Friday, July 22, 2011

A Pink Iris and an Episode of the Twighlight Zone

Prissy Miss
Pink Iris
Pastel,  9 x 12

The days of blooming iris have come and gone here in Iowa,  but the painting lives on.  I used a dark background for this because it really makes the flower and buds"pop" and shows off the stately leaves of the plant.  I can never get enough of iris and love painting them from every different angle - close ups like this one, even closer-ups after the style of Georgia O'Keefe, and fields of them like Van Gogh.  They are a fascinating study and I can't imagine that I will ever tire of them.  There is always a new way of looking at them.

Speaking of a new way of looking at things, the other evening I walked into the dining room and found this creature leaning against my buffet...

 Maybe I have been watching too much science fiction on TV - I am a closet Stargate fan - and it does look different in daylight, but this gave me a bit of a start.  For just a micro-second, I thought that some other-worldly creature had come in and unpacked his bag.   OK, I knew better, I didn't call 911 or anything, but that was the thought that entered my mind.   It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I have been "blessed" or perhaps "cursed" with a vivid imagination ever since childhood - depending on your point of view.  Maybe I was struck by a stray meteorite or something.  While it merely caused people to shake their heads in amazement when I was growing up,  these days it would probably land me in therapy...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dog Art Cavalier King Charles Spaniel PLUS A Work in Progress!

All Played Out
Pastel on Sennelier Pastel Card
Image size 7 x 9

Animals have the most expressive faces. While they don't express themselves with words as we humans do,  it is not often difficult to know what they are thinking or what they want to tell you.  This little pup, like most babies, had played very, very hard,  and suddenly realized he was past due for a nap.  When they are puppies, they simply drop wherever they are and take a snooze.  Later on, they have their own special blanket, pillow, or space on the couch, and they absolutely must turn around three times before they lie down.  I have read that is a throwback to when they lived in the wild and had to make sure the area was secure before they slept. Don't know if I buy that, but it does make an interesting story.  This little one, though tired out, looked very content and happy. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels always look happy to me. They are one of my favorite breeds to paint, and if I had room for one more dog in my house,  I would like one of these.

For more information on this or any other painting, email me


It isn't often that I share anything on this blog except finished works,  and there is good reason for that.  My process is not the usual step by step kind that is taught in art schools, work shops and DVD's,  with each step following the previous one in perfect succession, beautiful harmony, the end evident in the beginning well diagrammed layout.  I work intuitively, though some have unkindly referred to my process  as "convoluted." Some days I make great strides forward - step one, step two, etc. - but there are times when it all falls apart.  I see a passage that maybe needs just a  little adjustment, a tweak. Three hours later I am still "tweaking"  and somehow I know that it will take three more days of work just to bring it back to where it was before.   And don't let anybody fool you - you can't pick up a house painting brush and expect to create a masterpiece in twenty minutes.  It only works that way on TV.

Having said all that, I would like to share with you the painting that is currently on my easel, a landscape of the rolling hills of southern Iowa, my husband's home base.  It has been a while since I have tried a landscape of this size, because so much of my time is taken up with commissioned portraits and my work with Art Helping Animals - plus various family obligations - so it is really exciting for me.  For me painting a landscape is like meeting an old friend that I haven't seen for a while.  It will take us a while to get re-acquainted, but eventually it will be just like old times again.  In anticipation of a show we will be doing this fall,  Art of the Prairie,  I will title this one Prairie Song.

I know that many artists periodically show  works in progress on their blogs - many even include videos of themselves actually doing the painting.  I applaud them for their organizational skills and their courage but have no fear, you will not see anything like that here.   This may be a work in progress or it may be a work in regress, I am not sure.  If it is ever finished, I will share the completed painting with you, but there is no guarantee that you will recognize it.   It is early days yet, so all that remains to be seen.  Or not.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Bernese Mountain Dog and a Favorite Author, T.L. Higley

Art: Bernese Mountain Dog in Pastel
The Look of Love
Bernese Mountain Dog
Pastel on Sennelier Pastel Card
I saw this fellow at a dog show and took a photo. This breed of dog is often described as a "gentle giant," and his person told me that description fit him perfectly.  I love his quiet, honest gaze, his soft fur, his joyful spirit.

Sometimes paintings have to be worked and re-worked.  Sometimes there are problems in composition or color. Usually I struggle over the background at least.  But every now and then I come across a subject who is so simple and direct that there is no other way to paint it.  This one more or less painted itself. I just held the pastel sticks.  Paintings like this are a joy to do. And dogs are always a joy.

Email me for more information about this painting.

The Artist's Journey:  T. L. Higley, a Favorite Author

As most of my blogging friends know,  reading is one of my favorite pastimes and there are times when life gets so crazy and the people in my life become unreasonable and demanding and I must escape.  Fiction is the best way for me to get away.  My favorite authors are those whose stories take me to exotic places and provide me with adventures beyond my craziest dreams.  T.L. Higley is my newest "discovery."   Nothing she writes is ordinary and as an added bonus, every story is a learning experience. Her books are filled with mystery, intrigue, and romance, and even an extra  dimension or two - like the supernatural or sometimes even time travel.  Her extensive research results in a tale that is so authentic it gives me the feeling of "being there," and keeps me reading long into the night.  The beginning of my addiction was a book entitled Fallen From Babel,  the story of a professor of religious studies who does not believe in God.  One evening he handles a blue glazed terra-cotta Neo-Babylonian vase and is transported 3,000 years back in time to Old Testament Babylon.  Now that is a real escape!  I felt as if I had been transported also,  as I have with every one of her books.

Check out her site:
T.L. Higley