Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Snipe
In Quiet Solitude

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Last Painting, Next Painting,and Peruvian Beaches


This is what I have been working on for the last several weeks. It is finished for the time being. It is 11x14" and called, Fuzzy Friends. 
It has been a few years since I have painted wolves so yesterday and today I have been refining this 16x20" sketch. I intend to add a darkish forested background with deep snow in the foreground. If it all goes as planned, I will call it, Alpha Dogs. You can see by all of the smudges that I have been making many adjustments to get it to look right to my eyes.
To flesh out this post I will throw in some photos of my trip to Peru. All of these photos were taken around the small coastal town of Los Charcos.
Here is a bit of a gull identification challenge. What are these birds? The dark bird in the middle is only a pigeon and the other two are sub-adult Belcher's Gulls.
Two adult Belcher's Gulls, a Snowy Egret, and a Black-crowned Night Heron.
Another gull challenge. What are these? They certainly live up to their name, Gray Gulls.
What could these things be? Peruvian Thick-knees.
In my opinion, these are the coolest of all the world's tern species. Inca Terns. The area around Los Charcos was my favorite part of Peru. Better than Macchu Pichu, and better than the Amazon rain forest. Islas Ballestas, (where this photo was taken) is one of the world's great wonders, No one even knows about them.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fuzzy Progress

The title of this post refers to the progress that I am making on the Sea Otter painting which will probably have the word 'fuzzy' in the title. The painting is inspired somewhat by the otter photos that I got in Seward a few years ago. All of my other Sea Otter photos were taken from a greater distance than this guy.
I was in Seward on a Winter Audubon Society field trip. We were standing at the end of a stone jetty trying to spy on some distant sea birds, out in the bay. This young otter swam up to us, probably hoping for a handout. We had nothing to offer it.
The light was dim and I should have increased the camera's ISO but I got decent enough photos as it was.
A close up of the larger otter in the painting.
Another view.
The other otter is still in the preliminary stages.
The entire painting as it stands right now. I believe that the hardest parts of the painting are over with unless I decide to change the water behind the otters.
My friend Don sent me this photo yesterday. The story behind it goes like this; He was with his friend Lizzie and others when she found a freshly cast owl pellet. She thought it was owl poop so Don pulled it apart to the disgust and amazement of those who were present.
He explained that owls spit up the undigestable parts of their meals. This appeared to him to be the bones of a gopher.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Goodbye to Goose Creek

On Wednesday I accompanied my friend Dan to close up his cabin at Goose Creek for the season. We took a few minutes to check out the creek. That was where we saw this friendly Dipper with a bug in its beak.
It was soon scanning underwater for more tasty tidbits.
Dippers are one of the only local songbirds that sing an exuberant and complex song throughout the Winter.
Other non-North American species of Dipper tend to be more colorful. Nevertheless they are delightful to watch.
There was already ice forming along the edges of the creek.
I think that the really small leaves are actually Birch seeds.
This is a Black Cottonwood leaf.
On the way back we stopped to check out Mt. Mckinley which was barely visible.
 The deciduous trees have already lost most of their leaves.
Last night we had a fresh snowfall in the mountains above Anchorage.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What to Paint Next?

Before getting around to showing photos of the current project, I will put up some random photos that happen to be in the same folder. Above is a bear paw print on the banks of the Eagle River.
I have posted this photo before but this is Sandy Quimby comparing her hand to the paw print of a truly massive Brown Bear along Eagle River.
A nearby Belted Kingfisher.
The Eagle River Valley in July.
The local Trumpeter Swans are currently staging for their eminent departure, as are most waterfowl. The local lakes will be frozen over in less than a month.
Although I do not enjoy painting Sea Otters, I know that it is about time to do a new painting of them. Why do I dislike painting them? Because I can never come up with an interesting composition for them. Like usual I just settled for cute, rather than creative. It will certainly sell if I can make myself paint it.
Before resigning myself to painting the Sea Otters, I came up with an alternative idea; Hudsonian Godwits. It is a less than brilliant composition as well. I would rather paint these birds than the Sea Otters. However this idea requires further development.
With a sigh of resignation I started laying down some paint to the otter painting. It is 11x14". We will see how it progresses.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Duck, Duck, Goose

My childhood friend Don sent this photo to me as an e-mail attachment. He titled the e-mail, 'Duck, Duck, Goose'. It was a good choice as a title because it fits the new painting well; as you will see.
I asked readers to imagine what combining the photo of Sandhill Cranes, and the ill-fated Canada Goose painting would look like. This is a literal interpretation of the idea. I should have stuck with that idea.
I did end up putting some Pintails in the background. This is an extreme close-up.
Most of them are sleeping.
The final version of the geese. I wish that I would have added finer brush strokes and more delicate detail to the geese.
The completed painting. It is 16x20". The actual painting has much richer colors than the photo indicates. (Typical for Blogger to fade the colors when I upload the photos)
So what happened to the cranes?
I sketched them out and started painting. Right away I realized that there was too much conflict between the cranes and the geese.  The painting was going to look too busy. The cranes had to go.
Now I repeat the title of the last post; How does this happen? 
I started out with the intention of painting waxwings. Then I changed the painting to Sandhill Cranes and decided to add Canada Geese in shadow to help frame the cranes. The cranes went away and were replaced by ducks.
My next painting is intended to be Sea Otters. It will probably end up as Giraffes, or who knows what?
Sept. 15th was the day that the Sea Lion Gallery in Homer closed for the season. Gary managed to sell this one last painting on that day. Remington Firearms put this painting on their 2014 Wildlife Calendar.
Gary sold more of my paintings in his gallery this year than he has in any other year. I have my work cut out for me to replace all those paintings for next year. Let's hope the trend continues.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Does this Happen?

Since finishing that Mule Deer painting I have been kicking around ideas for a new painting. Bohemian Waxwings are one of the most popular species of bird around these parts. They are difficult to find and shy during the Summer months but they are abundant and easily approached most Winters. I have many good reference photos of them. These birds have great potential to make a fine painting
I have started numerous paintings of waxwings but have completed only a few. Why? I do not know.
This 24x18" painting,'Waxwing Delight' is probably the best of them. Unfortunately it was painted on a bargain basement brand of canvas that has ripped several times so it cannot be sold.
Last week I gathered up some reference material and sketched out a new version of a waxwing painting on gessoboard. Too bad I do not have enough enthusiasm to paint it.
So I went back to the drawing board, (literally).
Next I came up with a half formed idea to paint  Sandhill Cranes at sunrise like the above photo. Of course I wanted to jazz it up somehow so I thought it might look good to put some geese in deep shadow in the foreground. The geese, being closer would need to be much larger than the cranes, and need to have a more substantial base upon which to stand. Then I pushed the cranes up closer to the top of the painting, lightened the top ground and added more land at the bottom.
I remembered this painting that I painted over in a moment of discouragement. I like the geese if not the setting so I decided to use a version of these geese in the foreground of the new painting.
Unfortunately it has been a very busy week and I am not finished with the painting. 
Try to make up an image  in your own mind about how a painting combining this painting and the crane photo above it might look. I am certain that your version will look nothing like mine. Yours will undoubtedly look much better.
Stay tuned for the next post to see how it works out. I'm kind of curious to find out how it will turn out myself.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Replacement Post


It has been a hectic week for me and next week is looking like it will be even busier. I have been trying to put together a nice post about the painting that I am currently working on. The problem is that I have not finished gathering material for the painting, nor the post that I intended to publish today.
Instead I am trying to slap together a few leftover photos from my trip to St. Paul last Summer. 
A typical view of the nesting cliffs for kittiwakes, murres, and puffins etc.
Least Auklets zipping by.
The Least Auklet nesting beach.

An almost adult, Red-legged Kittiwake next to its much more abundant and widespread cousin, a Black-legged Kittiwake.
Rock Sandpipers. Not so impressive but not easy to find without travelling to the far flung places where they congregate.
A meeting of Horned Puffins.
There were many Horned Puffins but I had a hard time getting decent photos of them. For some reason I also have a hard time doing decent paintings of them.
Tufted Puffins are easier to photograph and to paint, although this photo is not so sharp because the light was so foggy and dim.
A ground hugging plant growing in the sand.
Now I am off to dinner with friends.