Black-billed Magpies were abundant in the areas we visited in Montana and Wyoming last month. Never having seen one before, I was struck with their extremely long tails, the beautiful flashes of white shown in their wings when they fly, and the blue and green iridescence of their feathers.
If you are familiar with their relatives – crows and blue jays – you can imagine the raucous, sometimes piercing chatter of these curious birds.
A few months ago I was in a rut with my art, partly because of not finding enough quality time to create and partly because of feeling stuck with my progress. Around that time my friend Judy saw a story in the local paper about a weekly art group forming in our area – all skill levels welcome! Having no real formal art instruction other than a 6-week beginning watercolor course for me and lots of YouTube and other tutorials, we thought it would be fun to join. After learning the basics of line drawings, negative and positive spaces, composition, gridding, etc., we finally started on our first paintings.
This 12 x 15 painting is inspired from a photo I took in St. Maarten last year, and yes the sky was that dramatic and the water was really ribboned with those gorgeous colors. I am thankful that I was required to work in a size larger than I am used to, and I relished having a professional artist to suggest, critique, and guide me along the way. She is respectful of my style and listens to my thought processes, offering a variety of options and encouragement, as do the fellow students. I am hopeful to complete a new “big” painting every four weeks or so in class while continuing my usual practice at home as posted here and on Instagram. Now to select a subject for my next painting …
Visiting Yellowstone a few weeks ago was perfect timing for mating season (rut) for many of the animals, including the elk. Groups of females (cows) and their youngsters lounged throughout the visitor areas and were used to humans being close by, so it was exciting when we saw a bull guarding his harem of cows in the meadow one morning.
Males claim their territory and challenge each other by making a horrible screeching noise called bugling. The unforgettably creepy bugling is quite haunting and is a sound I will never forget. If bugling doesn’t scare away the competitors, elk will sometimes show their dominance by fighting with their antlers. Fun fact: Bull elk shed their antlers each spring and grow new ones by the time the fall rut begins.
I’ve been blessed to be away for the last two weeks on an adventure to Glacier National Park in Montana and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The parks were so different from one another but each was unique and breathtakingly beautiful.
Unfortunately, GNP was a bit smoky because of wild fires on one side of the park, but we were thankful to have had a couple of clear days. The smoke added a layer of mystique to much of the landscape, and I send well wishes and thanks to all those involved in containing the fire.
Yellowstone was a place of wonder, enchantment, and awe. I saw things I never knew existed, and I was mesmerized by bubbling, gloriously colored pools of hot springs and spurting geysers. It was like being on another planet!
I left with art supplies in hand and with high hopes of creating on location, but we were so busy that I just now finished my first painting. I gathered tons of inspiration on the trip and hope to do justice, through my paintings, to the animals, landscapes, and natural beauty experienced in these wonderlands.
This little ground squirrel is the first of many drawings and paintings to come.
Mourning doves have a reputation for having, well, bird brains. However, they add a lot of personality to my bird feeder. Their mournful sound is one I remember from long ago.
This painting is an homage to this beautiful creature.
Most of these birds were painted during World Watercolor Month in July, but since I have not yet showcased them on my blog, today seemed like the perfect day.
I took an online class teaching how to paint birds in a loose manner with lots of water. It was great fun!
Loose and Splashy Carolina Wren
It is quite satisfying to work with lots of water and paint to create the splashy effects, which seem to add a layer of excitement to the painting.
Here is a not-so-splashy, calm seagull.
Thanks for stopping by!
World Watercolor Month is officially over but it was great fun to paint along with such inspiring people. In trying to make sense of how to group the final paintings from the end of July, I decided to showcase sharks and flowers here, which makes absolutely no sense at all! I have a section of birds, too, but I am going to share those on Draw-A-Bird day on the 8th. So, here are the sharks and flowers.
Shark in Honor of Shark Week
I painted these in honor of Shark Week and knew my daughter-in-law and her friend would enjoy them as they are Shark Week Junkies!
Then I practiced more flowers, one loose and the other more realistic.
The colors used in the roses give feeling of nostalgia, like an old-time valentine. Have a great weekend!