Painting a day 2016-Day 20-Dixie Study

March 27, 2016

Dixie Study -7″x5″

This is Dixie.  Another in my dramatic light and vivid color mini series.  Black horses really do have a lot of color when they have great lighting and you look for it.  The photo reference for this was beautiful and worked well as a photo except it was too underexposed and I lost all of the detail in the shadow on the left side.  I tried to improvise and fill in some of the detail–I think I somewhat succeeded but the painting just didn’t meet up to my vision.  Although, sometimes it is tough to capture that vision in just an hour ala prima (all at once, wet on wet) session.  I think I’ll try this subject again….another day.  Until then, HAPPY EASTER all!


Painting a day 2016-Day 19-Austin Study #2

March 25, 2016
Austin Study #2

Austin Study #2 7″x5″ oil on canvas panel

“No Heaven can be, if my horse is not there to welcome me.” ~Anonymous

The second in my study of morning light and high contrast on my horses.  I have loved this reference material ever since I saw it on the digital display on my camera.  The photo itself was focused on his withers so, his face was soft and out of focus but I knew that some day it could make a cool painting.  Here is a “trial run” to see if I was right…..  Someday, I will definitely paint this one a bit bigger.  This is Austin-he was a big, lovable, furball who sometimes acted more like a dog than a horse.



Painting a day 2016-Day 18-Pasture Buddies

March 24, 2016
Pasture Buddies- 5"x7" study

Pasture Buddies- 5″x7″ study

A fun little study based on some reference material from a fall, farm event.  These two little guys were in the petting zoo and were sharing some hay.  Scenes like this remind me of the “Android” commercial–if you haven’t seen it, you should:  –one of my favorites!

Robin Hood and Little John
Walkin’ through the forest
Laughin’ back and forth
At what the other’n has to say
Reminiscin’ this ‘n’ that
And havin’ such a good time
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

I decided to experiment with the background a bit and present it in pastels….for a morning painting.  I usually try to limit myself to an hour for these little studies and give myself permission to loosen up and experiment a bit with color, composition, subjects…..sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.  I at least know whether I want to explore the subject further or move on for a bit after these little studies.

Painting a day 2016-Day 17-Murdoc #2

March 24, 2016
Murdoc 2- 5"x7" study

Murdoc 2- 5″x7″ study

“The horse knows.  He knows if you know.  He also knows if you don’t know.”  ~Ray Hunt

This is Murdoc,…aka Doc.  He is a very intelligent yet frustrating equine, -depending on who you talk to.  I am usually amused by his antics, my dad and my husband….not so much….

Painting a day 2016-Day 16-Cold Breakfast

March 20, 2016

Cold Breakfast – 5″x7″ oil on panel


Cold breakfast.  We were driving to the trailhead we’d planned to start our morning hike from in search of wildlife, and as we drove past the aptly named, Deer Mountain, we saw this guy and a few of his bachelor friends.  The early morning saw some very wet snow fall that clung to all of the sage and scrub brush.  This guy and his friends were picking through and eating some of the scrub.  It was a beautiful, back lit, happenstance photo op-I love it when a things just fall into place.  They didn’t seem to mind us watching and snapping pics.  Once again, it proved to be a great morning to be outdoors!

Painting a day 2016-Day 15-Morning light mulie

March 20, 2016

Morning Light – 5″x7″

“You can only come to the morning through the shadows.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien


This was one of those “right place, right time” photo ops.  We were out hiking and happened to see some mule deer moving through a small stand of pines.  The morning light was beautiful and we took a calculated guess as to where they’d come out of the pines and into a beautifully lit meadow before moving into another stand of pines and undergrowth.  We set crouched down behind a couple of boulders and steadied my camera against a pine and waited.  They finally meandered to the opening-looked around and stepped into the light.  We guessed right and had setup in a great spot!  The light was amazing!

I definitely did not do the light and “purple-ish” shadows justice but it was fun to play with this as my subject.  I’m sure I’ll be doing more “playing” with this color palette and that reference material.

Painting a day 2016-Day 14-Mom & Me

March 19, 2016


Here is a cow and calf to accompany the bull in the aspens.  They were part of a fairly large herd that was giving that bull a run for his money, trying to keep them all together.  I was fun to watch and to just sit and listen to the little “whines” and squeals from the cows calling to their calves and vice versa.  All of this was viewed with the backdrop of a beautiful aspen grove and cool, rainy, mountain air.  As one of my uncles used to say, “It doesn’t get any better than this boys.”

Painting a day 2016-Day 13 Mulie Study #2

March 19, 2016

5″x7″ oil on canvas



“I will not follow where the path may lead, but I will go where there is no path and I will leave a trail.”Muriel Strode

Painting a day 2016-Day 12-Sunlight and Sage-study

March 15, 2016
Day 12 painting a day

Sunlight and Sage study 7″x5″

I decided to continue working with the mule deer reference photos because; a.)I have so much of it and haven’t really painted much from it yet, and b.)the doe paintings seem to be really flowing.  It is good to be challenged but it is also good to have a balance between the process and progress and feel like you come out on top once in awhile.

While camping, we usually leave camp before daylight so that we can be out and about right at daybreak.  There are two huge reasons for that, the light is great at that time and that’s when the wildlife really get to moving.  Plus, the crowds and traffic are low at that time–so, there you go, there are three reasons!  That saying, “the early bird gets the worm”….very true.  When camping and hiking at a well visited park like Rocky, the best shots are those that take you away from the crowds.  Those that take you off of the beaten path and out of the tent and on the trail bright and early.  Sometimes it is those unexpected shots that you’re just blessed with being at the right place at the right time.  Sometimes it’s when weather is moving in and everyone else gets out of the rain, mist, wind or snow but you stick it out just a little bit longer.  And then sometimes it happens when you just set up in the woods, sit quietly, wait and watch.

This little painting was based on some reference material gathered in a big stand of pine that was beautifully lit by warm, filtered light.  We weren’t sure where we were headed that morning and just decided to head towards the Bear Lake area and stop when we’d decided the light was right and where wildlife movement seemed promising.  As we were headed down the road, I spotted a couple of does and several little ones moving through the forest, just off the road.  We pulled up to the next vehicle pull off and parked.  We decided to hike back down the mountain a bit, down into the pines on the opposite side of the road, find a quiet, spot on some boulders with tree trunks somewhat breaking up our silhouettes and just wait.  We figured if we just waited patiently–we might get some good shots once they crossed the road and moved into the sunlit gaps within the forest–and if not, hey, it was a beautiful morning, the air was just warming up, and the smell of pine and fresh air was strong–it just didn’t get any better than this.

Well, that’s what we thought….  Except that the icing on the cake was that our gamble paid off and I snapped several beautifully lit shots of the does and little ones as they browsed on the grasses and shrubs growing in the openings.  We sat there and just watched them wander about, until they finally moved on through the valley.  We got up and quietly walked back to the road, moving on, in search of our next peaceful moment.

Painting a day 2016-Day 11-Mulie Study 1

March 14, 2016

Mulie+Study+1For today’s painting, I started out with the intent of painting a mulie buck that we’d spotted, lying in the tall grass while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I was excited about the subject and have thought about eventually doing a larger painting of it, so, now’s the time to do a little study and practice, right?  Right.  Well, no matter what I did, the painting was just not coming along.  I wiped parts of it out twice and finally wiped the whole canvas down and decided to move on to another subject.  This doe, on the other hand, almost painted herself.

So, today was a lesson in knowing when to persevere and when to save that subject for another day–it’s all learning!

“Every struggle arises for a reason for experience or a lesson. A great journey is never easy, and no dose of adversity along the way is ever a waste of time if you learn and grow from it.”  ~M. Lim