Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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



Bull elk–Day 28

March 4, 2015


Day 28

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Being creative is not a hobby, it’s a way of life”

Day 28–The final day of my painting a day challenge for the month of February!  Finished-whew!  In some ways, it’s been a long month, in others, the time has flown by.  I started this project with the intention of just doing small paintings each day (all are 5″x7″).  The first week, I started with doing value studies and had so much fun with that and finding out what a learning tool this was becoming, I decided to stick with that.  So, the full 28 days- I focused on drawing and values.  Something I can always use more practice with.  I also decided to keep with the western/wildlife themes–just because that’s what was inspiring to me at the moment and because I have a lot of reference material that I haven’t had a chance to use yet.

With the exception of just two paintings, all paintings were completed with either burnt sienna (sepia color) or burnt umber (deep brown) or a bit of both.  There were two paintings that I used a bit of “dirty white” on.  For the mono-colored value studies, to get the darks, I just laid in thicker paint, to get the extreme lights, I just used solvent and a bristle brush to wipe off some of the paint.  It was interesting to push paint around on the canvas and be able to form detail/line by moving the pigment itself into a line and then leaving the bare canvas to give form/shape.  I can’t express how much fun some of these little paintings became.  So much so, that I plan to do a few larger value studies….so, stay tuned on that.

With this project, I also decided to start a monthly membership with Daily Paintworks as a way to get these little value studies out to a bigger audience.  I was not focused on selling these studies but, hey, if I can sell a few to help pay for supplies it becomes even more of a win/win.  I am humbled to say, as of this post, I’ve shipped paintings to three different states.  I think I will continue with the DPW for another month and see how that goes.  By the way, if you’re interested, you can view my whole project on the DPW website at this link:  I have to admit, I definitely feel a sense of accomplishment at viewing this gallery and seeing the 28 paintings in a row–some with red dots!  Woo hoo!  Looking back at the project, I think I definitely accomplished what I set out to do.  I gained brush mileage, I learned a lot about values and am improving my drawing skills, I learned the benefit of washing the canvas with a color and then carving out my subject, I’ve met some new fans of my work, I’ve added a few new states to my “collector locations list”, and I’ve fueled the fire for more creativity with ideas for larger paintings.

As for a bit about the final painting, well, it started out as three different paintings.  By this, I mean, I started three other paintings and wiped each one of them off.  When I stop and think about it, I guess I could say it was technically four paintings because I was re-using a canvas that I had done a quick little plein air study on over my lunch hour at the state park.  I wasn’t thrilled with the study, so, I didn’t think twice about wiping it off.  I did learn a bit about snow and color and describing snow as a form on top of a rock so, it was a beneficial exercise that had run it’s course–no need to keep the painting.  As I was working on the final painting, I was getting a bit frustrated so, I finally just put a little turp on a paper towel and started wiping out shapes…loose shapes with no real form in mind.  One of them reminded me of part of the body of an elk…so, after some more push/pull of paint and wiping out of paint, the final result is this guy…. Sometimes you just have to let the paint and canvas tell you what to paint!

Thanks for following along with my challenge.  I will try to continue to post new works and ramblings but it probably won’t be as frequent as the daily challenges. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my blog so you’ll get updates as I post them–or, you can just check back whenever you feel so inclined, whatever suits your fancy!


No Scrub-Day 27

February 28, 2015
5"x7" oil on canvas panel

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Day 27 of my painting a day project–one more day to finalize the project and to end the month of February.  This guy was spotted on one of our hikes in the Rockies a few years ago.  He was walking among the scrub and sage brush….he was definitely no scrub!  He had a nice set of antlers and bulk to match.  He had recently finished shedding the velvet from his antlers because there were still a few bits hanging from them.  He was a beaut and even better, he didn’t seem to mind our presence so, I got some fantastic reference material for later paintings/drawings.

Here’s the link to this painting on the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking:

Antlered–Day 26

February 28, 2015


5"x7" oil on canvas panel

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Day 26 of the painting a day project.  I was fascinated by the patterns, highlights, and shadows of the antlers on this guy so, the crop is a bit different than I would normally do when painting this type of subject.  If I had set out with the intent of painting a mule deer value study, I definitely wouldn’t have cut off the nose/muzzle and would’ve probably shown more of the body.  I didn’t want to get too “fussy” with the antler detail but, I did want to get those contrasts that show the form and curve of the antlers.  This was a fun but challenging painting–subject I will definitely like to explore larger!

Here’s the link to this painting in the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking!

Ram-Day 25

February 28, 2015
5"x7" oil on canvas panel

5″x7″ oil on canvas panel

Day 25 of my painting a day project. This is a painting of a bighorn my husband and I saw in Glacier a few years ago. He was a very curious fella. He ended up standing and staring at the reflection of himself on our rental vehicle for quite a while–my hub couldn’t get out of the vehicle.  We were both sweating it, thinking he was going to ram it.  He eventually moved around to the front of the vehicle and then over the side of the mountain to graze.  I definitely got some great reference material!  While this was all going down and I finished laughing about the situation, I handed the hub my camera to snap a few pics.  This guy almost seemed to know what the camera was for and started to “work it”, cocking his head, looking into the camera, etc.  It was pretty humerous watching the two of them….him, curious, and my hub both curious and concerned!

Here’s the link for this painting on the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking.

Wisdom–Day 24

February 26, 2015
7"x5" oil on canvas panel

7″x5″ oil on canvas panel

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Day 24 of the painting a day challenge.  Four more days of the project–whew!  It has been a hectic month and especially a hectic week this week, between my “day job”, class, and keeping up with this project.  Sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day and I begin to feel like I’m treading water and slowly sinking!  That’s when I have to take a moment, take a deep breath and say the serenity prayer to myself.  It’s great meditation, even if it’s just for a moment.

This subject is a barred owl that I happened upon on my way to work one morning, on, of all days, April Fool’s day!  I happened to be doing the photography project at the site  so, I did have my DSLR with me.  I quickly turned around, pulled over and set my camera settings to what I “thought” they needed to be because I knew, when I stopped, the owl would fly.  I figured I would have one shot at it.  Turns out, I was basically right.  I was able to snap 3 shots!  One of him perched on the fence post and two of him flying away.  I ended up being late for work but so, worth it!

Here’s the link for this painting on the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking!

Jake-Day 23

February 25, 2015
7"x5" oil on canvas panel

7″x5″ oil on canvas panel

I was having a bit of trouble deciding what to paint for day 23.  Sometimes the ideas are just there and then other times I have to have a “jumpstart”.  There are various ways I try to jumpstart the ideas; looking through reference material, flipping througha magazine or art book, taking a walk outside, etc.  This particular evening, I happened to be chatting back and forth with my daughter while I was sitting at my painting table, flipping through my reference photos.  I was telling her what I was doing and that I was having a bit of trouble deciding what to paint today….she came back with, “a horse!”….then almost immediately after, she came back with, “no, a turkey!”.  Um, OK…..a turkey seemed a bit random for her to come back with so, I questioned her about what made her think of a turkey.  She came back with, “I don’t know, I just always liked your small turkey paintings.”  So, there ya have it, today’s painting, a turkey value study.

I must say, it was fun painting feathers in this way and trying to get the value range right to give a feel of those dark feathers that really do have a lot of color depending on the light.  I already see some things I would do a bit differently but it was a great learning exercise, so, this subject may be worth exploring again in one of these little value studies.

Here’s the link for this painting on the Daily Paintworks Gallery, thanks for looking.

Bit of Bull–Day 21

February 22, 2015


7"x5" oil on canvas panel

7″x5″ oil on canvas panel

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.  ~Muir

One of the bull elk that we encountered during a raining hike in the Rockies.  We couldn’t hear much besides the rain but then we started hearing branches break and something coming through the brush, then, there it was, the unmistakeable squeal of the first a cow coming through.  It wasn’t long before we heard the scream of an elk bugle.  This elk and his small harem along with a few calves came through the brush and aspens, moving on to cross the small river (at home we would’ve called it a creek but anyway….) and then into one of the meadows to graze for the day.  So mesmerising to watch the cows watch the calves, squealing and whinning to them, making sure no one is left behind as well as ensuring the wrong calf doesn’t get too close to the wrong cow.  Some of these cows get a bit grumpy….hormonal even….ha ha.  The only thing the bull seems worried with is keeping other bulls at bay and making sure he keeps his cows.  It gets pretty entertaining to watch some of the younger cows decide to make a break for it and him stress out and take off through the brush to retrieve them.

Here’s the link to this painting in the Daily Paintworks Gallery. Thanks for looking.