Yellow Billed Stork
Fred, Southern Ground Hornbill
Yesterday I finished the 4th painting in my Masai Series, "Yellow Billed Stork". Last year my husband and I visited Kenya and went on several photo safaris. This trip, has been the impetus for the series. Between us we took over 5000 photos in two weeks. Yea digital!
Yellow Billed Stork
In doing my 3 most recent paintings, I had varying amounts of feedback. I never think of it as being a bad thing to get feedback, sometimes though it is difficult to find the perfect amount. I always tell my clients that having a portrait done of their animal is a collaboration between them and me. Having a portrait painted of your animal, dog, cat, horse, whatever is a highly personal painting and if it is not done to your satisfaction, you will never be happy with it. The painting I did of "Ivie" is a perfect example.
I started out by asking for a high resolution photo that really showed Ivie's personality. I received several that were nice but not really high resolution. The photo, the owner finally decided on was one that a professional had taken after Ivie was in a movie. My instructions were to use this photo and leave the rug out (oval rag rug on a wood floor). So I got it to where it was blocked in and I thought it looked good and sent off a progress photo. I was told no her fur is to close to the color of the wood floor maybe a dark grey floor. So I repainted the background putting in a grey slate floor, sent off a pic, no I hate slate floors. So then she asked if I could paint a rug in, I said I would try but if this wasn't acceptable I would put the painting in my inventory and come down and take photos for a new painting. Luckily she liked my rag rug. So I completed the painting, sent her a photo and she said she loved it, I then signed it and posted it on my website. The next day she called and told me the color of the dog was wrong, the photographer had used a flash that washed out her hair color and she hadn't noticed, she had more red and less blond in her hair, so once again I re-worked the painting, luckily 4th time was the charm. Some animal portraitists charge for changes after one or two, I always feel that the owner has to be happy with the work so I don't.
The next painting was of "Jet" a Portuguese Water Dog, in California. A friend had emailed and asked if I could get it done for Valentine's day for her husband, I told her I thought I could and off we went. She sent 3 photos, we discussed them and I mentioned if I just did a head shot it would be more dramatic, she agreed. I sent progress pics, and she said she liked them didn't mention any changes. When I got it finished she said what she could see of it she liked. I know it is crazy but as she was 1200 miles away and I was not sure what she would think when she saw it, I was getting that uh oh feeling. I packaged it up and sent it off and waited and didn't hear anything. My mind immediately went to oh no she doesn't like it. I texted and asked how it looked and she said her husband was home and she couldn't un-wrap it, a couple of days went by and I was getting worried texted again and she said it was packaged so well she didn't want to unwrap it and would give it to him as is for Valentine's day. A few days after I heard back and they loved it, whew!
The last of the 3 paintings was one that I was doing as a surprise gift for a friend of mine. Her cat Pippin, I had to rope her sister in to take pictures without her knowing. This was one I had no feed back on it while working on it. Her sister did say it looked great when it was done. Yea!
There is a fine line with feedback and never a dull moment in the process.
So, last summer I bought a pair of Patagonia light weight hiking boots. They were not over the top price wise and they were in the sale rack at REI. They have hands down been the most comfortable hiking boots/shoes I have ever had. They felt like a glove on my feet when I first put them on. I have worn them almost constantly since I got them.
I was at the grocery store the other day and was talking to a clerk who mentioned she had heard that Patagonia was no longer making or selling shoes or boots, she then mentioned she was going online to find some more because they are so comfortable. Being the somewhat impressionable gal that I am, I got scared, that I wouldn't be able to find another pair of these, and I just love them, crazy I know but, so online I went. There was one pair left and it was in my size, it had to be Karma, but they were almost twice as much as the sale pair I got last summer, but they are Gortex lined, with Vibram soles and the last pair available, and in my size, so after hemming and haaing for 2 days I actually mentioned it to my husband and he thought I was a bit nuts, (as usual) but I was perusing the shoe posting tonite and didn't see them so I thought okay, sigh, wasn't meant to be. I did browse thru their sneakers as I am in need of a pair of those and they were much cheaper than the boots. I found two pair that I liked and they were even comparable to outlet prices, as I was getting ready to order them, there were the boots, they were hiding and I didn't see them till almost too late.I
I am not a shoe nut really, no Jimmy Choos, no $500.00 shoes for me, honest! But I just ordered 3 pair of shoes, not a one with heels of any kind. I guess if this is a midlife crisis it's not so bad.
There is a different feel in my art and creativity this year! A new energy, surging through my work as though I am suddenly plugged in to an outlet of limitless possibilities. Things all around me, people, places, animals, colors are brighter, almost as though I am focusing through a lens; like pieces of a puzzle sliding into place with a click.
There is however the evil distractor in my ear, " hey it's not good enough, they won't like it, the color is all wrong, you're not really an artist, it doesn't look like the picture, go play video games, go do something mindless, it doesn't really make a difference if you are in your studio today!
I feel like it is a fight a struggle to really not listen to this distractor, my anti muse. Ooh it has a name, Anti-muse. I need to figure out what to do to placate her and make her stay out of my ear. She appears whenever a painting is almost done, when I think it looks great, there she is poking at me. The more I work, the more she seems to avoid me, but always manages to check in at the very wrong moment.
I have made a decision, to ignore her and create on. It's a new year and it's going to be Grrrrrreat!
This year I have hit the ground running! In the last month and a half I have completed 8 paintings and have two currently in progress! I have one piece that has been accepted to a show and will see it hung on Friday! " World of The Wild, at the Hogle Zoo in SLC, Utah, this is the 23rd year of this show. I have a photo that was accepted last year that is currently traveling in an exhibition, around the state, to schools.
I have a good feeling about this year.
Here is the piece I just finished, "Alpacas 3"
Today we received the largest snowfall we have gotten in one storm in 2 years! Yea! It's really starting to look like winter here! You know it's really funny, I get so excited when it snows almost like a little kid, I ski but not like most people around here. I have friends that ski 100 or more days a year and I get excited if I ski 10 but hey it's still fun! Just looking at the snow is great it paints the landscape so differently, it's just magical! We are surrounded by sagebrush out where we live and I can remember winters in the past where it has snowed so much it just looked like a white desert, completely covering the sage, don't think it will look like that this year but one never knows what the weather gods will bring.
It's funny how different it is to work in a space you are not used to. My studio is a small room in my basement where I have great lighting (two lights attached to my easel) and one small window. Most people would not be inspired but I think of it as the opposite of the "French Garret", mine is below ground instead of above. I took a picture and several orbs appeared so, I think maybe I even have angel helpers.
Last week I watched a friend's studio and shop while she was gone. I thought maybe a different environment would be a good change. Her space has large windows and lots of natural light, I was there for 2 hrs. each day for 4 days. The first day I drew and sketched and that went quite well. The next day I began a painting and putzed with it for the next two days. I still have work to do on it but, I think I actually felt homesick for my little underground garret. Odd really the grass, so to speak, or the light is not always greener on the other side. Our comfort zone is where we like to work.
Okay off to a great start in the New Year! Taking on the big tasks and crossing them off the list!
Got the Hood in my kitchen degreased, excellent!
Next cleaning the fridge!
Things are moving along. I am studio sitting for a friend this week and painting there, this should be a good exercise in working in a new area.
My brother and nephew are coming out to ski next week, putting the house in order and cooking stuff, fun fun!
My Dog Quail and I are really getting into Therapy work this week, two and a half visits this week. De-stressing students at the High School, National Abilities center visit and checking out visiting at an assisted living facility in Heber.
This should be a fun and energizing week!
I am a painter of animals. There has always been a connection for me and this is how I share it.