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 . . .

It May Not Be Big But It’s Mine

Moving into a studio away from home has been a major decision and commitment on many levels.  Now that the decision is made and the work and preparation for Open Studio Tours has been done I’m beginning to feel like I can start to relax and enjoy the painting process.  I look forward with anticipation and can’t wait to see what will be created in this little space–I have a ton of ideas.

For those of you who were unable to come on the CC Studio Tour this weekend, here’s a glimpse of my studio.

studio from front door
Walking in the front door–my new giclee print of “Searching For Hidden Treasures”on gallery wrap canvas is sitting on the bottom shelf.  Cards and some plein air pieces are also displayed.
My New Rug
To the right in the entry–a friend from the gym, after walking through the studio, came back with a beautiful hand-woven rug she had made out of Pendleton wool mill ends as a studio warming gift. Thank you so much Debbie–I love it!!
studio looking out
Looking back from my work area.
Studio work spaces
Lots of working surfaces–yippee!! I had hoped to be painting but alas, there was a steady stream of visitors so I didn’t get anything even started.
A Bright Spot In The Storm
As promised, a full view of this newest painting–30″x40″ oil on canvas–“A Bright Spot In The Storm” (This is taken with a cell phone, not perfect for sure!)
Alphabet Birds all lined up
The Alphabet Birds–in memory of the last trip I ever too with my grandparents–when I was moving them from Idaho to Washington State. We played the game over and over again. (I couldn’t get the center ones without reflection.)

All the art is for sale, if you are interested in any of the pieces please contact me.  Thanks for going on the tour 😉

Have a great week!

Some Hungry Little Beach Birds

I’m finally getting back to my ocean painting–some little birds are putting it in perspective.  The great unveiling will take place this weekend during the Clark County Open Studio Tour.  I hope you’re planning on coming if you can.  I can’t wait to show off my new studio/gallery–it is finally full of art and makes me feel more like a ‘real artist’.  😉

Detail of currently untitled painting. Only a few more of these little guys to go.
Detail of currently untitled painting. Only a few more of these little guys to go.

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.

F Is for Flicker

I got a couple of paintings worked on today.  I’m mostly happy with the flicker–Northern Flicker to be specific.

F is for Flicker_painted 10_31_15Currently the flickers are going crazy in our fruit trees.  This particular flicker was hanging out in the birch tree next to our kitchen window and seemed quite curious.

Pretty tired so there’s not much to say tonight–I did get a lot done in the studio today, shades on the window thanks to my husband (now I have more privacy) and paintings hung on one side of the studio–I also worked on a hawk painting but I’m not happy with it yet so will post it tomorrow after I make sure it’s proportional.

Chow for now.

I Is For Indigo Bunting and Q Is For Quail

I love Quails so I couldn’t pass up painting one–however, I did not think it through, they are not easy to paint quick.  Too much stuff going on on them.  However, I think I did pretty well minimizing all the “stuff” while still making them look pretty convincing–which is a big deal for me–minimizing that is.

Q is for California Quail
Q is for California Quail

When I lived in AZ many years ago, I loved visiting the valley during their nesting season.  After everyone would hatch, numerous little fluff ball babies would come leaping out of their prickly cactus nests (I didn’t like it when a Roadrunner would visit during their great exodus.).  Then, like a ribbon teasing a kitten, little legs moving so quickly they couldn’t be seen, they would run along behind their parents.

Quails eat mainly seeds, flowers and leaves but will also eat insects.  They require what is called protozoans to digest their food.  The little babies acquire the protozoans by pecking at adult feces–yum!  At times a clutch can have up to 28 eggs which usually means another female too lazy to build a nest and sit on the eggs has “dumped” eggs in another nest, leaving the other parent to raise their young.  The oldest recorded quail was 6 years 11 months old.  A couple more little facts before moving on to the bunting, their topknot is actually 6 feathers that overlap each other and for those music lovers, the male and female California Quail call antiphonally, meaning that they alternate calls, fitting them into a tightly orchestrated pattern.

I is for Indigo Bunting
I is for Indigo Bunting

I is for Indigo Bunting–another difficult blue to come up with–especially yesterday and today.  Maybe if I’d had a cerulean blue it would have been less frustrating. (In our area we have Lazuli Buntings)  The male of course gets to sport the beautiful blue during the breeding season and turns brown for the winter.  The female wears brown feathers year-round.

These migratory, smallish, songbirds live in the South and from the Midwest down to Florida.  They often migrate at night using the stars to navigate.  They live in brushy, woodland and farmland areas, eat what sparrows eat and often raise two broods of 1-4 babies.

Off subject here–I am only 4 away from completing the alphabet.  It looks like I’ll have them ready for the Clark County Open Studio Tour November 14 & 15.  Here is a link if you are interested in knowing about it, http://ccopenstudios.org  If you are in the area, come by and see them as well as other works I’ve been doing.  Although this has been a fun project I’m ready to move on to some not so quick paintings–something with more detail–my comfort zone.

L Is For Loon and J Is For Junco

It’s a two bird day again–a third is mostly done.  The Loon–another bird I don’t have direct contact with unless during migration they wander through and I happen to be by the lake they land on.  These stealthy fishermen breed and raise their young in the Northern States and Canada–which explains why I never see them.

L is for Loon--Common Loon and baby
L is for Loon–Common Loon and baby

They are commonly known for their eerie call echoing across lakes–my first real recollection of hearing them was when the movie On Golden Pond came out.

The bird in this painting is in its summer attire.  In the winter their lovely spots below their neck are replaced with white feathers, while above the neck they are plain grey.

As you can see, their babies enjoy riding on their parents backs–although I’m sure it’s not because they are showing any sign of affection toward their little ones, but it sure looks cute.

The other bird I painted today is a very common sight at our home, especially come fall when all their young are raised.  It is the Oregon Junco–most commonly referred to as just a plain Junco, that’s why I had no problem using it for my J.

Junco are one of the main birds we see flitting around on the ground under our bird feeders in the winter.  When they fluff up in the winter they look like a round little ball hopping around foraging for seed.

J is for Junco--Oregon Junco
J is for Junco–Oregon Junco

They hang out with other birds like Black Capped Chickadees, Pine Siskens, Gold Finches and Nuthatches.  They eat seeds from the ground or close to the ground for the most part.  When we had our deck they loved hopping along the railing picking seed up.

This bird is a male, the females have a more slate colored head.  The Oregon Junco also has the pinkesh colored feathers on their side.  The other Juncos we see in our area is the Slate-Colored Junco and Dark-Eyed Juncos.  One thing I discovered today was that Juncos are a part of the sparrow family.  I never knew that.

Tomorrow I will have an Indigo Bunting done–another bird I’ve never seen that I am aware of, but it starts with an I and it’s a beautiful blue and it’s from the East, I must paint birds for my friends in the East as well.

Until tomorrow–have a lovely evening.

O Is For Oriole–Baltimore

I had a lot of company today, some expected and some not, so I’m talked out ;-).  Some days when you read my blog and I’m long-winded it’s pretty much because I have spent the whole day or possibly two days mostly by myself.  Not the case today–so here is my offering–the brightly colored Baltimore Oriole.  I just think these are beautiful birds and didn’t want to miss an opportunity to paint one.  The Oriole we see around here is a Bullock’s Oriole but I decided to break yet another of one of my rules and go rogue–paint a bird outside of my territory.  They’re only MY rules anyway–besides, some of my friends from the East Coast may want to purchase a bird painting or two as well.O is for Oriole_Baltimore_painted Oct 23

Besides painting an Oriole, I started on the painting for tomorrow–here’s a sneak peek.  I’m sure it’s obvious what it is.  If not, you’ll just have to be surprised.

L is for Loon_started 10_23My friends who were here to see my studio and have lunch with me were interested in what these pieces look like in real life.  I decided that it would be good to share with all of you.  Here is the display I created for these little 5″x7″ pieces–thank you Ikea.  It’s a great way to let them dry and also it kinda dictates what bird I will do next or what color background.  I don’t want them all to be the same.

A-Z Display

Eventually, hopefully before Open Studio, I will have note cards made from these.  I’m trying to decide if I should sell them as individual cards or as a full alphabet.  Any input?  I won’t tell you which way I’m leaning until I get some feedback (IF I get feedback)–hypothetically, if you were buying these cards, would you rather have 2 of 4 different paintings packaged together (my choice), the option of buying them individually or packaged in an A-Z (one of each) format?  Or all of the above–All these decisions!!!

Z Is For Zonotrichia Atricapilla

AKA Golden Crowned Sparrow–As I’m winding down on my quick paint birds it’s becoming more difficult to find birds to go with some of the letters.  I was considering painting a Zebra Finch for the Z (which I don’t have a reference picture of) but upon checking the index of my trusty bird book to see what birds started with Z, I was delighted to find that the scientific name for a Golden Crowned Sparrow starts with a Z!  I had this cute little picture of a Golden Crowned Sparrow sitting in my hydrangea bush just outside my kitchen window from this last spring in the que and had hoped to be able to paint it.  We get a lot of these perky birds, along with White Crowned Sparrows.

Quick block in.
Quick block in.

Today I decided to show you my process again.  The first one is about 15 minutes in.  I got a phone call at the next phase I was going to photograph and completely forgot it so I’m jumping to the finished product.

Golden Crowned Sparrow
Golden Crowned Sparrow

This little guy took me right at 1 1/2 hours.  The angle of his beak drove me crazy–it was a matter of stepping away again and letting the paint setup so I could accomplish the curve and shadows.  However, don’t look too closely.

I don’t have much info besides their scientific name today–I thought that in itself was pretty impressive.  I had my granddaughter much of the day and now that it’s time to post my blog my brain seems dead.  It was definitely worth the time with her though. ;-).