I love birds...and one of my favorites is the Bluebird! This little guy is all "puffed up" against a cold north wind. From 1983 to 1986 I lived in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. In addition to mountains, pine trees and rishing rivers, my subject matter included birds of all types...songbirds, gamebirds, ducks, geese, hawks, eagles....if it had feathers, I painted it. When I moved back to Texas, my subject matter turned more toward the plains, Hill Country, farms and ranches.
In the application of the final few strokes, I realized how much I've missed painting these joyful creatures - So, look for more of my feathered friends on my blog and website!
Out To Sea - View from the Betzel's - 36 x 48 Oil on Canvas
First let me say that a good commission doesn't come along very often....nor
does one often have a "story". This commission is one that resulted from being
in the right place at the right time; I'm a true believer that things happen
when they're supposed to. This story began last October during my participation
in the Invitational Coastal Paint Out in Port Aransas, TX. On the last morning
of the event, there was a Quick Draw event - it was cold and the wind was coming
off the ship channel about 30 mph...but I persevered & painted a nice one in
spite of the uncomfortable conditions. After the Quick Draw, my husband & I
wanted to grab some coffee to "warm up" & decided to have a late breakfast
at a local cafe`. It was very crowded with only 1 table available, so it was
good to be seated and not have to wait. About 10 minutes later, another couple
came in - no table available, so my husband (who never met a stranger) waved
them over to share our table. We exchanged names...the usual chit-chat about
"where we're from" and "why we're here". Bill & Jeanne were from Ft. Worth
and purchased a 2nd home in Port A. Long story short, they invited us to see
their home and to discuss a commission painting for a large wall in the living
area. Their home is located on the entrance of ship channel to Corpus Christi
Bay just about 1/4 mile down from the ferry landing. Lovely home; gorgeous
view. Bill & Jeanne's favorite past-time is watching the dolphins "playing"
out in front of the ships as they come & go. So...my commission was to
replicate their "view"....the channel, the ship, their pier....and the
So, my journey began with creating a composition that would include these
elements, with a huge orange tanker (they gave me a photo of "THE" ship) as the
focus. Problem #1: I have never painted anything (that floats) bigger than a
shrimper. Problem #2: The canvas is 36 x 48...almost taller than I am...and
when on the easel, it is definitely above my head. Problem #3: The tanker is
really, really big and the elements had to be "to scale" in
comparison. Problem #4: This ship is a bright, eye-popping
From December until the end of April, I spent almost as much time planning
& thinking as I did re-mixing a slightly different color than the one
previously applied. One "adjustment" lead to another, and another; layer upon
layer until the final stroke almost 5 months later. I put the painting on my
fireplace mantel and after 2 weeks, decided it was finished & signed
"Leading the Way" - Dolphins 12x12 Oil on canvas
One of the issues I had with "scale" is that the dolphins had to be very tiny
in the painting - and the dolphins were the source of a lot of fun for Bill and
Jeanne...watching them jump and "challenge" the ship to catch them. Off and on
over the last month, I painted this small "close-up" of the dolphins as a
surprise gift for them. Now, this is a FUN painting! It makes me smile.
Meanwhile, as I was struggling with the usual problems that accompany a large
commission work, Bill and Jeanne were going through struggles of their own;
Bill had open heart surgery (doing fine & recovering nicely) and she was
scheduled for rotator cuff surgery in about 2 weeks. So when I let them know
the painting was ready, they were thrilled and excited to see it. My husband
and I delivered both paintings last Sunday afternoon. They love it....as well
as the little dolphin painting...and the timing is perfect - with Bill still
recovering and Jeanne scheduled for surgery soon, their trips to Port A have
been put off for at least 2 or 3 more months. The painting is hanging in their
patio room which is kind of "tropical" and they can enjoy the "view" of the ship
channel as if they are looking through the windows in their home in Port A.
I'd also like to mention that this commission is very special....but in
a personal way - my husband and I now have 2 new friends; and it all began with
sharing a breakfast table with strangers in Port Aransas, Texas.
By the way, have I ever mentioned that I really do love my job?
I'm a full time artist; native Texan, self taught and work primarily in the medium of watercolor. Painting daily, I prefer to work en plein aire (on location), and I'm often seen working in the historic districts of Waxahachie and throughout the North Texas area. A member of several arts organizations including Outdoor Painters Society (Signature Member), Contemporary Fine Art International (Signature Member), Artists of Texas, Professional Artists in North Texas, International Plein Air Painters, Landscape Artists International,DeSoto Art League and Ellis County Art Association. Painting professionally for over 35 years, my originals are in private and corporate collections in 34 States, as well as Mexico, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Scotland, Portugal, Germany, and Republic of Benin, West Africa.