Saturday, March 30, 2013


Say hello to my muse.  This is Clio, my Senegal parrot.  She lives in my studio (well away from paint and fumes).  It's spring, which means she has itchy pinfeathers on her head.  When a new feather comes in, it's encased in keratin which the bird preens off with its beak.  Only thing is, they can't reach their own heads, so they generally use the buddy system and preen them for each other. 

Problem is, Clio's a single girl, so my much less efficient fingernails have to suffice for her.  She tells me she needs her head scratched by putting her foot up to her head and making scritching motions.  She's not much of a talker, her only word is "Up," (what I tell her when I want her to get on my hand), but she does a masterful imitation of the microwave, and me laughing, and smoochy noises.
Not much time to paint today but I squeezed an hour in, which felt good because I've hardly gotten any time to paint at all this week.  So I worked on knife-painting (impasto) my Rainbow Lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus).  I think his eye is a little too far back so I may have to fix that.

That said, it was a ton of fun painting all those little headfeathers that Clio likes me to scratch for her so much!  Knife painting is all about the texture and birdy heads have plenty of it.  The only thing I'm concerned about is I don't think I have an appropriately shaped knife for the feathers lower down.... I need something kind of shaped like a fan brush.  Not sure such a thing exists... hmmm.

More about lorikeets next time!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Minus the Rainbow

It's amazing how much better I'm in the Flow when I paint every day.

This past week has been horrendous.  My son Brandon's car blew a head gasket a week and a half ago, so I've been driving him to college and to work.  Then, my husband's car broke down last week... so I've basically been playing bus driver and getting everyone where they need to go, and squeezing in my day job, which has been leaving me NO time to paint. 

They're both off today, which means I have been really excited that I'd get some studio time, but I woke up without the slightest clue what I wanted to do, other than I wanted to paint a bird . I wasn't sure if I wanted to use a brush or knife, and I wasn't sure what kind of bird I wanted to paint.  Then I thought I'd work on my landscape, changed my mind about that, and finally settled on a really big knife painting of a rainbow lorikeet, since I've been working a lot in dark colors and I thought it might be fun to do something bright and feather-textured.

So, I worked on the background and more detail-necessary parts of this little guy.  I dunno, he's sort of looking more like an Indian Ringneck parakeet than a Lori to me, at least for the moment, but I'm sure that'll change when he gets his coat of many colors.

I love parrots.  I had budgies when I was a kid, and a mischievous lovebird named Gizmo who enjoyed escaping her cage while I was at school and flinging everything off my dresser and then running to hte edge to watch where it fell.  She also would fly up to the ceiling fan (which was always off unless she was securely locked in) and land on it, and the momentum of her landing would push the blades a little bit and she'd go for a ride.  Since then, I've had a Noble macaw, a couple of parrotlets, cockatiels and lovebirds, and currently a Senegal parrot who is just a sweetheart and really enjoys it when I spend time in the studio (where she lives... well away from access to paint, and fumes).  Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Nashville zoo have lorikeet exhibits where you can go into their habitat and feed them nectar... they are such colorful little clowns.

Anyway, here's stage one on this guy... and it's a big canvas, 18 x 24, same size as my flamenco dancer.  I'm not sure I'm going to knife in the background at all, I kind of like the way it is.

Hopefully I'll get some time to finish him tomorrow, or at least make a dent!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Consummate V's

Chinese Dragon done in henna impasto technique, with Swarovski crystal eyes. He's headed for an art contest this weekend :). This is 6x6 panel and he will be for sale after the contest.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Full Gallop

My son Brandon, who as of this fall will be a fine art major, had a painting date today. It's so nice to have another artist to look at what you're doing when it stops making sense to you.

Anyway I had painted the background for this black stallion a few days ago and thought I'd finish him today.

I'm amazed at how different the light is in the first one, from a few days ago, and today.  I really need to get some good consistent lighting in my studio.

While I was working on this Bran did a nifty one-point perspective drawing.
This boy is for sale.  He's done in a textured knife-painting impasto technique on 11 x 14 gessoboard (Masonite type) panel.

I went and visited my own horses yesterday, now that I'm feeling a bit better from the cough that has plagued me for the last three months.  My girl Storm (Arabian) put on a show for me.  She went down to get a drink of water and then raced back up tossing her head, and ran directly to me, skidding to a stop.  I even got a picture, which I may need to paint -- it's not often I manage to get a decent picture of either of my girls running.  Abbey the chunky monkey doesn't run unless absolutely necessary, but Storm enjoys it. :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Jewel in the Lotus

Om mani padme hum.
I had the urge this morning to Zentangle.  This is what I came up with.
From there I went to my new henna impasto technique on some of the mini canvases I base coated yesterday.  I have my paint mixture a little too thick, so that needs some tweaking, but they came out pretty cool. 
I think it's kind of nifty the way the design goes off the edge of the canvas.
I had this green one since a couple of weeks ago - the base coat on it is also impasto (textured).
Finally, I painted the lotus that is the first painting in this post.  Beneath it in Sanskrit it says "Om mani padme hum," which is a mantra meaning "jewel in the lotus."    It is meant to help the meditator focus on compassion, wisdom, and indivisibility (we are all One), and it is associated with Quan Yin, a bodhisattva/goddess of compassion. 

I'll have these posted on the For Sale pages on my website, and also possibly on my Daily Paintworks gallery and/or Etsy (need to get my Etsy shop fully operational this week!)

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Her right hand is driving me nuts and it's late (I'm usually a morning painter and it's 10 pm) so I decided to step away and lay fresh eyes on it tomorrow. That said, aside from a few things I want to tweak I'm pretty happy with it. It suggests movement to me, which was essentially what I was after, that and the dramatic lighting.

Some drawing/anatomy practice would surely save me a good deal of frustration. Need to get on that.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Flamenco, Background

I did the impasto background for my flamenco dancer. When it dries I'll work on her. Also changed some anatomy a little.

Squire's Castle's Tree

Squire's Castle, 11 x 14 oil impasto on stretched canvas.
This one's done too :) I like finishing things if they feel finished when I'm done. Every painter faces the question: How do you know when to stop?  Yesterday, with the Weimaraner, when I stopped I wasn't sure I was done (I had to ask everyone in my household what they thought).  Today, I knew when to stop.

This photo isn't the best... my impasto medium makes the finished painting shinier than it would be without it, which really brings out the texture nicely, but it also makes the finished painting more difficult to photograph.  I'll have to take this one outside on an overcast day and see if I can get a better image.

I'm really proud of this one.  I roughed the image in with a brush, but the coat over it (well, two if you count the foreground tree layer) is done 100% with a palette knife.

If you didn't read the previous posts about what this castle is and why I felt the need to paint it, you can check them out here and here

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Blasted Weimaraner

I think I'm finally done with this thing.  Am I?  I dunno.  Something about his face is still irking me.  I decided it was time to step away from the canvas, back up and look it it, and then walk away for a little while.  Sometimes you have to do that, and then you come back and it doesn't look like half the critter's face is on upside down. 

But, I've been working on this thing for two years.  It was the painting I started when I wasn't really painting, and it sat on top of the entertainment center and stared at me for over a year.  I worked on him a couple of days in December. 

This morning when I was trying to decide what to paint, I thought about the unfinished stuff... I've got the flamenco dancer, the water droplet, Squire's castle, Chuck's waterfall, and this guy all in various stages of not done yet, so I decided it was time to sit down and clean up some WIPs.  Starting with the one that's been sitting around forever.

So, there you go.

I also varnished about a dozen finished paintings and right now I think I am getting high from fumes.  Whee!  No wonder the dog looks trippy.  But, for the most part, he's done.  Yay!  Bring on the next one.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Painting With a Cone

This past weekend I went to ConNooga, which is a "multi-fandom" convention for gamers, trekkers, Star Wars fans, steampunk, anime, etc.  I did henna while I was there and I was very pleased to discover that all the art I've been doing has really increased my confidence with henna, and I had the chance to do some really nice designs.  I thought I'd share a few.  

A brief explanation of what mehndi, the art of henna, is.  It is an ancient, mainly women's art, done traditionally in the middle east, India and Africa.  The henna plant (Lawsonia inermis) is dried, ground to a very fine powder, sifted so that it is still more fine, made into a paste with an acidic something (I use lemon juice), then applied in various methods.  I, and a lot of henna artists, roll a cone out of mylar/cellophane, pipe the henna into the cone, and apply it in delicate, fine lines.   When the paste dries, it flakes off, leaving the design stained into the skin.  They last for several weeks.
About a month or so ago I had the idea to mix oil paint with Liquin impasto medium to thicken it, and then put it in a henna cone and pipe it onto a prepainted canvas.  Here is the result of my first go at this:

I played with a few more today.  The one below is prepainted with a typical brush technique and then the impasto "henna" piped onto it, the same as the one above that I did last week.  On the last one I used impasto medium in the base coat as well, giving the canvas a texture.  I think I like the smoothly painted style better.

These are little 3 x 3 mini canvases, and basically experiments, although I kind of like the way they turned out.  It occurs to me that this might work better with a still thicker medium, and acrylic paint rather than oils (plus, I won't worry quite as much if I get paint on my hands while doing it).  Since that would involve an investment in yet another set of paints, I probably won't try it in acrylic for a while.  I also need to see if the paint can be kept if I put the cone in a plastic baggie and freeze it.... that way I could do a cone-palette that I keep in the freezer rather than having to fill cones with all the colors - and color blends, can't wait to try that! - that I want to use.