Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Royal Tern Study

Another of my favorite birds are Terns. This handsome bird is a Royal Tern (Sterna mazima). Terns, unlike gulls, don't often search you out and make a pest of themselves. However, this day was different. He and a couple of his

Royal Tern study, 5" x 7", oil (click to bid)

buddies flew in while fishing and decided to keep me company. Like gulls, they accepted handouts readily but they would not approach as closely as the gulls.

I often find terns in large groups resting and generally hanging out. In fact, they can be found in large, dense colonies when breeding. Usually tending to a single buff, spotted egg in a sand scrape

A photo of a group mainly consisting of terns (Royal, Sandwich, and Forster's). Ocracoke Island, October 2010
on an island or a sheltered peninsula. I have painted several paintings of these birds from photos I have taken at the coast. I especially like to paint the Royal terns because of their red beak which gives a nice spot of color to an otherwise blue background.

Fish for Dinner...again (Royal Tern), 18 x 24, oil on linen, Ralph Grady James
Thanks for your visit - come back again!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Sandpiper study

Sandpiper study, 5 x 7, oil, (click to bid)

As spring progresses I dream more and more of the beach. I can see my wife looking for shells as I dream of the smell of salt, the sound of the waves, and seeing the birds. One of the birds I think about are the multitude of Sandpipers and Sanderlings. They are ever present, working the beach for morsels, chasing the waves and then running as the waves chase them.

That is one of the reasons I paint so many shore birds. It is just a love affair. Something I can't seem to get enough of. As I write this, my iTunes play the sounds of the surf and the life that accompanies that habitat - yeah, those of you who know me knows it plays the same thing every day of the year. Crazy old man... I can't be there now but that's OK. Maybe soon.

Thanks for dropping by.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sake and Pokeberrys study

Sake and Pokeberrys study, 5 x 7, oil (click to bid)
Pokeberry weed. Pokeberry wine, pokeberry salad, pokeberry for your arthritus, pokeberry ink, pokeberry all over my white t-shirt from running into it when mowing. Even though a weed, I do have a fondness for this plant. I love to see the resident mockingbird in the top of it eating the berries in the summertime. Somehow, the weed also seems to love me as I have it's purple stains on several items of my clothing.

I like to use things like pokeberry weed in my still life paintings. Things like weeds or other common plants seems to me to be a bit unexpected compared to items included in many paintings. That's what I want in my painting, something unexpected, something that makes it real.

Thanks so much for dropping by.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Forsythia and Bowl study

Forsythia and Bowl study, 5 x 7, oil (click to bid)
The forsythia is in full bloom making a bright spot in my otherwise unkempt winter yard. I always know (feel guilty is more like it) that it is time to get out and do some spring yard work when I see that blazing bush.

It is such an intense, bright, yellow color and I purposely tone the chroma down a bit so as not to overpower the painting. I do that (mute my color) quite a bit when painting. It gives a calmness to a painting that I like. Yellow is a happy color - I got the following from a web site: "Yellow shines with optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of golden yellow carry the promise of a positive future. Yellow will advance from surrounding colors and instill optimism and energy, as well as spark creative thoughts."

How the color yellow affects us mentally and physically
* Mentally stimulating
* Stimulates the nervous system
* Activates memory
* Encourages communication

Sounds like we all need a bit more yellow in our lives.

I love to paint forsythia. It lends itself to a loose style that I like in still life paintings. I plan on doing a large forsythia painting next week after finishing another project I am currently working on. 

Thanks for your visit - I hope you enjoy!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Carolina Wren study

Carolina Wren Study (click to bid)

I love these little birds. They say that they tend to be shy but I have not noticed that. I love to watch them as they hop around, climbing and descending on the vertical side of a tree with ease. Kinda crazy to watch. Something I did not know about them is they do not migrate. Because they are sensitive to cold weather and do not move, their population in the northern extremes of their range decreases significantly after severe cold winters.

That is probably why I always seem to get a pair nesting in my garage. I don't really mind but it drives my dog insane when they are in there. They seem to enjoy driving the dog insane...funny birds!

Thanks for dropping by!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cardinal study

Cardinal study, 5" x 7", oil (click to bid)

Today I painted a cardinal, a bird I have been avoiding only because it has been painted multi-jillions of times. My rational is I want to try and stay as original in my subject matter as I can... Yeah, I need to get over it...that's not necessarily a great reason. I mean, if it has always been a good subject to paint, and is still a good subject, I don't need to worry about not doing so. It's just me dealing with some of my weirdness! Besides, one of the great things about painting these small studies is you get to experiment with subjects and techniques that you might not otherwise consider.

One of the fatal mistakes beginning painters make is how they deal with color. They tend to paint color very simply and flat. For example they may paint green grass green, and the same green from one side of the canvas to the other side. What you say? The grass is green. But I have rarely seen green grass that did not have a multitude of different green hues in it. And not only that but browns, blues, tans, etc., and maybe one of the most important colors that is often overlooked, a range of beautiful greys. In mixing the red I used on the cardinal, I used many reds and altered them in color temperature,  and also value. But not only that, I also included blues, greens, violet, and burnt umber in the bird. And I would actually consider that my color usage on this subject was fairly simple. Indeed, looking back on how I painted the cardinal, I wish I had pushed the color variation to be more complex. But, once again, that is what studies are for. To teach you how to paint the subject better when you paint that large painting.

So the lesson from this blog? Try to be more complex in your usage of color, and begin to experiment with mixing and using different color greys. You will be amazed at how this can transform your painting!

Hope this helps! Thanks for the visit!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Chickadee study

Chickadee study, 5" x 7", oil (click to bid)

Another one of my favorite song birds. The Carolina Chickadee is one of the most frequent visitors to my feeder. This little bird just seems to be happy all the time. Except when the feeder is empty...and then the fussing begins. This scene has the Chickadee in a dogwood tree eating a seed from my feeder.
Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope your feeder is full and you are happy today!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tufted Titmouse study

Tufted Titmouse study, 5" x 7", oil (click to bid)

Birds are one of my favorite subjects to paint. Even though I also paint still life, figurative, and landscape, it can be argued that avian paintings are what I am best known for. My web page devoted to bird paintings is certainly the largest of my online collections. Indeed, my first attempts at painting involved birds.

The bird in this small study is a Tufted Titmouse which is one of my favorite songbirds. They are quite abundant in my area and a common visitor to my feeder where they accompany chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. I try to keep the feeder full as I find that a yard full of birds gives life to your home.

Thank you for your visit - I hope you return soon!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rose and Brass

"Rose and Brass" study, 5" x 7", oil (click to bid)

OK, so I am back after an extended absence. In the fall and winter of 2011 I had to concentrate on my large studio paintings because of several shows and also outfitting a new gallery. However, I very much missed painting my small studies. Not only are they fun to paint but they teach you a lot.

So I hope you enjoy this painting. I have really missed posting on my blog and plan to do so again soon.

Thank you for your visit - see you soon!