Red-shouldered hawk in handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.

Ozark Birds of Prey : Red-shouldered Hawk

Just finished this red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus).

Special Edition Prints available now.

Progression Pics: Art in Progress

I post all of the steps as I’m doing it at Instagram, so if you want to follow along in real time, follow me there or on FB. Sometimes it’s a good bit later when I get around to updating the website.

Getting Started on the Red-Shouldered Hawk

I decided for this set (I’m doing two of this species) to use the gray-green silt stone for a background. So I went ahead and did both backgrounds at the same time. Here’s the first one with the rough sketch in place.

Background and rough sketch for the first red-shouldered hawk painting.
Background and roughed-in sketch in place.

Issues with angles

There’s always something to correct once the sketch-in begins to take shape. This time it’s the tilt of his head. The angle is wrong and it throws everything else off. The eyes are the first thing I like to do, but I can’t do the eyes until the head is shaped properly.

The head on my red-shouldered hawk is wrong... wrong angles, wrong tilt.
The head is wrong… wrong angles, wrong tilt.
I 'erased' the lower half of his head by lifting the black paint.
I ‘erased’ the lower half of his head by lifting the black paint.
Now the tilt is right, and I put the eyes and beak. I will work more on this later, but this is enough for now to allow me to move on.
Now the tilt is right, and I put the eyes and beak. I will work more on this later, but this is enough for now to allow me to move on.

Colors for the Red-Shouldered Hawk

The colors I’ll be using for this hawk are similar to the colors I used on the kestrels and the goshawks. For the goshawks, I used a lot more black, though.

I made paints specifically to get ready to do this set of hawks, though, and each set of paints vary depending on the rocks I used to make it.

  • Russet sandstone (Nirvana)
  • Red sandstone (Intoxicating)
  • Yellow Sandstone
  • Char-shale (a combination of creek shale and charred wood)
  • tumbled limestone (Ancient white)
  • Brown brown (from a really hard black sandstone)

Blocking in Color

First I added the russet on his chest and wings.

Then I added contour lines to his head.

Red-shouldered hawk in progress.
Red-shouldered hawk in progress.

Added more shadow to his head, added more pigment to the background. It’s going to be a few days before I get a chance to work on it again now.

As it stands on Feb. 15, 2019
As it stands on Feb. 15, 2019

I had hoped to get both of the red-shouldered hawks done this month, but it seems that life had other plans. February always feels like such a short month, even though it’s only a few days shorter than most. I am going to have to start reducing the amount of other things I commit to if I want to have time to work more on paintings.

Update 3/11/19: Finally I’ve had time to get back to work on the red-shouldered hawk.

Update 3/19/19: Took me a while, but I’m back to work on the painting. By the end of the day, I ended up one step forward and two steps back. The tail is blocked in better, and so are the feet. But then when I started working on the wings I realized the bars are just too wide on them. So I erased most of them and will start over on that part tomorrow.

These are just the place-holders for the feet. I still have a LOT more work to do on them.
These are just the place-holders for the feet. I still have a LOT more work to do on them. But they’re in the right place, in the right proportions, and at the right angles. That’s all that matters at this point.
Progress on Red-Shouldered Hawk by the end of the day
Progress on Red-Shouldered Hawk by the end of the day. Most of the bars on the wings are erased (lifted with a clean wet brush). I’ll put them back narrower so it is more accurate.
Red-shouldered hawk painting in progress, using handmade watercolors from Ozark pigments.
Still working on it… and sometimes I do work on it upside down, lol. But this pic is upside down because I can’t get it to orient right-side-up, even after editing and saving. I’m tired. It’s late. And I’m just going to leave it like this, lol.

Ozark Birds of Prey

My current project is painting of each of the species of raptors in the Ozarks. Some of them are full-time residents and some just visit. The red-shouldered hawk is one of our resident species.

Two Screech Owls in a Tree

This morning before I left the house to go to the post office, I briefly thought about whether I should grab the camera or not. I decided to not. It had been a few days since I’d last caught even a glimpse of the screech owl that lives by the gate. So I didn’t have enough hope to bother going back inside to get the camera.

Boy, what a mistake that was.

Screech Owls

I glanced over to the holey tree where the nest was, and like I thought, she wasn’t there. But then I saw the two spots of orange on the tree right outside the home-tree.

And there I was, owls in broad daylight, with no good camera on hand. So I got this pic with my iPhone in case I never got the chance for a better one.

2 little screech owls sitting in a tree.

I debated whether or not to bother trying to go back to the house for my real camera, wondered whether or not I could reasonably expect them to still be there when I got back down to the gate. Our driveway is not short, or smooth. So I’d have to go slow. But I decided to try.

Too Late

When I got back to the gate, after getting the camera, swapping out the lens, and making the slow journey down the driveway again, they were gone. At first my heart sank. My best opportunity ever for getting a good owl pic and I’d blown it.

But there they were, on the other tree, in a tangle of vines.

Two little screech owls hiding in a tangle of vines.

A Birds of Prey Project

I’m happy to have gotten the pictures for more than just because I love owls. The main focus in my art is birds of prey. Usually I have to get permission from other photographers to use their birds as subjects, but now I have one of my own. And that makes me happy.

Screech owls are on my list of Ozark Birds of Prey to paint. I’ll do a better one of them later, but I made a quick one for my grand-daughter Karter’s birthday. When I get the better one done, I’ll add it to this page, too.

Screech owl painting (quick version).

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

If the Creeks Don’t Rise… Springtime in the Ozarks

Wild Ozark will be at Terra Studios tomorrow.

But with the rain we might get overnight and in the morning, the odds are looking poor. If I can’t make it there on Saturday, then on Sunday I should be able to make it. Springtime in the Ozarks usually means more rain.

UPDATE: I made it out in time so I’ll be there today 😁

Ordinarily we do get a lot of rain in springtime. But we’ve been getting a lot more rain than ordinary since *last* spring.

Framed some Paintings

All week I’ve been getting ready for this weekend’s South x Southeast Art Tour. I’ve framed a few more paintings, with the intention to sell some original art this time.

When I framed the last one, I thought I might do something a little different. The painting is a monochrome using only the pigment from a red sandstone. I named the paint “Intoxicating”, which is also what I named the painting.

So I added a little nugget of the same kind of sandstone to the frame, so the owner can see the kind of rock I used to make the paint.

Paleo Painting with the rock used to make the paint on the frame.
I think I’ll make a point to save some of the stones from each of the paints I make so I can add more interest to the frames. Paintings using more than one color will get graced by more than one stone.

Springtime in the Ozarks

Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.
Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.

Just in case I don’t get any pictures this year of the ephemerals, because springtime in the Ozarks sometimes has a tendency to knock the blooms down before I get to take their portraits, here’s a link from previous year.

Handmade, Wild-crafted Paleo Paints Mini Cubes

Paleo Paints Mini’s are mini cubes of watercolor paints using Ozark pigments. Each one is approximately 3/8 inch cubes. They’re wild-crafted and handmade. Smaller than a standard half-pan but far larger than a sample dot, these are perfect for creating watercolor travel sets.

The Colors

The mini cubes come in all of the colors I make. They are sold as singles or in sets. You can check to see what is available by going to my Etsy shop. When I have them available in the Wild Ozark online shop I’ll add a link here for that, too. Right now they’re only at Etsy, Kingston Square Arts in Kingston, Arkansas, and wherever the Wild Ozark booth is while doing a show.

My schedule is linked here, if you’d like to catch up with me in person to try them out before you buy.

Here are some of the colors:

  1. Cromwell’s Sunrise
  2. Pink Tequila
  3. Light Intox
  4. Earthy Delight

More to come!

Paleo Paint Mini's in wood-fired ceramic trays. (tray color varies due to the firing method)
Paleo Paint Mini’s in wood-fired ceramic trays. (tray color varies due to the firing method) The wet set is my own personal ones, so obviously, those aren’t for sale. But if you come by Kingston Square Arts on any Sunday that I’m there, you can try them out. It’s on the square in Kingston, Arkansas. We’re open on Thurs-Sunday, 10-6.

How to Use the Mini Cubes

As for how to use this sort of watercolor paint, it’s just like any other solid watercolor paint.

  1. Wet your brush
  2. Wet the paint
  3. Paint

Each color is slightly different from the other in characteristics. So you’ll learn more about how each one behaves as you use it. For example, it takes the black a lot longer to wet than the others. It’s easy enough to get a gray color, but to get a really dark black point, you’ll need to work a small spot for a while. To draw out really fine black lines, once there is good saturation on my brush, I’ll just barely touch the tip of the brush in water before applying it to the paper.

Some of the colors, like the red heavies, stain the paper and so can’t be lifted as well. Others, like the black, yellow, and gray-green are very easy to lift or move around.

In general, the heavies are more granular and the fines are smoother and more pigment rich.

Ways to Use Mini Cubes

As for how to store and use them, I have a couple of ways I prefer. For travel ease, I will glue the mini down inside a 2″ x 2″ tin. These tins are free with any order of 5 or more mini cubes. You’ll have to glue them in place, or you can leave them loose. I taped my swatch cards in a booklet fashion underneath the tin.

A little tin holding Paleo Paints Mini Cubes.

This other way is decorative and creative. Not so easy to carry around, but aesthetically appealing for desktop or studio use, are my Mini Cubes Driftwood Palettes. These aren’t available yet to purchase, but I should have some ready in a few months. But you can make your own driftwood palettes, if you want. Look how pretty they are:

A gnarly piece of driftwood is my favorite way to use the mini cubes!

How to store these little cubes

When you’re done painting, let the mini cubes dry out before putting down the lid if they’re in a closed container. For open containers, like on the driftwood, I don’t do anything special to them.

Where to Buy?

You’ll find them listed at Etsy, or if you’re local, they’ll be stocked at Kingston Square Arts in Kingston Arkansas. Here’s their website so you can call ahead if you don’t want to make the drive without knowing if any paints are in stock.

Artist’s Reception – Artists of Northwest Arkansas Members Show

Fox No. 1 (Little Rascal) is on display at the Faulkner Center for Performing Arts, located at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The artist’s reception is Thursday, March 7 at 6 pm, hosted by the UofA. If you’re able to attend, I’d love to see you there. Here’s the painting of mine (it’s on the last page of the catalog):

Come out and see Fox No. 1 all framed and hanging on the wall at the artists reception for the ANA Member's Show at the Faulkner Center for Performing Arts.
Fox No. 1 “Little Rascal”, all Ozark pigments.

You can see the catalog below with all of the art that was selected to hang for this show. Many of the paintings (including mine) are for sale, so if you’re in the market to find some art, it’s a good time to see a lot of it in one location.

It’s my first art show, and the first artist’s reception I’ve ever attended, so this will be fun… I hope, lol. We’ll see! Hopefully I’ll get lots of more practice at this sort of thing in the future. I’m fairly introverted when it comes to social events, so it’s stretching my envelope to attend. I’d imagine I need to dress up a little… I guess I should get online see what to expect from this sort of event in our area. Most likely, I’ll just take my cues from what the others are doing. Many of my fellow artists in this group are old hats at this. Besides, it’s not like it’s New York City or anything.

Update after the show:

I worry too much. Most of us there were the artists in the show and their guests. I enjoyed talking with people I already knew and really liked getting to meet some I had only known through Facebook or Instagram.

 

The tour route for South x Southeast Art Tour 2019

South x Southeast Art Studio Tour

I’m thrilled and honored to be included as a vendor/artist for this art tour event. The Wild Ozark booth will be set up in the Education building at Terra Studios on March 30-31.

 

Print this flyer so you’ll know where all of the locations are. Here’s a link to an easy print 🙂 PRINT FLYER

Here’s the Facebook event page if you’d like to keep up with posts about this event. You can also learn more about the various participating artists here too.

My Artist’s Business Plan for Wild Ozark 2019

So, this isn’t a ‘formal’ business plan, but more of an outline of my goals, plans, and strategy for the year regarding my art. To see the outline of intended subjects for the paintings, take a look at my Ozark Birds of Prey page. It’ll give you an idea of the focus and scope of the project.

And just so you know, I *am* still writing on my novel, too. I just don’t have a plan for the writing business… I just keep adding words and I’m doing that on a nearly, but not quite daily basis. There’s a note posted on the shelf in front of my computer to remind me to at least write ONE sentence every day.

My Artist's Business Plan: Paintings by Madison Woods of the Ozark birds of prey as of Feb. 1, 2019.

Paintings: the focus of my Artist’s Business Plan

Producing new paintings monthly is the primary goal this year.

My focus for the works planned for this year, which will likely stretch into the foreseen future, is to complete a few series of Birds of Prey. Specifically, I am interested in painting the ones found here in the Ozarks. We have a lot of resident raptors and several that visit us only during winter or summer. But where we live represents only a small part of the Ozarks. Since the Ozarks spans more than just Arkansas, it includes a few species less common to my immediate area. The states included are Arkansas, Missouri, and far eastern Oklahoma.

Here’s a link to the birds on my list, and that list has links to the paintings of the ones I’ve done so far. I’ve only begun to get started and it looks like I have my life’s work cut out for me with only this narrow focus!

Paints

Before I make a painting, I make the paint if I don’t already have some on hand. When I do that, I put the excess into decorative containers to sell at the Fayetteville Farmers Market and on Etsy. I’ll continue to do this, but my main focus is on making the paintings, not necessarily selling the paint. I am only going to do the farmer’s market during the indoor winter market months. Once it moves outdoors (in April), I’ll focus more on Etsy and Downtown Roger’s Art on the Bricks, and contests/exhibits.

Selling my handmade watercolors is part of my Artist's Business Plan for 2019.

Prints

I’ll definitely keep making prints of my art. These sell quite well at the market and on Etsy I’ve sold a few. Anywhere I can make some money (while staying focused on the art) to keep funding the art is on my list of things to do, ha.

Stationery

I am loving my stationery sets and stickers and have been using them to send letters to friends and family. These haven’t caught on much yet (well the stickers sell, but they’re a very low-dollar item) at the markets, but I hope they will. If they haven’t by the end of the year, I’ll probably drop this from my list of products and just focus more on the original paintings.

The Strategy and Artist’s Business Plan

My production rate of new paintings has been averaging about one per month. I want to keep that pace and perhaps squeeze out two on some months. Once I have paintings, then I will enter them into exhibits, contests and shows. The paintings may or may not be listed ‘for sale’ during the exhibits or contests. It depends on whether it’s part of a completed series or one still in progress. Getting into exhibits helps to build my CV and gain exposure to more people.

The ‘getting into’ exhibits isn’t necessarily a straight-forward thing, nor is it free. Each entry has a fee associated with it, normally $35-$50. And just because the fee is paid, it doesn’t mean my entry will be accepted. So this is one of the expenses in an artist business, and the selling of other things helps me to afford those fees.

Not only that, if it’s a show, then there’s usually a booth fee if the art is accepted. If it’s an exhibit and not local, then there’s shipping costs associated with getting the art to the exhibit. And then home to me once it’s over.

At least the rocks I use to make the paint is free! However, the paper I prefer to paint on is not. It’s quite pricey, in fact. So there’s another expense. I’ve been very discouraged by how expensive it is to get a work of art framed properly for shows/exhibits. That’s a major expense I’ll need to plan for, because the painting can’t be displayed in shows, contests, or exhibits without framing.

Keeping Track of Expenses

This year I’ll do a better job of tracking expenses and income directly related to the art. I’m curious to see how that turns out. In general, it’s fairly difficult to make a living as a painter. There’s a reason for the phrase ‘starving artist’. I’m planning to buck that stereotype this year, though. The derivatives, like the paints, stationery, stickers, and prints are where I expect to make the income to fund the paintings. Perhaps if I’d finish my books, I could rely on a little income from that too… but it seems that ‘starving writer’ might be a pretty accurate phrase, too. But thank goodness I’m not relying on my art and writing for my everyday expenses! And when Rob gets to working in his workshop again, we’ll have woodworking to add to our inventory of things to sell.

 

Watercolor painting, Ozark pigments by Madison Woods

Goshawk no. 2 – The Creation of “Rhapsody”

For weeks before I finally started, I’d been wanting to get started on the second northern goshawk in my series. It’s amazing how many things suddenly just absolutely have to get done when I decide to get started on a project.

Procrastination?

We have some frigid air moving in for the weekend, so I needed to put extra bedding out for the dog.

Warmth for me too

Also wanted to bring in some extra firewood so at least tomorrow’s wood is sort-of dry when I wake up. The rick of wood is fairly green and the older wood in the pile is fairly wet. LOL, I can’t win either way with that. But, at least what’s inside the house will be a little drier by morning than it was this morning when I brought it in.

Put up the water

So after taking care of the cold weather outdoor stuff, I thought I’d better fill some containers in case the water freezes. I don’t want to have to move the horses to the other field if their water bucket line freezes. Because that would mean I also will have to move hay in the frigid temperatures. I’d rather just haul the water to their bucket if that happens.

Market display

Then I remembered I’d bought some peg board to make a vertical display space for my market booth. Before I could work on that it would need to be painted. So I painted the board and left it outside to dry. Except it didn’t. It was too cold for it to dry well and even after several hours had passed it was still tacky. So I brought it in to put in a warmer spot.

Check the mail

Just before noon I remembered a letter I needed to bring down to the mailbox, so took care of that, And when I got back up to the house, figured I’d better put the car in the shop in case we really do get some of that giant hail I heard mentioned in the forecast. Well guess what? Now it’s coffee time. I completely missed lunch and so just let that go. Once I had my coffee I finished the vertical display space. Then, once that was done I did-finally-get started on my goshawk.

Yep. Procrastination.

It was all just procrastination. Though all of those things did need to be done today, I could have started the goshawk and done those things while stepping back from it. I step away from it almost every time I do anything significant to the painting.

Here’s where I stopped on it today:

Northern goshawk. The eye is not finished. It's just 'good enough' to hold the rest of the painting together while I go forward. I can't do the bird until the eye is good enough.
The eye is not finished. It’s just ‘good enough’ to hold the rest of the painting together while I go forward. I can’t do the bird until the eye is good enough.

The northern goshawk (accipiter gentilis) isn’t commonly found in the Ozarks. Sometimes one might get blown off-course during migration, though. It is one of the raptors favored by falconers and I find them to be beautiful birds of prey.

Some Changes

I did a few things differently on this painting. Each new painting is somewhat of an experiment with me, but there were some things I wanted to intentionally do differently this time.

Drawing lines

On the previous goshawk I had a really difficult time getting the angles right. So this time, on the photograph I printed out to work from, I drew lines with my ruler. These lines show me where the various parts of the bird line up in comparison to each other. I think that helped a lot.

Better paper

Another difference is that I’m painting this northern goshawk on a much higher quality paper. This time I have #300 (640 gsm) Arches paper and it is definitely a huge improvement. As it very well should be, because it was a lot more expensive. The pricey paper added to my reluctance to get started, I think. I’m afraid to ruin a sheet on a wasted effort. On the other hand, I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Finer pigments

The last difference is in the pigments I used for the background. I used some of the fine powders I’d processed and it gives a much bolder, color-drenched effect. I like it. But the particular shade I used is much more inclined to stain the paper. So the areas I need to be white later are going to be harder to produce. But that’s one of the sweet things about this paper. I can lift on it a lot more often than I could on the previous paper. Lifting is when you take color off the page with a damp brush by touching the spot and then rinse and wipe the brush-repeated until it’s white. Or in this case, white enough. I’ll never get the stain completely off. To get whiter spots on the bird later I’ll have to use some of my limestone paint.

Photographer

For this painting, I’m using a photograph of a wild northern goshawk by @javiersanzfoto (Javier Sanz at Instagram).

Progression

Here’s the progression from start to current. As I can I’ll update the photo collection to bring it up to date. If you want to see it as I post them, follow me at Instagram (@wildozark).

Let’s hope I don’t ruin the pricey sheet of paper!

Finished:

Watercolor painting, Ozark pigments by Madison Woods
Prints available.

 

Selling my handmade watercolors is part of my Artist's Business Plan for 2019.

“I make paint from rocks…” A typical encounter.

Click HERE to go directly to my online gallery. All of the work you’ll see there uses paint made from rocks.

Click HERE if you want to see Paleo Paints at Etsy. And HERE for workshops on making them.

Talking about Paint from Rocks

When people see my artwork, they usually don’t realize the colors they’re seeing is paint made from rocks. I love the surprise I invoke when I tell them that. It makes for interesting conversation with almost anyone even remotely interested in nature.

During winter months I get to talk to people at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market. From spring through fall, I’m usually at the gallery in Kingston, and that’s where I get to talk to people. Usually they’re visitors to the area, passing through on their way to or from the Buffalo River or out to see the elk at Ponca.

To see what other venues I’ll be at this year, check out my online calendar. And Wild Ozark is always ‘open for business’ at our Etsy shop.

A Typical Encounter

People come in through the doors, walk through the aisles, sometimes browsing the various offerings. At the farmer’s markets, some of them, regulars who come for specific things, walk right past other vendors as if they don’t even exist, making a beeline for the booth that carries their (usually) gastronomical delight. Some market-goers glance at everything they pass, just to see what’s new.

At the gallery, it’s a little different because mostly all there is in there to see is art of some sort or another.

An Interested Browser!

Finally I notice a person who’s eyes linger on my artwork. Usually i don’t pounce right away. Pouncing is not my style. I let them look for a little while. After a few seconds more, I know they’re interested and I will try to strike up conversation if I’m not already involved with someone else.

“All these colors you see are Ozark colors.”

“Oh that’s nice.”  And then they’ll either step away because they’re afraid I’m going to try and sell them something, or step closer. Most become more interested. So I give more information, little bits at a time until they’re really engrossed.

“I Make Paint from Rocks”

“Literally. I make the paint from rocks right here in the Ozarks.”

Then most of the time, the interest really flares. Oh? Their eyes light up. Now this is something they’ve never heard of, and if they step in to hear more, I’ll come around and go through the show and tell of how I gather the pigment rocks, crush them and then make the paint.

My personal pans of paint from rocks. They get pretty messy with use.
My personal pans of paint from rocks. They get pretty messy with use.

I get more satisfaction out of showing and telling about the beautiful colors than I do from trying to ‘sell’ art to them. The idea that I can get paint from rocks is still so fascinating to me that I like to share it as much as possible. But when someone walks away from my booth, treasure in hand, it is also very satisfying.

Keepers

The most favorite interaction comes from meeting those I follow or who follow me via this blog or other social media. They already know I make the paint from rocks. They’ve made a special trip to see my work or to meet me. It makes my most of the time otherwise slow day when one of these market-goers shows up. Even if they only came to look and don’t buy.

Paint from Rocks: Wild Ozark Paleo Paints

I bring whatever paint sets are available with me to markets, but they’re also at Etsy. Here’s something new I’m working on. This is the prototype, called a Paleo Biscuit. What is that? It’s a palette to hold paint. I made them from recycled paper and I hope to use them to replace all the plastic pans eventually. The idea of using flat rocks themselves as palette trays is also on my list of things to try.

The wood palettes are nice, too, but those I have to hire out, whereas I can make these paper ones by myself. Another thing I especially like about them is that they’re plastic-free, use recycled materials, and the base material (paper scraps) is freely available.

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My Art

Most of my work is uploaded to Etsy when it’s ready to sell. These awesome stationary sets, all works derived from my paint made from rocks, are the most recent addition!

 

To see art works as I do them, follow me at Instagram. To see them when they’re finished, keep an eye on my Paleo Paints website. I do bring some originals with me to the market.

Original Paintings for Sale

The Twisted Tree swatches and other small originals are usually for sale, but I’m holding on to most of the birds of prey originals now. I need to build a large enough collection of them to enter into exhibits or shows. I almost always have prints of everything available at my market booths, but email me to make sure the one you want is ready, if you want to be sure of a certain painting.

Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, come out to see what incredible art and colors come from our Ozarks. I still find it fascinating, every time I make paint from rocks.

Upcoming Events and Exhibitions

I usually do a good job of keeping my online calendar updated, but here’s the highlights of the months to come.

  • Fayetteville farmer’s markets on most Saturdays
  • Feb 9- Community Craft Show, Bentonville
  • Feb – April- Fox No. 1 will be on exhibit at the Faulkner Center for Performing Arts
  • March- unsure of date- Terra Studios fair
  • last 2 weeks of March-December: Kingston Square Arts on Sundays

My Interview with Jacqueline Froelich of KUAF (91.3 FM)

I was excited to have been interviewed by Jacqueline Froelich of KUAF earlier this week. She came out on Tuesday and let me show and tell my process of making paint and art from the natural resources of the land here at Wild Ozark.

Here’s a link to the show if you’d like to listen.

Local Artist Creates Paints Using Ancient Methods

There is one miss-speak in there I’d like to mention. I didn’t intend to imply that modern synthetic colors are not light fast. Most likely all of them are. However, modern synthetic pigments have only been in use for a relatively short while, so they haven’t withstood the test of time yet. All paint manufacturers do submit their colors to testing to simulate the exposure to light and passage of time, though.

You can see all of the art I’ve made so far with the Paleo Paints at the Paleo Paints website 🙂

What I meant to do was clarify the difference between the plant pigments I’ve found that are *not* light fast as compared to the very fastness of the earth pigments (those from stone, mineral, soil, or clay).

All in all, I had a great time showing Froelich around and talking about my obsession. We’ve interviewed before on the topic of ginseng, but this was the first public exposure of this scale for my art. Let me know what you think about the interview if you get a chance to listen.

Collection No. 6, packaged and ready to ship! Uploading to Etsy on 1/11/2019. These were in progress when Jacqueline Froelich came out to Wild Ozark to do an interview.
Collection No. 6, packaged and ready to ship! Uploading to Etsy on 1/13/2019, but I’ll have these 3 sets with me at the Fayetteville Farmers market on 1/12/19.

 

Goshawk No. 1, Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)

I’ve always been fascinated with birds of prey and the sport of falconry. One of the birds commonly trained for hunting is the Northern Goshawk. Here’s my rendition of a beautiful wild goshawk photographed by Nicoli Gianluca.

Goshawk No. 1

"Goshawk No. 1", 12 x 17", handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.
“Goshawk No. 1″, 12 x 17”, handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.

Right now the image is at the art shop getting scanned because it’s too large a sheet to fit on my own scanner. Once I get the files, I’ll have prints, note cards, and stickers available for it at Etsy. I’ll also have them with me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville (indoor) Farmer’s Market.

Goshawks in the Ozarks

Unfortunately, the goshawk doesn’t make an appearance often here in the Ozarks. There were a few instances reported of sightings, most likely when one was off course during migration. So I’ve never seen one in real life. I found lots of photos online, but could not reach any of the photographers to get permission. I couldn’t find anyone local who had a good photograph.

But Instagram is rich with photographers, and I found Nicoli Gianluca (from Italy) who responded to my permission request. If you are a fan of falconry or bird photography, you can find him as @accipiterhook.

Favorite Subjects

The first ‘real’ painting I made was a raptor, and so were the second and third paintings. So I love painting raptors. But after the third Kestrel I decided to try a few different things to see if raptors really are my favorite, or if it’s maybe only kestrels. So I painted a crow, a pelican, and a fox. And I painted a twisted tree.

I really liked all of those subjects too, but I missed doing raptors. Now I’m working on a new series of a different raptor, the Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis). I’ve never seen one. But it’s Rob’s favorite. I had thought the kestrel was his favorite, but he’s since said it was a goshawk. So either he has favorite birds like I have favorite colors (can’t pick just one, lol), or he changed his mind.

At any rate, I began the first goshawk during the last weeks of 2018. It presented new challenges. Not only is it a different bird in appearances, but it’s a different size. This canvas is much larger than my previous largest thing ever painted. It’s 12″ x 18″. I had put off starting it because the size intimidated me. There’s so much more room for mistakes! Maybe that’s not true, but there’s more room to *see* the mistakes is closer to an accurate statement. It was the most difficult thing I’ve painted yet.

The Background

For this one I wanted to do something different than with the previous paintings. I like the rubbed and speckled backgrounds of the others, but I wanted *more* this time. But I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. And then, too, again being a larger canvas made me reticent to start on top of not knowing exactly where or how to start. So I decided to just paint something.

This is what I came up with.

This started out as a random painting with no image in mind. Once it began to look like something, I decided I rather liked it and decided to use this as the backdrop for my Goshawk No. 1.
A rather barren landscape in brown sandstone, with a rub and speckle before using a wet brush. I like the mist flowing into the scene.

That background started out as a random painting with no image in mind. Once it began to look like hills, I added the mist. Or rather I subtracted it. I decided I rather liked it and decided to use this as the backdrop for my Goshawk No. 1. Note added: Now that I’m nearly done with the painting, I think I’ll go back to my original type of background. I am not loving this washed out landscape much.

Sketch in location of the Goshawk

The goshawk is traced in with one of the colors that shouldn't interfere with final pic.
The goshawk is traced in with one of the colors that shouldn’t interfere with final pic.

The Eye

Before I can go any further with it now, I have to fix the eye. After the outline, the eye is the part that holds everything else up. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough.

This is good enough for now. At least the shape and size is right. It'll take on more character after I get more of the surroundings done.
This is good enough for now. At least the shape and size is right. It’ll take on more character after I get more of the surroundings done.

Blocking in Color

Usually, I am adding too much black and have to take a lot of it back off. In this case, I’m finding it hard to add *enough* black. Part of that is due to the size of the canvas. It is physically a lot more paint than I’m accustomed to using. The other part is that this bird has a lot more black.

The Beak

The beak on this painting gave me LOTS of grief! I had to rework it several times until I was happy enough to leave it alone. During the effort of getting the beak right, I found that I hate this paper I’m using. It didn’t hold up well to lifting the color repeatedly and repainting, so I ordered some heavyweight paper from Arches to try. I’ve heard it’s the best. We’ll see if it holds up to my technique, lol.

Erased the goshawk beak and re-did more than once to get it right.
Erased the goshawk beak and re-did more than once to get it right.

Palette

Black- from wood char made here at Wild Ozark

Brown- from sandstone found here

Yellow- from sandstone found here

Yellow- from sassafras leaves

Gray- from shale found here

Greenish- from a sandstone found here (only found one of these so far)

The Goshawk Progress Pictures

The progression of Goshawk No. 1 from start to finish.
The progression of Goshawk No. 1 from start to finish. Shows all the ugly stages in between 🙂

 

 

 

These are large acorn caps. Burr oak and other oak acorns.

New Products Lineup for Wild Ozark 2019

Lots of new Paleo Paint products in the lineup for Wild Ozark 2019! Look for new handmade watercolors, new packaging (less plastic!) and more paintings.

Since I started making the paint in June of last year, I’ve experimented a lot. And I’ve learned a lot. The same goes for the paintings using handmade watercolors.

As I’ve never painted with anything except these paints I make, I have little to draw on from experience compared with store-bought versions.

However, in my work-play, I’ve come up with a few more techniques for using and making the paint. And I’ve found some better ways to package the paints and make them easier or more fun to use.

Plastic Reduction

The usual thing nowadays used to hold paint are little plastic pans. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of pans since I started making paint. When it’s paint for myself, I wash and reuse them. As I’m developing new products for the upcoming year, I’d prefer to use less plastic.

Originally, artists used whatever was handy to their region. Those who lived near bodies of water typically used seashells. If they purchased paint, it came in seashells, I’d assume. However most of the artists of old made their own paint.

While I don’t have seashells handy, I do have acorns with convenient little caps. And we have a lot of wood scraps when Rob is in the workshop making his art. Nature abounds with all sorts of ‘holders’, so I’ll keep my eyes open for other natural items that will work.

Paint delivery with no or little plastics.
Paint delivery with no or little plastics.

For the acorn cup holders, I still need to use the hot glue to attach them to the base. So not completely plastic-free, but much closer.

New Products in 2019

More Colors

While my main focus for new products will remain on local colors, the Soul of the Ozark series, I would like to start experimenting with minerals from other places. Whenever I travel, I’ll collect the soil, rocks, or clay of that place and make collections called “Soul of That Place”.

I’ve learned to make an incredible blue out of lapis lazuli, but that rock is expensive and in short supply here in my possession, so it most likely won’t ever be one of my new products to sell. However, there are other rocks native to the United States that will make blue. Same goes for green. So these won’t be included in a Soul collection unless it is native to the region I’ve collected, but I’d like to have those colors on hand.

Another thing I learned to do, and now consider standard practice when I have a large enough source, is to refine the colors. The whole rock gives a certain shade. But if you separate the fractions of the rock using water, other shades are possible. Some of the shades can be quite vivid, like this Russet from the fines of the rock I used originally to make my Nirvana color.

More Art

I’ve entered the only two originals I have left into a show for the Artists of Northwest Arkansas. Which means in order to enter any other shows, I’ll need more originals. Right now I’m working on a goshawk and hopefully it will turn out well enough to compete. Before I can finish the painting, though, I have to make the colors I need.

The next exhibit I’d like to apply to is at the Springfield Museum of Art. I need to have this goshawk done by February for that.

My little twisted tree swatches have been popular items at the market, so I will make more of those and add them to the new product line as they become available. They’re small and affordable for people who want to own original art rather than prints. And they look just as nice framed as any larger sized painting would.

Paleo Duos

Whimsical, yet practical. At the moment, I only have enough of the large acorn cups to make 4 sets. If these prove to be a popular way to deliver my handmade watercolors, I’ll find more of them!

Each acorn cup holds more paint than a standard full pan. If all I can find are smaller acorns, then I’ll add more cups and call them Trios or Quads.

The bones of a new product. This is what will become Paleo Duo sets. Look for these to appear at Etsy and at the market booth by the end of January.
The bones of what will become Paleo Duo sets.

Wooden Palettes

These wooden blocks are awesome, and contain no plastics at all. When I finish the paints in one of mine, I’ll try washing and re-using it, too. My son Garrison has been working with me on this design. He’s doing all the work of making them and I’m filling them with paint and offering feedback. The one below is a working prototype.

Not one of the new products, but a new way to package the products. No plastic!
Not one of the new products, but a new way to package the products. No plastic!

Paleo Go

This is a portable set based on the concept of ‘whiskey paintings’. It features small acorn cups with magnets so they can be swapped out for different colors. Will come with the first set of colors, a miniature paint brush, shot glass for water, and the wooden plaque. I have been using this prototype as often as I can so I can make modifications as needed. Once I have all the bugs worked out and beautify the presentation of it more, it’ll be one of the new products at the market too. Look for this mid- to late 2019. Maybe earlier if I’m lucky with the first round of modifications.

Paleo Go prototype in use for one of my twisted tree paintings.
Paleo Go prototype in use for one of my twisted tree paintings.

Where to Find Wild Ozark?

Look for me on Saturdays at the Fayetteville (indoor) Farmers Market until March. I won’t be there the first weekend in January, though. You can find out when and where I’ll be by checking my calendar here.

I’ll be at the Community Craft Show in Bentonville on February 9.

My Etsy shop is at Etsy.com/shop/wildozark and it’s open all the time!

Got Acorns?

If you have any burr oak acorn caps, I would be happy to buy some from you! Ditto the other large caps. I have lots of medium and small acorns, just need more of the large ones. Email me if you’d like to donate or sell to the cause: [email protected]

Have a wonderful, prosperous, and exciting 2019!

Popup venue

Give Less, Give More – a Popup Show at the Johnson Mill

That’s the name of a sweet little venue that is popping up this weekend over at the Johnson Mill in Johnson, AR (between Springdale and Fayetteville.) Give Less, Give More is hosted by Good Acres Life, a local company owned by Mariette Spedale.

Give Less, Give More Popup venue at the Johnson Mill
Click to enlarge

Pick up some Paleo Paints or Paintings

I’ll be there with my latest collection of Paleo Paints and a bunch of prints and stickers made from my original Ozark earth colored paintings. You can find out more about the Soul of the Ozarks Collection No. 4 at my Paleo Paints blog. I just made a post that tells about each color and what rock or source it came from.

These are the colors and sources for Collection No. 4 in the Soul of the Ozarks Wild Ozark Paleo Paints.
These are the colors and sources for Collection No. 4 in the Soul of the Ozarks Wild Ozark Paleo Paints.

At the same venue there will be other makers and holistic healthy kinds of business owners to visit. The weather forecast calls for rain Friday night, but I think it’ll arrive later than 7 pm, when our event ends for the evening. Saturday is supposed to be brilliant weather.

So What is the Meaning of “Give Less, Give More”?

I’m not sure, but here’s my interpretation. Rather than give a lot of inexpensive items that most often find their way to the neglected corner of a stash in someone’s closet somewhere, give them something that may cost a little more but delivers far more in value. My paints are not inexpensive. The set of 6 colors above will cost $55. But it’s the sort of gift that will definitely be used and appreciated by anyone who loves nature and likes to paint with watercolors. These colors aren’t going to be on the shelf at your local art supply store. These are Ozark colors, reflecting the very soul of these mountains. So, if all give is this one gift, it will mean more than giving lots of other little things that might add up to the same bottom line. How would you interpret the meaning of that phrase?

Stickers, Prints, Note Cards, and Paints

I’ll have prints in 8 x 10 and 5 x 7, note cards, and stickers with these images. And I’ll have five sets of the Collection No. 4.

Catching Up & Gearing Up for More Paint-Making and Paintings

For the past couple of months I’ve been busy with festival-going and getting ready for more festival-going for the Burnt Kettle Syrup. Then for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been enjoying time with Rob (Mr. Wild Ozark/Burnt Kettle). Paint-making and painting has been on the sidelines for a while.

But it’s time to get back to work now. Lots of events coming up over the next couple of months that involve my art.  So I am gearing up for that now. (See my Schedule calendar to keep up and get locations/times information).

  • Demo Day- the artists of Kingston Square Arts will be demonstrating their crafts. I’ll be making watercolor paint from local rocks.
  • Holiday market- my work will be on display and for sale at the Walton Arts Center/McBride Studio from Nov. 23 to Dec. 1
  • Give Less Give More- a popup market hosted by Good Acres at Johnson Mill in Johnson, AR
  • Fayetteville Farmer’s Winter Market- tentatively I will be back at the market on Dec. 8
  • Local Juried Event Applications- there are some art shows I want to enter for next year with deadlines in December this year

Before the Painting

First I have to make the paint. I need a palette I can use for my next project. Today I collected some rocks to use for the next round of paint making.

One of those rocks is the size of a flattened grapefruit, and I just know it’s going to make a fabulous color. It’s a soft sandstone, an ochre that left my fingers stained when I crushed a little of it in testing.

It’s a big enough rock so that I can make both a good sized batch of watercolors and test something brand new I want to try- my first handmade oil paint.

A flattened grapefruit sized rock that'll make some nice handmade paint!
A flattened grapefruit sized rock that’ll make some nice handmade paint!

I haven’t painted anything in a while and I’m overdue! The next picture is going to be my first attempt at an oil painting, with my handmade paints from Ozark colors. It’s going to be the first in a series of goshawks. The first one will be Rob’s, as all of the ‘firsts’ of any series always are. The northern goshawk is one of his favorite birds and I’ve been collecting permissions from photographers to get ready for this new line.

Future Paintings

Here’s one I’d like to do that I don’t yet have permissions, but I’m still trying to find out who the photographer is. I’ve found the photo in lots of places, but only recently found some that give credit to a photographer, so I’m waiting for response from an email I sent.

A female northern goshawk with prey.
A female northern goshawk with prey. I believe the copyright holder for this image is Jens Stahl of the Netherlands, but not sure. Waiting to hear back from this photographer so I can properly credit the photo, and if so, see if I can use it for a model in a painting.


Greens and Blues

I won’t be able to make this green, since we don’t have a light fast source for that kind of green. Blue is another color I can’t make from Ozark sources. I may decide to go beyond the Ozarks for stones I can use to make a good green, though. And to get a gray with the blue tones like this, I may need to use an outside source for that, too.

It’s hard to find good photos of this bird, although I have found some. Even when they are shown with photographer credits, it’s hard to get in touch with the photographers to get permissions to use it. If you know of one, please send me leads! Thanks in advance 🙂

The Latest Paint Collection

If you’d like to see more about Soul of the Ozarks Collection No. 3, I made a blog post at the Paleo Paints website about using the red leaves of black gum for one of the colors in the latest palette. I’ll have that collection of nine colors available to buy at the Holiday Market, and I’m working on the next collection now. Collection No. 4 will be ready for the popup on Dec. 1, or you can watch some of the process I use to make these paints at the Demo Day on Nov. 24.

Black Gum autumn leaves, leaching plant pigments

Plant Pigments- in search of a stable green, the latest painting and the next show

Between getting the house clean today, since it’s raining and I couldn’t be outside weed-eating, I’ve been making a mess in the kitchen. People have to not take things at face value in this house. What looks like refreshing tea… just might not be. My kids know by now that not everything they see in my refrigerator or on the counters is meant to be eaten. More often it’s something to do with an herbal remedy in progress. Or plant pigments. Or rock dust tea.

It might look like something delicious... but it's pink sandstone dust. Gritty.
href=”https://www.wildozark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/rock-dust-tea.jpg”> It might look like something delicious… but it’s pink sandstone dust. Gritty.[/
The pink sandstone project was a few weeks ago. Today I had the same equipment out to do some separating of some different ‘teas’.

Still Looking for Green

I’m always on the lookout for some plant or rock that will give me a green or blue paint. Today, entirely coincidentally, I might have found my green.

Will it last? This new paint made from plant pigment will undergo light-fast testing to see if it's stable. Fingers crossed!
“https://www.wildozark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/green.jpg”> Will it last? This new paint made from plant pigment will undergo light-fast testing to see if it’s stable. Fingers crossed![/captio
So we’ll have to wait about a month to know whether this is a success or failure in my quest to find a stable green color for my palettes. If you want to stay updated on that, check back here or check out my new blog dedicated to the making of Paleo Paints. When I get the post up there, it’ll go into a lot more detail on how I’ve made the paint and what I do to light-test.

Update 8/17: I’m sad to report that it won’t take a month to know the answer. It isn’t going to last. Both the exposed and the strip in the dark are showing degradation.

My Latest Painting

I finished this fox the other day. Originally, my plan was to do three of them quickly so I could give them to the grandbaby girls for Christmas. But this little fox wasn’t easy and it took far longer than I thought it would. So what I’ll do is make prints of this one for them instead.

All colors are from paints I made using local resources right around the house. All but the brown-brown are in Collection No. 1.
://www.wildozark.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/finished-low-res.jpg”> All colors are from paints I made using local resources right around the house. All but the brown-brown are in Collection No. 1. The reddish brown is Nirvana and Intoxicating, which are in the collection. You can see all of the work I’ve done so far at my gallery page.

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The next Appearance

The Burnt Kettle booth will be at War Eagle this weekend, so come out to say hello. I’ll be there, probably shivering and hiding out from the rain inside the booth.

Next stop for Wild Ozark is at the Walton Arts Center Holiday Gift Market. I’ll have prints, paints, cards, and stickers available for sale. The cards are an affordable way to get a print, if you frame them rather than send them 🙂 I’ll have signed/numbered prints of Kestrel No. 1, Pelican No. 1, and Kestrel No. 2. Maybe I’ll have the prints back for the fox and crow by then too, but not sure. The dates for that show is Nov. 23 through Dec. 16.

Making Paint from Pink Sandstone of the Ozarks

I’ve been busy as a bee lately making more and more paint. Even though this week my intention was to focus solely on getting ready for upcoming shows and festivals, the lure of a large chunk of pink sandstone seduced me. I couldn’t help it, and I gave in to make more paint.

Collection No. 2

Soul of the Ozarks
Collection No. 2

Collection No. 2 has some of my preliminary experiments with pink sandstone, though. There are three colors in this set. A full pan of Frenchie, made with French green clay, Brown Sands, and Pink Sands.

The color swatches for Soul of the Ozarks, Collection No. 2.
The color swatches for Soul of the Ozarks, Collection No. 2.

 

Frenchie

Although French green clay is from France, I included it in this palette for a couple of reasons. So far I haven’t found a good light-fast local source to make any shade of green.

But I don’t feel like it’s much of a stretch to include this color in my Soul of the Ozarks collections. France once owned the territory that includes the Ozarks, so it’s part of our rich history.

This isn’t one of my favorite pigments, but I use it a lot. The reason I am not so enamored is because the pigment is weak. It takes a lot of building to get a good green out of it, but it’s easy enough to get a sheer and light green tint.

Brown Sands

This color is a filtered one and the pigment is sheer tan brown. It is less textured than whole-stone paints.

Pink Sands

More Pink Sandstone Color Experimentation

I found a large chunk of pink sandstone last week and earlier this week while I had the help of my friend Allyssa, we started work on a good-sized batch of pigment.

The chunk of pink sandstone after I broke it into smaller chunks.
The chunk of pink sandstone after I broke it into smaller chunks.

Since I had such a nice amount to work with, I decided to separate this stone into the various weights that make up the shades of pigment in it. What I hoped was to get more of the pink somewhere in there. But none of them are truly pink.

What I ended up with were heavy weights, middle weights, and light weights. Then I also separated out super lights from the light end. This is a long process involving water washes and precipitation of the particles.

Separating the heavy, middle, and light color shades from pink sandstone.
Separating the heavy, middle, and light color shades from pink sandstone.

Shades of Pink

Here’s what I have so far. There weren’t much ‘middles’ so I made a gouache of that. A gouache is somewhat more opaque than watercolor because it contains calcium carbonate (limestone). If I add this to a paint, it makes it go farther. I’ll also make a gouache of what’s left of the ‘lights’, to see if it’s different than the middle pink gouache.

Shades of pink sandstone. Still waiting on the rest of my lights to settle so I can make a 'lights gouache'.
Shades of pink sandstone. Still waiting on the rest of my lights to settle so I can make a ‘lights gouache’.

Want to Buy?

If you want any of my sets of paints, for now either find me at one of the shows I go to, or email me for an invoice. The experiment isn’t finished yet and those paints aren’t available. But Collection No. 2 is (I have 4 left). They’re $30, and are packaged to make great gifts. 

Once I’m done with this year’s shows, I’ll set up the items in my online shop here and maybe also at Etsy. That should be somewhere around the end of November. By that time, I should also have another collection of 6 colors.

Brown paint from the hard rock.

Brown Earth Pigment for my Handmade Watercolor Palette

My son found a rock alongside the driveway, near the creek. He kept it to give me since he knows I’ve been smashing a lot of rocks lately. This one seemed like it would be a great rock to make some of my earth pigments and handmade watercolors. It was mostly black, with some brown.

I thought so too. It appeared to be black sandstone – and I need another source of black.

With some sense of excitement, I took out my hammer and pounding board (otherwise known as a chopping block to those who actually cut up things to cook).

That rock surprised me. It surprised me in a couple of ways. First, it wouldn’t break. I mean I pounded that rock so hard it broke the board beneath it.

So I took it outside. Finally I did manage to break off a small sliver. Considering how much effort it took to break even the tiniest piece of it off, doubts about making paint from it had begun to cloud my happy day.

Before I set to reducing the sliver to dust, I looked at it under the magnifying loop. Lots of little pockets of shiny, glassy, black were there. It looked like obsidian or glass. So I took some pictures of the rock and tested it to see if a magnet would attract to it. Nope.

One of the state geologists said it may be 'carbonated sandstone', which is typically very hard. Makes a nice brown paint, though.
One of the state geologists said it may be ‘carbonated sandstone’, which is typically very hard.

Just a really hard rock with interesting black glassy bits. Not to be deterred so easily, I put the sliver into my handy stainless steel mortar and used the hammer on the pestle to crack it some more.

It didn’t surprise me that it was hard to grind to a powder. In fact, I was only able to reduce a small portion of it to actual powder. The rest was far too grainy to use for paint.

But I took the powder I did get and made the little pile on my mulling board and put the media in it.

And that’s where the second surprise happened. That powder, which still felt very gritty to my fingers, mulled down to the smoothest paint ever.

And not only that, it made the brownest brown I’ve found yet. This part really excited me.

But not enough to make me try to grind any more of it. My wrists were sore from the first attempt.

I kept the rock and will see if I can make more brown later from it. This is one color I doubt I’ll ever sell, just because for one, I’m not sure where to get another rock like that. And two, because it’s just far too hard to grind.

However, the brown compliments my own personal set of paints quite nicely and I’ve used it in the pelican I’m painting now. It was the best color for the job and I’m glad I had it on hand. It probably gets the color from manganese.

Thanks, Garrison! Pick up any other rocks you might think I’ll like in in the future.

Brown paint from the hard rock.
I think I’ll call this one “Hard Rock Brown”.
Drawing the Eye of a Pelican

The Painting of a Pelican

This painting of a Louisiana Brown Pelican was based mostly on a photo by Shelby Townsend , but I liked the feet on another from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, so modified them to drape over the edge of the post.

Here’s Shelby’s story about the day he took the photo.

Brown Pelican, by Shelby Townsend.
Photo by Shelby Townsend.

I remember taking that shot. We were riding a ferry across some small body of water somewhere in south Louisiana and he or she posed perfectly on that pole in some very good lighting so I could capture that shot… ~ Shelby Townsend

 

The Pelican’s Color Palette

These are the colors I’m using on the painting. All of them except the lapis lazuli for his eye and the French green clay I mixed with the gray are colors I made from rocks, clay, and sassafras leaves from here at Wild Ozark. The sassafras is the only plant-based paint that has good light fastness. All of the others I’ve tried have faded to nearly nothing in my sunlight tests within a few days. The sassafras actually intensified in color, and it’s my only source of really clean yellow. So far. I might find others sooner or later. But I’m happy with this one.

Getting Started

Click to enlarge.

The first thing I always have to do when I start a new painting is the eye. I’ve had the hardest time with the eye on this guy. Who knew it would be so hard to get a pelican’s eye just right?

Pelican Eyes

Turns out that a pelican has a lot of lines in his face. And his feathers go to a certain point on his face but then they stop and it’s just skin. So many little details. On my first attempt, I did a pretty decent job. I liked his blue eye.

Pelican's Eye #1. The eye as it turned out the first attempt. Not bad, but too large for a pelican.

Then I had to go and try to make it better. And what happened? Of course. I messed it up.

Messed up his eye with too much black.
Too much black.

So I erased his eye. And all of the black lines I’d added around his face. It was just too much black. I seem to have a weakness for doing that. The same thing happened with both kestrels. I can’t keep my brush out of the black.

Erased and will rework the pelican eye. Good thing the black lifts off relatively easy!
Good thing the black lifts off relatively easily!

Anyway, I got his eye erased and re-painted, and the second go around actually looks more realistic than the first, if you ask me.

Totally reworked the pelican's eye and face. Much better now.
Pelicans always have a look of ‘attitude’ about them, don’t they?

I’m using mostly Ozark colors on this Louisiana brown pelican. But I needed some blue for his eye and that’s not something I can get from our local stones. So I used a little bit of my precious lapis paint.

Moving On

Once I finished getting the pelican eye done to a point where I liked it, I began working on the bill, then his head, and finally to the color blocks for the rest of his body. Turns out that a pelican bill is pretty tricky too. There’s a lot of nuance in shape and lines, and it was very difficult to paint it in the way to make it look like what I saw in the photographs. And brown pelicans seem to come in all shades of colors with yellow, browns, black and russets. Perfect for the paints I make.

Color blocks in place on his back and belly, bill is pretty much done. Still need to add the feather details.
Color blocks in place on his back and belly, bill is pretty much done. Still need to add the feather details.

The Finished Painting

For this pelican, I did have to resort to a couple of outside colors, although they were still my own handmade watercolors. I used lapis for the blue in his eye and French green clay to give the gray the right tint.
For this pelican, I did have to resort to a couple of outside colors, although they were still my own handmade watercolors. I used lapis for the blue in his eye and French green clay to give the gray the right tint.

About the Painting

The paper  is heavyweight, sized 8″ x 10″. (Strathmore 400 series watercolor paper)

This pelican is a birthday gift for my sister. I’ve never really looked closely at a pelican before. They’re very odd looking creatures!

If you want to follow along and see the progress pics of other paintings as I do them, catch up with me over at Instagram. I’m @wildozark there too.

Have a great weekend!

A Call for Rocks and a New Page

Saturday I went down to Felkins creek which is near the end of our driveway. It’s not that I needed more rocks. I just wanted to see what the recent rains might have turned up. So I should probably have not gone looking.

Limestone and fossils.
Limestone and fossils.
Look at all of the fossils in this one little piece! There's that many more in the larger chunk.
Look at all of the fossils in this one little piece! There’s that many more in the larger chunk of fossil rock.

 

I only needed one rock. Or one color of rock. And I did get it. But all these other rocks wanted to jump in my bag, too.

It's the red sandstone without a black shell that I wanted. Not sure how all these other rocks got in the bag...
It’s the red sandstone without a black shell that I wanted. Not sure how all these other rocks got in the bag…

 

Have any rocks to share?

I’d like to make a collection of paints from other regions. A single colorful rock will work if it’s about hand-sized. I’ll send you a little pan of paint for a single rock (or handful of clay!). If you’d like to send me a medium-sized priority box of rocks (or clay) from your area, I’ll send you a whole palette of paints from those rocks. Choose a few rocks (or clays) of about 5 different colors if you can. Email me for my address.

How’s that fall in line with the ‘I don’t need any more rocks’ line of thinking??

New Page and Menu Item

I decided to put my paintings on a single page as I finish them. You’ll see that page now in the menu above. Next up will be a brown pelican, the State Bird of Louisiana. It won’t be for sale as it is a custom order but I’ll still post the progression of it as I’m doing it. Not sure I can do a pelican, so it’s an experiment!

A Book to Finish

I haven’t forgotten about the book I’m supposed to be wrapping up this summer. Summer is almost over… I know. If you’ve been waiting, please know it’s on my mind and I’m trying to work on it between making paints and painting.

Wrapper for the Soul of the Ozarks watercolor paint tin.

Soul of the Ozarks

I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been making paint lately, ha. But I thought I’d try out the slideshow-making program that came with my computer. Here’s a short collection to celebrate my first release of colors called Soul of the Ozarks. It’ll hit the shelves at the Kingston Square Arts shop on Sunday, Sept. 16.

Locally Made, Local Business, Local Ingredients

This product is Made in Arkansas from almost entirely local ingredients. I do have to import the media base and essential oil of cloves. But all of the color, labor, and the honey used to preserve and condition the paint, comes from right here close to home. If my tiny little operation grows very much, I’ll be able to hire someone from right here at home to help me with the gathering, sorting, and grinding of rocks and mulling of paints.

The Soul of the Ozarks

If rocks are the soul, then paint captures the essence and embodies the soul of a place.

Since all of these colors were gathered from right here at home, this entire collection is called Soul of the Ozarks. There will be other palettes added as I find other shades and sources. Other collections will be created from other places, and those will be given the title to match their place. This way you will always know the source of your colors.

Sustainable

Never toxic ingredients, and I always harvest the colors with respect and gratitude. The rocks and clay I gather are from sources Nature made available without resorting to digging or mining. I basically gather them off the ground while I’m taking my daily walk.

I’m experimenting with a source of water-soluble resin close to home so I won’t have to import the base media.

Introducing …

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nirvana

I am Going to Call it ‘Nirvana’

When I made my very first pan of watercolor paint, it was a russet from one of the sandstones on the ground outside. The color was nice, but at the bottom of that pan there was a very thin layer of a much deeper shade. I coveted the tiny bit of that and used it sparingly. But today I found the Nirvana rock.

Deep, dark russet. The Holy Grail of my pigment hunt.

Chasing the Grail

Once I started running low on the original pan of russet paint that I had, I started looking for the rock I’d used to create it. Many rocks have a russet colored inside, and there’s red clay everywhere. But none of them yielded the shade of rusty brown I wanted.

The Nirvana Rock

Today I found the one. It has a dark outer covering and a deep color inside. The texture is less gritty than the other sandstones and grinds to a much finer powder in the pestle.

The mound of Nirvana pigment before it's mulled.
It soaked up the media much faster than the others. Some don’t want to soak it up much at all.

 

Nirvana on the Mulling Board

Nirvana on the Mulling Board.
While the paint still has a slight grain to it, this will not be a problem for my style of painting.

 

My heart had already picked up the pace when the mound of pigment began soaking up the media. The mulling of this incredibly rich color that came from a rock outside on our driveway put me in a blissful state of mind.

I dare say it might have even counted as a spiritual moment. I’m the sort of person who could never name my favorite color. If someone asked, I’d say ‘earth tones’. That’s because I had not yet met this one.

THIS is my favorite color. 

And I’m calling it Nirvana.

The first 'named' color of my first palette is called "Nirvana".
I wrote the ‘Russet Sandstone’ on the tag before I’d processed the paint. It’s Nirvana.

 

Want some?

Until I find the mother load of these rocks, this is always going to be one I offer in very limited quantities and the price will reflect that. All of the paints I’m making will go on sale on September 16. They’ll be at the Kingston Square Arts shop in Kingston, AR and eventually I’ll have some on the shelf in the online shop here at the website.

Check back with me then, or email me to reserve a 1/2 pan now.  They’re $10/ea. and a 1/2 pan is not a lot of paint, I realize. There aren’t a lot of Nirvana rocks here, either. If you want it for half that price, bring me the right rock 😉

There will only be about 10 of them made by then. In the meantime, I’ll be looking for more Nirvana rocks…

Update! I found more rocks! All I have left of them are a few 1/2 pans, though. I’ll include this color in another upcoming collection this winter. Follow me on Instagram to keep up to date, or subscribe to my mailing list for announcements. Instagram is more current, mailing list is sporadic though I’d like to do one monthly. To keep up with products as they go up for sale, you can watch my Etsy shop. But some things never make it to the shop because they are sold out from requests by my Instagram followers. 

The mailing list form is at the bottom of this post.

Nirvana in the pan.

 

 

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header image for Making Handmade Paints

How to Make Handmade Watercolor Paint from Rocks, Clay or Soil

Today I’m making handmade watercolor paint from some of our native clay. The technique I used is the same as I would have used for the other colors that come from rocks. This is a very basic way to make paint. It can get a lot more complicated, but definitely not necessary.

If you fall in love with using your local colors, look into how to levigate (wash) pigments, create lake pigments from plant parts (precipitating chemical reactions), and separate the lights and heavies. This is all a lifetime learning process. If you have any advice or technique tips to share, please do so.

Workshops and Foraging

If you are the person who likes to learn hands-on with a live guide, I do hold workshops here in Kingston, Arkansas. We start with the foraging for rocks.

Before You Start

You’ll need a few things to make handmade watercolor paint. Some, like the muller and pans, are optional. Some you may be able to find substitutes for, like the pantyhose and palette knives. But the gum Arabic is essential unless you’ve figured out another way. And in that case you’re not likely to need this primer, ha. You can buy the media already prepared, though.

SAFETY

Wear eye protection when smashing rocks. Wear respiratory protection when working with powdered pigment or smashing/grinding rocks. If you have sensitive hearing, you may want to use ear plugs during mulling or hammering.

Media

Muller

  • Maybe you’ll want a muller (glass tool used on a plate to mix pigment with media), but when I first started making the paints, I didn’t have one. I used the alternative technique offered below that I use when the pigment won’t crush enough to get a smooth paste when mulling. I use a tempered glass chopping board for the plate.
  • If you don’t have a muller or think you will need to strain your paint, grab an old pair of panty hose so you can cut off segments of it to use for filtering.

Pans

  • Something to put your finished handmade paint in. Artists of antiquity used whatever little dish might have been handy. Seashells were commonly used. I buy pans and half-pans from Amazon. I’ve also made my own from polymer clay in a pinch. Tiny sample sized jars are nice, too.
  • Something to store the paint pans in. I use small mint tins with hinged lids. I also get those from Amazon. You can use anything you want to stay organized.
  • If you don’t want your pans sliding around inside your tins, if you use the tins, get some tiny little magnets to put inside the pans before you add the paint. I’ve tried adding magnet strips to the bottom but they inevitably come off.

Utensils

  • Disposable plastic pipetters for filling pans or adding media
  • Palette knives. I use plastic so the magnets don’t hop out of the pans onto them.

Let’s go make some handmade watercolor paint.

“Rocks, clay, and soil hold the soul of the Earth.” ~ Madison Woods

The Steps

Gather the material

The clay I’m using came to the surface when we had a landslide on our property in 2015. My husband brought me a bucket full using front-end loader on the tractor, so I have plenty on hand!

I’ve used it to make some fired pieces and the color turns a deep terracotta. Curious as to what color paint it would yield, I got to work.

Most rocks, slate, shale, and clay can be used to make paint and some of the colors are very nice. We have a lot of different sandstone colors here, so that’s where the bulk of my colors come from. Some rocks are too hard to crush without mechanical help, so I stick to the things I can break down easily enough to avoid wrist pain.

Clean

Native clay right from the source. It'll make a great handmade watercolor paint!

Sometimes rocks are dirty. They lie around on the ground and in the creek or in the mud. So that’s to be expected. So I clean them before I use them by scrubbing them down with a brush.

Clay can be cleaned too, and I have some that has been washed and filtered. It’s put aside for sculpting. But I wanted to use the clay just as it was in the ground to see what color it gave, including all the little ‘dirty’ bits.

Later I’ll try it with the cleaned clay and see what color that one yields. I suspect it will be more gray. Maybe it’ll even give me the blue-gray I need for the goshawks I want to paint.

Dry

Let the rocks dry thoroughly before you start breaking them.

Crack

Larger rocks can be broken outside using the surface of an even larger rock. This will spare your counter-tops and chopping blocks. I know this from experience. You can even use a hand-held rock to break the smaller rocks into smaller pieces. Very low-tech!

Break

Break the rocks into small chunks so that you can hold several in the palm of your hand. Bring those inside to your mortar and pestle. Making handmade watercolor paint involves a lot of using your hands!

Get a heavy-duty stainless mortar and pestle. This one has dimples on the pestle and the inner surface is brushed. Works great!

Grind to smaller pieces

  • Sieve
  • Grind
  • Sieve
  • Grind
When you're making handmade watercolor paint from rocks, clay, or anything, you'll need to sieve out the lumps before making the actual paint. If you like the texture and character of the little bits, you can leave them in there too. It's your choice.
When you’re making handmade watercolor paints from rocks, clay, or anything, you’ll need to sieve out the lumps before making the actual paint. If you like the texture and character of the little bits, you can leave them in there too. It’s your choice.

Make a finer powder

Put a little of the powder in finer mortar and process until you’ve reached a fine dust.

You can skip this step if you like your paint grainy, or if the dust is powdered enough to not be grainy.

A powder suitable for the mulling step, because the clay will soften and not stay too grainy. If it were sandstone, I would put this in the next mortar and pestle to grind it more. Making handmade watercolor paint.
A powder suitable for the mulling step, because the clay will soften and not stay too grainy. If it were sandstone, I would put this in the next mortar and pestle to grind it more.

If your sieved pigment is still too grainy, try reducing it more in a smooth pestle. I didn’t need to do this for the creek shale or the clay, but I do for almost all of the other color rocks.

A little pile of pigment on the mulling board. I'm making handmade watercolor paint.
A little pile of pigment on the mulling board.

Mulling Handmade Watercolor Paint

Put a little pile of powder on the mulling board.

  • Make a little well in the center
  • Fill the well with media (watercolor media is made from gum arabic)
  • I let the liquid soak into surrounding pile a bit before mixing with my palette knife
  • Use a muller to get the powder suspended and stable in the media
  • put in pans

How to Mull

I haven’t found a very good explanation of this online, but there were some videos that show it being done. Maybe there are some on YouTube, but I haven’t checked there yet. This is what I’ve discovered. When you put the pile of pigment on the board, wet it good with your media but not so much that it will run off of the board. Mix it a bit with your palette knife. Take the glass muller and use it to spread the pigment all around in a circle. It’ll sound gritty.

mulling handmade watercolor paint

Once you’ve started spreading your pigment paste, if it’s too sticky, add a few drops (of media) with your plastic pipette. When you get it spread out, then scrape it off the muller and scrape the glass so that you’ve reconstructed your little pile in the middle. Do it again. Repeat until the paste begins to feel like butter. That is when it is done.

But you can get acceptable colors without mulling so much, or at all. And here’s a tip. Your glass plate will not do a very good job until it gets good and abraded by all your initial attempts. You could mull with one of your abundant pigments for practice and it will get a start on scratching up the glass for you.

An alternative to mulling

Some paints never crush finely enough. And if you don’t have the muller you’ll need another method to get the color mixed into the media.

Put your pigment powder into a small jar. Add enough media to wet the powder plus have a little extra. This will ‘extract’ the color into the media. You’ll need to agitate it often for a day or so.

Filter It

Filter the liquid through pantyhose. It doesn’t just pour through, though, so it has to be twisted and pressure applied.

Store It

If you do it this way, store the liquid in a jar in the refrigerator. Use a plastic pipette, or dropper, to fill the pans. As the pan dries and the level shrinks, keep topping it off with your stored fluid. This actually makes a much nicer pan in the end as opposed to scraping it off the mulling board directly into the pans. It does for me, anyway. Perhaps there is a trick to it that I haven’t learned yet.

The finished handmade watercolor paint. I toasted some of the pigment powder in the oven to see if it would change the color. It made it a little warmer and richer.
The finished handmade watercolor paint. I toasted some of the pigment powder in the oven to see if it would change the color. It made it a little warmer and richer.

I hope you try your own hand at making some handmade watercolor paint from the resources surrounding you. I collect rocks, clay and soil from everywhere I go now. Eventually there will be a palette to represent the ‘soul’ of all of my favorite places.

Here’s the first palette of colors I’ll have ready to sell in a few weeks. It’s named “Soul of the Ozarks” and contains five of my favorite shades from right here at Wild Ozark.

“Soul of the Ozarks” Collection no. 1

“Soul of the Ozarks” Collection no. 1, (sold out). Check my Etsy to see what’s available now. Click here to see paintings made with handmade watercolor paint from Wild Ozark.

Using Handmade Watercolor Paint

I have no experience with commercial watercolors, so I can’t give you a comparison on how they are compared to the handmade. I suspect there are consistency differences and that you’ll need to experiment to make the best use of them. But I can show you the work I’ve done with mine. Here’s Kestrel no. 3. Every single color came from paints I made using stones and clay (and wood char that I made) right here at Wild Ozark.

Kestrel No. 3, featuring all handmade watercolor paints made from local stone and clay sources. Panic stage navigated.

Kestrel No. 3, featuring all handmade watercolor paints made from local stone and clay sources.

Paleo Paint Workshops

If you’re interested in workshops on how to make watercolor paints, starting from the foraging of rocks, check out my workshops.

Making Media for Handmade Watercolors

Here’s the process I use for making media for my handmade watercolor paints. There are likely more precise ways to do this, but it’s the method I use that works for me. To see paintings I’ve done using my handmade watercolors, visit my online gallery at PaleoPaints.com. Any derivative artworks (prints, stationary, etc. can be found at my Etsy shop).

Ingredients for Making Media

  • Gum Arabic
  • Water
  • Honey
  • Essential Oil of Cloves

Some of the other recipes I found online that I’ve tried gave me sticky paints that took a very long time to dry.

Each time you use a different pigment, the media may need to be adjusted, but so far, this one has worked for all of the paints I’ve made.

Some points to remember

  • paint is chalky when dried, you needed more gum in the solution
  • too sticky and takes too long to dry, you need less honey
  • not enough gum or too much of the clove oil it can make your paint hard to wet
  • each batch of gum Arabic may have slightly different properties 
Chunks of gum Arabic that I use for making media for my handmade watercolor paints.
Chunks of gum Arabic that I use for making watercolor media.

You’d never guess from my method that my career background took place in a laboratory. With art, I work on an intuitive basis, not necessarily stricly scientific. As you can see, my measurements are very precise…

Not very scientific or precise, but my marks on the jar at least keep me consistent. Making media for handmade watercolor paints.
Not very scientific or precise, but my marks on the jar at least keep me consistent.

Usually, I make this in the evening. I fill the jar with gum chunks to the bottom mark. Add sterilized water to the second mark. Let it sit overnight to dissolve, and turn the jar every once in a while to help it all get wet.

The next evening, add more water if necessary to meet the second mark. The photo shows it right after I took it out to add the extra water. As the gum dissolved, the volume settled a little. Then add the honey.

After that, add a dash of essential oil of cloves. Supposedly this helps to keep mold and bacteria from growing but I don’t know if it works or not.

Then filter it all through the same sized sieve used below for sifting the powdered pigments. Store the media in a clean jar in the refrigerator and use as needed. If you have any gum left undissolved in the bottom of the ‘dirty’ jar, don’t throw it out. Just leave the lid off and let it dry out. Use the same jar just as it is, residue and all, for making the next batch.

So there you go! This is my way of making media for handmade watercolor paints. Let me know if you try it how it worked for you.

The next post I make will be about how to make the paint. Look for it tomorrow.

Kestrel No. 3, featuring all handmade watercolor paints made from local stone and clay sources. Panic stage navigated.

The “Panic Stage” in a Work of Nature Art

There’s a new work in progress sitting on my easel. By the time I’m done with this post, it’ll probably be a finished work. It’s another kestrel, and I’ve reached a reliable stage in the process. I call it the ‘Panic Stage’.

My Process

The photo above, by Terry Stanfill, is the one that served as the model for my painting. In the end, it didn’t look exactly like it, but I think it’s close enough and the differences are not necessarily bad ones.

When I first start a painting, I start out with a sense of excitement. I can’t wait to see the finished image. But usually there’s a whole lotta grief and misery to get through before I reach that point.

What is the Panic Stage?

I imagine there’s a point like this in the process of any kind of creative act. It’s when all seems lost, like you just cannot do the thing you set out to do and it feels pointless to continue.

There is most certainly a panic stage with natural childbirth – at least there was in my own three experiences and also with the the birth of my grandchildren. Any act of creation, whether it’s visual art, hand-crafted, or written is like a symbolic giving of birth. In the real act, the panic stage occurs just before it’s time to start the first real push. It’s when the mother in labor wants to quit the natural way and wishes she’d opted for the pain-killing epidural. Because it hurts. And it’s hard. And there seems to be no realistic way to achieve the birthing without dying in the process. That’s the panic stage.

Of course, it’s not so dramatic when it comes to creative birthings, but some of the emotions are pretty close, ha.

And when it comes to my kestrel paintings, it seems I have to push through a point where I want to throw it away in every one. Thankfully, I have a lot of encouragement from friends and family to talk me down from the ledge when I hit that point. I just hope this sort of thing eases some as I get more experience.

Progression Pics Help to Push through Panic Stage

I take photos of the various stages of my work because it helps me to look at it with a different perspective. What I hope is that one day I’ll see the problems soon enough during the creation of the work that I can fix them early on and avoid the panic stage all together.

Once the background is applied and the light sketch drawn in, the eye is the first thing I have to paint. If I can't get the eye right (position, size, expression), none of the rest of it will matter. I'll avoid the panic stage altogether if I can't get this part right, ha.
Once the background is applied and the light sketch drawn in, the eye is the first thing I have to paint. If I can’t get the eye right (position, size, expression), none of the rest of it will matter and I’ll avoid the panic stage at the end altogether, ha. It at least has to be set up to a point where I know I can make it work.

Sometimes something is wrong and I can’t figure out what it is. In the photo above, I know the eye and the nose are going to need some work, but it’s there well enough that I also know I can fix the problems. So this doesn’t bother me. They are at least done to a point where I am confident that going forward won’t be a waste of time.

Seeing the photo on Instagram or Facebook lets me see it as if I am looking at it for the first time.

What Could Go Wrong?

Lots of things aren’t always evident at the start. Sometimes it’s not until I start working on a certain part that I realize the off-thing in another part has thrown off this part too. Often I can tell right away when I see it in a photo I’ve posted what the problem is. It’s when I can’t see what the problem is that the panic stage really starts to set in.

An angle might be off. A line might be curved where it should be straight. Both of these issues occurred in this particular painting, and they often happen when I am drawing or painting anything. The key is to be able to see it and make the necessary changes. And that’s where the progress pictures come in really handy to me as the creator.

 

It is still looking good to me at this point. I haven't seen the problem yet. I'm definitely not at the panic stage. I'd say I'm still in the euphoric stage, lol. No panic stage yet.
It is still looking good to me at this point. I haven’t seen the problem yet.

Helping Others, Helping Myself

I like sharing them publicly so that if anyone else is out there trying to create something, they will see the agony another artist goes through during the process and not be so afraid when they encounter their own sense of dread halfway through it.

But I also like getting the feedback and encouragement my friends offer while I’m in the middle of a creation. It motivates me to continue. It’s also good for marketing. People love to see what went into something they might be interested in buying. I know I do.

The Awkward Stage

Right now, kestrel #3 is at that awkward stage. The spot where nothing looks right and I question whether or not I should just wad the page up and throw it in the garbage. It’s not the Panic Stage still, because I haven’t tried to fix anything and failed yet. I just know something’s wrong.

It's the tail. The tail is slightly off in the angle, making all of the other lines wrong on it when I try to add the feathers. Panic stage is starting to set in.
It’s the tail. The tail is slightly off in the angle, making all of the other lines wrong on it when I try to add the feathers.

Found the Problem

It’s the angle of the tail. So I erased the tail and started over on it. Three times! Finally, the tail looks like it should and I am happy and can move on. Panic stage eased somewhat.

He's ruffled in the wind, but there's something else wrong. I'm at the panic stage of this creation.
He’s ruffled in the wind, but there’s something else wrong.

But now I can see that there is a line issue with the wing tips. It needs to be straight, not curved. And I can fix this now that I recognize the problem. Until I saw the picture in another way, on the progress pic I posted, I didn’t see the problem but I had been fighting a disturbing sense that something was not right.

More Problems

Once the wings were fixed, I noticed the barring on the back was all wrong.The lines were traveling the wrong angles.

I’d also gotten too heavy handed with the black, and there was too much black. Everywhere. The average person might not have noticed the misguided bars or the fact that I used too much black, but if someone really loves kestrels, this is something they would have noticed. So I picked up all the color from the upper back. Then I had to pick up the color from the middle wing. And I had to remove some of the black around his eye.

Then I had to replace some of the black that made up his eye, lol. I was really entrenched in panic stage by this point, let me tell you.

When I finally got it all repainted, it was much better and worth all the effort.

Pushing Through

I’m past the panic stage now, but there are still issues to fix going forward. I know what I need to do, though, and that makes all the difference in the world.

When have you ever experienced this sort of dismay? When you hit a panic stage do you quit, or do you push through? How long does it take to overcome the feeling that you’ve just wasted your time and resources to get to that point? Thankfully, this phase is usually short-lived for me if I am able to keep working and I don’t quit.

Whew! Finished.

I’m quite pleased with it now that all the grief is over. I’m also glad I didn’t quit when the work of it got tough. Soon this little kestrel will be on her way to a new home on the west coast. Here’s the photo I used as a model.

Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.
Kestrel photo by Terry Stanfill. Used with permission.

Like seeing my process?

Here’s another of my other posts with progression photos. I’ll try to begin adding a progression post with every painting or work I do going forward.

Green Dragon (prismacolor pencil)

 

All for Little Pans of Color Worth their Weight in Gold

The past week was a really busy one. I spent most of the time busting rocks and grinding them to powder. Why? To make paints! You’ll know why I say they’re worth their weight in gold after you read the rest of this post.

I mostly did the nice, colorful rocks but I also did some of the gray shale and a few chunks of wood char for gray and black colors.

Recap of a Week

When I began this post I was going to give a day-by-day recap, but I can’t remember what I did on Monday. So I’ll start with Tuesday. On Tuesday my huge wall calendar came in the mail. I wanted this so I could plot out next year with festivals and shows to go to with my paints and paintings. I want to find some good shows so that when Rob comes home from his contract we won’t have to do so much trial and error finding the good ones.

After I hung the calendar, I went out and gathered some rocks and started the week off with a bang. Busted my chopping block that I’d used for cracking rocks. But I’d gotten a lot of rocks busted before this happened. Figured I’d better find a better way after that, though.

Broke my chopping board cracking rocks.

Wednesday

I started doing the initial cracks on a rock outside. What I think I really need is a nice, big, thick granite slab! But for now, this little square rock seems to work well enough.

The rock I use to test smaller rocks to see what colors are inside when I'm looking for good earth pigments.
The rock I use to test smaller rocks to see what colors are inside when I’m looking for good earth pigments.

By Thursday, I knew exactly why those little paints on Etsy were so expensive. They really were worth their weight in gold. But by this time, I was hooked and there was no turning back. I just had to gather all the colors I needed to make the painting I want to make next week.

So I gathered a little of the red, a little of the pink, yellow slate from the clay slide hill (this one was very hard to crush), and some of the gray slate from down in the creek – this one worked wonderfully! It made a black paint so smooth and creamy it felt like whipped cream. Usually I strain them all once the media has had time blend with the dust, but this one didn’t have any grit left in it at all when I finished mulling it.

Black shale paint worth its weight in gold.

Finally. My Own Little Pans Worth their Weight in Gold.

When I first started looking at making handmade watercolors I looked at the ones over at Etsy. They were expensive! Now I know why. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to produce a full set of colors. But oh, my, I have never found any work as satisfying. Except finishing a painting that went as imagined. I have to say that feels even better.

The first completed Wild Ozark palette of colors!
The first completed Wild Ozark palette of colors. All are sourced right here at home except the French green clay I used to make the last one.

The journal of stones, some of the ground earth pigment from one of the red sandstones, and the finished palette.
The journal of stones, some of the ground pigment from one of the red sandstones, and the finished palette. The pigment appears to be a brighter red than it really was.

On Friday night I went to bed worn out, sore, and glad to have reached my goal of a palette worth its weight in gold.. I wanted to have my finished palette made so I could have the grand-girls over on Saturday night.

As I get time, I’ll make a blog post when I do each color so you can see all the steps involved. If you want to know when I have some more palettes done and put them up to sell, sign up for the Wild Ozark newsletter. Or follow me on FB or Instagram. I’ll also have dry pigments for those who want to make their own paints, minus a lot of the work.

Sharing What I’ve Learned

Sooner or later I’ll have a workshop on how to make paints. I gathered as much information as I could online but there isn’t a lot on how to actually ‘do’ it. I’m constantly learning something new and the #handmadewatercolor and #earthpigment posters at Instagram have been incredible sources of inspiration and information. One thing I do know is that the colors work great on the paintings I’ve made. You can look back in the blog to see the Study in Sandstone and the Kestrel on a Line I did with the first set of paints I made.

In the meantime here’s a quick outline.

Making Paint

  • collect the rocks
  • crack the rocks
  • crush the rocks until they pass through the seive
  • mix the powder (earth pigment) with the watercolor media (made from gum arabic and honey and clove essential oil). There’s a tool called a muller to use for this. It’s like a flat bottomed pestle that you use on a sheet of glass or slab of marble to mix the pigment with the media. But you don’t have to use the muller. I don’t mind if my paint has darker pigment that settles to the bottom of the pans because then I can choose to use the darker or the lighter shades when I’m painting.
  • put the paint in pans. If it’s too grainy still, I filter it through a section of pantyhose. it doesn’t just ‘pour’ through, it has to be twisted and put under pressure.
  • once in the pans, the rest of the paint is stored in a tightly closed jar. as the pans evaporate the paint volume shrinks and I add more paint from the jar to the pan until the pans are full when completely dry.
  • stand back and admire the fruits of a labor of love that produced colors worth their weight in gold 🙂

When I first started this obsession, I tried making some paints with plants, too. They looked great, and still do as long as they don’t see the sun. But those paints are called ‘fugitive’ for a reason – they run from daylight. The only one that hasn’t faded is the one made from sassafras leaf and now I can’t remember how I made that one. The second attempt did not yield the same bright yellow.

The Work is Never Done

And so today the grand-girls came over to spend the night. What does Karter want to do?

Karter is crushing it!
Karter picking up where I left off.

Bang up rocks.


Some of my other posts about making or painting with handmade paints:

Clearing the Clutter: Promises, Broken Rocks, and Things to Come

Making My Own Watercolor Paints from Ozark Pigments