more than we think they do, I suspect they know a whole lot more than we do.

This painting is on stretched, studio wrapped canvas. All the edges are painted and no staples show. It may be displayed with or without a frame.

This painting is dedicated to the memory of my husband's cousin, Alex Fulmer.  In his honor we will be donating $50 to Tabby's Place - A Cat Sanctuary.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Equine Art Western Horses Palomino Horse

"When I Look In Your Eyes"
by Della Burgus
Acrylic on Studio Wrapped Canvas 
8 x 10 x .75
This painting is Sold, 

This painting was inspired by the song from the movie musical, Dr. Dolittle, the 1967 version starring Rex Harrison.  While the production itself was somewhat forgettable, I will always remember the song written by Leslie Bricusse.  The lyrics are haunting, and they speak to anyone who has ever loved and been loved by an animal...

When I look in your eyes, I see the wonder of the world in your eyes,
And it is no surprise, to see the softness of the moon in your eyes
The gentle sparkle of the stars in your eyes,When I look in your eyes
In your eyes, I see the deepness of the sea
I see the deepness of the love
The love I feel you feel for me...

As you are giving thanks for all God's gifts this holiday season, please remember to be thankful for the wonderful creatures who share our planet. They love us, serve us with devotion, give us laughter and tears, sometimes they are the only ones who understand us.  They ask nothing in return but our love - and once in a while, maybe a treat. My dogs told me to say that.

I hope that you will remember all those, both human and animal, who do not have the comforts that we enjoy,  pray for them and find a way to bless them if you can.

The complete lyrics to this song are printed below. Be sure you have a Kleenex handy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Equine Art Horse Amish Style Buggy Horses

 Simple Gifts

There is something peaceful and comforting about the sight of an Amish style horse and buggy traveling down the road.  It takes me back in my imagination to another time, a gentler, simpler time when community and family were the core of life, and when faith was real and solid.   These two horses were drawing a buggy through the town where my husband's late parents had lived.  The owner was a very kind man who graciously allowed my husband to photograph his horses and buggy, and even chatted for a while.   It isn't often you see two horses with a buggy; usually it is a single horse. But the man said they had been working together for eleven years and seemed to prefer it that way.

Recently I read a book entitled Think No Evil, by Jonas Belier, who had been raised Amish and was still close to the community. The author tells the story of the Amish schoolhouse shootings from the point of view of the Amish themselves, but goes beyond that by giving us a glimpse into their community and way of life.  He explains how generations of Bible teaching had enabled the Amish to forgive the person who so violently attacked their precious little ones.  He describes their concern for the shooter's family and their refusal to seek any sort of vengeance or retribution. The more I learn about the people who are a part of the Amish and similar communities, the more I admire them.

This pastel was done on Wallis Pastel Paper, and will be available through EBay, Art Helping Animals and Daily Painters on Tuesday. 20% of the sale will be donated to True Blue Animal Rescue.

For more information at this time, please email me.

Email Della

Monday, November 09, 2009

Animal Art Cats White Cat with Teddy Bear by Della Burgus

"That's What Friends Are For"

Animals often develop strong emotional attachments, just like we do. Sometimes it is with other animals, either one of their own species or someone entirely different. A few weeks ago, I wrote about a friendship between and elephant and a dog. You can find all sorts of stories like that in the bookstore or on TV or the Internet. But sometimes a favorite toy becomes a best friend. Our little poodle had a toy lamb when he was a pup. We called it "Buddy." He knew it by name. It played with him, slept with him, was his constant companion until he loved it to death. We replaced it, of course - twice - with another just like it. Now he has a somewhat sturdier toy, a long blue dog, which seems to be able to endure the kind of "tough love" that Button gives it. Cats, being more independent, seldom become attached to inanimate objects, but this one does like her Teddy Bear. Actually, I believe the Teddy Bear belonged to one of the children in her family before he became her special friend. She can and does spend a lot of time away from him, but enjoys having him around, especially for her afternoon naps. She gets a little cranky when he does not occupy his regular spot on the couch.

We all need friends. To find one who is loyal, caring, loving and accepting, visit your local animal rescue or shelter. They give a lot and don't ask much in return, just your heart.

20% of this sale will be donated to
Tabby's Place - A Cat Sanctuary

Pastel by Della Burgus
12 x 19 image size
Matted and ready to frame

For more information, email the artist.
Email Della

Friday, November 06, 2009

Best in America Pastel Artists

It's not the Magic Bunny...

Recently I shared the news that two of my paintings have been selected for Volume 2 of Best in America Pastel Artists, and left it up to you to figure out which paintings were selected. Well, here is a hint for you - it isn't the Magic Bunny...

I heard from my publisher today, (I have always wanted to say something like that!!!) and was informed that there has been a delay in printing so the books will not be delivered until mid-December. This is somewhat disappointing because I was getting really excited about seeing it this month, but I will just have to wait. Several weeks ago they sent me the "proofs" of my two page spread, so I do know what is coming. The printing and layout are beautiful. I also saw a "flip version" of the book online and I am really impressed with the other artists and their work. I am in very good company. It is a great honor and very humbling to be included.

I have to tell you that this is a dream come true for me - winning a spot in a book with such talented artists! Don't ever give up on your dreams - if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Pastel, Maine Coon Cat, "Tiger"

by Della Burgus
Pastel on Wallis Pastel Paper
It is funny how the smallest things have tremendous impact on our lives. One day a tiny kitten showed up at the home of my husband's parents, Jesse and Zella. Jesse told Zella not to feed it, or "we'll never get rid of it," which, of course meant, "if you feed it we will have ourselves a nice cat." My mother-in-law would never dream of sending anyone away hungry, not even a kitten, so it seems that Jesse's prophecy came true. The kitten moved in and eventually had the run of the house. Zella continued to feed him and he grew into a very large cat. They called him Tiger. He loved to play in boxes and paper bags, to hide behind things and jump out at anyone passing by. He was a great cat, very friendly and fun, with just a little bit of an attitude. After my father-in-law passed away, he became Zella's close companion and caretaker. He took care of her by giving her someone to take care of. He was with her through her own final illness. He has a new home now, with someone who had known and admired him, and asked the family if Tiger could come live with him. It seems God still has a plan for his life.

Albert Einstein once said, "There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle." To me, Tiger is one of God's special little miracles, a gift given at just the right time. He had a job to do and he did it well. I don't know what sort of job he has now, but whatever it is, I am sure he is doing it equally as well.

This painting is a pastel on Wallis Pastel Paper, the image size is 13.5 x 17.5, matted to size 18 x 22. It is mounted on foam core board and comes ready to frame. Frame is not included.

It will be available through the Daily Painters and the Art Helping Animals blog, and also through eBay. 20% of the sale will be donated to Tabby's Place - A Cat Sanctuary.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

International Artist Day

You probably aren't aware of this, but Sunday, October 25 is International Artist Day. We have a DAY! Isn't that great? It is wonderful to be recognized for our contributions. Everyone needs a little appreciation now and then.

Marilyn Hurst says it so well in her article on this website:

October 25th is International Artists Day and it's gaining support worldwide. This grassroots movement is not mainstream as yet but artists and galleries in communities everywhere are jumping on the bandwagon. Perhaps an overview is needed to explain the concept.

Artists are a much ignored group although almost anything you use day to day has an artistic design at its root. Throughout history art has been the most important defining characterization of a culture or people. Art survives personalities, dynasties, movements and civilizations. Artists are pioneers and are usually at the forefront of changing times and events. We might well ask why.

True art is timeless and universal and recognizable to all. Where does the inspiration for art come from? What makes some art priceless and other art mediocre? The artist themselves are the lynch pins. Art that is inspired comes from the “unexplainable” and is translated by the artist. If the artist is “tuned into” this area of consciousness, masterpiece works in painting, sculpture, music or prose can manifest. There are thousands in the arts over the centuries of this magnitude, they are natural conduits and are household names because of the recognition of their contribution to culture and humanity.

In another article, she suggest ways to observe this great day:

1.Visit a gallery and explain why you're there.

2.Purchase a piece of art to support an artist. This is a good one!

3.Visit an artist studio.

4.Take an artist to lunch and explore their world. I like this one, too!

5.Come up with your own ideas to participate.

This Blog brought to you only partially tongue-in-cheek by an artist who is tired of her relatives asking, "What do you do all day?"

P.S. I didn't make up any of this - both the website and image are legitimate, and so are the articles.

Friday, October 23, 2009

2 U Missed

Chicago Lighthouse
No longer available

Two paintings that missed the blog because they left the house before I had the chance to talk about them. The above painting of a lighthouse in Chicago went to a missions auction at my church. It was an acrylic painting, 8 x 10, well, actually it still is an 8 x 10 acrylic but it is no longer in my studio. It was painted from a photo taken by our friend Steve, who is also a pastor there. Thanks, Steve.

The second painting, the cute little donkey below, was listed on Daily Painters, Art Helping Animals and sold through eBay before I wrote about it here. A 9 x 12 Acrylic painted from a photo I took at the children's area of the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines. I loved his demeanor, his big brown eyes and his soft furry coat....

Cute Little Donkey

Before anybody asks, this is not a political statement of any kind. Whatever opinions I may or may not have in that regard are my own, and I will not inflict them upon you. This is a blog about art, exploring the wonder and joy of nature and reflections on the artistic life. If I ever get to the point that I need to let off a little steam, I will find another venue - and try to keep this a happy, peaceful place.

By the way, I did an elephant a few weeks ago. It is still available....

Click on the image above to see the blog,

Monday, October 19, 2009

Disturb us, Lord

A photo, rather than an artwork today, a lone sea gull gazing at the vast Atlantic Ocean, taken this summer on a trip to Maine. Along with it a prayer, written by Sir Francis Drake in 1577. We need it now, more than ever.

Disturb Us, Lord

"Disturb us, Lord,
When we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

"Disturb us, Lord,
When, with the abundance of things we possess,
We have lost our thirst for the waters of life;
and, having fallen in love with life as we know it,
We have ceased to dream of eternity;
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

"Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars.

"We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push us into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
"Sir Francis Drake -1577

Friday, October 16, 2009

New Book

Best in America Pastel Artists

Two of my works have been accepted for a new book being published this fall. Best in America Pastel Artists (Catchy title, huh?) will be available in November. It features the work of 123 pastel artists throughout the country. According to the publishers, "The selection of artists work is based on numerous factors with the most important being style, innovation, and uniqueness." Each artist will receive a two page spread with two works plus contact information. I am thrilled, it is an amazing honor for me.

Can you guess which two of my paintings were chosen? I am not going to tell you now. You will have to keep guessing for a while.

More information as it becomes available. Watch this space for further development...

Hint: this is not one of them. This is a pastel painting, finished recently. It has been listed on Art Helping Animals , and Daily Painters, and is currently available through a fixed price listing on eBay.

Pastel on Canson
16 x 16
Matted, mounted on foam core, ready to frame
20% of the sales will be donated to
Tabby's Place, A Cat Sanctuary

To view eBay listing click here

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

White Standard Poodle

AKC Show Part 3

Poodles have always been among my favorite people. Intelligent and sensitive, with a highly developed sense of humor, just a tad stubborn, but at the same time desiring to please. They are loving, loyal and energetic. I happen to share my life with a white Toy Poodle named Button, but have known many different Poodles in many different colors and sizes - from teacup to standard, and they all share these characteristics.

This painting was done from a photo taken at the Des Moines AKC show. The handsome young subject was awaiting the "novice obedience trials." His person told me he had been a rescue dog, and had been nervous and fearful. She wasn't expecting a "win" but thought the trials would be good for his confidence. He was a delightful dog, friendly and very devoted to his person, and I wished them both well.

The event was simple: after performing a few exercises, the dogs would be told to "stay" and their owners would walk to the other end of the ring. A cute little dachshund followed his mommy as soon as she turned to walk away. A gorgeous young Burmese Mountain Dog got tired of waiting and went to his person after a few minutes. All the other dogs did as they were told.

And in the end, my elegant new friend went home with the prize.

The real winner, however, was the lucky lady who had found this wonderful dog, and had the kindness and patience to open her home and work with him. Now she has a devoted friend and he has a forever home.

This painting has been SOLD

Standard Poodle
Pastel, 9.5 x 12.5
Matted, ready to frame

By the way, I don't want to show favoritism. I also share my life with a tan and white Border Collie named Barney. I will tell you about him in a later blog!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Chow Chow Dog Art

AKC Show in Des Moines, Part 2

Chow Chow
The Chow Chow is often compared to a lion, because of the way the fur grows around his neck - it resembles a lion's mane. They do sometimes have a ferocious look about them, but this one, at the Des Moines Kennel Club Show, was a real sweetheart. He had finished showing, had done his job very well, and was enjoying a well deserved rest. Even so he was kind enough to pose for a photo, and also gave me a good view of his blue-black tongue, typical of the breed. He was described to me as a "Gentle Giant" and he certainly looked the part. One of the great things about dog shows is the opportunity to meet breeds that you might not see otherwise. Another is the attitude of the dogs and their people. All the dogs are friendly and most of the people are very pleasant, they love to talk to you about their dogs, show them off, don't mind at all if you want to photograph them. They are caring, loving people. Probably they learned that from their dogs. We need more people like that in the world!!!!

Chow Chow is an acrylic painting on canvas, 11 x 14. All the edges of the canvas have been painted and no staples show on the sides, so that the painting may be displayed with or without a frame. 20% of the sale of this painting will be donated to Old Dog Haven.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Equine Art Horses White Arabian Horse at Sunset

"With the Sun and the Wind in My Mane"
This painting is now SOLD. Please see my website or Art Helping Animals blog for more great art.

One of my favorite subjects, well known to those who are familiar with my work. White horses speak to me of freedom and strength, and I find myself returning to them as painting subjects again and again. Whenever life seems overwhelming, hopeless or just plain dull, painting white horses is good therapy. Whenever I am exceptionally happy or excited, I paint white horses to celebrate. The loose, free style used in this painting matched my mood as well as the horse's - playful, joyful and spontaneous.

My prayer for you today is that you find something you love to do, and do it with all your might. That is passion, and it is the happiest way to live your life!

Oil on Stretched, Wrapped Canvas
14 x 18 x .75
All edges painted, no staples showing.
Display with or without a frame

Monday, September 21, 2009

Canine Art Dogs Shih-Tzu Dog Painting

Pure Elegance
by Della Burgus
Acrylic on Stretched, Wrapped Canvas
9 x 12
You know how it is, you see someone across a crowded room, your eyes meet, and the joybells begin to ring in your heart. This delightful creature was at the AKC dog show in Des Moines recently. I first saw him in a show ring with other Shih-Tzu dogs - they were wonderful, but there was something about him, I knew he had to be a painting. His beautiful coloring, his royal bearing, the understated adornment - somehow more elegant in its simplicity and absence of "frou-frou." I "happened' to be standing outside the ring after he had shown, and his person graciously allowed me to take a photo. In fact, she brushed him again and arranged his fur so that he would look just right.

Dog shows are fun, and most of the people I meet there are fun also, because they are almost all dog lovers just like me. They love talking dogs, don't care that I am a total stranger, they love sharing about their wonderful friends. And the dogs seem to have a good time also. To me it seems the Golden Retrievers are having the best time of anybody, but then, they do have a knack for enjoyment that is somewhat beyond most of us on this planet.

Everybody seems to have a favorite breed but I have never met a dog I didn't like, and the more I see of them the more I like them. What is that old saying, "The more I see of men, the more I like my dog."? Well, I won't go that far, but there are a few people who might learn some manners from them, as well as compassion, patience and faithfulness.

Pictured below are two sweeties who might have felt a little overwhelmed about the whole competition thing, but they did find a safe place to be, with someone who loved them. That is the best thing that could happen to any of us. And that is my prayer for all of us today.

Sweet Spaniel finds protection between the tennies.

"I feel safe being on Daddy's lap with my toy duck."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Boats in the Harbor, Maine Scene

I traveled to Maine last month for my son's wedding and saw some spectacular scenery. The light there is unlike any I have encountered in my other travels. It is hard to describe in words, so I will just have to paint it! There was no time for plein-air painting, so I took lots of photos. When I saw these boats tied to a floating dock, I knew it would be my first Maine painting. You can't imagine the impact the scene made upon this formerly land-locked Midwesterner. The reflections on the water, the way the light hits the boat - everything about it - said we aren't in Iowa any more.

Watch for this painting on EBay and next week on Art Helping Animals and Daily Painters. 20% of the sale will be donated to Old Dog Haven. Click to see EBay listing. Or email me for more information

Monday, September 07, 2009

Split Rock Lighthouse, Lake Superior

Going "Home"
Acrylic on Stretched Canvas
11 x 14

Split Rock Lighthouse on the Shores of Lake Superior. A bold, intense lake in a wild, untamed area. Superior can be boisterous, even to the point of violence. It can also be serene and somewhat introspective. But it is never, ever timid or soft spoken, never dull or colorless. It always makes its presence known. And it is timeless in its beauty and power.

My husband and I used to spend at least a part of every summer along the North Shore of Lake Superior, seeing the sights and painting the scenery. We would travel up Highway 61 (think I have that number right) all the way to Canada, sometimes venturing over the border. It was bliss. We haven't been able to travel for the past few years, but this summer we took a short sentimental journey to Duluth, and made it up to Split Rock for one afternoon. Not enough time to paint, but we took lots of photos. Going back was like going home, a feeling that this is where we belonged. I had the same feeling when I did this painting from the photos. The first touch of paintbrush to canvas literally took my breath away.

Of course, I have never traveled there at any time except summer. Winter would probably cool my enthusiasm, forgive the pun, but memories of the North Shore have carried me through some difficult times in the past, and the more time I spend there, the more I fall in love with it.

This is an acrylic on stretched canvas, 11 x 14. All edges have been painted and no staples show, so that it may be displayed either as is, or in the frame of your choice.

Click to view auction

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Maine Wedding: The best laid plans...

The photo above is Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park on Friday night at Aaron and Keegan's wedding rehearsal: a spectacular sunset, cool but very pleasant breeze, lots of people.

The photo below was taken Saturday morning at the wedding. A tropical storm had blown up the coast and met something that had come down from Canada. But when you are young and in love, that is all that matters, who cares about the weather?

It had been such a romantic plan, to be married on Cadillac Mountain at the first light of day, the first place the sun rises anywhere in the United States. The bride had been out there early the day before to check out the timing so that it would be just perfect. And it was - some of us were certain we had seen just a glimmer of light at the very edge of the horizon. According to Aaron, Plan B was "slickers and umbrellas," so that is what we did. And, yes, it was a very beautiful wedding. Later that day I came across a plaque and couldn't resist buying it for Keegan. It said, "Even on a cloudy day, the sun still rises."

Below is a wedding picture taken along the shore when it finally stopped raining, and a photo of the breakfast muffin they shared, courtesy of the hotel that served us breakfast. We love them and wish them a wonderful, happy life together.

Thanks for my husband for the use of these photos!

Lesson I learned from this day: In the midst of even the most terrible storms of life, when everything is going wrong and there seems no way out, God, like the sun, still rises. I may not be able to see Him through the clouds, or understand what He is doing, but I have lived long enough to realize that He is still there and He will always take care of me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Off to Maine for a wedding!!

Going to Maine for the wedding of son Aaron and his beautiful bride-to-be, Keegan. They will be married in a very small ceremony on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Early in the morning. EARLY, EARLY in the morning.
This photo was sent to us via my husband's computer and then he sent it to me. It is a low resolution and didn't enlarge well, but I hope that you can see the happy couple in the beautiful surroundings. We couldn't be happier for Aaron, because he has never been happier. I can't wait to see them and to take my own photos of them and of the wonderful state of Maine. I am sure that Maine and Acadia will appear in the artwork I produce this fall. In the meantime, if you would like to see better photos of Aaron and Keegan and Maine also, check out Larry's site.

I did find photos of their dogs, Penney and Hannah in the snow last winter:

They are also beautiful, and I can't wait to meet them!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Porkestra, Popcorn Art, and Noah's Ark

State Fair Part 2

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so this should let me off the hook for a while. We spent quite some time at the Cultural Center at the fair. Besides being a good place to go to get out of the rain, there was some great art, wonderful photography and amazing woodcarving. Of course, I didn't agree with all the judging, no one ever does, but I enjoyed seeing everything. Here are just a few highlights. Unfortunately I have the artist's name for only one of them, so if you are or know the artist responsible for any of these delights, just let me know and I will be glad to give credit where credit is due. Be sure to click on each picture for a larger view.

Porkestra, carving by Judith Veeder
Click on the photo for a larger image. It is amazing.

Beautiful painting of the state fair. Incredible detail. Should have won more than a yellow ribbon.

These artworks were made of popcorn. Only in Iowa!

And my favorite - Noah's Ark...

There were some lovely, realistic, delicately painted wood carvings. Birds and ducks and a tiger, all sorts of elegant and beautiful works. And I loved them all - well, almost all of them, but this is the one that grabbed my heart. The imagination, the joy, the attention to detail - I just couldn't tear myself away from it.

Hope it brightens up your day, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Iowa State Fair, Part 1

One man's art is another man's butter...

Art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. One of the great things about the Iowa State Fair is the "Butter Cow" It has been a staple at the state fair since the early 1900's but it was Norma "Duffy" Lyons, who began sculpting in 1960, that brought it to the center stage. She created not only cows, but a Butter Elvis, a butter country school house, American Gothic and The Last Supper in butter, among other things. She retired in 2006 and was followed by Sarah Pratt, who had worked with her for 15 years. We in Iowa take our butter sculpture very seriously. When it was suggested earlier this year that a Butter Michael Jackson might be in order, it created such a furor that the state fair board decided to let the people of Iowa decide between the King of Pop and the First Man on the Moon. As you can see good taste prevailed and the Astronaut won.

All the art at the fair was not in the refrigerator, however, as they have a great art and photography show every year. Seeing creative efforts always inspires me to let myself go, push myself farther, higher, to try a new medium or a new subject. I will write about the non-refrigerated art on another day.

So many other things to see and do at the fair. My favorite was, of course, the horses, and the other animals. Bunnies, chickens, goats, and sheep. No dogs or cats, though, if they do show them, it happened on another day. I got lots of photos, and you will probably see some of their inspirations in drawings and paintings during the weeks and months to come.

The food at the fair is amazing. They put everything on a stick - corn dog on a stick, pork chop on a stick, chicken on a stick, fried Twinkies on a stick for Pete's sake, chicken lips - whatever that is - and even egg on a stick. I didn't try any of those, but I did see on the news that a woman was trying to eat everything that came on a stick - all 55 different foods!

We waited until today, Friday, to visit the fair in part because the weather forecaster promised us a good day. As we sat shivering in a tent outside the pork pavilion, with the rain pouring down and the wind blowing, we wondered why we ever listen to them. But the funnel cakes were good, the ice cream was great, the horses were out of this world, and the bunnies were adorable.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Child's Portrait

Click on image for larger view

"Joyful Spirit"
Pastel by Della Burgus
Image size 9 x 14

Commissions accepted

This joyful little darling is a commissioned piece that has just been finished. To me the expression on her face says "Childhood," that beautiful, innocent time of life when the world is a wonderful place full of love and happiness, before our lives become overtaken with cares and worries.

The painting is being listed on Daily Painters and Art Helping Animals as an example of my commissioned portraits. For many years my primary work was in portraiture, and that influence is still evident in my art to this day. I love to do intimate little paintings that show the spirit and character of my subjects.

A limited number of pastel portrait commissions from photos will be accepted before Christmas. In order to purchase a portrait as a Christmas gift, it must be ordered by September 8. Image sizes range from 8 x 10 for a head and shoulders pose, up to 12 x 16 for a three quarter pose, as shown above. Prices range from $120 to $170. All pastel paintings are matted to a standard frame size and ready for you to frame. Email me for more information.

10% of the sale of this particular painting is being donated to Old Dog Haven. When you commission a portrait, I will donate 10% of the sale to the Art Helping Animals charity of your choice. Those are listed on the Art Helping Animals blog. Please click the link for more information.

Since there are so many children in this world who do not have the happy childhood depicted in this painting, I will donate an additional 10% of the sale to Children's Cup - International Relief. Please click the link for more information.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Peacock by Della Burgus

A Living Jewel
Acrylic on Canvas
6 x 9 on Stretched, wrapped canvas

This little gem was sitting on a fencepost preening himself at a local zoo I visited recently. As there was no hen in sight, we weren't treated to a display of his breath-taking tail feathers, but he seemed to be aware of his audience and did strike a lovely pose. I snapped about four disappointing pictures and one good one. He was a great model and seemed to enjoy all the attention.

We, in our culture, are bedazzled by the jewels and precious stones buried deep beneath the earth. Billions of dollars are spent digging them out, cutting them and fashioning them into jewelry. (There is probably a parable in that, too, but I will let you work that one out.) Many of the colors that I used to paint this picture were originally made of these stones, or at least inspired by them, and they still carry their names - emerald green, ultramarine, alizarin crimson. And this gorgeous creature is more wonderful than any of them, because he is alive and breathing and able to interact with others of his kind, as well as the people who appreciate him. I had to just stand in awe and wonder at the beauty of this little jewel. He was an original, made by a true Master Artist.

This painting is available on Art Helping Animals. 20% of the sale will be donated to Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center.

Monday, July 27, 2009

In the Misty Moonlight

I love painting horses, and I love creating a mood. White horses lend themselves well to mood-making because their beautiful white coats reflect the colors of the light. And light is what sets a mood. I think of this painting as a lyrical one, poetry in line and color, and I hope that it brings the viewer into a place of peace and harmony. When I need a sense of peace, I can find it in nature - animals, flowers, the sea - someplace untouched and unaffected by the stress and pressure of human existence. I learn from nature to be exactly what God created me to be, nothing more and nothing less, to cease from striving, competing, achieving, and simply to be, and to enjoy.

Misty Moonlight
Original Acrylic
On Stretched, wrapped canvas
14 x 11 x .75 inches
All edges painted, no staples showing. Can be displayed with or without a frame.


Sorry, this painting has been sold, but please visit my website for other work still available.

20% of the sale of this painting will be donated to True Blue Animal Rescue.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The North Shore - A Sentimental Journey

I have been away. Did you miss me? Larry, Button and I took a quick trip to Duluth. Barney stayed at Whimsy Park with Vicky and all the dogs, so he had his own vacation. She is a very nice lady and he likes her a lot.

We used to spend hours along the North Shore of Lake Superior, painting pictures and enjoying the peace and serenity of the place, but haven't been able to visit for a few years. This was a sort of sentimental journey for us, remembering those good times, taking pictures, and making plans to return and STAY LONGER! Next time we will make time to sit along the shore and paint, if only for an afternoon. There is a timelessness about the lake that takes me to a place of peace and tranquility. It was there long before I was born, and hopefully will still be here long after I am gone. It is easier for me to experience God's presence here, away from all the stress and busyness of everyday life.

Split Rock is one of my favorite places in the world. I love the birch trees, the wildlife, the flowers and, of course, the lighthouse. I have painted that lighthouse so many times, I could probably do it in my sleep. As a matter of fact, I did dream about it last night, but woke up before finishing the painting!

There is a lovely rose garden in Duluth that seems like a corner of Heaven. Lief Erickson Park, but I probably messed up the spelling. Anyway, it is close to the lakeshore and right on top of the freeway. If you get there at the right time of day, it is pretty quiet also.
All of these photos and more will probably be used to create paintings of my "Sentimental Journey," so look for them in future blogs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Portrait of Lily by Della Burgus

This is a painting of a day lily from our garden. We have lots of them - we are always finding some new color or variety. This one has been around for so long I have forgotten her name, so I just call this Portrait of Lily. I am a portrait painter by nature. I think God made me that way. For years I painted and drew portraits of people, then I branched out into animals and flowers, but, as you see, it still has a portrait "feeling" to it. I tend to focus in on a subject, to capture its nature, its essence, the core of its being. (Well, that may be a little too deep, even for me.) I do enjoy painting landscapes and seascapes occasionally, but more often than not, I find myself focusing in on the one thing that captures my attention.

So here is Portrait of Lily. As with many of my paintings, a portion of this sale will be donated to an animal charity. I have chosen Tabby's Place, a Cat Sanctuary, in memory of my kitty Nala, who loved flowers. I miss her very much.

Portrait of Lily is available through eBay.
and Art Helping Animals.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sketch, Dog Daze of Summer

Today I am sharing a page from my sketchbook, the preliminary drawing for a painting of a golden lab. I have decided to let you see this, with all its problems and rough edges, before I do a painting in pastel. For me a sketch is a plan, a map, of the finished artwork, so I can see what it will look like, and if it is really going to work. In my mind's eye (don't you love that phrase?) I see the finished painting, with color, value and line all working together to create a composition. Probably all anyone else can see is a rather weak, unfinished drawing that needs a lot of work! Sometimes I think my life is like this drawing: full of promise, but needing a lot of work. I am glad that God sees me as a beautiful painting, all the elements pulled together in a perfect composition. I still need a lot of work, but He is the Master Artist and I trust He can pull it all together.

Sad News

Like everyone, I was horrified by the story of the largest dog fighting ring in the history of the United States. Over 400 dogs were seized and rescued. Many others were not so fortunate. There are no words to express my anger at the monsters who abused and tortured these innocent creatures. I have friends with Pit Bulls. They are gentle, loving dogs with the same loyal dispositions that other dogs have. They have been raised with love and give love in return. Although the dogs are not to blame, as is often the case, they are the ones who have to pay the price. This has become a more personal sorrow for me, because some of the people involved come from central Iowa, one even from my small town. Thankfully, I do not know these people, nor do I want to, but I feel somehow our town has been diminished by their having lived here.
I hope and pray that many of the rescued dogs can be rehabilitated and find loving and understanding people to care for them.

You can read more about the raid and rescue on the Humane Society of Missouri. Currently these dedicated people are taking care of their physical needs. Please consider sending a donation for this good cause. Click on the link below for more information.

Humane Society of Missouri

“We are committed to giving dogs who have come from such horrible abuse the absolute best chance for a good life,” said Debbie Hill, vice president of Operations for the Humane Society of Missouri and director of the temporary shelter. “It is a tragedy that because of mistreatment by humans for financial gain and so-called sport, many dogs used in animal fighting may not ever be able to be placed in a home situation.”