Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Crossing of Paths

On my way to Italy in March, I had a layover at the Paris airport while waiting for my last little jaunt to Florence. Charles de Gaulle terminals are busy places, and I was tired after my overseas flight.

My husband and I happened to be on different commuter flights for that last part of our journey and he had already departed. Not wanting to fall asleep and miss my connection, I dug out my trip journal and made a few notes.

People came and went from surrounding seats in the waiting area, but the two gentlemen across the aisle stayed put.

Picturesque by the mere contrast of their sizes, I was intrigued from the first glance and decided to make a quick study with the pen I'd been using to write with.

Both men were quite engrossed in their conversation and seemed oblivious to the busy comings and goings around them. They did, however, apparently notice me looking at them after a few minutes, and ask me something in a foreign language. Russian, perhaps?

I showed them my very rough gesture sketch, pointed to myself and said "artiste". We introduced ourselves and a young man nearby explained to me in English that they were a Russian group on tour. I thought he said they were a group of Russian artists going to a show, and I got his email address.

Back home I wrote the young man and received an answer a few weeks later. Turns out, they were music artists on tour. Ever hear of the Russian Red Army Choir? I have because my husband happens to like some of their YouTube performances.

It turns out that Grigoriy, the gentleman on the left side of my little sketch, is a solo singer with a wonderful deep voice who performs with the army choir. Here is a video of him singing "Sixteen Tons"!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Rodent of Unusual Size

"Country Mouse" Oil, 2.25"x3.25"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin


Yesterday I posted paintings for our May Challenge and promised to tell you why I picked the subject I did. If you've been following along, you know that month by month, each member of our group takes turns choosing what we will paint.

This month was my turn to name our subject. A little mouse inspired my choice. My son found this small fry out in the yard, just sitting there. I'm guessing the cats may have injured him. Perhaps he decided to play dead so the felines would leave him alone.

Whatever the case, we put him in a terrarium with a snack and a little water so I could study him awhile. The first sketch was an attempt to capture his visage while he was moving around in the glass box, which was quite a challenge. I painted this second sketch later as he appeared to be sleeping. Alas, he was likely expiring, as he did not move at all the next morning.

"No Cat Nap" Oil, 4"x5"©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 


However, he was still a very useful model and was very cooperative as I posed him with the cracker I'd left for him in the terrarium.

"Mouse Hunt" Oil, 4"x6"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin


I felt quite sorry for this cute little fellow, as he appeared to not be very old.

Which is very silly because my motto is usually "Death to all Rodents". They have wreaked havoc in my home and garage on a number of occasions and are filthy creatures who have no respect for personal property. I do have mixed feelings about them, however. My husband and I had a couple of little field mice we kept as pets when we were first married. The varmits escaped from the little glass home we made for them after we had them awhile. Once when we were gone on a trip they managed to get out.

After our return, I found evidence of their squalid living conditions in the drawer of my oven which they had used as a latrine, and where they had started a little nest of torn up trash they had rummaged.

My cats earn their keep by decimating the mice, voles, moles, and other members of the rodent population here on the farm. I always praise my feline friends when they bring the results of their hunts to my doorstep to share with me. I just have to be careful when I step out of doors in the morning.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May Challenge: Rodent

(left) “Of Mice and Lego Men"
Oil on hardboard 2.75"x6.5"

I chose this month's somewhat humorous Challenge and had a lot of fun trying to come up with exactly the right plan for another Lego parody.

If you've been following this Challenge, you no doubt have noticed that those little toy figures have been a regular feature through the months. As I was turning over ideas in my head, it seemed fitting for a brave knight to be battling a rodent of unusual size! 

Why a rodent for this Challenge? I'll tell you tomorrow exactly why I wanted to paint a mouse!

Having fun with our Challenge is one of most important goals of our little group. And we have a new member joining us as a guest! I'm very pleased to announce that Julie Oliver is committing to a couple of months for this project.

I've enjoyed seeing Julie's work at her blog and am excited that she has agreed to try a little bit of craziness with us for awhile.

Please enjoy her painting here, along with the work of long-time members Vicki and Suzanne.

"Mr Beaver at Home"
6"x8" Oil on RayMar canvas board
©2013 Julie Ford Oliver 

(middle painting, at left)
12"x16" Oil on linen
©2013 Suzanne Berry

(bottom painting, at left)
"Pink Squirrel"
16"x12" pastel
©2013 Vicki Ross

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

"Summer Lullaby"
Original oil painting, 14"x11"
©2009 Diana Moses Botkin

Although I enjoy painting a variety of scenes in God's creation, I must say that mothers and babies are just about my most favorite subjects. This is a piece I've recently framed. Reproductions are available at my LifeImages gallery. Look for the savings code at the top of the page!

The original, along with two more of my figurative works, have been accepted to the Wallowa Valley Festival of the Arts. The show and quick draw will be held May 31 - June 2 in Joseph, Oregon.

I'm looking forward to this event, as I've heard good things about it. I'll be at the Opening and will also do a demo on Saturday. I'll also enjoy participating in the quick draw. That is always an exciting challenge to make a painting in the allotted time!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

More on the Fechin Show

When I arrived at the Frye Museum to see the Fechin paintings I noticed one of the plein air painters from Portland only a few steps ahead of me. I recognized her because we've both participated in the Hood River paint out eventZa and I talked throughout the show at different times about various pieces. We each had our favorites and overlapped on many of our observations. She commented that Fechin's colorful portrait "Albidia" was very Sargent-like. Indeed, it was.

I also wound up talking with Diana, a fellow artist, while looking at "Manicure Lady". It turned out we both knew her brother-in-law, who happened to have helped me create my website a few years ago. It's a small world sometimes.

None of the people I talked to, however, had noticed the patch on "Manicure Lady" which I described in my blog post yesterday. I still have not found any information to answer my questions, but am thinking there is a story behind it.

I had several favorites in the show, two of which I posted yesterday. These two below also captivated my mind and heart. "Eya" (left below) was one of several works in the exhibit that Fechin had painted of his daughter. This small piece was arresting for several reasons. (The photo doesn't do the painting justice, which is typical of most of the images I could find online of Fechin's work.)

The glowing areas of light around the young girl's mouth and that one stroke of light paint applied heavily in the little valley by the right side of her nose really made me stop and think. The downcast eyelids and lashes are painted thinly but textured, and that one heavy dab of light cuts over the darker area perfectly to make the highlight. The effect is quite astonishing.

There were a number of landscapes in the exhibit, but "Winter Landscape, Taos" (below right) was the one I wanted to study. The combined heavy paint of the snow with the thinner blue shadows dug in really made this piece come alive. Also, the way the artist drew in detailed lines on thicker paint was so perfect (such as the wheel spokes and that window screen at the back of the shack), especially when observed from a distance.

I wish the paintings were nearby somewhere so I could look at them again and again!

Underpaintings: Color Palettes: Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin (1881-1955)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sleeveless in Seattle

 Manicure Lady by Nicolai Fechin

The work of Nicolai Fechin is exhibited at the Frye Museum in Seattle through May 19. A couple of artist friends and I drove over to see the show. The collection of drawings and paintings together was very impressive and inspiring. And we couldn't have asked for nicer weather. I walked to the museum on a sunny morning in a sleeveless top: a pleasant and exercising jaunt uphill from a friend's apartment near the water.

I spent almost the whole day at the exhibit, looking at Fechin's brushwork in his oils and admiring his drawings very much. The painting above was my favorite piece in the show. As with most of Fechin's work there, smooth detail is contrasted with heavy paint, applied deliberately but with apparent abandon. The painting above left is absolutely arresting with the roughly applied areas and the smooth detailed passages. The feet are especially detailed and smooth. I could look at them repeatedly and not tire of admiring Fechin's lovely colors and form in the portrayal.

"Manicure Lady" (above right) fascinated me also. Walking up to the painting I noticed the wave of the canvas around the model's face, so took a closer look. There is an added piece of canvas in that area. The edges of the applied fabric are disguised with heavy paint application, but close inspection easily reveals the patch. 

I couldn't help but wonder why it was there. Had the underlying canvas been damaged? One would guess so, from the wavy look of the support. Did the artist slash it accidentally... or even on purpose? Or perhaps another accident had befallen the piece and Fechin rescued his work by slapping on another scrap of canvas. There was no note with the painting about the patch and I'm unable to find any information. Maybe someone can enlighten me?