We decided to pick up a frame order in Arizona, and while my mother-in-law had visited Arizona, she had never seen Saguaros. We decided to combine efforts: she'd fly home to Florida from Arizona, and my wife and I would pick up frames. My mother-in-law is 80 going on 60 and hiked with us, providing a wealth of knowledge on plants. Although this was to be family time, I was surprised by the amount of reference gathered.
My interest in animal life is varied, but the desert has beckoned me since my first trip to New Mexico as a teen. This trip I studied the desert perhaps more intimately than on previous trips. Putting some meat on the bone, so to speak, with new paintings was a goal. As a professional artist, I wanted to cast aside thoughts that restrain creativity.
I began with inspiration as a driving force, and the desert did not disappoint. I saw more mule deer on this trip. While this wasn't as in-depth as a typical research trip, it panned out with some good reference and more so in inspiration and knowledge. I was able to catch this little rabbit taking a break from the heat of the day. The cottontail was such a good model, he demanded to be painted. Fortunately, he was quite content to rest in the desert shadows while I took some pics and made mental notes.
The trip taught me I can become too comfortable in the studio, but more surprisingly in the field as well. I can't force inspiration. There is something always more interesting. Sometimes it is as simple as a little cottontail.
Available: Legacy Gallery
"Ridgetop Morning" 9" x 12 oil/board
Just crated these for Settlers West American Miniatures Show. The Mule deer is from a recent research trip. Light is an important factor in my paintings. On this one, my aim was the morning light. I had followed this buck and sensed he was getting impatient with his quest for the does. It made sense he was going to crest this hill. The lighting was great, my model was superb and I was in position. The does meandered down the hill and out of view, but their addition to the scene was crucial to the painting.
"Jumping Jack" 9" x 12" oil/board
I am a fan of these fierce little rascals. They are able to thrive in the most inhospitable of areas of the American Southwest. Although correct to my reference, (I measured multiple times!) I decided this hare's ears were not long enough to convey the iconic jackrabbit look so I lengthened them.
I have several larger paintings in progress, so I set this up in a corner of the studio. I am simply working nuances at this point and picking at things that later would irritate only me.
As it turned out, there is a subtlety that I get a kick out of. I left it. There was an energy in my paint stroke when I laid in the paint between the rabbit's ears. I'm not one to get overly analytical but these light "squiggles" that happened by pure chance, delight me. The spontaneous energy, like an old tv's rabbit ear antennae seemed absolutely appropriate for the painting. I thank God when these happy gifts happen.