Friday, May 17, 2019

Works in Progress: Update

 Osprey, Oil on board, 16"x20"                                                     Rhododendron, Oil on Board, 8"x8"         
I'm currently working on three pieces, the Blue Jay posting from yesterday and the above two. One advantage to working on pieces simultaneously is to allow time for drying.  I really need to rest my hand upon the board for steadiness.  This works much better if the oils are dry. Also my layers are fairly transparent and need complete dryness to apply the next layer.  Two days ago I worked the left wing area of the Osprey.  Yesterday I worked the right side of the rhododendron.  The approach also helps with the tedium of working so tightly by switching subjects and the palette.  

Blue Jay Work in Progress

Blue Jay, Oil on Board, 10"x8"
I began throwing peanuts out a few years ago to attract the crows.  Eventually the Jays showed up and the crows disappeared.  I scatter the unshelled peanuts in an area adjacent to the marsh and below our decks.  As I walk to the area the Jays are waiting in the trees and begin to call "peanuts!  peanuts!".  They are a beautiful but aggressive bird.  This view will not show the variety of blue in the back and tail feathers.  But, I likes the pose and expression.  

Monday, May 13, 2019

Rhododendrons In Progress

Rhododendron, Oil on Board, 8"x8"
The Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, MA offers over 100 acres of gardens, the largest public garden in Southern New England.  I try to visit each spring during the rhododendron show to photograph. Charles Dexter was the original owner of the acreage.  He collected rhododendrons from around the world and combined them into new cultivars. The plant here is one of his cultivars known as Scintillation.  The flower clusters are 8-10" across. It has a subtle pink color with shades of yellow.  The shadows created by the strong light give the color a cooler violet appearance.  

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Osprey in Progress

Osprey, Oil on Board, 16"x20"

We can see two pairs of nesting Osprey from our house.  The  males return every year around St Patrick's day from their South American winter home. They begin to build the nest in preparation for the females arrival some two weeks later.  They have made a miraculous recovery from near extinction about 60 years ago due to pesticide poisons.  Led by Gil Fernandez, local naturalists helped save and bring back the Osprey by building platforms for nesting and cultivating the science that helped ban the worst pesticides.  I can stand directly below one of the nests and watch as the bird sores away in the thermals to distract me from the nest.  There was great drama this year when a bald eagle came into the area to fish.  Our four Osprey and 2 from a neighboring nest aggressively attack and drove off the eagle who certainly would have gone for the chicks. 

Monday, May 6, 2019


Hydrangea, 2019, Oil on Board, 8"x8"
Hydrangea: from Greek hydro - 'water' + angeion 'vessel' (from the cup shape of its seed capsule).  There are 5 main types of hydrangea in North America.  This type is commonly known as Mophead or French and is native to Japan.  The flower in this painting was not fully developed into the 'mop'.  I was more interested in the variation of bloom color at this early stage.  The almost white young petals had a green tint that was fun to mix.  Interestingly, this showy part of the flower is sterile.  

Balancing Baltimore Orioles

Balancing Act Baltimore Orioles, 2019, Oil on Board, 8"x8"
In an earlier post I mentioned that I might not oil in the ground.  In the end I did oil it.  There were areas that had been worked later and showed a difference in the surface that needed rectifying.  The Oriole on the left has a cheeky attitude that adds more interest to the narrative than the bird on the right.  It's important to not only find a position that shows the feathers but that creates a feeling of life and movement.