This was a quick study from a photo I took while exploring the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge. I wanted to get the brush wet and spend an just an hour playing with the paint. It felt good and discovered what I need to do and not do if I decide to go larger with the painting.
I have always had an affection for dinosaurs and even considered a career as a scientific illustrator of dinosaur bones. While at university in Utah, I spent some time cleaning and caring for dinosaur bones as I pursued my degree in Zoology. Upon graduation, I continued to work with dinosaur bones and taught biology classes at the Natural History Museum of Utah. It was at the museum that I worked with the Utah State paleontologist and discovered that the illustration of dinosaur bones was not for me. Too much math was involved and a move to Boston diverted me from the pursuit. However, I still enjoyed dinosaurs (and still do) and painted a few for fun. In 2003, I was approached by Cogstone Resource Management, a California based company, and asked to create an illustration for their Christmas card. Cogstone is a paleontology company that specializes in the removal of dinosaur bones from construction sites. I, of course, was excited by the idea of painting more dinosaurs. After some sketches, the idea for an illustration of a stegosaurus with poinsettias was conceived. Passion for Poinsettias is the finished illustration.
Maddie and Cameron is another portrait commission I completed in the spring of this little girl holding her newborn baby brother in her arms. I hope it is a moment that I can help her remember and cherish forever.
I finally got around to creating a time-lapse video of the painting process. You can view the video below.
This summer, I was commissioned by some family members to paint a portrait of my Great Aunt Lois, who is my mother's aunt and my grandmother's sister. It was her children that commissioned me to paint the portrait. The portrait was to be done from a black and white photograph of her at the age of 18.
My great aunt is now 93 years old and is still very active. She spends half the year on cruises, sightseeing the world. I was honored that her children asked me to paint a portrait of their mother and of one of my favorite aunts. Of course I wanted to change the photograph by adding color to it. I did want the painting the fade out into a gray, as if the painting were a memory coming to life. I also painted it on handmade paper to help give it a vintage look. I didn't know the color of the dress and was pleased to discover that it was the color I painted it.
I was excited to discover that I would be able to present the painting to her at the family reunion where she proceeded to tell the story behind the photograph.
Lois explained that the photograph was taken just after she had graduated high school from a small town in Southeastern Idaho. This was when many of her friends had enlisted in the navy and had been shipped off to Europe or Japan to fight in the war (WWII). Lois wanted to cheer them up and to remind them of her so she got all dressed up and wore a special bracelet with an anchor on it (unfortunately I did not know this nor was I told about this) just for the photograph. Lois mentioned that she sent the photograph to these boyfriends hoping they would remember her and write her back. She did get one reply back from a farm boy she liked very much. The reply was that the photo reminded him of home and he could smell the country air and the manure when he saw it. Lois said that she never wrote that boy again.
Recently I have been feeling like I have hit a reset button and am starting all over with my career and my life. It feels a little scary and frustrating at times but also liberating when I realize that I can now experiment all I want. One thing I have been experimenting with is size. I definitely want to go bigger, which is something I did discover a few years ago, but format and composition are something I continue to work with. It can be experimented with much easier on a smaller scale. Since my time in this area is limited, as is my space, I am sticking with the smaller studies. Another thing I am experimenting with is technique and how to paint snow. Since I lived for many years in an area that didn't get much snow as well as the fact that I use to hate snow, I don't have many photo references to work from. I now live in a cold and sometimes snowy area and need to come to terms with it and make friends with cold and snow. For this painting I did a lot of experimentation to get the look of frost and snow. I didn't want to use masking fluid because it can leave behind hard lines. I wanted a softer look to the painting and had to be creative with what I used to keep that look. I also worked in wet-in-wet almost the whole time, starting with wetting the whole paper and keeping it moist as I painted. I use salt quite often and continued to use it here. A medicine dropper was used to add big water drops, a spray bottle to add little drops, and bleach. Yes, bleach. I had heard it can be used so I tried it. I was hoping it would create a big water drop look and also lighten some areas that got too dark for me. It didn't create quite the effect I had hoped it would but at least I gave it a shot.
I am currently writing this from Moses Lake, Washington. I have this wonderful opportunity to be able to explore and paint the Columbia Wildlife Refuge and surrounding areas, which is just outside of Moses Lake. The sunsets here are stunning and adds color to an otherwise bleak landscape. By the looks of it, you would never know that there is so much wildlife in the area. It is mostly miles and miles of sagebrush. However, there are also thousands of birds and apparently there is a Sandhill Crane festival in the spring. Something to look forward to.
I use to paint on a daily basis and got out of the habit recently with all the changes that have been happening and with my focus being on my online course. To warm up my painting muscles, I decided to do a quick study of one of the area's stunning sunsets. While watching and photographing the sky, I noticed a few mule deer sneaking past me and got some in the shot. Couldn't resist adding her to the painting.
If you sign up for my newsletter or saw my promo video for the free course, then you know that I moved to Northeast Washington this past June, just north of Spokane near the Canadian border. My fiancé and I are building a home and studio on a lake. It is a beautiful area with so many painting possibilities.
Sunrise over the lake is different each and every day and I love watching it every morning. I did this painting a few months ago but failed to post it until now. Morning Illumination is the view from the front room of the house, which is also where my temporary studio is located while we build the actual studio. My studio will still be located with a view of the lake, just beside the house.
I've created another online watercolor course. In this course, I show how to combine loose and tight watercolor techniques to create the above painting. This course was created with step-by-step videos and instruction where you can do it in the comfort of your own home and even in your pajamas. You can log into it any time you want and you can stop, pause, and rewind the video as much as is necessary. There is over 3 hours of instruction and for only $39 USD.