Sunday, February 07, 2016

A New Year, A New Beginning

It's February in Central Pennsylvania, but warm and sunny today. Our Bluebirds stay year round here, so I keep a meal worm feeder up to entice them to visit, despite the on-going construction across the street. The last building of the Paradise at Glen Hills is being completed, much to our joy. We will be delighted when the last unit is sold, already the first 3 have sold and two are already occupied! Once it's all completed, we will have paved roads, no mud, real grass, and quiet!!!

Meanwhile, the birds do come visiting during the non-construction hours. Mostly there are House Finches or Purple Finches, it's hard to tell, plus English Sparrows, of course. And the wonderful Bluebirds. We do see and hear other birds nearby - woodpeckers, hawks, an Eagle, Titmice, Juncos, and more. But most are too timid to venture up close to the building site.

Blue Tit - Private Collection

Meanwhile, I have returned to my bird paintings. Eight have been completed, two are now in permanent collections, and six are now on exhibit at the State College Framing Company and Gallery, in the Hills Plaza, State College, PA. Three more are on my easel, and dozens more are in my head. I may get bored doing them all in a 12" x 12" format, but for now, they are great fun.

Snow is due tomorrow - but hardly enough to matter. As a Minnesota native, this winter had been a great disappointment in the snow department. But there's still time!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

"The September of My Years..."

"And the days dwindle on, a precious few, September...November." September already... of 2015.

When we are young, we don't much think about getting old! When we are old, thoughts of being "old" pretty much take over our lives on one level, at least. Physically, I FEEL old, at least some of the time. Getting out of bed, or up from a chair after reading for a few hours... Yet it's the rest of the time that is really important. So it seem to me. And time really flies by!

I've not been writing, obviously. But I have been living, changing, growing, becoming an old crone, I suppose. I no longer promise that I'll write more blog posts, although I might wish to do so. I enjoy ruminating and writing my ruminations. I enjoy the feedback, too. Yet I haven't made writing a priority in my life for quite some time. I wonder why...

One reason may be hidden in the recesses of my memory. I happened upon a box of old journals. I kept personal journals for 20 years or so. It was important for me to write nearly every morning - my thoughts, feelings, accomplishments, failures, doubts, etc. Yet when I paused in our packing last year to read one or two of those old journals, I realized how self-centered I have been. My writings are all egocentric. An embarrassment to me since I always perceived my writing to be part of a spiritual exercise. But my writings were all about me, about how I questioned, doubted, feared, etc. just about everything in my life. Not much spirituality of a healthy sort in that.

So I began blogging back in 2005, partly to change my writing focus. If I were to reread all my old posts, perhaps I would find that I'm still terribly self-centered! In fact, I'm sure that's what I would find since my blog seems to have become my brag-sheet. I've shared my family, my quilting, my art, my life. Then again, it would hardly be wise to share other people's stories, lives, etc.

Frank and I were chatting this morning that we only have our own perspectives from which to view the world. We used to talk about objective reality - and decided long ago that only God, should there be a God, would have the benefit of objective reality. It seems we humans cannot separate our history from our present understanding of reality. Everything is colored by personal experience and, perhaps, shared experiences of others.

So here I am, writing my thoughts, as per usual. I will continue to share my art, thoughts, ideas, love of nature and more. But I won't promise much of anything other than I will write when Spirit moves me to write.

Meanwhile, enjoy the blogs of others. Enjoy your own story. Find the delight in this day - for surely there is at least one spot of joy in every day for every one. Provided we allow our attention to focus on it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Bird Portraits - continued

Sorry for the tardy follow-up to the bird portrait series. We've had a few major changes in our life, including the departure of our granddaughter and twin-great-grandaughters followed by our move to a new home. I'll write about that another time.

So here are the bird portraits insofar as they have progressed. I have some finishing details to add to a couple of them and more work to do on a few. But it's time to reveal the work and get some feedback.

All the portraits are on 12" x 12" stretched canvases and painted with artist quality acrylic paints.

Let me know what you think! Suggestions welcome.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Next Step in Bird Portrait Painting

Here's the drawing table, supplies, set-up as I prepared to use the photos & tiny sketches in putting the images on the square canvases.

Because I haven't painted in acrylics on canvas in SO long (except for "Birds on a Wire" in 2013), I've chosen to work on "bargain" canvas. These are available at Michael's - see here; and at JoAnn Fabrics see here:. Each store offers coupons for 40-50% off every other week or so - which I save & use for the pricey purchases I need. Normally, these are sold in packages of 7 for $25.00 or so. They frequently offer them at $19.99 for the sets of 7 12" square canvases. Or you can use their coupons & get a really GREAT price!

Below are 11 of the 14 canvases ready for painting.

Blue Jay in vine charcoal
Above, you can see the really quick layout done in vine charcoal. I gently wipe the charcoal off and then do the pencil study directly over the hinted layout on the canvas, correcting proportions as I go. See below.
Blue Jan in pencil

Blue Tit


Carolina Wren - 1

Carolina Wren - 2 These wrens are quite petite and this drawing makes the bird seem HUGE. However, I wanted it up-close-and-personal, and it is!

European Robin

European Robin upside-down - this view helps me recognize any problems in proportions, etc.

Fairy Wren (Australia)

Yellow-shafted Flicker

Pine Warbler - one hit our window this summer, so I learned what it was after some research! Warblers are really hard to spot in the wild...


Rose-breasted Woodpecker

White-throated Sparrow

Acrylic Paints readied on the table

I have 2 easles (thank you, Polly Miller, for the wooden one!)

Here's a view of my studio - from the doorway. It's in the basement so I need an oil-radiator style heater to warm up the room in the winter. The window faces NorthEast thus never gets direct sunlight. But natural light is available all day long, thankfully. I need lots of light, especially in winter!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pencil Studies for a Series of Bird Portraits

As of today, I have completed 29 small pencil drawings in preparation for painting a series of bird portraits. Each square is roughly 2 1/2" square - allowing for a quick study of each bird, noting shapes, values, angles, etc.

Most of the birds are quite common, at least in the places I have lived over the years.

Note: the common name for each bird is noted below the drawing. I've begun to plan the actual layouts on the stretched canvases and consider the type and color backgrounds for each as I go along.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tufted Titmouse

Today, I was able to catch another frequent visitor to our feeders, a Tufted Titmouse. While I couldn't really catch a super close-up, I was able to catch a full frontal view. They are frequent winter birds here, along with the Junco's.

Also managed to do a few more bird portrait drawings for my upcoming series - in between loads of laundry, cooking dinner, dealing with the chimney sweep, and watching the girls. Someday soon I'll start sharing the pencil studies.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Birds, Birds, BIRDS!

Downy Woodpecker (male)

I like to watch the birds, summer/winter/spring & fall. Winter bird watching is definitely one of my favorite winter pastimes. I keep a point-and-shoot camera in my pocket all the time with the fond hopes of catching a great photo-op. With the twins, photo ops happen all the time. With birds, photo ops are rare & treasured.


White-throated Sparrow

Here are a few of my recent photo ops of winter birds that make me happy to be alive, aware, and carrying my camera. These are taken from our kitchen windows.

Male Cardinal

Carolina Wren

Male Cardinal

Carolina Wren


Mourning Dove

Dark-eyed Junco

The one below is a recent acrylic painting of a group of Goldfinch on a wire. It measures 40" square and hangs above my bed.

I'm planning an entire series of bird portraits paintings in acrylics on 12" x 12" canvas as my 2014 art project of the year. Watch for more in the coming weeks/months.