Monday, December 29, 2008

Beetle Mania

I painted a series of 24 various beetles a few months back. A friend of mine came to visit here in Costa Rica with a new camera and proceeded to take a picture of everything. I didn't pay much attention to his photos of the toilet and the kitchen sink, but I took notice at a photo of a beetle prowling among some rice hulls. I had never painted a beetle, so "What the Hey, Why Not". While painting him, I kinda got caught up in the intricacy of the litlle creature, his glossy sheen, his little spiny legs, antennae, and overall appearance. The painting turned out pretty good, I thought, so I looked up more beetle pictures on the Internet. Seems that there is a very large group of folks who are fascinated by beetles....I found dozens of websites on Coleoptera...beetles. The variety, colors and types of beetles is awesome. So I started painting a few more, and it was like eating potato chips...ya can't stop with one.
I urge you to investigate the beetles we have roaming this planet....mind-boggling. In painting these fellows and paying such close attention to the details of each species brought me a deeper sense of appreciation to something I had always rather taken for granted. Size matters. If a beetle was, say, 20 times larger than he is, I'll just bet we would really sit up and pay notice when one of em flew around our patio lights. I'll feature a beetle selection from time to time and go into some really interesting facts about em. For now, I've posted my first beetle painting, an 8x10 acrylic on canvas and my friend's photo I used for reference.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Light and Shadows

There has been volumes written on the importance of light and shadow in art. So I won't write another volume. I do know that if an artist doesn't treat the interplay between light and shadow properly and correctly, a quality artwork can end up being used on the bottom of a bird cage. In the bi-weekly project of the art blog, Different Strokes from Different Folks, a photo of this figurine, the vases of dried hydrangeas, and the light filtering through frost-laden windows was our assignment.
The participating artists depicted the arrangement in a myriad of interpretations...some very fascinating, some not so fascinating, and some quite outstanding.
I paint realism. I will take a composition and often add other elements or objects, and the finished work is quite different from the original subject matter. But if I paint an apple, I want the apple I put on the canvas to make me want to go down to the supermarket and stock up on Granny Smiths. Realism, to me, is not reproduction, or illustration. It is not easy, nor is it quick. The time, effort and talent that goes into realism makes the completed product a valuable, crafted artwork. I truly feel that undertaking toward realism is a portion of the artist's life frozen into and on the paint and canvas. I frequently admire and respect the masters of realism and recognize the limits of my minimal talent. However, what I lack in skill, I try to make up in time and effort...sometimes more time than I would like to admit.
So I painted the photo pretty much as it appeared. My painting is not an identical of the photo, but realistic enough to make me a bit content. It is an 8x10 acrylic on canvas and is available for sale.

Blue Jeans

A small stack of commissioned paintings for holiday presents and the days of Christmas have come and gone, leaving me somewhat behind and venturing out to catch up. The main thing I promised myself when starting this blog was to post almost every day. Right off the bat, I blew it. If I do that again, I'll make it a point to flog myself senseless with a handful of wet linguini.
My main site is YimiArt. I feature a lot of frog paintings there, because I like frogs, and I like to paint frogs. Being here in Costa Rica, I have ample material for that effort. CR abounds with frogs, not only in quantity, but varieties. On this blog I feature an 8x10 acrylic on canvas of the Strawberry Poison Dart Frog, Blue Jean Frog, or Dendrobates Pumilio.
In choosing to paint wildlife, I have become more and more fascinated by "THE REAL STORY" of some of the creatures I depict on canvas. This little fellow is interesting for a number of reasons. First he's colorful and fairly common around here in the river bottoms and rain forests. I can walk a few hundred yards from where I sit and kick around the leaves by the river and usually rustle up one or two. Second, he's poisonous. Not quite as poisonous as his cousins in the Phyllobates group (the secretions from which native tribes derive their potent arrow poison), but toxic enough to cause a skin reaction if you handle em enough. Kinda hard to handle, tho, cause he's only as big as a pencil eraser.
The main thing I find utterly amazing about Blue Jeans is something that bolsters my faith in our Creator and causes me to seriously think about the intelligence mechanisms in "lower" life forms. After the female lays her eggs and they begin to hatch, she will mount one of her little tadpoles on her back and venture out to place him in the center of a bromeliad growing on the trunk of a tree nearby. The center of the bromeliad almost always contains water, which is necessary for the tadpole's survival. She will repeat the process, going to a different bromeliad each time, until all of her young are transplanted. She will often go considerable distances and heights to accomplish this "labor of love". Afterwards, she will take unfertilized eggs and bring them to her babies for nourishment, leaving one egg in each bromeliad. She does this feeding task several times. She, somehow, is able to remember where she put each of her young. That accomplishment, however heavily it relies on either intelligence or instinct, is truly remarkable.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

32 Hour Days?

Okay. I've been fascinated by the "Painting a Day" movement for some time now. Duane Keisler is attributed with starting the ball rolling, but I've heard that Van Gogh actually did a painting a day for the last few months of his life. However, with romantic rejection, shunning by his peers, ear-shearing, poverty, going around 13 donuts short of a dozen and winding up eating a buckshot sandwich one night in a cornfield, I can see why Van Gogh isn't remembered for his Painting a Day.

So I'm going to try it. I pay a lot of attention to detail in my quest for some semblance of realism, so my art takes time....I really do need that 32 hours a day. I tried Modern and loaded up a shotgun shell with paint like Jackson Pollock. Blew a hole in the canvas. Tried Abstract but my 2 year old grandson's fingerpainting looked a lot better. Tried Impressionist but the only impression I got was the impression I needed to go to the bathroom. Tried Cultural and Primitive but I woke up one morning and found my studio filled with rocks and spears chunked thru my windows by the locals. So realism it is. And it is kinda nice to know what something is when ya get through with it.

There is a blog site called Different Strokes From Different Folks where a noted artist furnishes a photograph every week and participating artists render their paintings of that photo and submit them. I have been joining in this excercise for a couple of months and have selected the following 2 paintings for this blog. Each is 8x10 acrylic on canvas and is for sale. Contact me for details and please visit me at