Friday, January 27, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Today's work . . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Well, getting on with it. Unlike in my friend Paula's oil painting of these draft horses, I have decided to make them a secondary subject in my work with the emphasis being on the crows in the foreground. The landscape is playing a bit more of a role in my work as well. Working in a black and white medium as opposed to a color medium like oils, contrast and textural 'play' is what gives interest to graphite work and so I will play up the contrast between snow plugs and grasses and light and shadow being cast by the late afternoon sun. The dark birds will also, in the end, help to move one's eye through the work - at least that is the intention! We shall see if I succeed in that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Not a lot of work done today, other things going on. Where did that little crow come from?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Today, I've embarked on a rather involved piece. My good friend and fellow artist, Paula Waterman ('Paula's Art' in the link column to the right), completed a rather beautiful oil this past weekend, posted on her blog, entitled 'Frosty Afternoon'. A few weeks back, we were headed home from a reference jaunt and passed these great drafts, horses that we both see frenquently when passing by their pasture, standing in late afternoon sun, all dressed out in winter finery and just begging to be photographed. I knew I would make use of the reference at some point, but when I saw how nicely Paula had handled her painting, it inspired me to dig around and find my shots of these animals and see what I might come up with. Now, this is certainly not an exercise in 'one-upsmanship' or anything like that. I thought, in addition to making a nice piece of art work, this could be an interesting example of how two artists, seeing the same reference material, pick and choose how they wish to make use of it, how it will play out if you will, in composition and structure. After all, the Impressionists spent many hours standing side by side out in the open air, painting the same basic scene, perhaps from slightly differing angles and with different points of focus. But, when you can stand in front of several canvases in a musuem exhibition, paintings done by two or three of the Impressionists, all done on the same day at the same time, with the same basic reference material in their view, it can be a fascinating way of seeing just how each of those artists sees the world and what appeals, inspires and moves them to capture that moment and place. And so, I hope you will see, ultimately, how the two of us, Paula and I, have taken the same reference material and made our finished works - ours; unique and singular in purpose and focusing on what has inspired us individually.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The 'Little Dreamer' finished and framed. (image size 14" x 11")

Friday, January 20, 2006

And yet, another cat work. I guess I am fully in feline mode.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

In the process of digging through my reference material for the last piece I did (the lion work), I came across some images that reminded me of an incredible morning in the Ngorongoro Crater in northern Tanzania just about six years ago. We had driven down into the crater early, just before sunrise actually, in order to see if we could find some early morning goings on, the time when most preditors are active and hunting. Anyway, as the morning progressed and the sky lightened, we found ourselves coming upon a small group of lion, at rest along an embankment of a small stream. We, a group of artist friends and myself, enjoyed a few minutes of great reference photography of the group just lazing about, getting some nice closeups. But, there seemed to be 'something' in the air . . .

. . . and within a short time, an old buffalo, all alone, appeared in the distance. In what can only be described as very strange behavior, the animal seemed to be walking in an almost direct line toward us and of course, the resting lions. As we all watched in disbelief, the buffalo continued on toward the lions and within a short time, had come within a hundred yards or so of the lion group. By this time, several of the lion had noticed the buffalo coming toward them and had sat up, intense on the approaching buffalo. The lion watched for a time and then one of the lions rose and began a stalk toward the buffalo, who was still continuing directly toward the lion group. With such strange behavior, it was surmised that the buffalo must have been ailing or had problems of some sort, as a single animal like that would never walk directly into the path of a group of lion.
As we all drew deep breaths in anticipation of what we thought might be about to happen, cameras in hand, minds racing with all sorts of mixed emotion, the lion that had stood and begun a stalk was coming at the buffalo from a wide arc to our right and behind the buffalo. The buffalo seemed totally unaware of the lion stalking it, even though there was plenty of sight line as the grasses were quite low at that time of year, and dry, so they would have made crackling sounds as the lion approached. But, the buffalo kept on walking toward us. In short order, the lion bounded up and ran toward the buffalo. Right there, no more than thirty or forty yards in front of us, we watched as the lion pounced upon the back of the buffalo, grabbing onto its flanks and digging teeth into its rump. The buffalo began to struggle and we all thought it would be 'quick work', as the buffalo obviously being in a less than perfect state of health, should go down easily.
But, we were all surprised to watch as the buffalo began to drag the lion along with it, as they both continued along coming straight toward us. By this time, a number of the other lions, some young sub adults and grown females, saw what was going on and began to wonder over toward a spot where it was certain that the buffalo with the lion hanging on, would approach the embankment of the stream bed. Sure enough, within a minute or so, the buffalo came to the embankment and began to try and decend into the stream bed. At this point, all the sub adult lion seemed to be quite excited and began to approach the buffalo from all angles.
In short order, it seemed apparent to us observers, that we were watching a 'training exercise' with the older adult animals seeming to show the sub adults just how they should be attacking an animal like a large buffalo.
Well, needless to say, we sat and watched the unfolding drama play out, fully expecting that the buffalo would soon take its last breath. But, that was not to be as the animal continued to fight and still on its legs, upright, continued to wonder along the stream bed. As our vehicle crept along, with its passengers totally entralled in the ongoing grizzly situation, I remember thinking to myself, 'how on earth will I ever make use of this material?' But I continued to shoot picture after picture, totally lost in the moment.
As time passed, probably an hour or more, the buffalo was able to make it out of the ditch and headed across the crater floor toward the big lake that sits almost in the middle of the 11 mile wide caldera of the extinct volcano. Of course, our vehicle continued to follow the drama all along and we finally all made it to the shore of the lake, buffalo, lions, and mesmerized artists!
By this time, the buffalo's tail had been bitten off and it had some wounds on his hind quarters, but it was still struggling and putting up a valiant fight. Incredibly, this had been going of for over two hours, I am sure, by the time the buffalo made it to the lakeside. Along the way, the sub adult lions seemed to be taking turns, pouncing and jumping onto the buffalo's back. It was an unbelievable experience, one which I had never seen in any of my previous trips to Africa, and none since. By the time we had all arrived at the lake, I must have easily shot four or five rolls of 36 exposure film.
Ultimately, after several hours of this amazing journey, the buffalo was able to make it into the shallow waters of the lake and the lion settled down along the shore line and just sort of watched. At this point, it was nearly time for us to head to a safe spot on the crater floor for our boxed lunches and we all reluctantly, headed off to the other side of the crater. It was assumed that we might head back to that spot later in the afternoon to see if the drama continued to unfold, but we wound up getting involved in other situations. We did return the next morning though, to the lake and found the buffalo laying at the lake side, finally having succumbed to its wounds. It truly was an experience that was at once, both thrilling and repulsive. Nature on its own terms.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

'Ndugu' completed this afternoon - image size is 7" x 11".

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yesterday's work. I actually spent some time in the studio last night, something which I have not done in a long time as it tends to get rather chilly in the studio during the winter months, after dark. In any event, I really was having fun 'noodling' yesterday so after dinner, and with a dirth of anything to veg out and watch on TV last night, I decided to get back into it. This piece is going very fast and I am pleased, as I really would like this to be the beginning of several African subject works and I can tell by the way I seem to be really into this one, that I will most likely tackle several other pieces based on African reference after this one. It feels darn good to have the Serengeti running through my thoughts once again! Now, if I could only figure out a way to get myself back to Africa sometime in the next year or two . .

Monday, January 16, 2006

I seem to be in a 'big cat' mode now. And actually it is nice to once again, delve into the treasury of African reference matter that I have not really touched for quite some time. As an artist, it has always fascinated me where inspiration comes from. Speaking for myself, inspiration comes at me from all sorts of directions; sounds, smells, musical cues, dreams, wonderings on back roads, momentary thoughts, shadows, other artist's work. And perhaps, with my recent work with tiger reference, I have once again become interested in digging through pages of slides and envelopes of photo prints of lions from my seven trips to Africa.
Having not been back to Africa since early in 2001, I seem to have fallen away from that reference material in the last few years. And, with my move to central Maryland just over four years ago, new avenues of inspiration have opened to me, cows and sheep and rural landscapes and barns and . . .
Well, maybe with the completion of this current work of two lions, I might settle on Africa as my inspiration for awhile. Who knows? That is what is always fascinating and mysterious to me, about the process of being an artist.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

A dignified pose. Image size - 9.5" x 12.5".

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The beginnings of a new tiger work, started yesterday afternoon. This one will be a nice profile and will 'show up' in Charleston next month at the Southeastern Wildlife Expositiion, my 17th year of being a part of that great, group showing. Come see us!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Another little work of our little panda cub at the National Zoo, Tai Shan.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Walking on the wild side . . .

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I guess all that tiger photography got to me last week! So . . . .

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The completed work, 10" x 8".

Friday, January 06, 2006

Yesterday's work. This is one work in a continuing series of works for a major museum exhibition I will mount in the summer of 2008. All the works will have bridges and bridge structure as the major theme, hence the name of the exhibiton, 'Unknown Bridges'. This work, along with about 39 others, will make up the exhibition to be held at the Woodson Art Museum in Wisconsin, June through August of 2008. If interested in purchasing this work, contact me. All of these specific bridge subject matter works done over the next two plus years, if purchased, will have to be made available for the duration of the exhibition.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

So, after photographing all manner of beasties yesterday, it is back to the drawing board today. Work-in-progress.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

To the zoo, to the zoo - on a cold January morning! The three male tiger cubs, that were born over a year ago at the National Zoo, are on their way out to Denver. Two of the boys have already left earlier this week and this guy will be going within the next day or so. So, an artist friend and I headed into DC bright (well not so bright on a grey, overcast morning) and early today to get some final shots of the big fellow. It was obvious from his moans and groans, that he missed his bros and seemed very ill at ease as he wondered the enclosure looking for them. Well, soon enough he will be reunited in Colorado. If you are near Denver, look him up next week!

Tai Shan, nearly six months old now, has been venturing out early in the mornings for a few days now at the National Zoo. The little squirt drew quite a crowd this morning climbing about, napping and climbing about some more. Even money he is going to be drawn again in the next couple of weeks for a work or two for the Charleston Expo coming up in South Carolina in mid February.

Papa panda in a wonderful pose.

One of a five cub cheetah litter of just over a year ago, this beauty posed in what is quite the quintesential pose for cheetah - just transport to the plains of the Serengeti!

Cheetah/zebra hijinks at the zoo. I wonder who is challenging who?

Two of the five cubs hunkered down in a warm corner of their enclosure.

Not all animal life at the zoo is of an exotic nature! This mocking bird sat respectfully near the cheetahs, waiting I think, to have its picture taken, so I obliged! I just bet it is going to show up in a drawing in the near future.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ah, the new year! Here's a little 'cluck' to welcome it in.