Monday, May 12, 2014

If You Call, I Will Panther

When I was in high school, my art class took a field trip to a gallery in Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, to view a show featuring some Canadian wildlife artists.  I wandered around the room looking at various paintings of foxes and wolves and loons.  They were all impressive, and I thought I could have stayed there all day, but one kept drawing me back.

It was an arctic gyrfalcon sitting on a cliff.  The thing that was most remarkable to me was the atmospheric feeling about it.  Even though the focus was on the bird and the rock, it gave the feeling that I was viewing something that was very high up in the air.

I went back to this painting so many times that my classmates started making fun of me.  "Nancy really likes that one!"

I didn't care.  I wanted to make sure I remembered the name of the artist.  And his name became emblazoned on my brain:  Robert Bateman.

That was in the late 1970's. Now everyone who is the slightest interest in the wildlife art world has heard of Mr. Bateman, and most are familiar with his dusky technique, his soft naturalistic stroke, his muted colors.  I can usually identify his work on sight.

I was even able to meet him in person one day in the early 1990's, when he was riding the crest of his fame and success.  I had stopped at a bookstore in Ann Arbor, and saw a modest sign on the door:  "Artist Robert Bateman, here today."  I could hardly believe my luck!  I went home and got the book I had featuring his work, and brought it back so he could sign it.  Like many artists, he was rumpled, soft-spoken and modest. He spoke reverently about the earth and its creatures.  I was smitten.  I was so tongue-tied that I couldn't express my admiration, or even propose marriage.  But I did hold out my hand, and he shook it and I came away thinking I'd never wash the hand again.

So when I was approached by Fulcrum Gallery to blog about their product, and they offered to send me a print, I skimmed through what they had available.  I was thrilled to find Bateman's "Tropical Cougar" in their inventory.  Fortunately, their website was easy to navigate.  I pored over matte colors and deliberated over how to frame it.  Finally, I picked a soft eggshell matte and dark wooden frame to match the understated tones in the image.  It arrived two days ago, packed securely in cardboard, flawlessly framed in the colors I requested.  It now hangs in my bedroom, designed to inspire me every morning.  Thanks Fulcrum Gallery.  Thanks Robert Bateman.  I did eventually wash my hand, but now at least I have one of your prints.

Tropical Cougar by Robert Bateman

Friday, March 28, 2014

Border Collie on Slate

My friend Barb's border collie is featured in today's slate painting. This beautiful dog has appeared on billboards promoting pet expos all over the country from Michigan to New York. She is easily one of the fastest dogs I have ever seen. I was happy to be able to paint her and I incorporated the image of the sun in honor of her name: Bryte!  About 6x8"

Feline Art


I was a little tempted to change this cat into a Somali or Abyssinian, as that is my "breed bias", but this time I decided to leave it black.  I think it works with the coldness of the marble sill, the snowy day and the blue glass.  This painting is about as close to a still-life as I get.  It is actually a study in textures.  I found it an interesting challenge to have black fur, under the circumstances, emanate warmth.

This is acrylic on 9x12" gallery-wrapped canvas.  I have prints available in my online gallery at Fine Art America.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Endless Equine Art

Last night I watched "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" on Netflix, Werner Herzog's documentary about the Paleolithic-era paintings in the Chauvet cave of Southern France.  Deemed the oldest works of art on record, the paintings were primarily of horses.  Their scruffy manes, knobby heads and arched necks are easily recognizable, and they are pictured running in groups.  The lines and textures of the images are so beautiful that I want to get a copy somehow and hang it on my wall.

Morgan stallion on black canvas, 9x12" acrylic
It leads me to reflect on this equine wonder, a limitless source of inspiration though the ages.  The horse lives on, forever stretching our collective imagination.  When I learned to hold a pencil and make a mark with it, I started drawing horses.  Even though I had never owned one, I drew them galloping with flowing manes and tails.  I drew long heads with pointed ears and rounded cheeks.  I drew bent legs and bulging knees and comma-shaped nostrils.  Now all these years later, I am still painting horses. It seems only appropriate on this Valentine's Day that I should be reflecting on my first love, the horse.

Here are two new salutes to our eternal friend.


"War Horse", Mustang 9x12" acrylic

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Paintings on Slate

For my gallery show, I ordered a few slabs of slate from SlateLady.com . It was my first time ordering from them. I was happy with the product, except that one of the holes wasn't drilled all the way through. But that's easy enough to fix.  They come with holes so they can be hung with something like rawhide or baling twine.



I had painted on slate before, but it's been years.  My first attempt this time was this chickadee with winter berries, on a small piece, about 3x5"  The teeny, tiny detail makes for an interesting challenge on the textured surface of the slate.


Next was another small one, this lady cardinal on a wrought iron gate. 

Once I got the slates, I couldn't seem to stop painting on them.  I am learning that slate has a rough side and a smooth side, and for some reason I keep opting to paint on the rough side! Duh. Also, it sucks paint like a sponge. It likes a lot of layers. Sometimes you think you are done but then your paint disappears!


 Today's project is a group of horses running in snow.  This piece is 6x9"  A coat of glaze made a big difference in all of these paintings.  It darkens the slate and adds a nice sheen, for a good finishing touch. 


Here's another pic of the running horses, after glaze was applied.  The glare in this photo shows the bumps and ridges on the slate which makes it a challenge to paint on.  However, it was fun and a nice diversion for me -- so I will probably order more.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Gallery Show at Fernwood Botanical Garden


Several of my paintings, including "Dots", this watercolor of an Appaloosa filly, will be hanging in Fernwood Gallery for their Contemporary Show beginning on Valentine's Day.  Fernwood Gallery is located in the sprawling and inviting Fernwood Botanical Gardens in Niles, Michigan.


Also present will be my experimental acrylic collage on 10x20" stretched canvas. "Bubbles," features a family of dolphins undulating over paper background "sand," which  has script in it about love and affection. I added some adhesive gems for the sparkling bubbles, giving this painting a whole new dimension of light and motion. It must be seen in person to appreciate! See it at Fernwood in Niles, Michigan, Feb 14 - March 16, 2014.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Sleeping Lion -- Waking Up to Change



Back in 1990 I decided to write a science fiction story called, "The Sleeping Lion" based on an idea that I had.  The story is about a young woman named Kelly who lives with an abusive boyfriend.  She escapes for an evening hike in the mountains to find a meteor hurtling into her path.  It crashes, but then she finds that it's not a meteor.

Of course, as with most of my stories, there has to be an animal with a primary role in the story.  In this one, it is Art, a Somali cat.

I had plenty of experience with some of the subject matter -- including life in Colorado with an abusive boyfriend.  Spending weekends hiking up in the mountains in Estes Park was one of the best experiences I've ever had -- nasty boyfriend notwithstanding.

About five years after the Colorado stint, and when I decided to write the story, I was in Michigan and married.  Unfortunately my taste in men hadn't improved a whole lot.  He was still abusive, only in more subtle (therefore longer-lasting and ultimately more damaging) ways.  Because he was essentially a rocket scientist, I was able to glean some good information from him for the story.

I didn't have any luck in the publishing world at that point, so the book lay inactive for years, until just recently when I dug it out again, rather accidentally.

Though it is a sci-fi story about a crashing meteor, "The Sleeping Lion" is ultimately about relationships, with the central theme being about personal inner strength.  It is a message I keep re-exploring.  I don't seem to consciously realize it, but it appears that my deepest desire is to be strong.  I admire strength which doesn't sacrifice kindness, empathy which doesn't sacrifice dignity.

In reading it, I was happy to note that I have changed, mainly in that there is no way I would now put up with that kind of treatment from anyone.

I knew that my writing skills have also matured, but I still have much to learn.  It is, however, still an entertaining read. 

I especially liked revisiting Art, my long-lost Somali cat, and the trails in Estes Park.  I need to get back there someday.   I hope that, unlike me, they haven't changed too much.

"The Sleeping Lion" is also available on Kindle

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I Am the Eagle, I Live in High Country, mid Rocky Cathedrals that Reach to the Sky...

"Spirit Bird" 9x12" acrylic
 Yep, I am flying on Cloud Nine these days as my artistic career has reached an all-time high (wait -- that's a different song).  Beginning June 22, 2014, Fernwood Gallery in Niles Michigan will be featuring my art in a one-woman show, through most of July!  That's right -- all me, all the time! 

Fernwood is a lovely place, a state-of-the-art facility located in a beautiful botanical garden.  I can't think of a better setting for wildlife art than a place surrounded by trees and fields and the flora and fauna of Southwest Michigan.

Needless to say, this is a dream come true.  I have my work cut out for me as I now need to have 30 original pieces ready to hang on display.  Yikes!  It's a good thing I have a few months to do this.  Here are a couple of my first attempts to fill the gallery.  Both are eagles, and both are acrylic on 9x12" stretched canvas (which is easily hung without the expense of framing).  I have an affinity for raptors and so probably will be including some owls in the mix.  With these will come some other birds and wildlife, and of course, some of my equine art.  All pieces will be for sale as I produce them.  I will try to keep my blog updated with new art -- so check back for lots more where this came from!

Golden Eagle, 9x12" acrylic on canvas


Wo, Wo, Wo, it's Magic!

Since the console of my car had no change dispenser I thought a handy thing to do would be to keep change in the ashtray.  Since I am not a smoker, this seemed like a logical solution.  Well, unfortunately my car has a ciggy lighter (charger) inside the ash tray.  Explain that one!  Anyway, inevitably, a dime skipped down inside the charger.  It wedged in there so perfectly that I had to take tweezers to get it out.  I didn't realize it at the time, but the dime shorted out my charger -- rendering it non-usable unless I replace the fuse.

Do you know how inconvenient it is to drive around without a car charger?

Presto!  For Christmas, a company called Powerocks sent me this fantastic portable charger called the Magicstick.  I had never used a portable charger before but now I wouldn't know what I would do without this thing.  It fits anywhere and when I don't use it, it holds a charge for days.  It comes with its own cool little reversible cord that works for charging the Magicstick, and then charging my phone.

I want to send special thanks to the folks at Powerocks for this great little gadget!