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Song Sparrow in Pastel

This week I painted a Song Sparrow in pastel as a continuation of the Birds in Pastel series. Song Sparrows are one of many species of Sparrow. We have an abundance of Sparrows visit the bird feeder everyday and they sing such happy songs! They take great delight in knocking seeds out of the feeder so their friends can eat too! Those birds that don’t fit on the feeder eat the seeds that fall to the ground. It’s a great idea for the birds, but not so much for us; the feeder ends up empty way too soon! I think since they are typically a ground forager, the knocking seeds to the ground is something they just do because they’d rather eat on the ground. That’s pretty smart if you ask me.

Song Sparrow in Pastel

Song Sparrow in Pastel was painted on 9″x12″ green Pastel Mat paper with soft pastels. My palette consisted of muted cool greens and purples for the background, juxtaposed with the rich warm tones for the foreground. Since the species isn’t very colorful I used vibrant colors to surround the bird to make him sort of pop.

I used my own photo reference for this piece which I was lucky enough to get very close to the Sparrow before he flew away. He might have been an old bird because I felt like I could almost touch him if I moved slowly. He just sat there on the edge of the deck as if he didn’t see me. Or perhaps they are just not that afraid of people, because my husband was able to get very close to a Sparrow sitting at the feeder a few weeks ago:

Song Sparrow at the Feeder

This Sparrow might be a little female. She was sleeping on the feeder when my husband came upon her. I thought about using this photo as a reference but then decided it wasn’t interesting enough. The bird feeder hangs on the side of the greenhouse and adds a bit of whimsy to the area.

Well that’s all I have to share for now. I completed another bird pastel yesterday and will share soon.I’ll give you a little hint of what it is….Blue and Orange feathers. Can you guess what it is? Thanks for stopping by! As always, much Love ~ Rhonda

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2019 Year in Review

The 2019 Year in Review is a little montage video of last year’s epic highlights.  I can’t believe it’s the start of a new decade!  2019 flew by, don’t you agree?

I didn’t get as much painting done as I would have liked. This coming year I am making myself a goal to do way more Plein air painting.  It’s not a New Year’s Resolution per se, but a small goal I’d like to complete. I tend to allow other things in life to take away from my painting time. I’m sure if you are an artist, you can relate.

This video, “2019 Year in Review”, brings back so many fond memories and I’m hoping to create many more this new year!

 

Here are some of the images from the video you weren’t able to fully see:

Serenity on the River oil painting

Pinecone

Duckworth boat oil painting

 

White Lily oil painting

 

I hope you had a wonderful New Year Celebration! Until we meet again – Cheers!  ~Rhonda

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Fall is my favorite time of the year.

Plein Air painting at Whiskey Rock
Welcome Fall:

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  Each year brings different weather patterns and fall can last well into November. Often times though Fall is over by mid-October. Last weekend we had snow down to the valley floor and a lot of plants shriveled in the below-freezing temps. It was the first time in 93 years we had snowfall in September!

We had to run a heater in our greenhouse to keep our tomato plants safe since we still have quite a bit of green tomatoes. The plants outside the greenhouse had to be covered. We hoped for the best and I’m happy to say that no plants were lost. The temperatures have been slowly rising and we are now out of frost danger. It looks like we won’t have an Indian Summer with fall lasting to November this year because of the mild summer we had and now with early snow.

Foggy Mornings:

During Fall there will often be fog after it rains. I think the landscape is so beautiful when fog is rolling in. I don’t care for driving in the soupy stuff, but watching it float around over the lake and through the forest is awesome. Here’s a little video I captured of the fog building up in the morning. An hour later we were totally engulfed in white.

 

Fall inspired oil paintings:

The Fall colors during foggy conditions seem more vibrant. It may be due to there not being bright sunlight to wash out the hues. I was inspired to paint this scene of our street during one, particularly foggy day. “Fog in the Forest” is an 11″x14″ oil on canvas and is a part of my personal collection:

Fall is my favorite time of the year

 

This next oil painting, “Leaves on the Driveway”, was inspired by the leaves in our driveway during Fall. It was painted entirely with a palette knife on 4″x4″ gallery wrapped box canvas. I bring this painting out every year as part of my favorite fall decor.

 

Decorating with artwork:

The best thing about small works of art is they can be easily moved. Each year the decor is a little different and this year, “Leaves on the Driveway” is being showcased in the entry on a shelf. Sometimes small art pieces are displayed on the dining room table as a centerpiece along with a vase of flowers. Other times fall-themed paintings are showcased on the fireplace mantle, with a garland of autumn leaves.

 

fall decor ideas


Painting Plein Air:

 

Bridge at Buttonhook

The Bridge at Buttonhook is a 6″x6″ oil on panel. This painting was done in Plein Air last year in October. It was still warm enough to go boating so we packed lunch and enjoyed the warm sunshine and peacefulness of the lake.  The very next day, the temps dropped 20 degrees, the wind arrived, clouds rolled in and snow blanketed the mountain tops. Fall was promptly over!

 

I hope to be able to do some more Fall Plein air work this year before its all said and done, like this one:

Plein air painting during Fall, my favorite time of the year.

Plein Air at Whiskey Rock” is painted in oils on a 5″x7″ canvas.  Whiskey Rock is a point on the lake which has several boat docks and a small campground. Whiskey Rock campground is tucked into a small cove, and is a favorite spot for weekend boat camping. I painted this one from our boat and absolutely loved how it turned out, with the backlit trees and the reflections in the water. The day was calm, and warm but the air was filled with smoke that year from all the surrounding wildfires when “Plein Air at Whiskey Rock” was created.

One day, during the framing of “Plein Air at Whiskey Rock”, I accidentally drilled too deep and poked a hole in the painting. Now I have to repaint “Plein Air at Whiskey Rock“. Geesh!

Is Fall your favorite time of the year or are you more of a summer lover? Do you decorate your space with Fall themes during this time of the year? What is your favorite time of the year? Leave a comment below and lets chat!

I’ll share some more of my favorite fall paintings in the next post. Until we meet again, much love! ~Rhonda

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Summer is flying by, as are the birds!

Summer is flying by, as are the birds. They  are leaving us for their migration south, and all is quiet in the morning now. No more loud jungle style bird sounds at 3:30 in the morning. That’s a good thing for those of us who like to sleep. My little Hummingbirds are all but gone, and so are the Robins.

I was lucky enough to come upon this Robin’s nest in a low lying branch of one of our pine trees, thanks to my husband’s discovery. We were able to watch the growth cycle of four newly hatched baby Robins. So cool! When we first saw them they were but a few days old. Here are a few photos and a short video of the baby Robins:

 

Newly hatched baby Robins

Nature is so amazing to me. You can see the bird’s ear holes and they have just a few wisps of feathers. We had to use a mirror to reflect back to the camera because they were tucked down deep into the nest.

A week later I checked on the Robins to make sure they were still in the nest and that no predator had discovered them. To my amazement, they had grown  almost all their feathers and their eyes were open! I never once heard the babies make any sounds; I think this is what protects them from predators.

We had a huge thunderstorm one night with 60 mph winds, but mama Robin had built her nest so well, that the storm didn’t bother her babies and they were still safely tucked in their nest the next morning.

 

Baby Robins in their nest

A week later, I was working in the garden and remembered I should check on the nest and was shocked to see the growth that had taken place! They grew so fast. I am so glad I snapped this last photo, because a few days later they were gone.

 

Baby Robins almost grown

The new family can hardly fit in the nest. They still made no sounds, and I was grateful my presence didn’t make them want to fly away. This is such a joy to see, because I adore birds. I have owned two parakeets and a love bird in my earlier days, and I feel birds are just innocent beautiful creatures.

Here’s a small video clip:

 

What summer highlights have you enjoyed so far? For me, it’s been nature, my flowers and veggie gardens, and painting plein air when possible. Unfortunately, we are experiencing wildfire smoke from nearby fires and the atmosphere has turned ugly, so no painting outside for a bit. We are  going to get rain in a few days and hopefully the smoke will go away.

Thanks for stopping by. Much Love ~ Rhonda

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Camping and Plein Air Painting in the Forest

A couple of weekends ago we did a camp out and had a great time. It was a spur of the moment, “let’s do this!” kind of deal, and our destination was up in the mountains at an out of the way campground. We arrived late on Friday and never thought to make a reservation at the campground. To our dismay, the camp was full and without a reservation, things didn’t look good for us. So we asked the camp host if he knew of a spot to camp down the road, and as we were talking, the owner overheard our conversation and came over to us with a wonderful idea! He said they had one spot in the overflow section and if we didn’t mind not having a campfire ring, we were welcome to use it. He cut the rate since it wasn’t a full on campsite, and we were over joyed.

We ended up in a secluded part of the campground near a multi event area which wasn’t being used and the whole situation turned out perfect. We set up camp, made dinner and settled in for the night. The next morning we rode out in the UTV, with the goal of finding a spot for me to paint, and my husband to fish. We rode all over the mountains looking for a place called Mirror lake, and never found it, but did however find a spectacular spot at the top of the mountain and the view was awesome! At 4200 ft. elevation it was a bit cool, and there was still snow on the higher peaks, so I was glad I brought a coat.

The wildflowers were abundant and beautiful and had just begun to bloom. The hillsides were covered in patches of daisies and poking up through them were these beautiful vibrant red flowers.

After, driving around all morning, and not finding the lake, we settled on a spot for lunch next to a creek in the dark and scary forest.

This is Latour Creek and you can see where some folks had camped and left their trash behind. This is just so annoying to me. “Pack it in, Pack it out” is written for a reason! The forest is not the city dump people! Geez.

Anyway, after lunch I brought out the gear and my plan was to fill the panel with a complete underpainting before I lost the light. The dappled light highlighting the stream was absolutely beautiful.

 


 

It was very cool and quiet, with only the sounds of the running creek and an occasional ATV driving by. The creek was too shallow for any fishing so my husband did a bit of hiking while I painted. All was going great, and then the inevitable happened… no, not rain… Mosquitoes. Seriously? For some reason bugs love to eat me and when the mosquitoes discovered I was tasty, my painting session ended, as I was rudely bitten on the chin. I took reference photos and made some sketches, then packed up the gear.


 

We arrived back at camp in time for dinner, and on the menu was campfire pizza and a nice glass of wine. So yummy. I made the dough at home and cut up the veggies at camp and didn’t even know if this would work, but it did.

I don’t know what it is, but camp food just tastes so delish. This pizza had onions, mushrooms, red pepper, tomatoes and Canadian bacon. After we ate, we sat around our little camp stove and gazed upon the fire, sipping our wine and having chocolate for dessert. The clouds moved in to give us a spectacular sunset and it sprinkled during the night which was so nice to listen to.


 

I’m having to paint from my reference photos since I wasn’t able to complete my under painting, and made some adjustments to the composition:

Composition changes

Don’t worry, I didn’t mark up the painting. This is an acetate overlay I use to make sure elements aren’t “dead center”.  I use a dry erase marker to make notes for the changes. This piece will take me longer since there are so many rocks in the scene, and I want to get the dappled light just right.

I will be taking some time away from the easel and blog posts, as I work freelance for an architect and he has sent me some new plans to work on. If you want to stay in the know about when I put up a new blog post, you can sign up for weekly emails, which are delivered on Friday mornings whenever I write a new post. Click HERE to sign up.

See you next time!

Much Love,

Rhonda