Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A busy little saw whet owl

Wow, this painting is REALLY busy!  I knew there was a lot going on, but once I got it up on the screen here, it looks even busier.  I really struggled with this little guy.  The painting was originally going to have a chipmunk with a whole bunch of acorns and then I saw a picture of a cute little saw whet owl and he seemed to go better with the background I had started.  I've stayed away from owls because they are so popular, but this little guy lured me in.  His little body was done with torn pieces of coffee filters and I think it turned out really well.  It's everything else in the painting that bothers me.  I kept adding things and colors to the background in hopes of making him standout more, but it doesn't seem like that worked at all.  I think I need to put him away for awhile, because as I'm typing this, I'm feeling the urge to cut him out of this painting and start over, or completely painting over the background, or adding polka dots to his fine feathers.

saw whet

Here's a picture of a cute little saw whet owl, they're like the size of a robin.  Pretty darn cute aren't they?

While we are on the topic of owls, I thought I'd share a picture of Fischer's first ever hand carved stamp that he did last week.  I think he did an awesome job for a 7 year old!  He even put him on a little branch.  I'm very impressed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumns's Last Leaves

Last week on my way back from my morning run, just as the sky was beginning to lighten, I saw two crows sitting in the very top of a large almost leafless maple tree.  Their outline was very striking against the pinkish orange morning sky.  One crow was facing east, the other west.  They were sitting there so quite,  it made me wonder what they were thinking on that beautiful autumn morning.  The image of those two crows stayed with me and I knew I had to paint my own version.

Autumn's last leaves
Autumn's Last Leaves

I struggled a bit with this one.  I started out painting it exactly like I saw it, but I always run into problems when I do that.  It felt boring, blah, and as if something were missing.  I then had to remind myself that I don't and shouldn't try to paint it just like I saw it.    When I try to paint more realistic, my paintings tend to tighten up and I'm never satisfied with the results.   I need to remind myself to loosen up and play with it.  
I'm still not sure if I'm finished with this piece yet.  I've been looking at it all week trying to figure out what it needs.  Yesterday I realized I hadn't put the leg on the crow.  It was amazing how a simple little bird leg made such a big difference!  I paint on watercolor paper and always start a piece by penciling the size of my painting on it.   Like this one is 11 x 14 on 12 x 16 paper.  So I end up with white around the edges that aren't part of the painting.  Usually I don't find this very distracting, but with this painting I did and after I cropped it off in Photoshop, I was really surprised  by how much more I liked it.    I think a little time away from it is needed, which thankfully the kids and I are going to my parents for the weekend.  We are going to go see "How to Train Your Dragon" on Saturday in Milwaukee with grandma and my nephews.   It's a live show with huge animated, flying, fire-breathing dragons!  How could we pass that up? 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cheery Chipmunks

autumn 2

I keep seeing chipmunks running across the trails when I'm mountain biking.  They're so cute as they speed across with their tails held high, I even saw one in the pouring rain last weekend.  I knew I needed to do a painting with one of these (or 5) of these guys in it.  I didn't like the direction this painting was going and then I started adding the flowers and I still didn't like it.  It wasn't until I was finished with it and held it from a distance did I realize how cheerful it was and that I actually did like it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Autumn

Some more fall goodness to share with you.  When I first started this piece, I had no intention of putting crows in it.   I knew I wanted pumpkins, leaves and acorns in it and later after the piece was finished I remembered that I had wanted to include the old fashioned corn stacks, such as the Amish do when they "shock" their corn.  But since I forgot all about the corn, the piece ended up with crows instead and I think it probably turned out for the better.

"Autumn"  available here
I'm having so much fun with my coffee and watercolor washes for the background.    The leaves were cut from recycled tea bags and everything else is made from recycled coffee filters.  We use the brown unbleached coffee filters for our coffee.   When you paint on them,  the colors aren't as bright   as if you were to use white ones, the colors tend to be darker which works very well for the fall palette.   With the leaves you can really see the difference between the shades of tea bags I used.  The darker ones like the oak leaves are from chai and the lighter ones are from herbal teas like lemon ginger.  Our family has been sick a lot lately with sore throats and runny noses so we've been drinking tons of tea, both bulk and in bags.  It seems my supply of tea bags is never ending which is really quite perfect for me! (not the sick family part of course!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The weekend

Good morning.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.   Ours was very rainy and  definitely  memorable.  I did my first ever mountain bike race yesterday with my husband.  This was the inaugural race for the Pertnear 20  (because its pertnear 20 miles!) which was put on by our local bike shop (and our neighbors), BlueDog Cycles.  This weekend we received somewhere between 2-4 inches of rain, I haven't heard the official report yet, but it was pouring rain at the start of the race and of course stopped just as we were about to finish.  Amazingly there were 45 riders that came out in this miserable weather.  The race was a combination of road and single track.  As soon as we hit the single track, the excitement began.  I wish I had some pictures to share.  It was so incredibly muddy out there!  Within minutes my legs were burning from biking through thick mud and leaves.  The going was slow and slippery and eventually my tires were locking up because they were  packed with mud.  So many of us had to keep stopping and removing huge piles of mud and leaves out of our chain, derailer, brakes, and frames.  A section of the trail which normally would take maybe 5-10 minutes took us at least a 1/2 hour.  There was a lot of walking and even pulling of my bike.  At the end of this section many of us put our bikes in the creek to wash off as much as we could before continuing on.  We ended up not doing the whole race because it was so ridiculously muddy, I was soaking wet and very cold, the wind was kicking up and there were sections that had a lot of rocks and very narrow trails that we figured wouldn't be very safe in those conditions.  So even though we didn't do the whole thing, we still ended up riding for 2 1/2 hours.  What an experience!  These are the times I'm so thankful to have a hot shower to come home to.  As Pete (who owns Bluedog) said in regards to this race,  "you will never have worse conditions than this, so it can only be better next year"  and then we all celebrated with beer and pizza.

Here's another fall piece I finished that really has nothing to do with my bike race.  I'm loving this fall palette of colors, I have 2 more pieces that are similar to this that are in the works after this one.  Even while riding our bikes with the pouring rain blowing in our faces, I couldn't help but to notice how beautiful all the leaves, trees and bushes were.  It's such an amazing time of year.  The colors are so vibrant and just seem to pop against the dark backgrounds.

autumn's silhouette
"Autumn's Silhouette"  available here

 ps.  it's a clear blue sunny day today without a leaf blowing!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wee Witch

It's that time of year.  Do you have your costume ready yet?  (of course we don't!)  I wouldn't mind being a witch if I had a orange polka dot hat and dress to go with stripped leggings like this little witch has.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Fall is in full swing here in Wisconsin.  As much as I haven't wanted fall to be here, I can't help but to be inspired by all the beautiful colors around me, bright yellows, oranges and crimson.  It has been stop in your tracks amazing here.  For awhile already, the birds have been behaving differently.  Gathering in groups in the trees and chattering about.  Perhaps they are discussing their winter plans! 
The black birds will all fly out of the trees in large flocks across the fall sky while the sunlight dances through the autumn leaves.   Lovely indeed. 

autumns flight
                                                                      "Autumn's Flight"  available here

This is one of my favorite pieces that I've done in awhile.  I love the contrast of the black birds against the background.  With this piece I started by painting the background with a coffee wash, watercolor, large oak and maple leaves drawn with watercolor pencil and coffee.  The "dancing" leaves were cut from painted coffee filters and tea bags and the birds were also cut from painted coffee filters.   I'm very happy with the results. 
Related Posts with Thumbnails