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!!!