I’m starting to swing into some pieces based on our family trip out to the Black Hills earlier this summer. One early morning in Custer State Park I observed and photographed a coyote cruising tirelessly through a prairie dog town. Some of the prairie dogs peeked sheepishly over the rims of their mounds. Others stood tall and alarm barked loudly at the passing menace. The coyote was unfazed at the verbal abuse and continued her confident pace, knowing that she’d eventually get her breakfast.
Back in October a dear family friend passed away at the age of 91. She was like a grandmother to me long after both my grandmothers were gone. She was an educator, an English teacher, and she spoke with impeccable English even in casual situations, but it wasn’t at all pretentious. Nothing about her was. She was a gracious, godly woman of sincere faith. She was the kind of person who would cook up her last batch of oatmeal and brew her last pot of coffee for you if you visited and be glad to do it. She was a true joy, had a contagious laugh, and saw the good in people.
When she passed, I remembered a photo I took of her in her Iowa-farmhouse kitchen years ago. She was busy preparing breakfast for us her guests. The morning light caught my eye and I secretly snapped the picture. I found that photo these years later and fashioned a painting from it.
This is how I remember Mrs Underbakke, modestly serving, giving what she had. She was quite an example of a lady.
Back in the late ’90s I had the chance to go duck hunting for the first time in the prairie pothole region of central North Dakota. One of the strongest memories from those few days is the wonder of watching a good bird dog work for the first time. I remember being surprised how loud Roxy breathed through her nose as she held a bird in her mouth and strove for the shore. I remember the eagerness and the focus of these dogs as they fulfilled what they were born, bred, and loved to do.
On that trip the birds were fun, the company with the boys was great, but man those dogs were fun to watch! All these years later I still am amazed at the abilities of these magnificent beasts.
I’m putting the finishing touches on a hunting dog portrait of a beautiful labrador retriever, and it has brought back some of those memories of mornings on the marsh. The stench of the muck, the cold, wet October wind on my face, and the sound of wings.
The client chose to have the piece done on a slab of 3/4″ maple. Its been a little different surface to paint on – smoother than I’m used to, but not bad. She wanted the rough painterly edges inset from the border. I have to say it’s not a bad look!
Haven’t blogged in a while. Haven’t painted in a while. At least not of subjects of my choosing.
I was over at a friends farm last week and purposely brought the camera and committed myself to taking shots of whatever I saw, and then committed myself to doing a painting of something from those shots. The light was nice. Didn’t get anything that thrilled my soul to its depths, but it was more about making something work. I needed to paint something. And I wanted it to be something from my world right now, not from the photo archives.
I got a nice series of some cows in the pasture. The light was streaking across and I became interested in capturing that effect.
So the end result is nothing earth-shattering, just an effective little piece that for me is the equivalent of soul food. Not fancy or highbrow, probably won’t win any awards, just simple, flavorful, and satisfying.