Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Pug Named Lily Commissioned Dog Portrait

Commissioned Pastel Portrait
8 x 10

Some faces are just irresistible.  I have done several pug portraits and, while they are individuals with their own special characteristics, they all seem to have this same soulful expression that makes you want to pick them up and cuddle them.  I love everything about her, especially her name.  Doesn't she look just like a "Lily?"  This portrait was commissioned by a special lady who had both her grandpuppies' portraits done for Christmas.  The other is the Yorkshire Terrier which appears in a previous post.  We also have grandpuppies.  Even though they live very far away, we enjoy lots of photos and this year even received a calendar filled with their pictures, What fun!

Painting portraits of different breeds and mixes of dogs is a great way for me to get to know them. Their eyes speak volumes to me and they teach me a lot, not only about dogs but about life and love.  They seem to know things intuitively that would take us several lifetimes to learn. They are a tremendous source of love and affection, they teach you trust and forgiveness and they make you laugh, even when there is little to laugh about.  Of course, I would love to have one of each breed, but for me this is the next best thing.

I hope your new year is filled with love and laughter - and if there is not enough of that in your life,  find yourself a canine friend.   If you can't adopt one yourself right now, make friends with a grandpuppy or a  friend's dog.  Your life will take on new meaning.   I know mine has.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Yorkshire Terrier Portrait

Pastel Portrait Commission
8 x 10

This is another of my Christmas portrait commissions and I think one of the cutest.  Of course I say that about all of them because each is adorable in its own way.  This is Lady and she certainly looks like a sweet little lady.  I think the Yorkie is a most delightful breed.  They are full of energy, highly intelligent, friendly and very happy.  Just seeing one makes me smile.  And this little Lady has a beautiful smile of her own.  

I hope you have a smile today, because in spite of everything horrible and frightening that has been happening, it is still a beautiful world full of wonderful things.   If you don't have a smile of your own, maybe you can borrow one from someone else - someone like Lady.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jesus and May God Bless All, Everyone...

Today many Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Though we may ignore and dishonor Him,  He is still the reason for the holiday that bears His name, even though the phrase "Happy Holidays," is currently more acceptable.

No matter what it is called, the day still belongs to Him.  Commercialism won't destroy it, paganism can't sully it -  ignore it if you want, but it won't go away. Whether we have been naughty or nice, whether we do random acts of kindness or pointed acts of selfishness, the fact is that God sent His Son to earth to seek and save that which was lost.  And that includes you and me as well as everybody else who has ever lived.  During the Christmas Eve service at our church the pastor made a somewhat startling statement: "On July 30, 1969 man walked on the moon for the first time and that was a big deal. Over two thousand years ago God came to live on this earth and that was a very big deal.  Because he came not to intimidate us but to set us free."  

Yes, let us celebrate this "very big deal."

The message of Christmas is love,  the love God has for us and the love He desires us to have for Him and for each other.  We will never understand the price He paid to set us free.  So, when someone wishes you Merry Christmas,  what he or she is really saying is "God loves you, and so do I."

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Gold

Glamor Blaze

Hunter Blaze

These two pastel portraits were commissioned as early Christmas presents.  

Three Dogs of Christmas


Thought I would share with you some of the things that have been keeping me busy the past few weeks.  This handsome fellow is named Brown.  His family celebrated Christmas early this year so I am able to share this portrait now.  I fell in love with this guy while doing the painting.  He looks like a sweet, gentle soul and I love his expression.

The reason for the early celebration is a young man who belongs to this pretty lady. Her name is Blaze. She has two portraits, this first one  I call "Hunter Blaze," because the picture came from a photo of her on a hunting trip with her young man.  He is currently serving our country in the military and was able to come home for Christmas in November.  Isn't that great?  I once heard the Golden Retriever described as a dog who thinks that  "Every day is a party and that he/she is the guest of honor." Don't you just love Golden Retrievers?  So full of life and spirit - and they just ooze joy. 

Hunter Blaze

The second portrait of Blaze shows her other side,  the feminine, flirty girl, the one who likes to chase tennis balls and tug on toys.  I call this painting "Glamor Blaze,"  because it looks like one of those celebrity photos or "glamor shots" that were popular a few years ago.  She seems to be saying, "Aren't I just the prettiest girl you ever saw?"

Glamor Blaze

It is now by my count twelve days until Christmas and I have lots left to do.  So many dogs, so little time.  When the portraits are finished, I still have shopping and wrapping to do, trees to decorate and a pie or two to bake. Love this time of year,  it is always touch and go, but somehow I do get it all done. I hope...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Maine Coon Cat pastel by Della Burgus

Main Coon Cat
5.5 x 7.5

Taking a little time out from painting commissions to share with you this small pastel, a close up of one of my favorite cats, the Main Coon.  This one has everything - beauty, brains, intelligence and a well-developed sense of humor.  He loves to play and loves to love.  He can often be found napping on top of cupboards and refrigerators, but his very favorite place to be is on a nice, warm lap.

Lately I have been painting pets and other loved ones for people to give as Christmas gifts.  I love doing commissions, but they can become overwhelming if I don't remember to take a little time to make art just for the joy of painting.  This little bundle of joy will appear in the Chisholm Trail Art blog this weekend and on Daily Painters and Art Helping Animals next week.  Also, look for it and other artwork in my Zibbet Shop.  Click on the link below

Art by Della Burgus

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

White Cat in the Window

White Kitty in the Window
When Will the Sun Shine?
Pastel, 8 x 10

Gloomy day, nothing to do but stare forlornly out the window and wish for the rain to stop.   For some, autumn is the favorite time of the year, but to many of us it is the beginning of a long, cold season of gray.  After the leaves have fallen, after Indian Summer has come and gone, the flowers are spent and all the lawn furniture put away,  this is what remains.  When the summer season was not the most pleasant, either filled with rainy days or as it was this year, hot and dry, there is something about the onset of winter that seems even more dismal than usual.   Even those who consider themselves indoor people - like this white kitty - feel happier when the sky is blue, the trees and grass are green and the flowers bloom profusely.  A gray day makes you feel - well, gray.  Happily, the mood will not last long for this cat. He will find something to entertain himself, or if you are very fortunate, he will curl up on your lap while you read a good book. And that will bring comfort, perhaps even a little cheer into your life.

It has been a long time since I have actually wiled away the hours curled up with a book, just for the fun of it.  If I were to choose a good one, it would be a mystery.  Agatha Christi is my favorite, but of course I have already read all of hers.  Don't tell anybody, though, sometimes it is comforting to reread an old favorite just to enjoy all the words.  (Smile)  Right now I would have to be curling up with a dog rather than a cat and it does sound inviting, but there are deadlines to meet, commissions to paint, people to please. "And miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep..."

I have always believed that animals really know how to live.  They are completely themselves, never pretend to be anything or anyone else, they live life in the moment and for the most part make the best of whatever is going on.  If they don't want to be involved they take a nap.  I like that. It sounds like a good plan for anyone on any day.

Today it is expected to reach 81 degrees here in Iowa, hot and humid.  Tomorrow reality will hit again, the temperature will struggle to get up to 57 and after that it will go downhill all the way.  One last reprieve before disaster hits.

I saw a sign on Facebook today that I loved.  It said,  "Do more of whatever makes you happy! That's my advice for today.

This pastel painting is on Canson paper, 8 x 10 and comes with a 12 x 16 inch mat, ready to frame. It is listed on Daily Painters, Art Helping Animals and Chisholm Trail Art.  It will be on my website as soon as I finish reading that book.

Click below to visit my Zibbet shop
Art by Della Burgus

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Equine Art White Horse in the Moonlight

White Arabian Horse
Dancing in the Moonlight
Oil on cavas
16 x 20

I apologize that recently my posts have been few and far between.  Commissioned works, both human and animal,  have been keeping me busy and distracting me a bit from my normal routine.  Painting the loved ones of others is hard work and time consuming but also rewarding.   Sometimes the paintings bring smiles, but just as often there are tears.  That used to make me feel uncomfortable, but over the years I have learned to appreciate those tears. because they mean the work has touched someone's heart.

So, every now and then it helps to take a break from all that seriousness.  White horses have always been one of my favorite subjects.  I love their beauty and energy and the freedom I feel while painting them. This one was done in a more Impressionistic style than much of my work,  especially those commissions where an exact likeness is so important.  Painting this moonlight dance was like painting a lovely dream,  still challenging, but an expression from my own spirit.   Now, I must get back to the commissions. Always a joy, but more difficult and tiring.

Dancing in the Moonlight was done on studio wrapped canvas, 16 x 20,  standard depth - about .75 inch deep.  All the edges have been painted and no staples show, so that it may be hung without a frame or in the frame of your choice.

This and other artwork may be purchased through my Zibbet Shop,  Art By Della Burgus.  You might want to bookmark my shop as more work will be added periodically.

Click on the link below to view my shop:

Art By Della Burgus

Have a good day, and I would encourage you to find some time to play or at least dream today, especially if you work very hard, or are dealing with some serious "stuff" in  your life.  It always helps me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There She Stands

 In Memory ~ 9/11/01

None of us will ever forget where we were and what we are doing when we first heard the news of the atrocity, the devastation that will forever be remembered as 9/11.  We remember the disbelief, the horror as events unfolded before our eyes, but we also remember the sacrifices, the acts of courage and compassion as Americans were drawn together with a common purpose.

We will all carry with us images that touched us in some special way.  For me it was the sight of the firefighters standing in the midst of the rubble raising the flag and President Bush standing on a burned out fire truck using a megaphone to address the first responders at ground zero.  And I will always remember the words of Todd Beamer which so profoundly expressed the unrelenting American spirit: "Let's roll!"

There She Stands


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Until We Meet Again...

Best Friends

We said good-bye to our sweet and lovely kitty this week.  Her official name was "Yellow Kitty," from some movie we had seen way back when, but I always called her "Sweetie Peach" and when I did, she always answered with a soft meow or a loud purr.  Like most cats, she would also come running when we called "Kitty." She was something of a picky eater, but eventually we learned to please her.  And we discovered that sprinkling kitty treats on top made her regular food much more palatable.  She took ownership of Button when we brought him home.  She would sit and watch him run in circles, reaching out and patting him occasionally as he went by. She said that was the best toy we ever gave her.  She was with us for nearly 18 year and for the most part she had a happy life, though occasionally would find herself stuck up a tree or on the roof of the house.  That usually produced more trauma for her people than for herself.   In her later years she would spend hours lying on the porch, watching the world go by.  When the weather didn't allow that she learned to be content to watch from the bathroom window.   Button adored her and Barney learned to treat her with respect.  She left us with quietness and dignity,  in her sleep.  She was affectionate and peaceful, a great companion and I miss her so much. I won't say good-bye because a love like that can never die.  Until we meet again, my friend, in a place where there is no more separation or tears, or pain or sorrow. And no more growing old...

"Goodness with contentment is great gain." 1Tim. 6:6 (Della's Paraphrase)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Outside my dining room window this morning...

Cat and dove dwelling together harmoniously in the bird feeding station until....

One of them discovers he has a neighbor.

Don't worry, no blood was shed.  When Button, the toy poodle, went outside to play he chased the pair of them from the yard.  Of course they will return as both are frequent dinner guests.  The cat usually visits the gallery door for a handout, but perhaps the birdseed smelled good and he wanted a little variety in his diet. Or he may have thought we had built him an apartment house. We do find him sleeping in odd places - under the lawn furniture, on the car or the grill, balanced carefully on the fence.  He doesn't actually belong to us, but he is a sweet, friendly cat and is always welcome here. And though he has suddenly become a "bird watcher," he doesn't appear to have the ambition to actually hunt them down.  So all will remain well in the "Peaceable Kingdom."

Monday, July 30, 2012

Red Fox Pastel by Della Burgus

Little Red Fox
Pastel on Colorfix Suede paper
9 x 12

Every now and then I get a glimpse of one of these guys running across a field or by the river and they look dazzling, especially in the winter snow. but most of my "sightings" are in zoos and in state or national parks.  Years ago Larry and I took yearly painting trips, usually to Minnesota, sometimes to Colorado.  Once we traveled Highway 61 all the way up into Canada and I was blessed with the sight of a very small red fox sitting by the side of the road in one of the beautiful parks there. He seemed to be quite comfortable with tourists and I gathered from his forlorn expression that he had learned that looking hungry and  begging for food from strangers was more satisfying than trying to find it for yourself. Although it would have been lovely to bring him home with me, I was reasonably  certain he would not be welcomed in my small town and even though this was before 9/11 I doubted there would be any way to get him over the border.  So I took a few photos and later did a painting of him - well, actually two of him - sitting by a tree trunk. On the theory that the only thing cuter than a baby fox was two baby foxes.  It was purchased by a woman in Minnesota for her child's room.  But those stories don't happen very often.  The model for the red fox pictured here was in a zoo, but he was still just as beautiful.

I did this pastel both as a finished portrait of one of my favorite animals and as a study for a larger wildlife painting. It is still in the planning stages and I am not sure yet if this pose will be in the final painting but I like his face.

"Little Red Fox"  will be posted on Daily Painters, Art Helping Animals and Chisholm Trail Art this week and on my website and Zatista shop whenever I get it done.  You know me, I like blogging but as far as computer work goes - well, I would rather be painting...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chow Dog Pastel Painting and Thoughts on the Painting Process.

"Chow" pastel by Della Burgus. No longer available.

I met this fine fellow at a dog show in Des Moines. Loved his furry "mane," his happy-go-lucky expression and gorgeous color.  I took several photos of him and did two paintings - this one in pastel, another in acrylic.  The people at these shows are usually very friendly and love to talk about their "best friends" - and who could blame them?  What is not to love about a face like this?

Lately my time has been pretty well taken up with commissioned portraits, both human and animal, and though this guy is not one of those, he was purchased by someone who said he looked just like her dog.  That always makes me happy.

I will try to do a better job of keeping up blogs here, but you probably won't be seeing any WIP, (works in progress) especially of the human portraits. While I admire the courage and ability of those who give you step by step demonstrations of their work, I have no plans to offer that myself. On those rare occasions when I have tried, the paintings have fallen apart somewhere after "step 27"  in a most humiliating fashion. Don't get the idea that I am not organized, I certainly am.  I am just not linear. My process seldom, if ever, follows a straight line, but meanders through the forest along a meaningless path until finally I get to the end. Then, hopefully, I stop.  It works for me, and as they say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Have a great week end. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Floral Art Purple Iris Flower Oil painting and a Ninja Art Warrior

Has This Ever Happened to you?

Have you seen him? We all know he is there. The studio monster that hovers around your easel, watching your every move, waiting for the first opportunity to devour your work? I am not talking about the dreaded "artist's block," that loathsome force that inexplicably prevents an artist from venturing within twenty feet near her easel.  No, this is no mere block. It is definitely alive - and very deadly.  The attack begins quietly enough with some little interruption,  an innocent phone call or knock at the door.  Perhaps the laundry needs your attention or you decide to watch the television program that has been advertised. That one little incident causes you to lose your concentration and soon everything spins out of control. You begin dropping your palette, spilling turp, losing brushes.  Odd things suddenly appear on your canvas -  shapes and colors you have never imagined and never wanted to see.  You raise your paintbrush in defiance, boldly vowing to fight to the end.  But as the battle wears on, you find yourself weakened and scarred, the brush becomes too heavy to hold, and you are standing in the midst of paint covered ruins.  All around you is devastation.  The horrible thing on your canvas is nothing but a reminder of your incompetence, your complete lack of talent. Whatever made you think you could paint?  Though a part of you longs to drown it in the river or cut it up into a thousand pieces, you can't quite bring yourself to do that - at least not yet. Why give the monster the satisfaction, why let him have a souvenir of your humiliation?  Besides, maybe someday...

Time passes.  The painting sits alone and abandoned in the back of your studio - and in the back of your mind.  Gone but not forgotten.  Until one day by chance you run into it again.  And you think, why, this isn't so bad! It just isn't finished yet.  All it needs is a little highlight here, a little shadow there, a little work on the background.  Okay, a lot of work on the background.  But it has good bones, it can be brought to life.  And so once again you pick up your paintbrush - this time not to fight but to dance.  Paint begins to flow together in perfect harmony and without effort.  Then the phone rings, but you let the answering machine take it. That is what you bought it for, right?  The laundry will be done tomorrow and it is summer so everything on TV is a rerun.  You finish the painting, and it looks exactly as you had envisioned it in the beginning.  You like it! You actually like it!  And that is all that matters because all is now right with the world.

The moral of this story: Never give up. Never, never, never give up.

The Result:
Purple Iris
Oil on Gallery Wrapped Canvas, 1.5 inches deep
12 x 16
Available through Daily Painters
Art Helping Animals
Chisholm Trail Art

Monday, July 09, 2012

Dog Art Cardigan Welsh Corgi Dog

Cardigan Welsh Corgi
Pastel on Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper
10 x 9

Portrait of a beautiful breed, slightly larger than the more familiar Pembroke Corgi owned by Queen Elizabeth.  They tend to be more cautious, yet no less loving or loyal than their more famous "cousins." 

This handsome fellow seemed to be thinking about his upcoming performance at a dog show and taking it all very seriously.  It is fun for me to attend dog shows and watch the different ways the animals respond to all the activities.  Many of them, like the Corgi, seem to consider it a job, although a pleasant one.  Some enjoy the opportunity to socialize, and others just plain like to show off.  They all want to please their people above everything else.  Dogs are good people and we are all so blessed to share the planet with them.  Even those of us who don't appreciate them.

This pastel was done on Wallis Sanded Pastel Paper.  The texture of the paper is good for painting the double layered, slightly coarse coat of the Corgi,  yet still showing its softness.  I wanted to capture his attentiveness and  somewhat pensive manner and the gentle look in his eyes.  As you can probably guess, I fell in love with the breed while doing the painting, which almost always happens to me.

This painting will be offered on Chisholm Trail Art, Daily Painters, and Art Helping Animals. A portion of the sale will be donated to Old Dog Haven.  Just a reminder,  I do commissioned portraits of dogs, cats, horses or any other pet you might like to have immortalized.  Email me for more information.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

The Color White and Leaving Your Rut

White Arabian
Grace and Dignity
Pastel, 11 x 14

This beautiful horse was in an Arabian show at the state fairgrounds.  There was something about the way she held her head, the elegance of the pose and the controlled strength that gave me no choice. I had to paint her!

I love painting white - white cats, white dogs, white tigers, white horses, even white flowers! There is nothing dull or flat about the color white. It has depth and form and movement; it reflects the light and shadows of its environment.  White isn't just "white" and is one of the most difficult colors to paint. (The other is black.)You never know what color may be lurking just below the surface. Which goes to show you - 'things are not always what they seem.'  Or maybe 'there is more than meets the eye.'

White Kitty
Pastel on Art Spectrum Suede Paper
7 x 5

Recently I purchased a sample packet of a new (to me) pastel paper which has a texture like suede.  Made by Colorfix, it is supposed to be less rough than sanded paper, thus easier to blend and easier on the fingers. At the same time it is stronger than some less textured papers and holds up under layers of pastel.  I tend to work applying several layers with a light touch, sometimes using my fingers to blend in certain areas, so it seemed the perfect match for me.  It will be a challenge to find subjects that are appropriate for some of the color samples,  as I gravitate toward neutral beige or gray colored paper for most of my work.  For this kitty, the white paper was just right.  She is all soft and fluffy, very affectionate and reminds me of a beautiful white cat that helped to raise me when I was a child. After all these years, I still miss her.

Sample pack of Colorfix Art Spectrum Suede Pastel Paper

So far I am happy with the results for the animal painting but it remains to be seen how it works for sea/landscapes, people and flowers. One of the greatest frustrations of art is you never know if a project will succeed until you try it. That is also one of its greatest joys.  Without the uncertainty, art becomes predictable, boring, and static - the same kind of thing that happens in  LIFE,  right? It is all the ups and downs, the experiments and, yes, even failures that keep us from just falling asleep.  My artist friend Sandra says that a grave is a rut with both ends filled in.  Quick, before it gets filled in, let's get out!!!

Changes can be challenging or they can be pleasant.  Most often they are a combination of both - painful during the process, yet rewarding in the end.  Sometimes they are our own choices and sometimes they have been thrust upon us - either way we have to keep moving.  There is an old Chinese proverb that has been quoted so often it has become a bit of a cliche, but it is nevertheless true: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The first step out of a rut may be something so simple as trying a new restaurant or a serving a different dish.   It probably won't be  skydiving or white water rafting, not the first step, but who knows where it all might lead? 

So, have a great day today, and try something new - whether it is a walk in the park or digging out those watercolors you packed away all those years ago, or anything else you can dream. Take the first step.   You will be glad you did.  Oh, and if it is whitewater rafting or skydiving, please post pictures!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Calico Cat Art Kitty Pastel Painting by Della Burgus

Pastel, 7 x 9
This painting has been sold and will soon be on its way to Bangkok, Thailand.

I have heard it all my life.  Have you heard the same thing?  Three colored cats are all female. So, is it true or is that one of those sayings that are passed down through the old folks?  The answer is "Yes!"  It is a saying passed down from your parents and grandparents and it is also true.

Just a little research on the Internet uncovered the answer. That is one of my favorite pastimes - Googling.  Whenever I encounter something that arouses my curiosity or even mildly interests me, I Google it.  Especially if I have a question about something that I probably should know but don't.  It beats asking somebody and being ridiculed - or looking through countless books and never finding the answer.   I am sure a lot of people knew this,  and after reading it I realized it was covered in my high school biology class.  But that was a long time ago.  Well, maybe not soooo long...

So, the official reason why all calico cats are female,  as it appears on Veterinary Medicine:

First off, what is a calico cat? A calico cat is not a breed of cat, it is a color pattern. To be called "calico", three colors must be present: black, white and orange. Variations of these colors include gray, cream and ginger.,,, Now that a calico cat has been defined as a cat with three colors, the question is: why are they nearly always female? The answer is in genetics. Coat color in cats is a sex-linked trait, a physical characteristic (coat color) related to gender. Female animals have two X chromosomes (XX), males have one X chromosome and one Y chromosome (XY). The genetic coding for displaying black or orange color is found on the X chromosome. The coding for white is a completely separate gene.
Since females have two X chromosomes, they are able to "display" two colors (orange and black, or variations thereof) and white; creating the 3-color calico mix. Since males have only one X chromosome, they can only be orange OR black. It is more complicated than simply having the color genes -- it is a complex process of dominant and non-dominate genes interacting on the X chromosomes, but that is the basis for coat color in calico cats.

I am sure you all knew that, right?  Well, you don't have to try to humiliate me by telling me so.  It is enough for me to know that Grandma and Grandpa knew what they were talking about, as usual.  Whatever the formula God used to make this beauty, I am glad He did, as Calico cats are beautiful and very, very sweet.  Most of them that I have met also love to cuddle, which may or may not have something to do with X and Y chromosomes, but I seriously doubt it.

This painting is matted and ready to be framed.  It will be listed on Art Helping Animals, Daily Painters and Chisholm Trail Art.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Leopard by Della Burgus Big Cats Wildlife Art

Watchful Eyes
Pastel, 8.75 x 10.5

Matted size 14 x 18
This painting has been sold
A portrait of one of the most beautiful of the "Big Cats," the illusive leopard.  I love the markings on its coat, and the arresting, green-gold stare of those watchful eyes.  Sleek and swift,  it is an ideal hunter with a terrifying sort of beauty.

When asked if I prefer painting in pastels, oils or acrylic, my answer is "Yes!"  Usually I let the painting and composition tell me what to use.  There are times when I can look at a scene or an animal or person and think "That would make a great oil painting (or pastel or acrylic,)" but I probably couldn't tell you why.  To me it seems intuitive rather than logical, a feeling more than a mental process.  Intimate portraits like this one are often best done in pastel and I do love feeling of handling the sticks of pigments directly, it seems to give me a special connection with the animal.  More complicated compositions sometimes work best with oils or acrylic. Yet, I can't say that is always or maybe not even most often the case.  After years of working in different mediums I find my choices to be as unpredictable as the weather and as illogical as nature itself.  So, obviously I haven't answered the question, except to say, "I don't know."

This seems like a good topic for a future post, "Questions you should never ask an artist."  Or something like that.  Not because we are offended, but simply because we don't really know the answer and don't want to take the time to figure it out. We would rather make art than talk about it.

This painting will be listed on Chisholm Trail Art,  Daily Painters, and Art Helping Animals on Tuesday.  Of course, as always, if you are interested you can also email me directly.

I hope that you have a great day and enjoy whatever creatures may be in your world today.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Flowers White Peony Oil Painting

White Peony
Oil on Gallery Wrapped Canvas
12 x 12 x 1.5

Peonies are the sort of transition flower, between spring and summer.  In my part of the world they are often blooming on Memorial Day, and I remember my Mother arranging huge bouquets in Mason canning jars to take to the cemetery to decorate the graves.  I believe that hers were mostly red and pink, but I found this one in Minnesota several years ago while vacationing near Grand Marais.  I took a photograph mostly for the novelty of seeing a peony in bloom in July - their growing season is much different from ours.  I thought at the time it would make a nice painting, but it took me all these years to develop the skills and the patience to attempt such a feat.

This is another in my series of close up paintings of flowers. It may have been somewhat inspired by the work of Georgia O'Keefe, although my style is entirely different.  I wasn't consciously thinking of her when I began to realize that my point of view is somewhat different from that of many artists.  It happened on a painting trip with my husband to the North Shore of Lake Superior.  We had been painting at various spots along the shore for a few days when one morning I looked out over the water and saw a quiet lake,  much like the lake I had painted the day before, some rocks that resembled those I had already painted and some trees...well, you get the picture.  So did I, several times already.  Then I turned around and there it was!  A tiny blue flower on the end of a long delicate stem  - and it was growing out of the smallest of crevices between two rocks!  Such unexpected beauty, as well as some deep symbolism which I still haven't quite figured out, but it made a great painting.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos of the painting and it found another home a long time ago,  but I will never forget that "ah ha moment."

 I learned two important lessons on that trip:
1. When you find yourself unable to move forward, change your point of view.
2. Always take a closer look.

 It reminded me of the first verse of a somewhat long and rambling poem by William Blake,   
To See the World in a Grain of Sand:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour. 
I have always loved those particular lines.  In one way or another, it is what all artists do.

This painting is on gallery wrapped canvas,  1.5 inches deep and is meant to be displayed without a frame.  I think it is my favorite of this series so far, but then I have said that about all of them.  It is listed on Daily Painters and Art Helping Animals and I hope to have it on Fine Art America soon.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Dinner Plate Hibiscus

Oil on gallery wrapped canvas
12 x  12
1.5 inches deep

The newest in my series of garden flower portraits is called a "Dinner Plate Hibiscus," because it is supposed to be the size of a dinner plate,  though I am sure that eating all the food on something so big would make me gain weight!  The hibiscus is often considered a tropical plant, but this one is a hardy variety that does very well in my part of the country.  It usually blooms around the middle of August and it is well worth the wait. With its oversize, vibrantly colored  blooms the hibiscus could have been the centerpiece flower in the Garden of Eden. Seeing it takes my breath away. What is such a lush exotic plant doing in my garden?

I have always loved flowers and have painted them many times over the years, but this series is new and a little different.  Each painting is in oil on gallery wrapped canvas,  either 12 x 12  or 12 x 16 inches in size and extra deep  - 1.5 inches.  No staples show on the sides and the edges are part of the painting, so no frame is needed.  It is a contemporary look that would also feel right at  home in a traditional setting, small enough to be displayed in a grouping, but large enough to hang alone.  All   but one have come from my garden.  The White Rose came from a floral shop and was in a Valentine bouquet from my husband!  There is something delicious about getting  right up into a flower to take in all its incredible beauty and detail.  It completely  fascinates me.  The response has been tremendously encouraging and I plan to keep painting them for a while.  I can't imagine either running out of flowers or growing tired of painting them.

We are coming out of several days of rain, though no severe storms this time around.  The bright red flower makes me think of the warm summer days ahead.  Maybe we might even see the sun today.  The weather man says so, but I am having a little trouble trusting him....

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Floral Painting Series

Love in Any Language
Pink Rose
Original Oil on Canvas
12 x 12 x 1.5
No longer available
I began this series earlier this year - well, actually the first was painted last year, but I didn't realize it would become a series then.  I had purchased a square canvas, 12 x 12, with deep sides and decided it was just the perfect ground for a close up painting of one of the pink roses from the garden. The painting received many positive comments, and before long an entire series developed from that experience.  There are countless varieties of flowers with infinite color combinations so this series should keep me fascinated and busy for a long time. I love, love, love, painting color and light,  love painting close ups, and find myself wondering if I am in heaven when I am working on them.  Well, part of the time, anyway.  Every painting has its "difficult passages" -  that is what artists euphemistically call those times of absolute frustration when you are ready to tear the piece to shreds or take it down to the river and drown it.  It is during those times when as an artist you just have to grit your teeth and keep going until you see the light at the end of the tunnel. But even then there is joy because you are living your passion.

Though I have been painting flowers for years, this format just seemed to click with my close up viewpoint. While the style is realistic, the composition tends to be a bit abstract, so the look can be either modern or traditional and they aren't intended to be framed, so that is one less hassle.  At this point there are two sizes: 12 x 12 for the smaller, rounder blooms and 12 x 16 for the more complicated shapes.  It makes them easier to design, ship, store and much less complicated to pack and display for art shows and fairs.  And people can mix and match them for a great arrangement.

All the flowers in this series have found good homes: two iris, two roses and one amaryllis.  I will be hard at work on the next one as soon as I figure out what it will be.  I have been blessed with lovely gardens through the years - great flowers to paint and photograph.  The pink rose, above, was done from photos I took in the garden, the white rose below from a Valentine's Day bouquet.  The iris used to grow in our garden but we lost it during an especially wet spring a couple of years ago.  When we find this particular color again, we will replace it.

All of these, as well as a white iris and a scarlet amaryllis have been purchased, so I guess it is time to be painting more flowers.   Wonder what the next one should be...

Love in Bloom
White Rose
Oil on Canvas 
12 x 12 x 1.5
No longer available

Light Play
Oil on Canvas
12 x 16 x 1.5
No longer available

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Wildlife Art Big Cats African Lion

The Lion Sleeps Tonight
African Lion
Pastel, 9.5 x 11.5

Remembering Cha Cha, the African Lion at the Blank Park zoo in Des Moines who passed away recently at the age of 16.  He was majestic, playful, courageous, fierce, truly awe inspiring, and quite photogenic.  Everyone, both the staff and the public, loved him but like Aslan, the great hero of Narnia,  though he was "good - very very good, he was not a tame lion."  And that also is why we loved him.

This pastel is matted and ready to frame, I have listed it on Daily Painters, Art Helping Animals and Chisholm Trail Art and will offer it for sale in my Facebook store whenever that gets up and running.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Resurrection Day Dance

This is my favorite You Tube video.  On April 4, 2010, over 1,300 young people, all of them members of Faith Church celebrated Resurrection Sunday in Budapest, Hungary.

Wishing you all a glorious Resurrection Day!

Friday, April 06, 2012

Good Friday Painting

Crown of Thorns

This painting was inspired by the second stanza of an old hymn, "My Jesus, I Love Thee,"  I first painted it many, many years ago and have been asked to paint it over twenty times since.  It has always been a labor of love and this seems like a good time for me to share it again.  The words of the hymn are printed below, with my special verse in bold print.  The words may be considered a bit outdated, but the meaning behind them has not changed.  I hope it speaks to you as it does to me.

My Jesus, I Love Thee
  1. My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
    For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
    My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
  2. I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
    And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
    I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
  3. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
    And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
    And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
  4. In mansions of glory and endless delight,
    I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
    I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
 And yes, I know He does seem to be smiling.   I like to tell people it is because He is thinking about them - about you! -  and looking forward to being with you in Heaven forever.   Don't let Him be disappointed...

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Black Horse Oil Painting

Black Arabian Horse
11 x 14, Oil on canvas

I attended a Arabian Horse show at the state fair and was pleased to see that a number of them were black or near black, as I had rarely seen them in this area.   They are absolutely gorgeous and dramatic to watch, but a challenge to paint, as is any animal with a black coat.   "Black" as it comes out of the tube of oil paint appears somewhat flat on the canvas, no matter which hue you use. Can you believe there are different colors of black - ivory black, lamp black, intense black to name a few - but in oil paint at least I rarely use them, and never straight from the tube.  Over the years I have experimented with different mixtures but eventually settled on the blues and browns for blacks with depth and interest.  The "lights" in this painting are a mixture of ultramarine, burnt umber and white, the mid tones are the same with burnt sienna and a little less white added, the "darks" have little or no white added.  Occasionally I will add a smidgen of black to very dark passages, when nothing else seems to provide the depth I need, but very, very sparingly.   The game changes when you start using acrylics which don't work at all the same as oils.  And pastels,  of course,  are not mixed at all but they can be blended very carefully.  All of which are topics for later posts.

This painting is oil on stretched, wrapped canvas, all the edges have been painted and no staples show.  I have found that people prefer to purchase paintings unframed, so that they can chose what fits their decor, lifestyle and budget.   Unframed artwork is easier, cheaper and a whole lot safer to ship.

Have a great day, and say a prayer for those who have been hit recently by the devastating storms.  We have lived through a couple of them,  though none as devastating as those we have been seeing over the past few weeks.  My heart goes out to all those affected.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scarlet Red Amaryllis Flower Painting

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Red Amaryllis
Oil on canvas
12 x 12
 No longer available

"Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" is a title that reflects life for all of us - the spent faded blooms of yesterday are no more than memories, beautiful in their time but fleeting; the bud is the unfulfilled bright promise of tomorrow as yet unknown; and the blooming flower is today and today is what really matters.  In the best of times, in the worst of times, we look for the bright colors in every day, remembering the joys of yesterday, looking forward to tomorrow but knowing that today, this moment, is all we really have. 
This is the second in the new series of closeup paintings, portraits really, of my favorite flowers.  This amaryllis was an early Christmas gift a year or two ago - the date on my reference photos is December 26, so it must have bloomed in time for the holidays.  It is such an adventure to plant the lifeless looking bulb and then watch and wait impatiently for even the tiniest sign of life.  You check it every day, several times a day, hoping against hope to see "green."  There is no containing the excitement when at last the first leaf hesitantly breaks above ground.  Another and another appear and you really don't care if it ever blooms or not. It is green!  It is alive!  There is something more in your future besides snow and cold and one gray day following another.  When you have just about given up hope that it will ever bloom,  a stock shoots up, almost overnight and you know, you really know, that this one will fulfill its promise and bring bright color into your dreary life.  They bloom profusely but only for a short time, then it is time to put them into a "dark, dry area" to rest until next year.  But what joy they bring!

Flowers have always been a favorite subject, and I love painting them "up close and personal."  This particular series is unique in that I am painting them all on similar sized canvases, either 12 x 12 or 12 x 16 and on the deep, 1.5 inch thick stretched canvas.  The painting extends over the edges of the canvas,  so no frame is necessary.   They will be easy to mix and match, if anyone is so inclined, and easier for me to transport to art shows.  I may increase the size to 16 x 20 if it seems reasonable, but the smaller size will keep prices down, is easier to ship and to take to art shows.  Besides, as I mentioned, they can be mixed and matched.

This painting has been sold, but I love painting these, so there will be others.  There is no end to my list of favorite flowers,  so this series could continue for years. 

Thank you for reading - and enjoy today!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

New Painting New Series Elegance White Iris OIl

White Iris
Oil on stretched, wrapped canvas
12 x 16 x 1.5

Every year about this time, no matter how mild or how harsh the weather has been, I begin to long for signs of spring.  The days become longer and more pleasant - more sunshine, warmer days, bluer skies - and to me the most enjoyable - flowers seem to appear out of nowhere.  Crocus and Hyacinth, daffodils and tulips -  even the dandy lions and violets can be a welcome sight, depending on the kind of winter it's been.  Among my favorites are the beautiful iris - there are so many varieties, so many colors and color combinations.  And of course, the iris was a favorite of my mom's so there is a sentimental connection for me there as well.  This painting was done from a photograph taken in my garden during the late spring when flowers are at their most beautiful.   Each year I take hundreds of them, keeping in mind the long, dreary winter days ahead.  If I happen to miss a bloom or bud, I can always count on my photographer husband to share one of his. 

Most of my floral paintings are close ups of single or perhaps two or three blooms, rather than than panoramic paintings of gardens.  Don't know why, it is just the way I am wired, probably.  Looking closely at things may simply be a result of nearsightedness, but the idea of exploring the intricate beauty of a flower petal has always appealed to me.  I admire the work of Georgia O'Keefe, and even though my style is nothing at all like hers, we do seem to look at things in the same way.  The result for me is a painting that is realistic in style, yet somewhat abstract in composition. 

"Elegance" is one of a new series of floral paintings.  I love the 12 x 16 inch format and especially the deep canvas.  It is a dramatic statement, as the painting is extended to the sides, top and bottom of the canvas and it is displayed without a frame. 

This painting has now been sold, but watch this space for others available soon.  And remember,  spring always comes, eventually...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sheltie, Shih Tzu and Schnauzer

Shetland Sheepdog
"Gentle Guardian"
Pastel, 9 x 11 

Shelties are among the sweetest, most empathetic of dogs.   Perhaps it is their herding instinct that also makes them highly intuitive, I don't know for sure, but they sense when someone is hurting and needs comforting, they are protective and very tender toward children. At least that is true of those whom I have met.  Most herding dogs may have similar traits.  I know that our dog Barnabas,  a Border Collie mix,  though a "wild child" in many ways absolutely loves children and seems to be able to read my mind.

At Christmas time, I am always busy with commissioned work - portraits of both humans and animals.  Here are a couple of doggie portraits I did for the holidays.  A cute little Shih tzu and a handsome Schnauzer.  I love doing portraits of people's pets,  it is heartwarming to see how much they are loved and give love in return.   Even after they are gone, the love goes on forever...

Have a great day and don't forget to hug your pet.   If you don't have one, hug the  pet of some kind soul who doesn't mind sharing the love.

Shih Tzu