Monday, March 29, 2010

White Tiger Pastel

When I look In Your Eyes
White Tiger

One of my favorite places is the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, and one of my favorite exhibits is the Big Cats complex.   I love all the animals, but one of the most fascinating is the white tiger. I haven't been able to visit Omaha for a few years now, but I believe the beautiful, majestic cat still rules there. This painting was done from a photo taken on a previous visit.

I am amazed by those incredibly beautiful blue eyes, and so decided to make him the newest in my series of paintings inspired by the song "When I Look In Your Eyes"  from the musical "Dr, Dolittle."

This is a different sort of technique, pastel on stretched canvas. The canvas is first prepared by applying a mixture of marble dust and Acrylic glaze medium.  Pastel is applied in thin layers, then brushed with water, resulting in a watercolor-like underpainting. The picture was then refined by strokes of soft pastel.  This was a new technique for me, seemed like a lot more work, but it did produce a nice effect, and it is always fun for me to try new things.   I think I will use the technique again, but probably not all the time.

Pastel on stretched canvas, prepared with marble dust. It is 8 x 10. As with other pastels, it should be framed under glass.  It will be available through Art Helping Animals and Daily Painters on Tuesday, listed on Ebay later in the week. 20% of the sale will be donated to Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Yellow Hat, Chop Suey, Hawks, and Why I Am An Artist

 The Automat
by William Hopper

Last week I visited the Des Moines Art Center with my husband.  We try to go at least three or four times a year, more if there is a special exhibit going on. They take pride in their extensive contemporary art collection, abstract and post modern, and they also have a nice little collection of artwork by 19th and 20th Century artists, which is my favorite.  The exhibit that caught my attention this time was Edward Hopper: Images and Influences.  It was small, only two Hopper paintings and a few drawings plus some other work by artists of his era, but I have loved Hopper's work ever since being taken to the Art Center as a child.  I don't remember my exact age, but it must have been around ten or eleven and I probably tagged along on some occasion when my older sister wanted to go. Hopper's The Automat is part of the permanent collection and I remember being so excited about the "Lady With the Yellow Hat," which was my name for the painting, I couldn't stop talking about it. I loved the pretty lady, her beautiful clothes, the lights reflected in the window. I wondered what she was doing there alone at night, and of course had to know what an "automat" was.  My mother explained it was a restaurant where the food was kept behind a sort of wall with a number of glass windows.  A person would insert coins into a machine and then lift a window to remove the sandwich or piece of pie. Sort of a precursor of the vending machine, except that there was a kitchen behind the wall where the food was being prepared. I suppose it eliminated the need for waiters. Anyway it all sounded very romantic to me.  But the reason I have never forgotten this painting is that it made me aware of the world of art.  Drawing and re-drawing that picture drew me into a lifelong fascination with marks on paper, pictures that tell stories and colors that jump out and grab the viewer.  Though my work today doesn't show much of Hopper's influence, he was the catalyst.  He was the reason I wanted to be an artist.

Chop Suey
by William Hopper

This is the other Hopper painting in the exhibit. It is on loan from the Seattle Art Museum. Though there are many similarities, it has a different feeling from The Automat.  I like it very much, but am not sure it would have had the same effect on me.  What wold have happened if the Des Moines curator had bought the other painting?

As an adult, I discovered that Hopper's work reflected his perception of the isolation of modern life.  This is evident in both paintings, though perhaps more obvious in The Automat.  In Chop Suey, the figures while not entirely alone, are really not relating to each other, neither the two young ladies having tea, nor the couple in the background.  The painting, Night Hawks, (not a part of the Des Moines exhibit) emphasizes even more the concept of being alone, even when you are not alone.  If you are not familiar with this one,  here is a copy of it.

Night Hawks
by William Hopper

Of course, none of this mattered to me. I saw a pretty girl in a yellow hat and I wanted to draw a picture of her.  Who knows where things will lead?

Now, how I got from drawing ladies in yellow hats as a child to where I am now is another story for another time.  So I guess this blog will end with "to be continued.."

Monday, March 22, 2010

Equine Art Black Friesian Horse Close Up by Della Burgus

 When I Look In Your Eyes
Friesian Horse
I love seeing the horses at the state fair. This year I was especially impressed with the "Heavy Horses" group: the draft horses, sometimes called work horses, originally bred more for labor than beauty. Yet they are all incredibly beautiful, and none more so than the Friesian Horses. With their black coats, thick, wavy manes and regal bearing they look like something out of a fairy tale. I have been told they generally have a gentle, dignified nature, but can also be playful and full of energy.  They have even appeared in some of my favorite moves such as Zorro and the Narnia Chronicles. I have to confess to falling  a little in love with this guy, as I always do with the animals I paint. There is something in the process of painting that brings me a little closer to their spirit. helps me to understand them better.

Painting this horse was a bit of a challenge for two reasons. How do you portray the size and strength of this wonderful creature on a small canvas?  I considered many different approaches, finally deciding to focus  on the expression of strength and spirit in the face. Taking it closer and closer until the eyes and the nose told the story.  I would love to do a full portrait some time, but it will take a big canvas and a lot of time. The second problem was the color.  As an artist I find that the dark colors are the most difficult to portray, and Friesians are very, very dark .  For me, using black straight from the paint tube results in a painting that is flat, dull, lifeless.  If you look very closely, you can usually find areas of color in the lights and in the shadows of even the darkest fur - a touch of blue here, a bit of orange or brown there. Black is not really black but a combination of colors opposite on the color wheel, light and shadow, warm and cool. 

This is an acrylic on stretched, wrapped canvas, 8 x 10 x .75, standard depth. All the edges have been painted and no staples show so that it may be displayed with or without a frame.  It is the newest in the series of paintings, "When I Look In Your Eyes," It will be available through Daily Painters and Art Helping Animals on Tuesday, March 23, and on Ebay later this week. 20% of the sale will be donated to True Blue Animal Rescue

Black Friesian Horse
Acrylic on Canvas
8 x 10, standard depth canvas

Monday, March 15, 2010

American Lop Eared Bunny, The Velveteen Rabbit

Velveteen Rabbit
When I Look in Your Eyes
Another in the series "When I Look in Your Eyes," inspired by the song from the Dr. Doolittle musical.  I saw this little guy at the Iowa State Fair last summer and thought him so sweet and friendly. He posed for several photos, and of course I found myself wishing I could take him home.  But, alas, I must be content to love him from afar, because our menagerie has already gotten out of hand. Anyway, I loved his bright, inquisitive eyes and sweet expression. He reminded me of the hero in one of my favorite children's books, The Velveteen Rabbit. It is the story of Rabbit, the stuffed toy who wants with all his heart to become Real. In the end he discovers that the only way to be Real is to be loved.  If you have never read the story, or if it has been a while, click on this link: The Velveteen Rabbit to read it.  It is very short and very sweet, just like our little friend here. And it may bring tears to your eyes, just as painting this picture did to mine. But they are good tears.

This painting will be listed on Tuesday, March 16 on Daily Painters and on Art Helping Animals. 20% of the sale will be donated to Rimrock Humane Society. Perhaps you are feeling alone and unloved, and maybe you are wondering if you are Real. If so, you might consider adopting a pet.  Taking care of another is a big commitment of time and energy, but it is also a good way to combat loneliness and find someone to love.
If you have any questions about this or other paintings,  or just want to chat, send me an email
Email Della

Monday, March 08, 2010

Close Up of a Maine Coon Cat

Tiger's Eyes
When I Look in your Eyes
This is the fourth in the series inspired by the song of the same name from the Dr. Doolittle musical. There is something hypnotic and otherworldly about staring into the eyes of a cat. They are wise yet non-judgemental, Unlike the family dog, whose devotion borders on worship, cats have no illusions about us, yet they accept us for the bumbling idiots that we are, and they somehow manage an honest affection for us inferior beings. The love and respect of a cat are not easily won, but but it is a treasure worth seeking.

This is a pastel on Ampersand Pastel Board, 5 x 7.   It will be listed on Daily Painters and Art Helping Animals on Tuesday of this week. All pastels come mounted on foam core, with a white mat and ready to be framed. 20% of this sale will be donated to Tabby's Place.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Canine Art Cavalier King Charles Painting

A Merry Heart 
The title of this painting has been taken from one of my favorite Scriptures.  Proverbs 17:22  tells us "A merry heart does good like medicine..."NKJV  How true! Ever notice how just being around a happy person makes you feel better? Our society tends to underestimate the value of pure joy,  favoring instead some of the more serious endeavors of life. Things like making money, making a mark, doing important things, changing the world.  But God has different priorities.  "He has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise and the weak things to put to shame those who are mighty and the unimportant things to shine beyond the important." That is from 1Corinthians 1:26. Della's Paraphrase. Anyway, there is nothing in all the world with a merrier heart than the humble dog, and few dogs as merry as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  They smile when they look at you, they wag all over, not just the tail, but the whole dog,  they would move heaven and earth just to make you happy, And yet, they have a certain gentle dignity about their bearing,  not a fearful cowering but a joyful celebration of life and love.

As an artist, I consider it my highest calling to bring joy to someone's life. This joyful painting is an 8 x 10 Acrylic on stretched, wrapped canvas. It will be available through Art Helping Animals or Daily Painters beginning on Tuesday of this week.

Be happy, and spread some joy today. It will make you feel better!