Thursday, January 27, 2011

Maine Coon Cat Pastel by Della Burgus

Tiger Paws
Pastel on Wallis Paper
8.5 x 11

A Main Coon cat lounges on his favorite footstool. I receive a lot of requests for this breed of cat, and the tiger pattern in shades of brown/black/beige is among the most popular.  It is a delightful breed, the kind you would call "all cat" -  full of life and energy, independent, and extremely intelligent. They display the typical catlike disdain for anyone who attempts to exercise authority over them, while at the same time showing a sensitivity and tenderness when needed.  I have already told you the story of the cat named Tiger who came to live with my husband's parents, so I have experienced this all first hand.

I decided to paint this in pastels because they lend themselves so well to depicting the soft fur of a  kitty like this one.  Actually, if I had to chose, I would say pastels are my favorite medium, even though they are messy-messy to use and difficult to ship. But they are so direct and somehow very satisfying to use.  I don't believe I will ever limit myself to one medium, though, as they all have their own special feeling and character.  At the completion of each painting I almost always find myself wondering what it would have looked like in some other medium.

Recently I purchased a book by Richard McKinley, a plein-air pastel artist whose work I admire immensely.  The book, Pastel Pointers, begins as do most books of this kind with a chapter on materials. I knew I was out of my league when I saw his pastel set up.  It was not purchased as a set - he actually took all his pastels and arranged them by tone and color.  But first he tore off all the labels, so he had no way to identify the color by name. Oh, my. That would take me days, perhaps weeks. Then it would require me to put each piece back in its place each time it was used.  It boggles my mind.  But it is beautiful to look at...

Richard McKinley's Pastel palette

and the pastel could almost paint itself.  For right now, at least, I will not subject you to a photo of my own pastel set up - it is worse than you could possibly imagine.  However all this has inspired me to organize my own pastels. It would be lovely to open a box and find something like this. But why just pastels? Why not my whole life? If I could get my life in this kind of order, I will have really accomplished something!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Animal Wildlife Red Fox in the Snow by Della Burgus

A red fox stops for a drink of icy cold water.  This is one of my favorite wild animals to paint. They  are incredibly beautiful, especially in winter landscapes.  There is something about that gorgeous red fur that just stands out against the pure white snow.  Of course I know that they are not universally loved.  We have all heard the phrase, "a fox in the henhouse," and I am certain they deserve that somewhat less than stellar reputation, but when they are in the wild, where they were meant to be, they are amazingly wonderful creatures.  Like all of us, they tend to get into trouble when they wander too far from home and go places that they aren't supposed to go.

This painting is an acrylic on stretched, wrapped canvas 12 x 16, all edges have been painted and no staples show, so that it may be displayed with or without a frame. It is available on Art Helping Animals and has been shown on the Daily Painters website.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Equine Art Running Horse by Della Burgus

Who Has Seen the Wind?
Oil on Canvas
12 x 16

The title of this piece was inspired by a poem by Christina Rossetti, "Who Has Seen the Wind?"

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

There are so many layers to this poem and that is one of the reasons I love it.  I will leave it to  you to decide what it means to you.
This painting was done in a looser, freer style than you may be used to seeing in my other work.  I decided the Impressionistic style would be more appropriate for its subject matter and feeling and found I wanted to loosen up a little after the commissioned portraits and paintings that were done last month.  It was a lot of fun to do, not a lot of stress and worry and made me feel as free as the wind.  It was a good feeling and one I hope to have again, so you may be seeing more paintings like this in the coming  year.

"Who Has Seen the Wind?" is available through Art Helping Animals and is also listed on Daily Painters. and will be posted on Chisholm Trail Art.

I hope that your new year is getting off to a good start, and that all your most wonderful dreams are coming true.  Or, at least, you are taking steps to make them come true.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Cardinal in Winter and Jack Sparrow Breaks Out

A cardinal sits on the branch of a birch tree and fluffs up his feathers against a winter wind. One of my favorite outside birds, the cardinal sings lovely songs and adds a touch of color to the winter landscape.  Cardinals are fascinating to watch at the bird feeder. Despite their delicate voices and lovely appearance, they can be aggressive and in the spring when they are raising young, they are fiercely protective.  We realized just how fierce they could be last winter.  It was long before any birds were even thinking about starting a family when a male cardinal began hovering around the porch, dive bombing whoever came to the door.   Evening visitors began to feel unwelcome, and coming home seemed downright dangerous to us. Eventually we realized that the target was not us, but the wreath hanging on our door. We had left it up after Christmas, thinking it was more of a winter than a holiday wreath.  Two small red birds adorned the greenery and, though they did not look real to us, they fooled the cardinal, at least when the porch light was on.  He did his best to drive them away from his territory.  The wreath was taken down immediately, though we hang it again this year. As of this writing, it has not yet been attacked.

Jack Sparrow Goes AWOL

Speaking of birds, we have several inside the house also. Last week during an ice storm, Jack Sparrow, one of our cockatiel birds decided he had enough of his cage and walked out.  He is a very clever bird and breaks out occasionally, but he really loves his home and his wife, Canola, so he never ventures very far. Usually we find him hanging on his cage and screaming to get back in, because it is much easier to break out than to break back in.  On this day we found him among the houseplants, staring out the iced window as if to ask, "What happened to my beautiful view?"  He always makes us chase him a little - it is a fun game - until he decides it is time to go home. Then he just stands still and lets someone catch him. If he is home, Larry does the catching.

Cardinal in Winter is an 8 x 10 acrylic on stretched, wrapped canvas. It has been listed on Art Helping Animals and Daily Painters. It will also be on Chisholm Trail Art.