Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Expectant," Daily Painting #17

Expectant Available (click here) 

6" by 6" 

Oils on Panel

Koi Fish

I enjoy the vibrant colors that koi fish display and I've occasionally thought of painting them. I'm drawn to the swirls of color and water that are usually displayed in paintings of koi fish, but I always think there is more to them than decorative elements in a painting. I wanted to show a facial expression, something relatable like the interactions we have with mammals. Of all the decorative photos I've taken of koi I found this photo (from the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum) with this fish asserting its need to receive food from us.


I've only painted fish for one previous project.  I find them both challenging and fun to capture. The smooth edges yet clearly structured bodies sit somewhere strangely between the more obvious structure displayed by many mammals and the obviously fur obscured mammals. A fully open fish mouth I have to say was I think the trickiest mouth I've ever painted. The way their eyes and mouth sit on their faces are so different than a mammal, yet it is just as important to me to capture a fish's facial expression as it would be for me to capture a dog's facial expression.


I have quite a bold painting up next. I painted a large mask from the Chinese New Year celebration today. It is like a giant boldly pink muppet. But, you'll have to wait until Saturday to see it because tomorrow is all errands. :P See you soon!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Trepidatious," Daily Painting #16

"Trepidatious," Available (click here)

8" by 8" 

oils on panel

"Trepidatious"Side View for Texture
Wild Rabbit

This little one was hiding in plain sight on a relatively quiet day at the Wild Animal Park. Right next to
a more secluded but still busy pathway there is a small field of grass. There she sat right in the middle the most cover she had was incredibly tall palm trees above her. Every time someone happened pause on their way to the prominent elephants just 20 feet beyond her to look over at her she would freeze as if that made her invisible. I watched her for a few minutes and slowly she began nibbling again despite my stare.


The two main goals in this piece were to capture how much her small body stood out against the vivid green around her and her expression that conveyed more than worry but also a stubbornness that allowed her to hold her ground in that field.


I found my colorful reference photo! A bold koi fish is up next.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Vamoose," Daily Painting #15

"Vamoose," Available (Click Here)

6" by 6" 

Oils on Panel

Young Jake
I love the proud upright posture a wild turkey takes on as he or she retreats. There is no ducking for cover, but instead an alert charge for cover. I wholly agree with Benjamin Franklin that a wild turkey would have made an ideal national bird. Oh well.

Often on evening walks in Julian we would see a group of them across a small field and watch them peck and move through the field slowly, their heads parallel to the ground making small chirps, and then see them go silent from a threatening sound and commence a most elegant race. This young male (jake) looked barely full grown and was sparring a bit with his small group of other jakes before beating the retreat. (Here's a good video of a wary turkey hen chirping.)


With this piece I was exploring how to portray a sense of motion while still capturing that upright posture that conveys so much personality. There are just so few animals that move at speed in a vertical position. I softened the background details and the jake's legs to help the eye recognize the look of movement. Apart from that I focused on getting the body stance to have a loose natural quality. 

On to More Painting

I've been missing some highly colorful subject matter. Hmmmmm....

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Perseverance," Daily Painting #14

"Perseverance," Available in Auction (click here)

8" by 8" Oils on Panel

 An Unusual Giraffe

"Perseverance," side view for texture
  I've been noticing this giraffe at the San Diego Zoo   for years now. At first the nobs on her head were the only distinguishing feature about her, then over time I noticed she was the only giraffe I had ever seen that had wrinkles, and lately I've noticed that her coat seems lighter on her face almost as if white is creeping into it.

  I don't know how old she is, but her face seems to bely a long and storied life. Her face makes me want to get to know her, so I painted her to know her better through the study and challenge.


To really explore the odd textures that are involved in this giraffe's countenance I wanted to not only work texture in with my brushwork and a thicker application of paint, but also push the color range in her face to emphasize the overall variety in surface.


At the San Diego Wild Animal Park I often see native animals that fascinate me as much as the exotic animals. Mule deer cross through at sunset and engender some hushed excitement, but even native lizards and rabbits draw me in. One of my favorite recent images that I caught at the Wild Animal Park was of a timid rabbit. I must paint her soon.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

"Yeah, I'm a Capybara," Daily Painting #12

"Yeah, I'm a Capybara," Available in Auction (click here) 

5" by 7" Oil on Panel

Thinking About Capybaras

I've always enjoyed capybaras. I was quite impressed the first time I learned the world's largest rodent with its rounded sloping body, the capybara, was on average between 75 and 150 pounds. And then of course they reminded me of one of my favorite children's book creatures from my childhood the Wumps of The Wump World.

In recent years they put in an exhibit for capybaras at the San Diego Zoo and I could get a full dose every visit. They have such relaxed confidence with their solid bodies taking up space without any qualms. The goal of this painting and the fun of it was to try to capture that attitude. I'm guessing I'll be painting some of these guys again. (BTW, their profiles are wholly amusing in shape, I must paint a profile in the future.)


I didn't manage to paint this guy in just one day as this was the one painting I managed to get done during the move, but instead in two short sessions that equaled the amount of time I usually spend on a daily painting. That bit of drying time allowed me to have two layers of palette knife work, and to layer brushwork and texture throughout. It was gratifying to play with my interest in surface texture further on a daily painting as I have been focusing on texture in my larger long term pieces.

Perhaps I'll share some angled photos of this painting and others soon so that you all can see the physical texture as if you were seeing the paintings in person.

In the Plans

An old giraffe, another bird, and something colorful.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"Cascading Moment," Daily Painting #13 (Number 12 will be shared soon.)

"Cascading Moment," Available (Click Here) 

5" by 7" Oil on Panel

The Peacock

I've always been reticent to paint a peacock. I'm in love with their cool range of brilliant colors. Their proud walk has it's comical self aggrandizing qualities. Their slightly nasal calls both feel exotic and a bit like a weird clearing of a very stuffy nasal passage (Felix Unger comes to mind.). I think it is because they are just beautiful and that seems too straightforward, not thoughtful enough.

At the same time I have no problem trying to get the most glorious colorful photos of a displaying peacock every time I meet up with one. On one of my recent trips to the San Diego Zoo I heard that distinctive cry and saw a crowd gathered and rushed ahead of my patient husband to catch the perfect photo. I had sadly arrived too late for the full display, but I realized in that moment that this inbetween moment before he quietly went back to banal pecking or slowly dragged away his heavy plumage was  something not as straightforward. This was a moment that made sense for me to paint. As he turned away from the crowd his plumage half down became a swirl around him and I caught an image to paint from.


I wasn't quite sure how to approach painting this bird without the different parts of his body seeming disconnected. My strategy was to focus on the soft edges that were created by the fine ends of the display feathers and the more downy feathers on the underside of the display. I enjoyed capturing how ordinary a peacock's body looks shaded by their bold plumage.


I'm happy I finally painted a grand peacock. I'm back to painting daily again. Weeee...the adventure resumes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Not a Fair-Weather Painter

You may have noticed that my "daily" paintings have not been coming everyday.  The reality is that I am moving in less than two weeks. My dreams of painting a new painting everyday, while finishing a large plein air piece, and packing things up just isn't jiving. (I only have access to paint the plein air piece from this property. But! Woohoo I am almost finished with the plein air piece!)

I do plan to try to squeeze these small paintings in, but they won't be everyday for the next couple of weeks. I'll be back at it soon enough with full gusto.

See you soon.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Taiko Elation," Daily Painting #11

"Taiko Elation," Available (Click Here) 6" by 6," oils on panel

Taiko Drumming

This is the taiko group associated with the
 Vista Buddahist Temple where I attended
this year's Obon Festival.
One of the impressive things about the Taiko players is their radiant smiles as they perform quite physical music pieces with precision. Though I know they are consciously making an effort to smile throughout I can imagine that the drumming itself, the physical sensation, may give them a sense of well being that would bring a smile to their faces. I love feeling the sound emanate off the drums and vibrate my ribcage, it is soothing like the vibrations made when humming or singing with the whole of a choir.

I have been going to this small Obon festival for years and now, although I have never spoken with many of the performers of the Taiko group, I do recognize their faces.  This man's face has always intrigued me and I decided I couldn't go without doing a quick painting featuring him.


I wouldn't recommend painting while feeling nauseous! :P The oil paint smelled horrid to me and usually I quite like it's rounded warm smell. (My studio is well ventilated, so I wasn't dying of fume intoxication. :P) I made a nice simple value drawing in one color of oils and then began painting directly, pushing the color more than I usually do when I use oils for a "portrait." Because this was a quick painting I felt freer in my portrayal a person's countenance.


I think I'll take a nice fuzzy break from Obon in my next painting. (I do think I will get back to more Obon paintings.) I'm thinking a confident capybara proudly situated on panel will be a nice change.