Sunday, January 25, 2009

Screech Owl photo

I finally got a photo of the little screech owl that hangs out in our woods.  I can see this hole in a big maple tree from the path where I walk, if I'm lucky the little bird is out sunning herself between 10 - 11 am.  I first saw an owl in this hole in  Fall 2005, and have seen one every year since.  Not sure if its the same one, and not sure if they nest there....  every time I see it the day takes on an auspicious quality!
As some of you know I leave this week for the southwest where I will spend the month of February.  I will be in a remote area between Arizona and New Mexico, about an hour N. of Mexico, by the Chiricahua Mountains.   Many people have asked me why this area.   It is quiet and pristine, not very populated and has unique birds.  Also possibly the darkest night sky in the lower 48.   Out of the 7 life zones in N. America, it has 5:
-Lower Sonoran (desert)
-Upper Sonoran ( chapparal, woodland slopes above 4500 ft)
-Transition  ( ponderosa pine above 7000 ft)
-Canadian life Zone  (fir/aspen above 8000 ft)
-Hudsonian  (Spruce/fir above 9500 ft)
The two zones it is lacking are Tropical and Arctic.   For a painter who loves being out in the natural world this is heaven!  I will be keeping up with my Blog on the trip and will post photos of things I encounter.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still Life - Shell II

oil on canvas

Not a lot of bright colors happening in my studio these days;  I wonder how much just being surrounded by white/grey snow and sky effects the palette?   I had this shell next to the shell in my previous post and it was interesting to note how different their personalities are.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Still Life - Shell

8 x 11
oil on canvas

I don't know how interested some of you are in technical stuff, but with this painting I was trying out the qualities of different whites. I used the more opaque and bright titanium white for the background, and for the shell I used cremnitz white from Old Holland. This white is a type that many of the old masters used, it is more transparent and I was hoping to get some luminosity from it. I liked it and will keep experimenting.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Still Life with Shell - after Morandi

10 x 12
oil on canvas

I haven't spoken of the Morandi show I saw at the Met when I was in New York.  It was one of those experiences that feel so sacred that to try to put words to it feels diminishing...
There were a couple of small shell paintings in the show, and when I returned home I realized I had two shells exactly like the one's in one of his paintings. So I set them up in  still life and did this painting after his.  He is a master of neutrals, understatement, silence, tremulous line.

"I was fortunate to lead a very uneventful life... "  -Morandi

 "I can't go see too many exhibitions, it upsets me for two or three days."
 - Morandi

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bluebird on Napkin

 8 x 10,  oil on canvas 
birdxbird benefit auction 

This painting and the hummingbird painting a few posts back will both be at the birdxbird show and benefit auction.  Birdxbird is a non-profit organization based in Minneapolis that links the collective action of artists to organizations dedicated to the stewardship of avian species and the ecoliteracy of the human being.  Check out their web-site,  I hope some of you can make the auction, it will on February 21st at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis and should  be quite an event!
These two paintings are memorials to birds that have died on our farm. In the past whenever I have found a dead bird (often they have hit a window, which I can't stand), I take it out to the tall weeds under trees for its final resting spot. Lately I have been wanting to do something more, and have started on this series of bird memorials.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Three Shells

oil on board   9 x 11

It has been one of the coldest and snowiest Decembers in my memory; my little studio has been having a hard time keeping warm and there have been a few days that it was too cold to paint! But mostly its quite cozy;  I have been working on my still-life area, gathering objects that appeal to me, getting various surfaces,  height possibilities, working on lighting.  Tasks that must sound mundane but I love the quiet puttering in my studio.