Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cecropia Moth Finished

I think I've finally finished the Cecropia Moth and hope I've done her justice.  Yes, this is a female - you can tell because her antenna are smaller and thinner than those of a male.

Anyway, here is a photo of her with a frame that I'm considering for the painting.  The painting is not fully dry so the frame is just leaning against the painting.  That's why there's a shadow area on the left side of the painting.

The moth colors look pretty accurate on my monitor but the frame has more gray in it along with the brownish color.  The color of the frame goes well with the painting but I'm not sure it's THE frame even though the barnwood frames are very, very popular now.

So now that the moth has been completed, I've started a portrait of a pug - a really special pug who recently went to the Rainbow Bridge.  Jack was a dog I knew well and loved and that makes it harder for me to paint him, I think.  A friend once told me that it's hard to paint your own pets or those you know well because you know them in so many different moods and ways.  You get confused over which expression or look best portrays them.  Anyway, I want this painting to be especially perfect so wish me good success with it.  I'll post it when I finish.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

First Tenents!

I'm kinda excited as we noticed a couple of Carolina Wrens investigating a new style birdhouse we put up on the porch.  This morning we noticed a piece of grass/straw hanging out of the house!

 You may remember the wren house we put up a week or so ago - well, even though the wrens still kept trying to build a nest in the ceiling fan (see photo on the left), they totally ignored the house my DH built.  I did a bit more research and found that the wrens don't like houses with small entry holes even though larger birds can't enter to take over the nest or destroy the wren eggs.

So my husband built another house and made the entry hole really large, almost 3" in diameter!  This house design is very unique and easy to build as the body of it is actually an old metal coffee can!  That's the house we have hanging up now.

The larger hole did the trick and we now have a pair of wrens building a nest in the new house!  The next step will be to enlarge the entry hole in the other bird house he built and see if we can attract another pair.

You can see both the unique design of the house as well as the over-sized piece of grass sticking out of the entry hole in the photo below.  Click on either photo to get an enlarged view.

Unfortunately, the entry hole faces out into the back yard and I probably won't be able to get photos of the nest or babies because the porch is fairly high off the ground and because of the angle needed to photograph it.  Maybe I can find a tall enough step ladder to put me on level with the birdhouse and use the zoom lens to get photos - we'll see what I can do.

This is sort of anti-climatic but I did finish the Cecropia Moth painting or at least I'm pretty sure it's finished.  It's a painting I even like for a change too - well, mostly like - there are always things that could be improved!  Will post a photo once the shine dries enough not to get glare.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cecropia - WIP 4

I've finally gotten a chance to work more on the moth.  We've had tons of tomatoes to put up and after peeling one only to have it try to slip from my hand, I twisted my back trying to catch it.  It just wasn't comfortable to paint or really do much of anything.  I did make a large batch of tomato soup yesterday though.

Lest you think I'm joking or exaggerating the amount of tomatoes we're getting right now, I'll show you a photo of the harvest from the past two days!  And remember, I used a dozen or more in the soup I put into the freezer!

 Maybe now you can understand why I'm not too keen on the harvest when I have paintings in the works!  It takes forever to freeze any and the soup yesterday took most of the day to fix.

 But, I'm feeling good and in the mood to paint so the tomatoes will either just have to wait or my husband can take them to the food bank or something.  There are more coming in all the time anyway.

The Cecropia moth is coming along and looking much as I'd hoped it would.  Even though I'm never totally satisfied with my work, I'm relatively pleased with this one so far.  The bottom wings still need some work and the viewer's left wing isn't finished but I feel as if I've gotten quite a bit accomplished today.  After the moth is totally finished, I'll revisit the background.

So that's the update for now.  Hopefully more tomorrow!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Cecropia Moth WIP3

I've been working more on the Cecropia moth and am fairly pleased with the way it's going.  With painting, it's usually painting one thing then having to adjust something else so it's been slow going.  However, there IS some progress and hopefully, this painting  will be finished soon.

I've lightened the background and still want to do more with it but will wait to see exactly what it might need after more is done with the moth.

The center wings are very detailed at the bottom edges so it will take some time to finish them.  Also, the body is just blocked in and will need to be refined and the (viewer's) left wing needs to be completed.  That's not so much left to do, right?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Visitor At The Front Door

 I've been working on the background of the Cecropia Moth but it's been a bit time-consuming so I don't have any real updates to share right now. 

However, I did want to share photos of a very unusual visitor we had the other day!  My husband came into the living room to see this groundhog peering in right in our front door!  This is highly unusual as most groundhogs are pretty shy and we rarely see any.  He even hung around long enough for me to get some photos of him - through the glass of the storm door, of course!

We have no idea of what he was doing on the porch but after a time he scampered off again.

Hopefully he's satisfied his curiosity and won't return.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cecropia Moth WIP 2

I always seriously underestimate how long it takes me to paint something and this Cecropia moth is no exception!  But I want to do an exceptional job on this painting.  Well, I want to do well on every painting but this poor thing lives only a few days and during that time she can't eat or drink as she has no mouth.  She must attract a mate quickly, have glorious (I fervently hope so anyway) sex then lay her eggs and die.  She's a beautiful creature and I really feel I must give my utmost to honor her brief life.

Even with slow and steady, I probably could have had the painting finished by now but we had a gigantic wave of cucumbers and tomatoes ripen which I had to do something with.  I froze the tomatoes, and made another jar of my favorite fermented pickles only this time I altered the recipe a bit.

Alas, I could've added a bit more garlic and dill and cut back just a fuzz on the whole black pepper corns.  I like my heat to come from the cayenne pepper flakes and the taste of the black pepper is just a tad too strong in this batch.  Getting something just right is a game of trial and error and this last jar of pickles isn't really all that bad - just not my idea of a perfect fermented pickle! 

So, let me quote Scarlett O'Hara a bit and just say "Tomorrow's another day!" both for pickles and for painting!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cecropia Moth - New Painting WIP

I had promised myself to keep up with this blog better but it's sort of like walking and chewing gum at the same time - sometimes difficult to do.  lol  Actually, my hands have been occupied with a paint brush and I really can't type and paint at the same time so I chose to paint. 

A friend of mine happened upon a beautiful Cecropia Moth one evening and took several photos of it which she graciously has allowed me to use as references for this current painting.

The Cecropia Moth is a fascinating creature seemingly created to go from an egg to caterpillar to a moth with a very brief life span only to do it all again.  The following website has some information and videos that explain and even show the process:

I'm not very far along in the painting process as I'm using oil for this painting and it usually takes a while for me to paint anyway.  If I use oil, I sometimes have to wait for the paint to firm up to be able to add more paint.

Here is where I am at the moment with lots more to go of course:

The wings are very detailed and seem to have a powdery substance on them which I'm trying to figure out how to paint.  Also, I don't have a detailed drawing for this painting but am just "winging" it, pun intended.  The moth's markings are somewhat complex so it takes a bit of time to figure out where the various markings should be located on the painting.  The beauty of oil paint is that it can either be wiped off fairly easily or painted over if a mistake is made.

I hope to finish this in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wren House

Yesterday a pair of Carolina Wrens tried to build a nest in the ceiling fan on our covered back porch.  We use the fan a lot and even if the fan isn't on, we also use the light in the fan as a porch light.  Not a good situation for baby wrens (or even the adults!)  My DH removed the nests before they got too far along in construction but Carolina Wrens are my favorite bird and I liked the idea of them nesting on the porch.

So I searched the internet for plans for a house that the birds could use and my husband built it as quickly as he could.  We hung it yesterday late afternoon/evening and are waiting to see if we have any new tenants.  I'll paint the house and decorate the outside if the pair of birds have decided to look elsewhere for a nesting site but didn't want to take the time to do it yesterday.  I wanted the birds to have the house as soon as possible if they were still looking for a place.

I also found plans for other wren houses that we may build and put up on the other side of the house.  I just liked this particular design because it hangs, is appealing to humans in shape and the entrance hole is sort of a keyhole shape.  This is supposed to enable the wrens to take in nesting material yet still keep the hole small enough to keep out sparrows or other undesirable birds who may want to use the house.

So far we haven't had any interested couples but I didn't get around to putting out a Welcome mat either!  Maybe i ought to go do that now and hope for occupants soon.