R Is For Robin–American Robin That Is

How can we do a series of birds from A-Z and leave the Robin out?  Being the second most common bird in North America, a part of the Thrush family and State bird of Connecticut, Michigan and Wisconsin–it is obviously a favorite of many.  Lately our backyard has been a popular stopover for migrating birds.  They are actively keeping our worm population down and gorging themselves on fallen apples.

Male American Robin--a different view ;-)
Male American Robin–a different view 😉

As promised, Orin collected some interesting facts about Robins while I painted.

Robins like to be first–they are first to arrive in the Spring, first to build a nest, first to lay eggs and first to get up in the morning to sing and first to get the worm.  (Mind you, this is not exact science so don’t quote me on this.)  Robins are also intelligent enough to know a Cowbird egg from their own eggs and shove them from the nest. Maybe they can see color?

This is something that was interesting, they can live up to 13 years, however, only about 25% of all the birds that fledge actually survive their migration and some have the opinion that every 6 years there is a new population of robins.  You might say, it’s a good thing they lay 2-3 clutches of 3-5 eggs a year.  If you think about it, they’re kinda like the rabbits of the sky–reproducing a lot but with a short lifespan.

Well, enough about robins for now.  Don’t stay up too late, I know it’s Friday night but you don’t want to miss the robin singing in the morning.

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

Catching Up–Quick Paintings of Birds

Who knew that it’d be so hard to make time to do a quick paint project.  Yesterday turned into a no paint day but I did get the rest of my show hung at Lava Java and a couple of neglected friends visited.  You might say, I had a much-needed break.

Today, I did touch ups on my Eurasian Dove.  Here is the final result–

E_Eurasian Dove
E is for Eurasian Dove

Today I completed another painting and started a third.  As you can see, these are quick and thick with paint.  It’s taking a little bit for me to get real comfortable working like this with birds but I think I kinda like the results.  Here is my process.

Rough sketch--5 min.
Rough sketch–5 min.  I’m just trying to get a feel for values and proportions.  My ‘drawing’ stage.
A quick block in of color--another 10 minutes or so
A quick block in of color–another 10 minutes or so

So far each of these paintings have been done on 5″x7″ 1/4″ mdf boards painted with 2 coats of gesso.  For my ‘rough sketch’ I am using raw umber with a touch of ultramarine blue and cadmium red light mixed thin to tone the board.  Then I go in with thinner and carve in my bird.

The second step is to apply color.  I blocked that in next, without too much detail.  Again, I’m establishing my values and hue.  I don’t have a picture of the next step but you can basically see it in the final painting.  After blocking in my colors the paint is usually too thick and wet to work with so as it sets up I paint the background color around the bird.  This too is a little like carving because I take this opportunity to correct any proportions that may be off.  I decided to use bright backgrounds on these paintings just for fun.

We have a lot of Killdeer living in the soccer field behind our house.  Often you can hear them calling in the middle of the night.  I took a picture of this particular bird a couple of years ago.   I thought it was cute all fluffed up and shaking its feathers out.

I haven’t decided yet if Mr or Mrs Killdeer is finished.  I’m kinda liking the looseness of this painting–tomorrow will tell.  I’m not exactly sure how long this took, there were a few interruptions.  I would guess about 1 1/2 hours–maybe less.  I’m hoping to get to where I can do one of these in an hour or less.

K is for Killdeer
K is for Killdeer

The next painting in this series is a Cormorant.  I took the picture of this bird in Anacortes, WA this past spring.  I will probably do a full-blown painting of it, along with some of its buddies, but for the sake of this series I’m keeping it simple, loose and bright.  I’ll finish it tomorrow.  My challenge on this one is the size of the panel–it wanted to get too big so I had to really carve it out once I got the color blocked in.  I think the proportions are pretty good now.  The paint should be pretty set up in the morning–can’t wait to finish it.

The beginning of my Cormorant.
The beginning of my Cormorant.

Upcoming Events

My calendar has been so full lately I’ve not had a chance to update you all on what’s coming up–I will keep this short and sweet so it doesn’t get confusing and so I can check my blog post off my list and head to bed.  In anticipation of all the work ahead this is how I feel and probably how I look–

frazzled blue
Which way do I go, which way do I go?

Upcoming Events For Kara Krieger-McGhee Art

  • October 2–30   Show hanging at Lava Java, 2 S 56th Pl, Unit 102, Ridgefield, WA
  • October 3          Art Collaborative project for Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge Anniversary and Grand Opening of the newly remodeled Carty Unit unveiled–10-11 a.m. I believe.
  • October 3          Plein air painting at the wildlife refuge, Carty Unit–1-4 p.m.
  • October 4          Beginning a month long painting challenge–a small bird portrait a day–trying different techniques, posting daily.  Also, I will be spending the month painting and preparing for Clark County Open Studio Tour.
  • October 11        Opening of the National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society Best of America ShowLook! Flying Jewels!, Is honored to be a part of that show.
  • November 6      Artist Reception for 3rd Annual Clark County Open Studio Tour, 5-9 p.m., North Bank Artist Gallery
  • Nov. 14, 15        Studio will be open for CC Open Studio Tour–my new studio address is 711 NE 1st St, #105, Battle Ground, WA.
  • December 4       Battle Ground First Friday–studio open
  • December 5       Special studio event–this will be a surprise and more announced in the future

That should do it for now.  I’m really excited about starting those small, daily portraits.  I think they will be fun to share and I’m looking for feedback on what people like or don’t like.  Until next time–good night!

A Worthy Project For The Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

The name of my blog is kinda a dead giveaway–I love birds and love painting birds.  Much of the reason I love birds is due to my youth.  One place we would frequent was the wildlife refuges in Ridgefield, WA, in particular the Carty Unit–which is an all walking refuge.  Back in the day we’d just run across the railroad tracks to get there, then they built a bridge over the tracks (much safer but VERY steep and slick in the winter), recently, for the 50 year anniversary of its conception, they have made even more improvements.  Back to my youth–many happy hours were spent climbing the huge oak trees, running through the tall grass and playing hide and seek, checking out birds nests, ant hills, and eating blackberries–playing!  As I got older I took my children down there to enjoy it.  Now my children are taking their children.  Refuges are an important part of keeping the balance between wild-life and human-life.  They are truly a place of refuge for us all.Continue reading “A Worthy Project For The Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge”

My Heart Skipped A Beat–I Feel So Honored!

Yesterday my heart skipped a beat when I opened my email and saw the subject matter “Best of America 2015 Jury Result”.  I thought to myself as I read the first paragraph–“Another rejection letter where they pump you up with the ‘exceptionally difficult decision’ they had to make . . .”  This is what it said–Continue reading “My Heart Skipped A Beat–I Feel So Honored!”

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!

A Much Needed Update on The Birdwatcher

It’s time to break the long silence–this will be short because a newsletter will be sent out by Kara, the artist, very soon and a copy of it will be posted here.  However, I am too excited to make an announcement, I just can’t contain myself, so I’m going to spill the beans before the newsletter comes out.  “Look!  Flying Jewels!,”  the 3rd painting in The Bird Watcher series, of which I am the star–or possibly I’m just a supporting character in the painting–has been chosen to participate in two shows.  Last week Kara told me that she had received notification from the National Oil and Acrylic Painters’ Society (NOAPS), that it was one of 150 paintings chosen to participate in their Spring On-line Show.    The show is currently up on their website:  http://www.noaps.org.

Information about the show--spread the word.
Information about the show–spread the word.

 

The other show I, I mean, the hummingbirds, are featured in is in the 1st Annual All Things Birds and Beautiful Show and Sale on Orcas Island.  I’m particularly exited about this show because all sales commissions go to helping bird habitat in the San Juans, particularly Orcas Island.  Kara and I will be heading up to the show opening VERY early on Thursday so we can catch the ferry by 10:45 a.m..  You can find all the details about the show as well as see all the beautiful art that is included in the show/sale at www.allthingsbirdsandbeautiful.org.  This should be a great opportunity to meet fellow wildlife and bird artists as well as wildlife/bird art collectors.  We, Kara and I, will also be doing some en plein air painting and photography while there.  Watch for pictures to follow. 😉

More to come from the artist, very soon!

Upcoming Shows–I’m Excited for the Future!

What a wonderful studio weekend, but I’m tired!  It hit me today.  However, I didn’t want to let another day go by without giving you an update.

I had about 40 people come through, several were new to my studio.  Besides having some sales I made wonderful contacts and more opportunity for my art to be displayed elsewhere.  I’m very excited about an opportunity to have a solo show at a gallery in Vancouver, WA (I’ll name the gallery when we’ve solidified details–thank you George and Nancy for the introduction).  The show will be in 2016 and hopefully, coinciding with the Duck’s Unlimited fund-raiser dinner the gallery owner is involved with.  A perfect match for my art.  Also, I received an invitation to apply for a couple of group shows in Gresham, OR (thanks Jill for passing my name along).

Not related to my studio tour, yesterday I received an email congratulating me on my piece “Look! Flying Jewels!,” (the 3rd painting in The Bird-Watcher series) being one of 58 pieces accepted into the All Things Birds and Beautiful Art Show and Sale on Orcas Island.  The show runs April 22-May 16, with the opening reception held April 27, at the Orcas Island Historical Museum in Eastsound, WA.

Look!  Flying Jewels!  36" x 24", oil on canvas. Accepted into All Thing Birds and Beautiful Art Sale and Show, on Orcas Island.
Look! Flying Jewels! 36″ x 24″, oil on canvas. Accepted into All Thing Birds and Beautiful Art Sale and Show, on Orcas Island.

This is the first annual show and sale and will benefit the arts and sciences of birds and their conservation.  I am particularly excited about this show because it benefits the very creatures I love to paint, birds.  My goal with my art is to awaken an interest in birds, their beauty and their habitats.  It’s a perfect fit and it’d be lovely if it sold and I was able to help benefit the avian world monetarily as well.

Also, Orcas Island holds a special place in my heart–it’s where my husband and I spent a week for our honeymoon 21 years ago and we haven’t been there since our kids were teenagers–a long time.  I’m looking forward to the trip.

Well, that’s all I have for now.  I think I may be ready to take a nap after all this writing.  Good night!

P.S.  I know you haven’t heard much about my store lately–I’ve been busy getting ready for competitions and my studio tour.  Hopefully it will be up and running in the next couple of weeks.  Keep watching–thanks!

Open Studio This Weekend–Welcome To My Studio–A Virtual Tour

Most of you who read this blog do not live nearby and can’t stop in and visit, so I’m bringing you a narrative, day in the life of, studio tour to you.

It is a beautiful day here in the Pacific NW.  I started my day doing my Doodling Devotional (which I post every morning at DoodlingDevotional@wordpress.com–shameless plug, I hate it when people do that!).  Then off to Lewisville Park with my dog, Bekkah, who meet a new golden retriever friend.  They romped around while I visited with the dog’s “parents.”  I love walking at Lewisville Park.  It’s a little like over the hill and through the dale, to grandmother’s house we go.  We start out walking a mile through the woods, which in the spring looks different every day.  It was as if the woods exploded into every shape, shade and texture of green, with a pop of pink salmon berry flowers here and there as well as a clump of Trilliums dotting the ground.  Then we’re down the hill and walking another 1 1/2 miles along the currently, rushing Lewis River.  It’s a feast for the senses–especially if you’re a dog.

Let’s get back home….studio tour days are unpredictable so I eat a couple fried eggs and a piece of toast, this had better hold me for a while.  Indeed it was a good idea because my next meal didn’t come until 3:45.  (We will have to be more prepared with snacks the next couple of days.)  The day started slow.  I had time to answer a few emails and catch up on things that I needed to do.  Around 11:30 everything changed.   My first group was ladies from the coffee shop (thanks for bringing them Linda–you know who you are), and it never ended till 5.  I had a blast seeing friends who drove an hour to get here and coworkers from a past life, as well as new friends from my gym.  It never ceases to amaze me that people would take time out of their day to come see what I do and to take such an interest in it.  I am most blessed!!!  Thank you everyone–wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.  You haven’t seen the tour yet.  The entry to my studio as you come into my driveway, and of course, the door going in.  (Don’t you love the welcoming, hand-written sign, oh, if you’re tall, duck your head coming in so you don’t hit the canopy.)

Welcome to Kara's studio.  I put a canopy here hoping people will realize they need to come here instead of my front door.
Welcome to Kara’s studio. I put a canopy here hoping people will realize they need to come here instead of my front door.
Please come in.
Please come in.

Several waves of friends and acquaintances flowed through today.  I have been pleased to see the interest people have taken in my plein air pieces.  It’s definitely time to paint more as several have found new homes. As you come into my garage/gallery/studio, this is the first thing you see.  Two of these pieces have found new homes.

First impressions--Bekkah, my dog taking a nap when she was a puppy and a few framed plein air pieces.
First impressions–Bekkah, my dog taking a nap when she was a puppy and a few framed plein air pieces.

I have painted several new bird paintings this year already and it has been fun to get a vote on the two that I should enter into an international show I’m hoping to be chosen to participate in.  This is my new last year “gallery” space.

So far the vote has been the "Territorial Dispute," the large painting and the American Bittern piece which is still under construction/wet.
So far the vote for the paintings to enter has been “Territorial Dispute,” the large painting and the American Bittern piece which is still under construction/wet.
"Evening Preen" is also a piece in the running for me to enter.  I'm interested in what everyone out there in computer land thinks.
“Evening Preen” is also a piece in the running for me to enter. I’m interested in what everyone out there in computer land thinks.

So far I’ve been standing in one place to take the last two pictures.  If you spin around to the right you will see that I’m set up to get some painting done–possibly tomorrow.  We’ll see if anyone comes.

Maybe I'll paint!
Maybe I’ll paint!

Now, let’s go into the inner sanctum–where that easel is usually set up–my studio.  It’s usually warm and cozy, music is playing (Hey, that’s what I forgot to do, turn on the music!) and the instant I come in I feel inspired.  To the right as you come in the door are two pieces I painted in a couple of workshops with William Cochran.  Teacher and artist extraordinaire!  This is where I learned about values and color and working with a VERY small pallet–the result, vibrant, harmonious paintings.  Thank you William.

Top painting done in black, white and sienna I believe. Lower painting was painting with primary colors plus black and white.
Top painting done in black, white and sienna I believe. Lower painting was painting with primary colors plus black and white.

Take two steps further and on the right is my desk where I am currently sitting and typing.  (I’m invisible and chairless–spell check says this isn’t a word–in this view.)

Above my desk is my wall of inspiration.  Lots of stories there.
Above my desk is my wall of inspiration. Lots of stories there.  Bekkah’s bed and my pretty tin garbage can that I LOVE!!  It was my mother-in-laws.  A real antique.  Oh, the desk and file cabinet were hers as well, just remembered.

Now, I’m sure you’re tired.  Have a seat in the chairs that used to be in the reception area where my husband works.  I did a little upgrading.  Behind them are my “barn door” display walls.  You don’t want to know what is behind them–actually, it’s blank canvases and supplies.  These are a few plein air pieces.  It’s a great way for me to have a place to set small wet paintings and enjoy them even after they dry.  Sorry about the glare.

Take a load off and visit.
Take a load off and visit.

While you’re sitting you can look at the other wall.  Here you will find a collection of reproductions of my first three in the Bird-Watcher series–what inspired the concept behind this blog.

A few things to look at while you relax.
A few things to look at while you relax.  If you’ll notice, under the drafting table is the prop I used for the hummingbird painting.  It was sitting up on the shelf where the poppies reside and I stood on a step stool to paint that painting so I could maintain the perspective. I had a light rigged behind the window to shine through onto the still life.

A little more to your left, more things to look at.  Two older pieces.

A couple of older paintings. The nest, "Waiting to Crack," is in acrylic, and the Beware painting is mostly done with my faux finish plasters, spray paint and chalk. The bird area I masked off so it would be smooth. This piece is called, "What City Birds Hate, Scary Graffiti."
A couple of older paintings. The nest, “Waiting to Crack,” is in acrylic, and the Beware painting is mostly done with my faux finish plasters, spray paint and chalk. The bird area I masked off so it would be smooth. This piece is called, “What City Birds Hate, Scary Graffiti.”

The tour is now coming to an end.  I am getting hungry again and should go eat and crash.  Thank you for taking the time to walk through my day with me.  I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  And, if you happen to be in the neighborhood, stop by.  I’m here tomorrow and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.