Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tundra Blonde and Some Mad Cyclists

The last painting of the snipe that I painted took me nearly two months to complete. This painting, 'Tundra Blonde' took less than two weeks from start to finish. It is the same dimensions, (14x11" instead of 11x14") and looks better in my opinion. The actual painting is a little darker, with sharper lines than the photo indicates.
Tundra scenes are something that I seldom painted before coming to Alaska. I never found it to be very interesting until I physically got out onto the tundra. It is denser, and much wetter than I had imagined. In the Autumn it is as colorful as any New England forest.
The upper layers of the tundra is mostly made up of dwarf willows and alders, with various grasses and wildflowers. Berries can be incredibly abundant in places (that is what the bears eat). Below that there are many lichens and mosses. Walking across the ground is quite difficult. The ground is spongy and wet. You tend to sink in to your knees. The water in very cold and without waterproof knee boots your feet will soon become numb.
Grizzly Bears on the tundra is a theme I have returned to again and again in my paintings. I had become quite burned out on the subject until this painting.
Male Grizzlies are usually very dark. They often look black. The blonde grizzlies are nearly always females. They usually only weigh about one third as much as an adult male. They can still crush your bones if you do not respect them.
While painting, my head is usually full of mush and I really do not know how to achieve the look that I want to get. My hand knows what to do. If I can manage to sink down into a subconscious state, then the real painting gets accomplished.The feeling after a few hours of this is like awakening from sleep. Often I am surprised by the painting that magically appears before me. I know that I do not have the ability to paint what is there in front of me. These photos do not come close to showing the subtle colors, textures, illumination, and details of the actual painting.
While my bicycle is safely hibernating through the long Winter, Scott, Jean, and a few crazy friends are out punishing their poor bikes below the Excelsior Glacier on the Kenai Peninsula. It can only be reached by Ski-plane. Scott and Jean have a remote cabin near there.
I have posted about this before but these are recent photos from their latest suicidal foray onto the frozen lake.
The ice on the lake can be incredibly slippery in places, and unstable with ice chunks pushing up through the frozen surface. An open fissure can be disguised by a thin sheet of ice over the surface.
What the photo cannot show is how cold it is below the glacier.
Okay, I may be exaggerating the danger just a bit. It looks like a lot of cold fun to me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

More of the Same

This is a better photograph of my latest painting, 'In Quiet Solitude' (Wilson's Snipe), 11x14". This professional photograph really shows what the painting actually looks like. Why can't any of my cameras take photos like this? I suspect that the camera's operator, rather than the equipment is what makes all the difference.
Right now I am thinking of entering this painting into the Migratory Bird Art Show that is associated with the annual, Hummingbird Festival in Ketchikan, Alaska. I would like to establish a toehold in Southeast Alaska. I remember entering a painting in the Bald Eagle Festival Art Contest in Haines, Alaska some years ago. The painting never even earned an honorable mention in that contest, (very discouraging). Later that same painting got picked up for licensing by several companies and printed, then distributed throughout North America. Not good enough for piss-ant little Haines but I made a lot of money from it. Hey, I'm not bitter or anything...
The rest of these photos are from Dan's mystery vacation. They will really help to narrow down the region where Dan and his family went last Summer.
The photo above is a Eurasian Collared Dove. They have recently invaded North America and quickly spread all over the continent. Originally they had a fairly restricted range in Southern Europe but they have also spread all over Europe. Urbanization has really benefited them.
A naked man fountain and a Grey Heron.
Some ancient columns and nesting White Storks. I must admit that Dan went to several places, travelling South to North. I'm trying to post them in some kind of order but I'm not sure of the locations of some of these photos.
Another angle of the same scene. Some of you may have been here and know exactly where it is.
Another lizard. Some sort of agama I believe. Agamas are strictly Old World lizards, not occuring in Northern Europe. I love seeing lizards scamper about rocks.
That lizard better keep on its toes.
That cat better stay alert as well. This venomous snake is a captive animal, but they occur naturally in the region. It is a relative of the Common Adder. There are many closely related species in Europe and the Middle East. I do not know which specific species this is.
So does anyone know where Dan Went? We know that it is either somewhere in the Middle East, or Southern Europe. More to come....

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In Quiet Solitude and Dan Travels

A close-up photo of my first painting in 2014, not counting a t-shirt design and a few patches for the Boy Scouts.
The completed painting unless I decide that it is not finished. It is the Wilson's Snipe that I have been working on when I could find the time, for over a month. The actual photo is not so pale but Blogger changed it when I uploaded it. Why is it that only some of the photos of my paintings get washed out when I upload them but not other photos?
The tentative title is, 'In Quiet Solitude'. It is 11x14 inches. It looks so much better than the photo. It is in the studio being professionally photographed right now.
I have sold several paintings lately. That is good because this time of year is usually dismal for art sales.
The answer to the challenge that I posed in the last post is of course, Hawaii, The big island to be precise. Dan has a vacation home there. Maggie guessed correctly although others guessed it right before her comment. They just did'nt care to leave a comment on the blog.
 Most of the critters on Hawaii are introduced species. The only bird from the last post that arrived on Hawaii naturally was the Wandering Tattler.
Last Summer Dan and his family did some travelling to several other places. I am going to challenge people to figure out where they went although I'm going to make it hard to do so. I certainly could not guess using the misleading clues that I am going to post here. The soaring bird is a White Stork.
A nesting, Scarlet Ibis. White Storks and Scarlet Ibis do not occur on the same continent although Dan's family only went to one continent. It's a crazy, mixed up world.
A Coati, called Tejon in Mexico, Pizote in Costa Rica, and they have several other names in other places.
Do you know what these are?
Here is a solid clue. An Agama Lizard among ancient ruins.
A Panther Chameleon, positively in the wrong habitat.
I do not know what kind of gull this is. The default guess is Herring Gull. Does anybody have the confidence to guess where these photos were taken? Clearly some of these animals were captive, while others are wild animals.
I will post more Dan vacation photos and reveal his destination....eventually.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Where in the World is Dan?

My friend Dan Holayter has just returned from his latest adventure. As you can see from the photo above, he went to a tropical place. I am going to challenge you readers of this blog to figure out where he went based on the photos of this post.
I hope that some of you choose to accept the challenge. I think that it will be a difficult one for you to guess, at least at first. It will become more obvious as I add photos. I will reveal the correct answer to the challenge in the next post. The bird above was moving fast in low light so it is not in sharp focus. It is a male, Khalij Pheasant.
The less colorful female.
A friendly Java Sparrow in good light. Java Sparrow, Khalij Pheasant, Hmmm, where could this place be?
The first Java Sparrow was joined by a companion.
A beautiful Saffron Finch. These three species being seen in the wild in the same place ought to cinch the location for someone who is a well traveled birder. Do you know yet?
A Red-capped Cardinal. One more clue.
A Gold Dust Day Gecko on the wall. It should be the best clue yet. Gold dust Day Geckos are named for the yellow scales scattered across their neck and shoulders.
A Lightfoot Crab, I think . So we know that this place is near the ocean.
Wandering Tattlers, like this one, spend their Summers in Alaska.
A Spinner Dolphin doing its thing. I bet that you know where Dan went by now.
Another lousy sunset in paradise. So please leave a comment on this blog with your guess, or lack of a guess. Which of the photos helped you to figure out the location?