I have counted 65 bird species in my backyard, many of them just visitors, I am in the process of collecting photographs of each species. If you build it they will come.
People would say my very small yard is a bit of a jungle, especially my son, but it’s the reason so many birds have found food, shelter and even nesting space in and around my yard.
I have families of wrens, chickadees, cardinals, a pair of downy woodpeckers, a whole large family of very large bluejays that put up with my presence and a family of squirrels.
Besides the birds, there are also more than 35 species of butterflies. I am in a very small way creating an oasis for wildlife which I photograph, paint and write about-it’s kind of a symbiotic relationship.
My goal now is to photograph each species of birds, butterflies and in the near future the plants I grow to attract them. I do not use any pesticide, herbicides or any other sides to keep them safe and allow a safe haven for a small piece of wildlife to thrive….and they are thriving.
I’ve always considered pastel a continuation of oil painting, just another medium with the same basic process. I used to smooth the texture and use my finger a lot to create a softness. I have discovered quite suddenly a new vision for my pastels.
It started the last time I picked up pastels, I had more interest in texture and the vibration of color than simply rendering a scene correctly. My mindset was very much like oils and the overall image was what I was seeking.
Unfortunately for the last image, it seemed by the time I was finished, I lost the reason I started in the first place, this is how series of work begin and end.
Recently, I had the desire to create pastels but with no image in mind. When there is no image, I miss what is special about the finished product so I tend to stumble in the dark.
It can be a frustrating time not knowing exactly what the finished product should be. When I was traveling, selling insurance, I got into a habit of quick sketches, simple renderings created in one day.
A New Way of Seeing and Rendering Pastels
Yesterday, I wanted to paint, unfortunately the studio is quite cold and I found myself staring at half finished paintings with no direction. I dug out some poster boards that had been cut a few months ago and decided to start sketching.
What should I start with? The question again seemed complicated but I believe I was overthinking it. I decided to create images I had been talking about creating for the longest time, my son and my grandchild, my son’s dog Ranger and an old friend’s daughter who is by now probably in her teens.
The wonderful thing that happened is I realized details and proportion better than I ever have. Creativity and the skills of seeing are subconscious tools that grow and ferment in the brain and then suddenly you can create what in the past seemed impossible.
Very quickly I used only 4 or 5 pastel colors but I interpreted each color, shadow and line with specific cools and warms, I will later go and perfect some of the colors but I could see how all the parts fit in perfectly and it was almost effortless creating them on the board.
I only looked for the basic form and than only the shadows. It is a wonderful feeling to truly see and decipher that which in the past the conscious might have assumed and took over.
I liked the idea and the discipline of working up tones and putting colors and textures to work with each other. The image slowly appears and it is much like how colors are separated in the CMYK printing process-you lay down a group of colors, overlay another layer of colors and watch as the image becomes itself.
I don’t think I have enjoyed sketching so much as I have in the last two days and I was lucky enough to see old images as new again. To truly see and allow the subconscious to rule the hands is quite a feeling of control and discipline that I needed on this cold rainy March afternoon.
My intention has always been to create art that was realistic and once I attained a certain skill level I would just tweak reality, just enough to make the viewer a little off kilter.
It probably stems from years of depression which, although is part of the creative process, also makes the person feel off center. The paintings that approach surreal are a bit more dark but nothing too obvious.
Moonflower is a painting of the morning glories, moon flowers, which only bloom at night. I wanted to share a bit of the darkness and mystery of evening but I wanted the flowers to have a bit of a magical feeling to them.
The willow tree is a tree from my youth. It makes it into most of my paintings and is a bit of a symbol of time spent in New Jersey. The dark green lawn in the summer beneath the shadows of tall dark willow trees.
The same trees were struck by lightning and ended up becoming outdoor furniture where many of my very old poems were written on copied on.
Blackbirds are a consistent subject in both my paintings and writing. They are mysterious as the night sky and symbolic of impending doom.
Halloween has always been a subject as every year I see a different feeling to capture. I love the dark evening and the idea of goblins in the trees, I have always been a big fan of horror movies and my uncle used to buy my brother and I horror comic books and the feeling and thrill of being scared has continued through my writing and painting.
Child of ten is a diary of sorts, my dad died when I was ten. This is a painting of the effects of losing a parent at the age of ten. There are many symbols including the egg which represents the soul. Again the blackbirds are in the field and the child watches the future unfold.
The death of my father was a catalyst for much of my earlier writing and has only recently shown up in paintings.
This painting is from a dream when I was very young. My grandfather came out of a willow tree as the lightning hit the tree. The red flannel shirt is from the dream and I remembered the shattered bits of wood-I am planning on another attempt at this painting as the face wasn’t quite correct.
Many older painting ideas are now resurfacing as I begin to gain more confidence. I plan on creating a more concise series on the surreal side.
It’s almost like a stain-glassed window as the light filters through spring leaves. I have been watching this for many seasons and have had the idea on my easel for many years now.
I was interested in the richness of fading afternoon sun. I love the shadows of blues and greens reflecting a coolness in the midst of an ending day. This is the third in an upcoming series of paintings coming off the easel. Stay tuned.
I finally got a chance to paint. It was a stormy afternoon as you can see from the remnants of a swollen stream in the distance.
I got more information and sketched more on a trip to Hagerman where there are always hawks patrolling each fence row. There are a lot of red tailed hawks and I consider them the watchmen of the meadows and fields.
This painting was inspired by a ride in East Texas. I liked the grouping
of the drakes and the females looking on. It was a quick snapshot that turned into a long process of capturing a cool autumn day.
Since I started the painting, there have been many starts and stops. I have also had several times studying mallards at a local park to get the personality and eyes right on the males.
I aim to capture that relationship between characters in nature. When I go and study the ducks, they always know I’m there, they just keep their comfortable distance.
I was also aiming for the dark colors of autumn but the warmth of light on the reeds and the shiny green heads of the males. This is the first in the series, tomorrow I will have another I just finished: A hawk from a fence near Hagerman Wildlife Refuge.
I found them at the weathered gate, rich green algae on an old broken down fence. These are all whispers of a summer past and I realize the gardener is only an introduction of seed to soil, the wind and rain are the catalysts, each bird a possible carrier of a new seed and every weed a new battle for supremacy.
A sunset on Mount Scott as I rushed to capture the last bit of light.
The Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is an amazing prairie with sweeping buttes, free range longhorns and bison and many small brilliant blue lakes.
I can’t say enough about the feeling of being away from everything. There are prairie dogs in open fields and meadowlarks in bright yellow flocks rising and falling in rich brown fields of native grasses.
I would also recommend the blue hole for a rugged hike surrounded by waterfalls and deep gorges. There is a holy city and a great network of trails that go all through the park.