Linda’s Letters

June 17, 2015

 

Four elements of art….shape, value,  color and edges…..everything seems to fall within those perimeters.  When I first start thinking about doing a painting, I will first focus on shapes and how they fit within the boundaries my canvas has set for me.  What will this composition look like?  How will it hold the viewers eye  Are there any lines that fall off the edges of the canvas.  This is the time to answer all of our compositional questions as it is very difficult to change your direction in mid stream

This is the time to set up your center of interest as well.  All lines and shapes should lead to your center of interest.  So shapes can be an important element to start with.

Brand New

Brand New

There are shapes within shapes.  Say for instance you have brushed in the silhouette of a saguaro.  In order for that saguaro to look realistic, you will have to decide where the dark, mid tones and highlighted shapes of that saguaro will be placed.  Each piece of value and/or color is a shape of it’s own.  There relationship to one another will be like pieces of a puzzle coming together to form the total picture.

One good way of seeing all these shapes, particularly shapes with shapes is to squint your eyes.  I always laugh to think of the struggles I go thru to prevent wrinkles, and then turn around and tell you how important it is to squint.  Of well, life is full of contradictions.  Squinting for an artist is a good thing  Learn to squint?  It will somewhat blur your subject and give you the answers that you’re looking for.

 

Linda’s Letters

Building a World Class Zoo for a World Class City

Last month, I was invited to a special opening and ribbon cutting for the Philip & Joellen Doornbos Volunteer and Administrative center located at the Phoenix Zoo. This Center has three separate buildings that will house much of the administrative staff, while providing space for volunteer training and staffing. The spaces surrounding these two buidings create an outdoor courtyard for employee gatherings, and a place for additional training and meetings.


In the photo at the right, Bert Castro, CEO and Pres. of Arizona Center for Nature Conservation/ Phoenix Zoo, far left, looks on beside Philip while Joellen cuts the ribbon.

 

An original oil painting of Pronghorn in Papago Park, was personally created by me for their new conference center at the Doornbos Volunteer and Administrative Center, along with two other original oil paintings; one featuring a bobcat and the other featuring a coyote, both 24″ x 36″. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to have these three paintings on exhibit in these beautiful new facilities for the Zoo. 

 

The zoo’s next project will be the Sumatran Tiger experience and will be opening this fall 2015. This exciting new experience will create a spectacular new signature experience. Guests will wander down a tropical path to find views of our amazing tigers to the right and the majesty of an Asian elephant to the left. New state of the art holding facilities will allow the Zoo to care for several of these rare tigers, helping the Zoo to become a key participant in the international Species Survival Plan that monitors and manages the breeding of all endangered species in zoos worldwide.  

Linda’s Letters

I have always believed in thoroughly researching your subject matter.  Of course, that’s easily  said for me as I am a wildlife artist, and have loved animals from the time I saw my first elephant in the zoo.  I have always had a passion for animals, and enjoy reading every last little detail about them.

Just to give you an example, when I lived in Laramie, Wyo., I signed up for a 7 day workshop in Jackson Hole; horse anatomy with Jon Zahoruk.  The class was given in a rickety old barn on the 2nd floor.  The main floor was reserved for our models.  We had several horses that were most accommodating; tweaking ears, picking up feet and feeling all the various muscles.  Mr. Zahoruk had created a miniature skelton of a horse that was about 10″ x 16″.  Each one of us purchased these miniature skeletons and used them as a model.  We were also supplied with an ample amount of red clay, and each day we sculpted and attached each muscle on the skeleton.  Every afternoon, we  spent time discussing the purpose for each muscle, and how it moved. I remember taking copious notes, and drawing diagrams.

Most North American Big Game animals (particularly the hoofed variety; big horn sheep, elk, moose, antelope, buffalo, etc) have  similar structure.  The information that I learned at this workshop has proven invaluable to me.  When I am painting, or sketching, I feel very comfortable moving the animals legs, ears, and tails.  Often, reference photos can be awkward, and being able to accurately move  a leg or position is imperative to someone like me who paints exclusively animals.  Creating a beautiful wildlife painting involves knowing your animal and accurately portraying them.

"Morning Sun"

“Morning Sun”

Linda’s Letters

My husband, John plays golf two or three times a month, and spends time working on lowering his handicap.  He takes private golf lessons, tries out new equipment, watches tv programs and practices his swing pattern.

Much in the same way, I try and improve my skills with art.

Last year, I gave myself the challenge of learning more about edges.  It was an exciting subject to pick.  And, I discovered some real treasure about the types of edges that can be used in a painting.

This year, I’m toying with the idea of spending some time with the study of highlights and shadows, and the patterns that they create.

“The Old Pot” was a painting that I did some years ago, but it is a good example to use.  I love the way the light swirls and playfully illuminates the quail, adding a lot of motion and interest to this painting.

 

 

The Old Pot

The Old Pot

 

 

Linda’s Letters

Millie on Safari

Millie on Safari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Millie on Safari” is a study in values.  Values is the range of light to dark, from white to black, as well as all the tones in-between.
Values can determine among other things, shape, dimension, flow of light and expression.

A portrait of a black dog always presents somewhat of a challenge.  Just to look at a black dog, one usually sees nothing but a
silhouette.  In order to get an expression, as a painter, I will need to juggle the values.  And, it’s always fun to see how far you can go
with it without losing the sense of being black.

Luckily, Millie had some brown tones in her coat which gave me the opportunity to lighten some areas.  But in order to catch her
sweet personality, I created a light source from the right side of the painting to brighten her coat and light up her inquisitive eyes.