Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Evolution of an Artist

My first article has finally been published! Evolution of an Artist was published in the GNSI Journal of Natural Science Illustration this month. Thank you to the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators for putting me in the Spotlight! The Guild, or GNSI, is a professional organization committed to the nurturing and promoting of its members and is an important educational resource for anyone interested in this specialized genre of illustration work. They also provide important networking opportunities and general camaraderie for its members. I have been a member off and on since finishing graduate school in 1992. You can find out more about them by visiting www.gnsi.org.

Writing is something I've long wanted to do but never had the courage until recently. Like all good projects, it was a collaboration with support from several members of the guild and my husband. It is my first piece of writing but hopefully not my last. Below is the opening paragraph. To read the full article just click here. Enjoy! Your feedback is most welcome.

Bushwhack. One definition says “to make one’s way through woods by cutting at undergrowth, branches, etc.” This is how I ended up rolling through life.

Born into a family with an alcoholic father and a mother busy working to pay the bills and raise three children, “nurturing” was virtually non-existent in my rearing. We hear this sort of story all the time and most certainly there are people who had it much worse than I. But, this environment guided my early years and led me to seek attention and acceptance outwardly, have poor study habits in high school, low self-esteem, no long-term vision, etc. Fortunately, I soon realized the surrogate environment and bad attitude were just more dead ends and not the life I wanted. It took a while for this lost soul to find the confidence to start a journey completely alone. But I did. And that’s what matters in this story.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

This One's Gone....Don't Let Yours Get Away!

Quiescent    January, 2013
One of my favorite paintings of 2013 has a new owner.  This was the first one of the year that I felt I captured everything I was going for....color, light, values, composition and texture.  Interestingly, although Quiescent received a lot of interest throughout the year, it's not until now that it found a new home.

The piece has an emotional attachment for me, as it is a location that has special memories for my family.  I hope my brain forever retains the memory of that summer morning.

I will miss looking at the original but I know the home where it's going; no doubt I'll see it again.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Sale on all 2013 Works

Surprise!  All of the work created this year is on sale for 20% off through the end of December!  You can view it all on my Facebook page in the album titled "2013 for Sale!". Each piece has a price and size listed as well as whether or not it is currently for framed.  A lot of work has been produced this year and now it's time to let them go.  Shipping is available at cost.  There's still time to get yours delivered by Christmas!  :-)

Support your local artist and give the gift of art this season.  Click the Facebook badge to the left to view the work now.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Final Four Paintings of 2013

Alas, the end has come.  My 30/30 October turned into 30/60 for October and November.  Actually, I'm still about five paintings short of my goal but no matter.  I'm done (and perfectly OK with that).

It's been quite a year of experimenting, creating, agonizing, delighting and surprising (myself).  At times quite hard to keep up with it all.  But so glad I did.  I'm a much better painter than when I started and now a new journey can begin.

In total I created 85 paintings, of which only 58 remain available.  Look at the numbers...how funny is that?  Support your local artists and consider a gift of art when you shop for family, friends and colleagues this season.  If you are a FB user, to see all 58 paintings go to my FB page and open the album titled 2013 for Sale:

Otherwise, check my website in the next few days.  Some of the new ones will be added there by mid-week.  Until then, enjoy the final four paintings below.  And, as always, I am filled with gratitude and joy for your support over the years.  Thank you.

Crow 1    5.5 x 7.5"    $150, framed or $100, unframed

Crow 2    5.5 x 7.5"    $150, framed or $100, unframed

Duck Flight    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed

Rocky Shore    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! Four New Works Completed on This Day After...

Finally had time to get back to the drawing table, literally.  Sometimes, when a long break has occurred, it's really hard to settle in and focus on painting.  I squirreled away a bunch of time today for myself and boy am I glad I did.

Today's works all stem from imagination for the most part.  A few photo references were used but only to get a sense of basic shapes.  Otherwise, the work is all very intuitive.  I did not sketch out any plans beforehand.  Some thoughtful decisions were made along the way but mostly I just followed the paintbrush around the paper.
Cardinal Pair    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed

Grasshopper Hunt    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed

Winter Spruces    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed

Winter Tangle    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed
One of these will be this year's holiday card from Birchtree Studio.  I'm keeping it  a secret for now but you can leave your vote in the comments box.  If you do, your name will go into a drawing for one of this month's paintings.  Drawing to be held on Sunday, Dec. 1.  Don't delay!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The word "milestone" is described as a "significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc." according to Dictionary.com.

With these two recent works I feel I've reached a milestone in my watercolor work.  Both are a bit more abstract than what I "normally" produce but they represent exactly the style I've been trying to achieve, something I intend to master.  About two years ago someone commented on my work, claiming they see a recognizable style developing.  While I appreciated the compliment I didn't necessarily see what they saw.  Now I can.
Departure 2    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed
I absolutely love the ethereal, dusk feeling of Departure 2.  The loose and bold use of the medium is both striking and moving.
Waking Above the Clouds    11.5 x 7.5"    $395, framed or $250, unframed
Waking Above the Clouds is born from a weekend hiking trip I did with a few friends in October.  I was very hesitant to go on the adventure because I haven't done much hiking this year.  Even my running had been minimal.  Thankfully, I made a last-minute decision to go for it.  It was tremendously hard but I'm so glad I went!  I spent time with my husband and some really good friends, learned to work through an incredibly difficult (physically) task, and literally woke above the clouds on one of the mornings.  The trail is part of the AT, along the Saddleback Ridge section in Maine.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Busy Few Days of Painting!

Cattail Shadows    11.5 x 7.5"
$395, framed or $250, unframed
So, what's different here?  Pretty obvious.   These two images are nearly identical but I bet you can spot the difference.  I thought I was done with the painting (first image) then, later in the day, decided to add something more.  From a composition standpoint, which do you like better?  

I completed two more paintings today, as well, both of which I am quite happy with.

Departure    11.5 x 7.5", unframed
$395, framed or $250, unframed

Departure recalls the fall migration of tree swallows.  Have you ever witnessed this event?  Tree swallows gather together by the thousands.  They'll spend several days building their numbers then, one day, they take flight and head south as one massive group.  While their building in numbers they spend their time feeding voraciously in anticipation of the miles and miles they'll travel.  Standing under a swarm of thousands of tree swallows is something you'll never forget.
Greater Yellowlegs Trot    11.5 x 7.5"
$395, framed or $250, unframed

Greater Yellowlegs is a species of shorebird that spends time here.  This one was spotted at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.  The photo resource is another from Bill Gette, Director of Joppa Flats Wildlife Sanctuary on Plum Island.  I thought the bird exuded some personality with it's "trot" through the water.  It has a cute button-like large eye, too.  Really cute.

Go to my Birchtree Studio Facebook page and share the 30/30 October album for a chance to win one of my paintings before the holiday season is over!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Three More Paintings Done...Including Two Small Gems.

In the past week I managed to get several more paintings done.  The two small pieces were done outside, as I promised myself I would do more of.  Yay for me!  Spent a day painting with a good friend last week.  We started out at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in the morning.  Got some warm-ups done in my sketchbook but nothing that I wanted to consider for posting.  After a yummy lunch we moved on to Maudsley State Park in Newburyport where I created Foggy Hillside and Nearing the End.
American Pipit   11 x 7.5"    $395, framed
 American Pipit is after a photograph by Bill Gette, Director of the Joppa Flats Audubon Center.  He has graciously given me permission to work from his wonderful bird photos.  This is the first of many, I hope.
Foggy Hillside    7.5 x 5.5"    $150, framed
 Both Foggy Hillside and Nearing the End were done on the same exact spot looking towards the same patch of woods; Foggy Hillside to the left and Nearing the End to the right.  It wasn't actually foggy out but it's what I felt as I progressed through the piece.  I love them both, as they each have qualities I seek with the medium.
Nearing the End    7.5 x 5.5"    $150, framed

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Still Working at This...Two More Complete!

Aaaahhh.  This is hard, a painting a day.  I'm not exactly sure why but this time around really is a challenge.  I'm enjoying very much the painting experience but it seems not enough.  Well, while I figure out what's going on in my head, please enjoy two more works to add to the collection.
Fort Rock Barn
 This is a favorite scene as you enter Exeter from the north-west end of town.  I've done a number of paintings over the years featuring the barn.  In the not-so-distant past the property was going to be turned into a religious campus.  I think it already is.  I'm grateful we get to continue seeing it just like  this.  But I imagine someday it will change.
I Spy with My Giant Eye
Remember the Cooper's Hawk I did earlier this month....Leap of Faith?  This is the same bird as it was negotiating what it heard and how to get it.  In this pose he/she is looking directly at the rose bush where the little sparrows were hiding.

Seven days left to complete 19 paintings.  Think I can do it?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

# 9 # 9 # 9

Egret Pond
Painting #9 is another egret, this one stalking a meal.  Once again, I love the looseness.  My intent was to capture a mood and a certain light, rather than the detailed specifics of a Great Egret and a pond.

It's been a little more challenging with this go-round of 30/30.  So, in an effort not to get stressed, I decided the goal would be to paint as much as I can over the next two-three months, right up through December.  Also, because so much of my painting has to be done at night, I am sort of handcuffed to painting in the studio using photographs.  But I'm getting tired of that format.  So, another change will be to paint as often as possible on sight, in fresh air.  Step away from the office during daylight hours.  Might be chilly at times.  Might be windy.  Might even snow.  There are ways around these things.  Let's see what I can do.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NEW! Two Landscapes and Two Birds

I had a lovely day catching up on my daily paintings.  Fell short by one but no matter.  Will keep the brush moving!
American Kestrel

Barred Owl Watching

Maine Inlet 1

Winter Path

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Already Behind but Catching Up

Paintings three and four were just completed this evening.  Spent the past three days backpacking with full intention to paint on the trail.  Turned out the trail was much more challenging than expected.  I didn't have time to paint, only hike.  With 40lbs on my back.  For three days.

It was a wonderful weekend adventure!  And just what I needed to temper the anxiety I've been feeling lately.  So now I'm super pumped to really dig into my 30 paintings.  I'll be caught up by the end of the week.

Egret Profile
Egret Profile is a fun and very loose interpretation of a Great Egret.  Each time I do this kind of loose work I learn how to gain a little more control over the alchemy of pigment and water.

Hidden Egret
With Hidden Egret the intent was a little more representational.  However, if you look at both the background and the foreground there's quite a bit of soft edges and mixtures of pigment.

More paintings to come soon....

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Leap of Faith

Leap of Faith
The last time I was visiting with my in-laws we were entertained by the presence of a Cooper's Hawk.  My father-in-law, having some excellent photography skills, grabbed his camera and began shooting.  The hawk first landed on the railing of the back deck, where most of the bird feeders are set up.  It was obvious what he/she was after.  There's a thick rose bush lining one side of the deck and many passerines love to hang out inside of it.  The hawk spent about five minutes on the railing checking things out, lept onto the back of a chair near the rose bush then proceeded to "jump" into the tangle of branches and thorns!  He/she completely disappeared inside, causing quite a raucous of noise and excitement among the hiding birds.  Fortunately (for the little birds and the audience!), the hawk was unsuccessful in securing a meal.

So I call this Leap of Faith, for the audacity the hawk exhibited in knowing he/she could get right down into the thick, brambly and dangerous world of a rose bush.  It was quite an impressive act to witness.

There are many more wonderful photos of this bird to work from so don't be surprised if you see a few more during the month.

October 30/30 Has Begun! Painting #1: Night View from Atop Mt. Chocorua

Standing Watch
Very excited to begin one more month of 30 paintings.  And this time a colleague is joining me!  Her name is Denise Takahashi.  We attended graduate school together and, although our styles and approaches are very different, our artistic paths since those blissful days in Santa Cruz share some similarities.

I started the 30/30 yesterday and got nearly two paintings done.  The second one will be posted later today after I tweak a couple things in it.  The title on this one is temporary, subject to change.  Any suggestions?

Looking forward to one more month filled with painting challenges.  Not sure I'll continue doing these in 2014; might be looking for another way to incorporate paintings regularly.  And find a venue to hold a show!

Monday, September 9, 2013

A hike in September

I was out this weekend hiking Black Mountain with my husband, another family and our dogs.  Black mountain is to the west of Franconia Notch, on the backside of Cannon Mountain.  It's only about 2800' but the Chippewa Trail is fairly steep most of the way.  Packed my smallest paintbox, a couple pens, two brushes and a tiny water dish.

Just a little chilly up on top, with a fair bit of wind.  Clouds were moving in quickly from the west so I sketched as quick as possible.  The air was quite dry which also had me sketching quickly but still had an unfortunate influence over the work...the pigment dried too quickly causing my edges, overall, to be harder than I wanted.  I was hoping for softer edges in more areas.  However, given that I had a very limited palette to work from, I am quite pleased with the variety of late summer greens on the page.  So, in the end, I'm delighted with the result.

There's more to the painting than shown here.  My scanner isn't big enough to get the entire image so I chose the composition that was most interesting to me.  There were pine trees off to the left.  I might go back in and add them, as well as a little more variation on the middle mountain, the Cannonballs.

Off to the next adventure!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Winner Chose....

Yellow-crowned Night Heron!  This gem is no longer available but plenty others are.  Currently being framed are:

Chocorua Hiding    $250
Across the Lake    $250
Kildeer    $295

The Cove    $250
Pelican Post    $395

These will be available through my website and Travel & Nature in downtown Exeter, NH by August 30.
Mountain Sunset    $250

Ruby    $295
Storm Over Chocorua    $395

Great Horned Owl 2    $395

Thursday, August 1, 2013

And the winner is....

congratulations to Andrea Richards!  Andrea is the winner of the July 30/30 free painting!  She will make her choice in the coming days.  In the meantime, you can read in the previous post which paintings are currently available for sale.  Price options are listed below, as well.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

From now on all of my new work will be posted ONLY here instead of on Facebook.  I recently learned that any images, videos, etc, that are posted on Facebook becomes quasi-owned by them.  In other words, although they don't capture full rights to the image, they do gain the right to use the image wherever and however they want.  Not cool.

My only way around that is to not post anything on Facebook.  One might ask what are the chances they would even choose any of my work for their own purposes?  Valid question.  Also, what would they even use my art for?  Another valid question.  I just don't think it's right so I'm choosing not to "display" my art on Facebook anymore.  As another measure against "theft" you'll start to see a watermark on the digital images of my art.

I thank all of you who followed along this month (and always) for your support and encouragement.  Without it, the work doesn't seem quite as important.

Onward and warmest thanks,

All done!

I successfully completed a second 30/30!  Yay for me!  What a wonderful exercise and meaningful challenge this event is.  The commitment to "practice" and what I learn from it is so valuable.  Like a photographer who might shoot 200 pictures at a single event and, of those 200 images, gets 25 outstanding ones, I, too end up with a similar scenario.  I am not in love with every painting I did this month but there is a higher percent of successful ones compared to when I last did this in January.

No delays.  Here are the remaining paintings completed.
Great Horned Owl 2    Drawn in pencil first then spent a bunch of time on the bars, patterns and colors.  Felt it was too tight overall so decided to try it again a different way.

Great Horned Owl 3    With this second painting I abandoned the pencil in favor of a looser approach.  Just the way I really enjoy working....drawing with the paint brush!  In the end, I love both pieces for very different reasons.

Manatee!    Not my usual subject, I know, but I wanted to create something for cousin Beth who has supplied me with many wonderful photographs of birds while on her vacation in Florida.  She LOVES manatees.  This one's for Beth if she chooses to accept it but she's got her eye on an earlier hummingbird and so will decide soon which one she wants.
Snowy Egret 3    Just had to do one more of this bird.  I love the loose style and the colors of this one.
The Facebook drawing for one of this month's paintings will take place tonight.  In the meantime, here are the paintings that are currently available (eliminating those that are heading to South Carolina):
Great Horned Owl 2
Great Horned Owl 3
Snowy Egret 3
Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Big Moth
Carolina Wren 2
Carolina Wren 3
Willet 2
Pelican Post
River Value Study
Way Up North
White Ibis March
Black-necked Stilt
Storm Over Chocorua

Let me know if any one of these is of interest to you!  You can purchase a painting unframed for $250 or framed for $395.  I now have my work framed in a beautiful reddish-brown frame with black trim at Four Sqaure Framing in Stratham, NH.  UV glass included.

Thank you for following along.    I'll continue to post as I create!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Only Three Days Left to 30/30 July

Two more shorebirds have been painted.  Three days left but I have five paintings to do to complete the project.  I'll get them done.  Good news is ten of this month's paintings are headed to South Carolina!

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Two More Done

Third time's a charm....got the wren just the way I wanted it with this final attempt.  Check out the moth, too.  My husband found it in our backyard.  A little scraggly around the edges but a beautiful specimen nonetheless.  Loved working with the muted and faded colors of this animal.

Only seven days left, including today.

Carolina Wren 3

Big Moth

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Two Carolina Wrens....which do you like and why?

I needed a break from shore birds so my daughter suggested I paint the state bird of South Carolina.  Wrens are one of my favorite birds.  Naturally, I thought it was a great idea.  After the first painting was complete I saw things in it that I really liked and one thing that I didn't.  I tried once again, with a similar result.  Still, I like them both too much to trash them.  What do you like or not about these two?