Saturday, February 26, 2011

Abstracting a mud puddle

How do you paint a mud puddle?

That was the challenge I faced with this painting of swallowtail butterflies "puddling." From what I've read, this is a common behavior with many types of butterflies. They will gather in these groups for the purpose of extracting moisture and nutrients from soggy, damp areas.

I photographed this group of butterflies several years ago at Holly River State Park. I found the photograph a few weeks ago and became interested in the visual path created by this grouping of the butterflies.

But, that darned mud puddle. I really did not know how to handle the surroundings, so I decided to make a move toward abstraction to simplify what I was seeing.

In the effort, the darkest areas helped reinforce the interior structure that helps guide the viewer's eye through the group of butterflies.

I liked this effort so well that I'm attempting it again in a larger format. I plan to try some different techniques in the larger version, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Favorites earn recognition

I'm so happy to learn that two of my favorite watercolorists have had work accepted in the new American Watercolor Society show: Lynn Ferris and Jeannie McGuire.

Readers of my blog know that I've taken workshops with both ladies, and I have learned a great deal from both. So it's wonderful to see accomplished artists with whom I've had personal interactions earn such recognition. I feel fortunate to have had the chance to meet them both and watch them paint.

To learn more about the AWS, visit their website at

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Architectonic" at Tamarack

"Wisdom Watching" (7"x10") is one of three pieces I'll have on display at Tamarack in Beckley, W.Va., for the next two months.

I was accepted as an associate artist at the Dickirson Gallery in 2009, but I haven't painted regularly enough since then to have anything available for any shows.

A gallery invitation from Christine Humphrey, gallery manager, finally spurred me into some action. I completed three paintings in quick succession over December and January for the show. My favorite of the three is "Wisdom Watching."

"Wisdom" is based on a photograph I took of the ornamentation around the East Entrance of the West Virginia Capitol in October. The afternoon sun highlighted the side of her face perfectly, and I couldn't resist the opportunity.

To read more about the mythological figures around the Capitol Complex, check out this link from the West Virginia Legislature's website:

"Architectonic" opens Feb. 13 and runs through April 9. For more about Tamarack, including directions, visit their website at