Hello!

This is a small commercial break in your life to let you know I still exist–I’m sure this will make your day! 😉

Actually, if you are not friends with me on Facebook, you may not know that I’ve put my career in art as I’ve known it on hold for a while–thus, no posts.

ThreeEgretfulPosesTriptich
Three Egretful Poses–finalists in The Artist Magazine 33rd Annual Art Competition–Animal/Wildlife category (Available through me)

I am gearing up to get back into the studio soon, it helps to have a show coming up in October.  As exciting as that is, I especially wanted to share with my friends that yet again, I’ve been honored to be chosen as a finalist in The Artist Magazine’s annual competition.  In fact–three out of three paintings were finalists!  Out of over 5,900 entries, I am feeling very blessed.

You’ve seen them all on this blog, but here they are again–the plein air painting that is featured is just a bonus for you.  That was from the plein air event in Cannon Beach back in June.

Fishing with Audubon's Great Blue Heron resized
Goin’ Fishin’ With Audubon’s Great Blue Heron–Finalist in The Artist Magazine 33rd Annual Art Competition–Animal/Wildlife category (available at NW by NW Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR)
Dreaming Dogs copy for TAM
Dreamin’ Dogs–Finalist in The Artist Magazine 33rd Annual Art Competition–Animal/Wildlife category

Until next time–now back to your regularly schedule program.  Stay cool!

A Soft, Blue, Mighty Hunter

I have been having so much fun in my studio lately!  I’ve decided that if I keep up this pace I will proclaim 2016 “The Year of Production”.  Barring any major situations this year, I foresee that it will be.

I know I introduced you to Impending Doom and thought you’d like to see the cause of “doom” at this point, Mr. (or Mrs–I’m not sure) Blue Heron.  I am ALMOST done–I say that because I’m not yet happy with the value contrast in the feathers on the upper part of its body.  I rarely glaze any parts of my paintings but in this case, I believe I’ll have to let it dry and go in with a little glaze.  Of course, you will have an opportunity to see the final product.

Blue Heron almost done
Almost done!  (This is obviously at an angle)

I have discovered that one of the best ways for me to really “see” what changes need to be made in my paintings, is to take a photo of it.  For some reason, it becomes fresh to me.  As I look at this photo of my painting I discover things like a dot, floating below the chin of the bird, that has to be removed.  I also notice that there is a thin whitish line that intersects with the top of his head, part of the cloud, that needs to be softened or removed.  I make mental notes of those things and if there are lots of things that need changed, I make actual, physical notes.  I’m pretty sure I’ll remember those.

Brush and BH
Almost done!

As you can see here, there is very little contrast in the feathers, which means, there is no depth (If you squint your eyes the surface looks flat).  I tried to add a darker value but because the paint was wet it just wanted to blend in and get messy.  Titanium white is mixed in with these colors and white always takes longer to dry, so I’ll have to wait until at least Saturday to be able to come back in and fix it.

BH eye closeup

 

 

 

You can possibly see a little better what I was talking about regarding the dot in the yellow area and the white line in the clouds, intersecting the birds head.

The remainder of the painting is coming along well and will be featured in my next blog.  Besides working on this piece I prepped four canvases for painting and completed this smaller painting called Reigning Kinglets.  It’s a 24X30″ painting on gallery wrap canvas.  While walking my dog up on the trails at Lewisville Park I “saw” this painting in my head.  I’d taken the drippy branches reference picture a couple of years ago and had saved it thinking they needed to be painted.  As I walked along, past a flock of Kinglets flitting and floating along the trail with me and in the branches of the trees, I thought, “That would be cool to use those branches, dripping with rain, add Kinglets and name it Reigning Kinglets.”  Here it is–Until next time–happy birding!

 

A Christmas Barn

Barns are sadly becoming a thing of the past–at least beautiful red barns.  I have decided it’s time to start preserving them in the form of paintings.  Consider this a fair warning for the coming year.  I plan to paint more barns, en plein air as much as possible.  This painting was done in my studio and resides in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin.

Red Barn
10×8″ Red Barn

I don’t have a lot to say this evening, it’s time to go complete some Christmas gifts, but I did want you to know that I have updated my website significantly and am proud to say, there’s an “add to cart” button now available.  This painting is available for purchase at KaraMcGhee.com.

Have a lovely week!

 

I Received A Gift From My True Love Today

…On the 4th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four calling Fox Sparrows, A flock of tiny Kinglets, two Northern Flickers and a hummingbird in our pear tree…

Like everyone else this time of year, I have a lot going on.  The last few days have been a culmination of all that has been brewing in our lives for the last few months.  Today was the day to see how everything would REALLY work out!  I don’t want to bore you with the gory details but to be honest, we’ve been walking by faith–literally.  I had been having a chat with God about how all these things would play out today and as if to say, “I am taking care of you,” a flock of little chattering birds landed at my feet and in the surrounding bushes along the trail.  I was expecting little gray Bushtits–I see them often and I just love watching them flit and float from limb to limb.  But these were even more special–they were tiny Kinglets.

Little Kinglet
See what I mean, they are adorable.  Photo credit looks like KC Ayers (I pulled this off the internet). 

I was surprised by their boldness and bravery even with my dog.  They hopped around on the ground only 4-5 feet from us, flipping leaves and eating bugs–off in the distance I heard a beautiful song being sung and I looked up to see a Fox Sparrow sitting upright on a limb, head tilted back, beak wide open, singing at the top of its lungs while three of his friends foraged in the underbrush below him.  Soon a couple of little Winter Wrens joined in the chorus with their short little chips (I think they were contributing as the “rhythm” section).  When I got home our backyard was full of bird activity.  A mixed flock of thrushes–American Robins and Varied Thrushes, Yellow-Crowned Sparrows, Starlings, a pair of Northern Flickers, a hummingbird (that sits in our pear tree–really!), and of course the ever present Junco’s and Chickadee’s.  It was a great day for bird watching today.

Back to my walk–While standing under the dripping trees, dark storm clouds brewing above–getting ready to let loose with another torrent–I was reminded that I need to become more like a little bird.  Sing in the storm, live in and for the little things of the moment, don’t worry about what will be (worry never changed the future it just ruined the present), turn the leaf in front of me, and don’t forget to share my life with friends, family AND strangers.  We’re better together, especially when we are lifting each other up and you never know when you may lift someone up.  It might be someone you see in the coffee shop, like the gal I met this afternoon who is new to the area and having a stressful day–we talked, then exchanged phone numbers–who knows where this meeting will go.  Everyone we meet is dealing with SOMETHING.  Be kind, send up a prayer and be the cheerful little Kinglet in another persons day–that is our calling and what makes life worth living.

Little fluff hummer
This is the little hummer that hangs out in our pear tree–here he is last winter in our dogwood tree.  I call this painting “Fluff Ball Hummer” for lack of having a better imagination.  This is another example of a bird who lives in the moment–this happens to be a cold moment with a thawed out feeder hanging a few feet away.  18×14″ oil on gallery wrap canvas. Available, contact me.

As for the way things turned out today–it’s obvious that God (my True Love) had it in control, not us!  The things I stressed over for this morning were provided for and even went beyond my expectations and the future looks hopeful with new beginnings.  I’m working on being a better “bird”.  Until next time–when feeling stressed, remember the birds and sing a song ;-).  I’ll start one for you–Count your blessings name them one by one . . .

Flood The Streets With Art (III)

A friend of mine recently shared a post on Facebook about flooding the streets with art on Black Friday. “That sounds fun”, I thought. So today I packaged up a few things, two small originals and some cards, then went about placing art here and there downtown.   

Black Friday special–FREE art!

I know I was just one of hundreds of artists all over who participated in spreading art and beauty today. I can only hope that the people who found free art, enjoy the art as much as we/I enjoyed putting art out to be found. Next year I’ll be more prepared. I’m already looking forward to doing it again and hopefully, I can get some of my friends to join me. But since it was so much fun, you never know, possibly a random piece of art will be randomly dropped on a random day and you may randomly find it–

We all have gifts to give and we don’t have to wait for a specific day or be organized to do it. Let’s be random and spread joy, love and beauty spontaneously. It’s fun 😄!

 

H Is For Hawk–Coopers I Think (and an update on another bird)

This is the second go around with this bird–the first one was a total flop.  I wouldn’t have even attempted a second except I wanted to tell you a little story about this little hawk. Last year about this time when the hawks were migrating back, I looked out the window to see this little guy sitting bolt upright on the shepherd’s hook we have out on the back patio that says “Welcome Friends”. Hanging on the hook of course is a bird feeder with black sunflower seeds in it.  The irony was not lost on me and I was fortunate that he stayed long enough for me to get a picture.

Welcome Friends
Welcome Friends

Soon after taking this picture he flew to the ground, wandering around, looking under our hydrangea bush and around the tree trunk. At the time there was nothing there but it wasn’t long until an unsuspecting mixed flock of birds came swooping in and began pecking around on the other side of the bush–they were totally unaware of his presence.  I didn’t have to wait long to witness the violent quickness of these stealthy birds.  All of a sudden all the birds flushed and the hawk was in hot pursuit of a bird.  They were flying directly at me standing in the kitchen window, the smaller bird (I don’t know what kind, it happened so fast), crashed into the window as the hawk grabbed it in its talons and used the window like a spring-board to switch directions and accelerate out of there, taking the now lifeless little prize with it to the top of the pine tree in our backyard.

Although I felt horrible for the little bird I felt honored and amazed to see the hawk in action so closely–very closely.  It hung around a few more days than disappeared.

I am not an expert at all on hawks–I’m quite sure this is a Coopers because it seemed to large to be a Sharp-shinned hark, which looks almost exactly like it.

Since I’m wrapping up my alphabet bird project I thought I’d show you the finished Belted Kingfisher as well.  I know I posted it one time but it was not finished.  I just got back to it today.  Not only did I bring more dimension to the bird I decided to really brighten up the background for a better contrast.  It makes me happy now.

Finished painting of a female Belted Kingfisher
Finished painting of a female Belted Kingfisher

Now it’s time to go get ready for the artist reception for the 2015 Clark County Open Studio Tour.  The reception will be a wonderful opportunity to see they style of art each artist creates–it is at the North Bank Gallery in Vancouver from 5-9 p.m.  Next weekend will be an opportunity to tour 50 artists from Clark County.  If you live in the area come visit me.  Here’s the link for more information: http://ccopenstudios.org

U and X Birds–You’ll Have To Read The Blog To Find Out Who Is Who

Look what I did today!!! There will one more to post tomorrow–it’s ALMOST finished–and the alphabet will be done.

Both the birds I painted today were challenging letters.  I decided to go with a domesticated (at least in the US) bird for my U–the Umbrella Cockatoo.

U is for Umbrella Cockatoo
U is for Umbrella Cockatoo

It’s always a challenge to paint a bird that is one solid color–white in particular.  I must say, I kinda like the way it turned out.

For the letter X, I was going to do something creative like paint a bird dropping and write something like X marks the spot where a bird was–but that was a cop out.  Instead I went the scientific name approach.  Here you have the Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus, better known as the Yellow-Headed Blackbird.

I know only a little about these birds.  Although I do see them at the Ridgefield Wildlife refuge along with the Red-Winged Blackbird, they are not nearly as prolific, especially along the side of the road.  One thing I do know about them, they don’t have a pretty singing voice.  In fact, it’s rather harsh and annoying.  Like the Red-Winged Blackbird they nest in freshwater marshes, forage for food in farm fields and open country and hang out with other blackbirds in the fall and winter.

X is for Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus--Yellow-Headed Blackbird.
X is for Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus–Yellow-Headed Blackbird.

M Is For Mr. Mallard

Today’s quick paint project.  I took the picture of this cute little guy sitting on a log next to his mate this past winter.  They were just waking up for the morning and he kept stretching and preening as she swam away.  I knew I wanted to paint him when I saw him.

Tomorrow I plan to start including Orin (The Bird-Watcher) in my post.  He will give some fun facts about each of the birds I’m painting.  By the way, these quick little paintings will be for sale at the Clark County Open Studio Tour, November 14 & 15.  I will paint a bird for each letter of the alphabet (the X is a surprise installation).

Enjoy Mr. Mallard.

Morning stretch
Morning stretch

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy, Jig

What a fun trip to Orcas Island.  Kara is going to report on the trip further in her quarterly newsletter she is working on, but I wanted to tell you about a highlight of my trip.  As a new bird watcher I’m always excited to see birds that aren’t usually found where I live.  On Sunday morning, just as we were getting packed to leave, I noticed a Golden Eagle flying over the pasture below.  During breakfast Kara talked to the owner of the B&B about it.  Susan, the owner, was concerned that they’d lost a sheep.  She quickly ran to the window to look out but of course the sheep were nowhere in sight.

Then she proceeded to tell us a story that happened last summer.  They lost their favorite ewe.  Sadly, she’d tipped over on her back and could not get righted in time and suffocated.  Instead of burying her, Bill, Susan’s husband, laid it on the woodpile, which made for quite a show.  First the Bald Eagles came, then the Golden’s, then the Ravens and Vultures and crows.  It was picked apart in a few short hours.  As gruesome as that sounds, what a blessing it is to have scavenger birds that help keep the smell of decay down.  Not only do they provide a service, they are given life by the death of another.

The story was intriguing and prophetic to a degree.  We finished breakfast–I should say Kara did–packed the remainder of our belongings and headed out to catch the ferry for the first leg of our long drive home.  Coming around a bend about 1/4 mile from the B&B we saw the rustling of wings on the ground, big wings, all desperate to escape the oncoming car.  When the feathers had settled there was one brave bird left–the Golden Eagle I’d spotted earlier in the morning.  Undisturbed by us he meandered into the ditch for breakfast.

Golden Eagle watching over its breakfast.
Golden Eagle watching over its breakfast.

The remaining birds swirled around above us, eventually landing in a tree to the right.  There was a pair of Bald Eagles.  I didn’t get a real clear shot because I had to take it through my windshield, but here you can see one of them in the tree while a vulture flies by.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Here are two of the hungry vultures that landed for a brief time–ultimately I believe there were five of them.  Having nothing to occupy their beaks they grew restless and took off until after I left.  Again, taken through my front windshield so not real clear.

Vultures, impatient for breakfast.
Vultures, patiently waiting for breakfast.

We were able to sit there for about five minutes watching and listening.  While the Golden Eagle was busying itself eating furry chunks of venison, the Bald Eagles were sitting up in the tree throwing their heads back and chirping loudly with their beaks wide open.  The vultures continued to ride the wind currents above us as the crows cawed from a distance.  The scavenging birds weren’t going to go hungry that morning, at least on this section of the island.

Gulping breakfast down, fir and all.
Gulping breakfast down, fir and all.

What a way to start the day, a feast for our senses as well.  Certainly not your every day sighting.

We made it onto the ferry and as promised, I got my picture taken, twice.  The first is me, sitting on a life-preserver and the second picture I look to be hula dancing, and so I was, with the islands as my background.  It was a little chilly out but before we went inside and the ferry departed, Kara was able to take a shot of the local dock birds.  The lowly seagull, another scavenger bird.  They are enjoying relaxing still–maybe they’d already had their breakfast of scraps.

Feeling safe on a life preserver.
Feeling safe on a life-preserver.
Hoola dancing--
Hula dancing–
Seagulls chillin' out.
Seagulls chillin’ out.

Landing in Anacordes we saw the last of the sea birds for the day.  After that is was just drive, drive, drive–oh, we also stopped at a gallery where Kara is going to begin displaying art, but there I go, telling her story.

Cormorants just sitting around.
Cormorants that have found their niches.

We arrived home early evening, unpacked the car and went outside to visit with our family members we’d missed while gone.  After resting up and catching up with things yesterday, I’m finally getting around to writing this blog.  I can’t wait for the next bird adventure.  Who knows, maybe it will be tomorrow.  We are heading to Silver Falls, OR to meet up with fellow artists and hopefully, I’ll get to see a bird or two, or three . . . and possibly get some good pictures as well.  Have a wonderful evening.  Don’t forget to watch for birds!