Saturday, March 24, 2012

Butterfly Buffet

Hey, everybody! I really didn’t mean to take a blogging hiatus; I’ve been ultra busy with a couple of art-related projects for our church (a poster and flyers for a women’s event, and four lamb-shaped yard signs, meant to be neighborhood announcements for newborn babes). Now I’ve completed those, and will be starting on a couple of painting commissions I have lined up. I’ll show progress photos on those as soon as I have them.

I also did the first mowing of the season this week, which has been absolutely gorgeous weather-wise. The mowing was about three weeks past due because our mower was in the shop having its blades replaced and some other small repairs, but now I’m glad it took so long because otherwise this little patch of thistle would never have had a chance to spring up. I mowed around it because I really love thistle, which grows wild in the pasture, and not only that, it seems to be an absolute butterfly magnet! All this week, ever since mowing on Monday, no matter when I traipse out to this little patch, it’s crowded with butterflies. Glorious!

All you artists out there, feel free to use any of these photos as reference for painting ... if you feel like it, send me a photo of your painting and I’ll post it with a link to your blog or website.

Here’s one monarch over on the left. I’m hoping to get some better shots of these orange and black beauties, but they’re kind of camera shy, and really quick! This little guy flew off high up in the live oak tree, and stayed up there all the time I was taking photos. Got him with my zoom, though:

Meanwhile, back at the thistle:

 I love this little odd man out ... the black and blue one with the orange spots.

Here they were all trying to crowd onto one blossom. 
Must be the dessert section of the buffet.

 Butterfly echo.

Happy painting!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A painting teaser ...
plus the adventures of Buster, wonder dog of danger

First, the teaser: here’s a little section of the painting I started today. Yep, it’s my first painting of Moustachio. Check back tomorrow to see what he’s up to in the picture. (Hint: if you’ve been following my blog for just a bit you’ve already seen my reference photo a few posts back ... hmm, what could it be?)

And now, the reason I didn’t get more done on this painting this afternoon: Buster, Wonder Dog of Danger, had quite an adventure today when he, along with Roadie and Sophie, escaped from the back yard.

Roadie came running back into the house after just a few minutes, and I got Sophie back in by driving the car around to the side of the house where she was hot on the trail of some critter and opening the car door for her. She just can’t resist a car ride, so she hopped right in. As a reward I drove her out to the mailbox and back with the window down so she could stick her head out and feel the wind in her ears.

After walking Sophie back into the house on a leash, I went out back to our detached garage (which is very old and tumble-down and more like a little bitty barn than a garage) where I could hear Buster barking an “S.O.S.” sounding bark, like he was stuck somewhere. I walked in, ignoring the big ol’ carpenter bee sentries buzzing around the front opening -- they’re really big and intimidating-looking, but no stingers, and curious more than aggressive, so no reason for alarm. We actually like them because they pollinate the flowers and crops around here.

Anyway, back to our story. I walked into the dim garage, and Buster had stopped barking, and I couldn’t see him anywhere. I could hear him panting but I couldn’t really tell where it was coming from. I was saying, “Buster? Buddy, where are you?” Then I turned around and there he was, up in the rafters above the doorway, on a ledge about 12 inches wide that runs all the way around the top of the walls. I was, like, WHAT??, how in the world did you get up there??!

There’s an old Coke machine right there almost right below where he was sitting, afraid to move. The top of the Coke machine is about 2 feet or so below the ledge, and about a foot or so inside the garage opening. So I wondered if maybe he jumped to the top of the vending machine and then to the ledge while chasing some animal or something, and then realized where he was and got scared to move or jump down. Or maybe he climbed up on a pile of old windows that we have leaning in the back corner and got up on the ledge over there and chased whatever he was chasing around the ledge to the front and then got scared to move. I don’t know.

I went and got our step ladder from the house and climbed up to right beside Buster, I tried to pick him up, but he started to panic so I let go because he weighs a little over 50 pounds and I was afraid I would drop him, or make him fall, or he would make me fall. So then I tried to coax him to hop down to the top of the Coke machine. But no. This is a dog who jumps up almost to my head height when I’m carrying out their food for breakfast or dinner, and who is forever jumping up on and down from a table I have out on the back porch. But he just wouldn’t jump the 24 inches or so down to the Coke machine.  So, hmmm, what to do?

While I was standing there on the ladder, carpenter bees buzzing around, and trying to think of what to do next, I spotted the reason Buster was probably in the fix in the first place. There on the ledge, back in the darkness a few feet away on the other side of him, was Moustachio, just crouching on the ledge. Waiting for me to get Buster out of the way so he could jump down to the Coke machine and then to the ground. At least that part of the mystery was solved. That old, old story. Dog chases cat, cat goes where a dog shouldn’t be able to go, dog follows in the heat of the chase, dog realizes where he is, gets scared and freezes on the spot, stuck.

FINALLY, after further brainstorming, I built a kind of stairway for Buster: A chair on top of the Coke machine, just inches from the ledge, and a table beside the Coke machine so he could jump down there and then to the ground. As it turns out, in coming from the ledge down to the chair Buster panicked again and misstepped off the top of the Coke machine to the ground, bypassing the table altogether. But good news, he landed on his feet, followed me right into the house for his supper, and seems to be just fine now.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Moustachio came out okay, too. A little while later I noticed he was in his favorite chair on the front porch waiting for his supper.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Walk right in ...

Oak Trees on Slattery  © 2012 Karen Mathison Schmidt
16 x 20 x 7/8 inches • oil on archival, museum quality cradled Gessobord
gloss varnish for UV protection • sides painted dark umber

auction ends March 20

My husband gave me the best compliment on this one: “Wow, it looks like I could just walk right into the painting!” 

Love that man o’ mine.

Here’s the painting I did of this same location five years ago:

Interesting to see how my style has changed!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Finished painting and almost finished painting

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. ... He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile ...


Eyes That Can See Above the Clouds © 2012 Karen Mathison Schmidt
6 x 6 inches • oil on archival, museum-quality Gessobord
gloss varnish for UV protection

auction ends May 24

Couldn’t help including that quote above the painting again ... and as you can see, I decided to take my title from it. Even though in real life, whenever Blue is looking up, it’s not to try to see above the clouds, but to try to see a pesky squirrel up in a tree. 

As you can also see, I did decide to keep those vivid orange-y reds in the background. Thanks for all your input on that ... you emboldened me to go with my inclination!

Plus I was able to get the oak tree landscape I’ve been working on almost finished today. Here’s a peek at the progress:

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dog painting work-in-progress

He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. ... He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile ...


I got a late start on this one today after working on another project this morning. I’m trying to keep him rough and loose, and so far I’m really enjoying the progress.

Here’s the underpainting, which has been sitting on the mantel in my studio for a couple of weeks, quietly reminding me to “do another dog painting, would ya?” This underpainting is a sketch in indigo acrylic, with acrylic glazes of phthalo blue, cadmium yellow light and quinacrodone rose.

Today I started with the oils. As always in a pet portrait (a pet portrait where the subject is awake, that is) I like to start with the eyes. That brings life to the painting right off, and makes it more fun to continue. Even though I’m using a small brush to get the details, I still concentrate on keeping each stroke loose, doing only one or two strokes at a time before wiping the brush and reloading with paint.

From there I kind of just work my way out and down the snout. Whenever I’m working on a dog portrait, it kind of surprises me how huge the nose actually is in proportion to the eyes. Especially on hounds and other trackers and hunters.

Although I’m trying to keep the color areas loose and kind of blocky, because of the slow drying time I still have the option to go back and blend in some areas, to get a balance between blended and blocky. That’s one of the things I love about working in oils!

When I began, I had intended on making the background mainly greens and turquoise, but now I’m kind of liking that vivid red underpainting as a main background color. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. Any thoughts?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lazy play

When it’s getting toward late afternoon and you’ve been running and chasing and barking and chewing and dragging things nonstop for hours and you’re really tuckered out but it’s way to early to call it a day and you feel like squeezing in a few more minutes of play before suppertime, then it’s a good time to engage in a little of what we like to call “lazy play.”

That’s when you lie comfortably in the shade and don’t move much of anything
except your head.

I think I’m winning!