Stacked rocks still life painting by Madison Woods

Stacked Rocks Still Life Painting- the Process

The Process Story of “Ozark Rocks and Leaf”

This painting started out plein air. The grandkids were visiting and wanted to go splash around at Felkins creek. While they played, I began painting these stacked rocks with a sycamore leaf.

When it was time to leave, I wasn’t finished yet, so I snapped some photos and packed it all up to finish later.

The painting as it stood when it was time to go back to the house.
The painting as it stood when it was time to go back to the house.

Time passed

It took me a little while to get back around to working on it. I’ve learned from experience that my rendition of an in-situ scene isn’t going to look like the real thing in the end, so this time I didn’t worry about it.

My goal was to make a painting that looked good to my eye, even if it didn’t have a lot of resemblance to the actual thing in the end. So my rocks are different, and the leaf is, too.

But, I didn’t know how to make the sand look like sand, or how to put all the many little rocks in the sand. And at this point, I didn’t the painting much. It sat on the easel untouched for a couple of weeks.

At this point I was stumped, and set the painting aside again. The stacked rocks didn't look the way I wanted, and I couldn't even imagine how to make the sand and small pebbles work.
At this point I was stumped, and set the painting aside again. The stacked rocks didn’t look the way I wanted, and I couldn’t even imagine how to make the sand and small pebbles work.

Try Again

I pulled it back out to take with me to the gallery on my work day. Since I like to paint between customers while I’m there, I decided to try working on it some more, to see if I could get to a point where I could at least feel it had promise.

Magic Happened!

My efforts paid off. The stacked rocks might finally work out. The sand drifts looked more like sand, and the pebbles looked like pebbles. Or close enough, anyway.

Whoo-hoo! Now I liked it. I wasn't finished yet, but I could tell it was going to work, finally.
Whoo-hoo! Now I liked it. I wasn’t finished yet, but I could tell it was going to work, finally.

So I worked on the leaf a little more.

Close up of a sycamore leaf painting

Delayed Again

I had some things come up that caused a delay, but this time when I pulled my stacked rocks out again, I really liked it. I finished the leaf and added a few more details to the rocks and sand, and called it done.

Still life of stacked rocks and leaf. Ozark Rocks and Leaf, in Ozark pigments. 9.75" x 7.75". Prints and original are available.
Ozark Rocks and Leaf, in Ozark pigments. 9.75″ x 7.75″. Prints and original are available.

Want a Stacked Rocks Print?

The original is for sale too. Email me about that if you’re interested. Unframed it is $250 and ships flat. Framed is $375. Prints are available through Fine Art America (linked below).

Photography Prints

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Banner for Wild Ozark Paleo Paints

Paint Making Tools of the Trade

When I first started experimenting with handmade watercolors, I didn’t have any special tools. I had some ideas, a little bit of information, and a whole lot of curiosity. Along the way I discovered these things that have become my paint making tools of the trade.

Paint making tools of the Trade
Pigment on the mulling board, a muller. Some of the Paint making tools.

Making Do

Some of the tools are pricey, and if you went out and bought everything at once, it could add up to quite a hefty tab.

Thankfully, you don’t need it all, and you can make do with a bare minimum.

Here’s the post that marked my first time making art with my fresh idea for making my own paints.

These are the things I’d suggest as minimal:

  • spatulas
  • mulling plate
  • pans
  • small jars
  • dust masks – VERY important!
  • gum Arabic

A note about the mulling plate. When you first get it, the surface will be smooth. That won’t do for mulling paint. So you’ll need to run several trial batches on it with a gritty pigment to etch the surface enough to be able to actually do any good with your mulling. If you don’t want to waste valuable pigment, use coarse rubbing compound to get it started.

Leveling Up

After you’ve made some paint and tried out the process, you’ll know whether or not you like the paints enough to keep using them. That’s when I’d suggest getting a tool like the muller. There are also much more expensive mulling plates, or boards. I am still using my inexpensive tempered glass cutting plate from Walmart, but wouldn’t turn down a large slab of marble, lol.

My Favorite Paint Making Tools (So Far)

Some of these items are only applicable if you intend to start with foraged rocks or bought mineral specimens to make paint. Those are marked with an asterisk. I’ve linked to the Amazon listing for these, because that’s where I usually order my supplies.

There are other companies that sell these things. You can often find mullers used or less expensive on EBay. I do get a small amount of change if you order through Amazon after clicking these links, and the prices for you are the same whether you click and order through this post, or go there separately to shop.

Pigments of Other Places

At the moment, I’m a purist and only use pigments I’ve made and in my art I try to only use Ozark pigments. On occasion when I really want a blue or green, I use lapis lazuli, azurite, and malachite- none of which are Ozark pigments. However, I’m in the beginning stages of collecting pigments from other locations.

I’ll be creating collections from those places and calling them “Colors of Place”. I’d like to also collaborate with other regional pigment foragers so I can offer colors of their places, too.

Future Paint Making Tools

There are a couple of items I’d like to acquire in the future. A larger rock tumbler/rock grinder and a roller mill. I’d need to start making much larger quantities of paints (and accompanying sales) to make those practical buys!

Paint-Making Supplies from Wild Ozark

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Paint-Making 101 Ad

Join me on a Forage?

I make paint from rocks. Join me on a forage and make your own handmade watercolors. Cost is $75 and all materials are included. on June 8. There are still 4 spots left if you’d like to join us. Here’s the link to sign up ( ) and the information flyer:

Flyer for the June 8 Paint-Making 101 class. Forage and learn to make handmade watercolors from rocks.

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Pigment Hunting at War Eagle

On Sunday we took a field trip out to the $2 hole at War Eagle Creek near the Mill where some of my paintings and prints are offered for sale. Rob wanted to look for arrowheads while I planned on doing a bit of pigment hunting. Of course, I wouldn’t pass up an arrowhead if I found one, though 🙂

War Eagle Creek
The gravel bar at the $2 hole at War Eagle Creek.

Most of the rocks I found were too hard to be very good for making pigment. But there was a lot of red flint, which I will try anyway. I know the gray flint makes a very light gray and is a fine paint. It’s just not rich in pigment and is very hard to crush fine enough.

The pigment hunting trip was successful, though. Nothing really new or different in the colors, though. The rocks I found that would be easy to make pigment from were very similar to the rocks I find around home.

Pigment Hunting in Different Terrains

Close to home in our own hills, the makeup is mostly sandstone. Just a few mountains over from us, the makeup is mostly limestone. So it changes from area to area around here.

War Eagle is about 40 miles north and west of Wild Ozark, as the crow files. The rocks there are more chert and flint and other things too hard to make paint from, with a few softer stones like sand or silt stone in between.

Pigment Hunting- Good Rocks for Pigment

Let’s crack open a few of the rocks I found that I thought might work.

A pigment rock
Let’s see what color is inside of this rock 🙂
Inside the rock. Not as rich as some of the rocks, but this one will probably make a nice color.
Some nice color inside.
Another good rock for making handmade watercolors.
This one looks like it’s going to be a really good pigment source.
Nice color inside the second rock.
Oh yeah. This one will make really good pigment!
Brown-Gold earth colors in this rock.
This one, too, will make a nice handmade watercolor paint.

So I found enough rocks to make a small ‘War Eagle Collection’ or three. It’ll be later on toward the end of June before I get a chance to make paint again, though. I’m always in some mode of pigment hunting, even when I won’t be able to use the rocks in the near future. It’s just too hard to pass them by when I see them if I have a pocket handy.

Website Woes

I would have posted about this earlier, but my website has been down for several days. Somehow I managed to delete the whole thing from my server and I have no idea what I did. Let’s just hope I don’t do it again!

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Make your own watercolor paints with the new DIY Paleo Paints kit from Wild Ozark!

She Delivers in Spades

I went down to see what gifts the creek brought when the waters receded from my favorite little spot 💕 She always delivers in spades when she rages 😁

Gifts from the Creek- she delivers in spades after a good flood!
Look at all that color!

Why the rocks?

If you haven’t already been following me, you may wonder why on earth I am so excited over these rocks. Maybe in the back of your mind you wonder that anyway, lol.

I’m going to make paint from them!

And so when I say the creek delivered in spades, I am referring to all the varieties of colors in all of the small (and larger) stones that got washed and dropped in the recent rains.

Pigments from Rocks

That’s right. Once I grind these rocks into powders, the various colors are ‘pigments’.

I don’t grind them all together, I’ll grind the same color groups and mix them all together. Some of them I’ll grind individually, if the color of it is unusual. Like that black one in the lower right in the pic below.

 She delivers in spades. Rocks after the rains that I'll use for pigments.

What’s the point?

Once I get them ground up in to pigments, I make watercolor paints by adding a solution of gum Arabic to them. And then I paint with them! The paintings below are a few of my latest ones.

So this little creek of ours delivers in spades in many ways. The gift of rocks leads to pigments which then leads to paintings.

Here’s one of my posts from back when I first started making paints from rocks:

Want to Try?

I’m going to start selling some DIY Paleo Paint Kits. It’ll include little bags of rocks sorted by color. They’ll be small enough so that you won’t have to work so hard to crush them as you would if they were larger. And enough pigment already crushed to make enough paint to fill a few half pans. So you don’t have to crush the rocks right away if you don’t want to.

Also included will be a few rocks of gum Arabic resin so you can make your solution, and a little honey to add to give it the right humectant properties.

The only thing missing will be the essential oil of cloves, which isn’t going to be a problem for such small quantities.

You’ll need to supply your own palette knife, sifter, and mixing plate. And you’ll need a mortar and pestle to grind up the rocks. If you really decide to get serious with it, you’ll want to invest in a small muller, but if you’re just experimenting to see what you think, you can do without it for now.

Want to be Notified?

When the kits are ready to ship, if you want to get notified, sign up on my list. This isn’t my regular newsletter list. It’s only to let you know the kits are available when they’re ready. Look for them some time in June or July. Cost will be around $25 for each color set.

Soon our creek delivers in spades for you too!

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Check the Fences… and Waterfalls

I didn’t intend to check the fences on the steep side of our property this evening. I say the ‘steep side’ as if there is only one. Ha. No. Most of the sides on our square-shaped 160 acres are steep. At the very least none of it is level.

Anyway, the plan was to feed the horses their afternoon rations. Which I did, with muck boots on because it’s mucky down there after all that rain.

But then my eyes wandered up toward the fence line and I could see the little trail of hoof prints going up that way, too. Might be a good time to check the fences. Especially if the horses have also been checking them.

Checking fences

And then my ears caught the sound of the creek flowing strongly, tumbling over the rocks. And I knew farther up, along the same path more or less, that there would be a waterfall flowing even more strongly.

The part of the creek near the gate.
The part of the creek near the gate.
On the way to check the fences.

And that’s how it started. iPhone in my pocket, muck boots on my feet, and the lure of a waterfall seldom seen. If it’s so beautiful as to have that sort of attraction, you might wonder why it is so seldom seen. Because it’s hard to reach. Unlike the little one on the driveway that delights and satisfies most waterfall cravings, this one requires a bit of dedication to fully see.

So I went.

Ordinarily when I’m going off on a jaunt like this, I’ll leave a note on the kitchen table to indicate which direction I wandered off in. In case I somehow don’t wander back on schedule. It would be rather difficult to guess where I’d gone without some sort of clue. But this wasn’t a planned walkabout. It was spontaneous. And those are so often the best kind.

Did I mention that it has been raining a lot lately and the ground is soggy? Soggy ground on steep hillsides in the woods gets slippery. So on one of my near-ground inspections, I saw a really large pair of snails. Here’s one of them.

Check the fences, and the waterfalls, and the snails!
A pair of snails.
Here’s both of them.

Interesting info about snails

One of my FB friends has shared some very interesting information about the mating habits of snails over on my page. Here’s a link if you want to read about it. It’s pretty mind-boggling!

Continuing upstream

I made my way up the creek, more intent on reaching the waterfalls than actually checking fences at this point. But I couldn’t say my purpose was to check the fences along the way if I didn’t bother moving the branches off of it, now could I?

Still heading upstream and checking fences.

This particular waterfall lives in a very narrow holler with steep walls on either side. Unless it’s almost dry, it’s hard to get very close to the part of it that I consider to be most beautiful- the long slide where the water gently ripples over it during low water spells. After a recent rain, the water spills down it, splashing all of the boulders and rocks down below so that they get very slippery.

In the holler

Beneath the water is a long rippled 'slide', rather than a jumble of boulders and rocks.
Beneath the water is a long rippled ‘slide’, rather than a jumble of boulders and rocks.

But I got close enough to enjoy it. The noise was deafening. Water spray in the air felt refreshing. And the scent of damp earth and humus beneath my feet capped it off. I took some video and photos with the phone, since I didn’t bring the real camera because it wasn’t a planned event.

Heading home

Light was fading and I needed to get back to the house. At the last close-to-ground inspection where I slid underneath the fence, I decided to stay on that side of the fence and make my way back to the gate that way.

Just about within sight of the gate, I felt my pocket for my phone. Of course it wasn’t there. After a deep sigh, and a few choice words for myself for not noticing when it fell, I backtracked to the last encounter with the ground. Thankfully that’s where it was. Because any further back might have meant it was a lost cause in the steepest parts toward the creek.

My pedometer on the phone said I hiked about a mile and climbed 17 floors. I think it missed a few floors during the time it lay on the ground reveling in the scent of humus and damp earth.

It’s the first hike I’ve made in a while that didn’t involve picking up rocks. Maybe I knew intuitively that I wouldn’t want to try to hold on to them as I slipped and slid my way up and down the hills. But it was a great little hike. I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of our seldom seen but much loved waterfall.

A collection of video and photos of my hike to check fences and the waterfall.

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Artist’s Demo Day in Kingston, Arkansas

Today, Saturday April 27 2019, is Demo Day down at the Kingston Square Arts gallery. If you can find Kingston, you’ll easily find the gallery. It’s the large white historic building on the corner of the square. No worries about which part of the square, either, as you might in some large cities. Our square is very simply *square* and nowhere to get lost in it 🙂

I’ll be there with all of my recently completed paintings, a new painting in progress, and lots of brushes and paints to share with anyone wanting to try out my Paleo Paints.

Who’s going to be there for Demo Day in Kingston?

Besides myself, other artists will be there doing their thing and talking to visitors about their crafts. Joe Alexander will be drawing portraits, Robin Butler will be making some candles, Greg Hall is going to be throwing pottery and if you want to get a little mud on your hands, he’ll let you try it too. One of our woodworkers, Christopher Kunkle will be there with his handmade musical instrument, too. There may be others. I’m just naming the ones I remember off the top of my head.

Come out and enjoy the countryside of rural Madison county!

It's Demo Day in Kingston, AR!
"Brahman Baby", in bone black, creek shale, and willow black. At the point now where I'll begin adding details, refining highlights and shadows. You can see the whole process by going to the post at my Wild Ozark site.

Brahman Baby in Gray-scale

© Gabby Phillips

So I’ve got something entirely new and out of my usual realm drying on the easel.

If you scroll down, you can watch “Brahma Baby” in progress, from start to finish.

If you’d like a print of this painting then click here.

There are several differences between this painting and the others I’ve done. First, I’m using a different paper. It’s Fabriano Artistico 300# hot press. Previously I’d been using Arches cold press. It does make a difference, and so far, I think I’m liking this one better, though I don’t know if its the brand that makes the difference so much as the hot vs cold press surface. I’ll have to try Arches 300# hot press next time to make a comparison.

Second, it’s a lot larger than my previous paintings. Also, the subject matter is different. The cow was a special request, but I got to pick which cow to do. I’ve always loved Brahmans, so this cute little calf was my pick. And last, I’ve never worked more than a swatch in gray-tones. I am finding that I like it.

Brahman Baby in Progress

Colors used are all Ozark pigments: Bone black, Willow Black, and Creek Shale. I may add some brown tints in there at the end, but I’m undecided on that right now. Here’s a post about how to make these paints, if you’re interested in that aspect of things.

Brahman baby in progress. Starting out with a little smudge and splatter using creek shale and charcoal dust.
Brahman baby in progress. Starting out with a little smudge and splatter using creek shale and charcoal dust.
I don't use pencil to draw in my rough sketch, because I don't want to have to erase mistakes. So I use a color of paint that's easy to lift if needed and do it with paintbrush.
I don’t use pencil to draw in my rough sketch, because I don’t want to have to erase mistakes. So I use a color of paint that’s easy to lift if needed and do it with paintbrush.
Adding some of the defining features to give me some direction going forward.
Adding some of the defining features to give me some direction going forward.
Blocking in the color, defining the eyes and nose better.
Blocking in the color, defining the eyes and nose better.
Brahman Baby in progress. Continuing to add layers of shades of gray and black. This will continue until I'm ready to begin adding the details.
Continuing to add layers of shades of gray and black. This will continue until I’m ready to begin adding the details.
Adding more color to "Brahman Baby"
Adding more color to “Brahman Baby”
"Brahman Baby", in bone black, creek shale, and willow black. At the point now where I'll begin adding details, refining highlights and shadows. You can see the whole process by going to the post at my Wild Ozark site.
“Brahman Baby”, in bone black, creek shale, and willow black.

My Other Paintings

If you want to see the other paintings I’ve made using Paleo Paints, click the button below to go to my gallery page.

Buy Prints

If you’d like to buy prints of my work, most of them are offered at my Etsy shop. They’re also at Kingston Square Arts in Kingston, AR and at the gallery in War Eagle Mill in Clifty, AR.

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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


I do take commissions, but am booked until late July. Use the contact info above to get in touch if you want a portrait of your earth-colored creature. Sorry, I can’t do blue or green, as those don’t exist in my range of Ozark light-fast pigments.

All works will be done in Ozark pigments in my style. You can see other paintings I’ve done at Some subjects take longer than others. It depends on the amount of colors, shades, and details. This cow took a few days. The birds can take weeks. Additionally, if I don’t have the necessary colors on hand, I’ll have to gather the rocks and make the paint 😉

Prices for commissions or Original Works

These prices are subject to change without notice. Please contact me to confirm. I’ll try to keep this updated, though.

20″ x 16″ – $1200
16″ x 12″ – $800
10″ x 8″ – $375
7″ x 5″ – $250

The Sound of a Flock of Goldfinches

Today as I was driving the 4-wheeler down the driveway to go check the mail, I heard the sound of a thousand birds in the trees. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but maybe not. It was a big crowd of noisy American goldfinches flitting around the treetops by the gate.

A few days ago I saw a few male goldfinches, but not a whole bunch. The rest of the gang must have migrated over since then.

Listen to the Goldfinches

A noisy bunch of goldfinches in the trees.
A male American goldfinch in spring plumage.
Photo by Breck22 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Red-shouldered hawk in handmade watercolors using Ozark pigments.

Ozark Birds of Prey : Red-shouldered Hawk

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

Prints available. Click here.

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Early April in the Ginseng Habitat

Every year the same flowers bloom in pretty much the same order. And although I have hundreds of images in my files, I can’t help but start heading out with the camera. The blooms start in early April in the ginseng habitat.

The first flowers that bloom are usually the toothwort (formerly of the Dentaria genus, now Cardamine concatenata). I wish they would quit changing the botanical/latin names of plants. It gets hard to keep up sometimes.

Not quite blooming yet at the time of this photo, but they’re all in full swing now as we enter the second week of April.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is ordinarily the next in line to show off.

A poster of bloodroot showing the interesting features of this plant. It blooms in early April in the ginseng habitat.
This is a poster I made a few years ago to show all of the different things about bloodroot that I find interesting. The leaf shape and root color are as enthralling as the flowers.

Trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) show leaves a little while before the flowers begin to appear. It grows in large colonies, but they don’t begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Trout lilies grow in large colonies, but they don't begin blooming for sometimes five years.

Named for the mottled appearance of the basal leaf, it sort of resembles a trout under the water.

Rue anemone and False rue anemone are blooming now, too. So far this year, I’ve only found Rue anemone (Halictrum thalictroides). The false has more deeply lobed leaves.

Rue and false rue anemone are among the early bloomers in April in the ginseng habitat.

Purple (or ‘wild blue’) Phlox (Phlox divaricata) is brightening up the woodlands everywhere, not just in the ginseng habitats.

Phlox grows in many shady environments, not just in the ginseng habitats.
Not limited to the deep moist woods, but it too shows up in early April in the ginseng habitat.

Dutchmen’s Breeches (Dicentra cucullaria ) is always a challenge to photograph. The flowers and the leaves are not always on the same focal plane, so it’s hard to get them both clear at the same time. These do only grow in the rich moist soils, so is a good sign to look for in early April in the ginseng habitat.

This one was leaning over an embankment, which made the effort a little easier.

While this one isn’t a flower yet, the leaves of wild hydrangea (
Hydrangea arborescens ) are starting to open up. These plants are a frequent resident in the ginseng habitat.

Wild hydrangea starts to put on leaves early in April in the ginseng habitat.
Wild hydrangea cuttings coming up in the Wild Ozark nursery and Ginseng Habitat Demonstration Garden.

What about the ginseng?

Ginseng usually begins to unfurl here toward the end of April. At the earliest, maybe late in the second week of April. Click here to see some posts from previous years’ unfurling watch.

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.

To see her paintings click here.

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

Weekly Update & Color Experiments

It’s been a busy past few weeks for me here at Wild Ozark. Today I’m doing some color experiments with suspended solids and trying to separate out some pigment.

There’s a whole blog post over at the PaleoPaints site to explain exactly what I’m doing here, but suffice it to say that this colored water has been sitting on the counter for two days now without settling. I added alum to it and now it’s beginning to settle out.

My paint-making experiment is working so far. Trying to settle out the particles.
It’s working!!

Other color experiments

Yesterday I finished up some black paint experiments. Black – a good, deep, smooth, black – has been an elusive target of mine since I first started this whole paint making endeavor. I have high hopes that this experiment finishes out nicely too. There is a post about it at the Paleo Paints site:

I think I’ve hit the sweet spot with black, but there’s another experiment in the making using willow char, and it’s looking promising so far, too. The willow sticks made nice ‘charcoal pencil sticks’ that could be used just like the charcoal sticks you’d buy at the art supply store. I crushed the ones I made up to make the paint, but I want to make some more to use as charcoal drawing sticks.

Charred willow sticks, another paint-making experiment underway at Wild Ozark.
charred willow sticks

Art shows, new gallery options

Over the previous weekend I went to Terra Studios to show my work and try to make a few sales. So the weeks before that were spent getting ready by making more prints, paints, and stationery. Plus I wanted to frame a few more small work originals.

The next things on my list of too-many-things-to-do include getting inventory together to bring over to the War Eagle Mill. Soon you’ll find Paleo Paints and Artwork there, too! Plus I have inventory to update at the Kingston Square Arts, and a decision to make about whether I want to also try and keep up inventory at Terra Studios.

I’m working Thursday this week at KSA instead of my usual Sunday, by the way. In case you want to make a drive out to the country to talk about rocks and paints and such 🙂

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.

Back to my Spring Schedule

During winter months I go to the Fayetteville Farmers Market but this weekend marks the return to my spring schedule. So I’ll be at the Kingston Square Arts on most Sundays until the end of the year now.

I'm back to my spring schedule and that means Sundays at KSA!
I’m back to my spring schedule and that means Sundays at KSA! You can check my calendar to make sure I’m there or call ahead if you’re coming to paint or try out the Paleo Paints.

I will not be there during the month of May, but the gallery is open as usual on Thursdays through Sundays, 10 to 6.

Come Paint with Paleo Paints

When I’m there, I’ll have easels and paints and papers and brushes for anyone who wants to spend some time painting with my Paleo Paints without having to spend money on a whole set for yourself. The cost to come paint is $10, and that helps replace materials and pays the gallery a little for the use of space.

Paint All Day (or part)
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You can call ahead if you want to make sure I’m there.
(479) 665-2559

Small Doodle for Free

If you just want to see if you like the paints I have smaller scraps of paper and you’re welcome to doodle on those all you want at no charge. There are no set hours for this. We’re open from 10-6, but the only day I’m there ordinarily is Sundays. Use the number above to call ahead if you want to be sure that I’m there with the doodle supplies.

Wild Ozark Art and Paleo Paints

My corner is located at the back end of the store near the register and workroom. I have prints, stationery items made from my art, and some sets of Paleo Paints.

Aside from the Wild Ozark products, the gallery hosts other artists from the area. Greg Hall with Oddbowlz has a whole half a building full of beautiful, functional pottery. The other half is full of fine examples of art and craft workmanship of artisans within 50 miles of the tiny little town of Kingston, Arkansas.

More about Paleo Paints and Wild Ozark

If you want to see some of the paintings I’ve done with my Paleo Paints:

Here’s a few posts and pages at the blog if you want to explore more:

Earth Pigments and Watercolors

Little Pans Worth their Weight in Gold

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.

Nothing Much

I haven’t blogged regularly in a long time. It is so much more labor intensive to do a “good” blog post that I just haven’t had the spare time to do it.

But I miss the more journal-y kind of blogging I used to do. Maybe you do too. At any rate, here’s one of those posts, about what I did today. A ‘good post’ requires topic headings and some sort of focus. Haha. This is a rambler that won’t do well in the Google sphere, I’m sure. But it doesn’t need to.

The day’s schedule got thrown up in the air when I set up the coffee pot last night for this morning’s brew. That’s when I realized that I’d bought decaffeinated coffee the last time I went grocery shopping. Most of the time I use our home-roasted beans, but for the past several months I’ve been busy and the weather has been unpleasant, so I’ve been buying already roasted grounds.

So this morning, after I drank a few cups of the half-and-half coffee (I still had a little bit in the bag of real coffee, so dusted as much of that out as I could), I roasted fresh coffee. What’s the point of drinking coffee with no caffeine? Besides, I have an order to fill for a spring pound of fresh roast, so in effect, I killed two birds with one stone.

Before roasting the beans there were other things that needed doing. I had an Etsy sale of one of the paint sets overnight, so I boxed that up and got it ready to go. Yay! First time to Australia! And then someone emailed to express interest in buying my Fox No. 1 painting that’s hanging over at the Faulkner Center for Performing Arts in Fayetteville, so I made a reply to that. I tried real hard to sound professional and not all overly excited about it. I think I did alright.

I know I did a lot more things this morning, but now, just because I’m trying to figure out how it got to be 4 p.m. already, I can’t think of much. Oh, yes.

After roasting the coffee I went to the post office to bring the packages that needed to go out in the mail, then I went on to Huntsville to get a few groceries and some horse feed. The round trip took about three hours. I have a post from a few summers ago about how long it takes me to get to town and back, and why. But this time I just went straight there and straight back, without all the usual rodaying I normally might have done.

That word, rodaying, is not the way it is spelled, but that’s how it sounds. The root verb is Cajun French: Rôder, and it means to wander around… my preferred way of getting places 😁

On the way back in through the gate the cute little screech owl was sitting in her tree-hole again. This time she had her eyes wide open, watching me. But of course I didn’t have the camera capable of getting a good picture of her. I am calling it a ‘her’ and have no idea if that’s the case, but I think I can see a nest in the hole when she’s not blocking the view.

Now I’m getting ready to start up the tractor and move a bale of hay over to the horses. We don’t have a hay spike so I use a chain on some hooks Rob welded onto the loader bucket. I wrote a post about that a few years ago.

How did your day go? Does it tend to slip away and leave you wondering what you did the whole time?

8N Ford Tractor under the sunbeams.
Not the tractor I used, but I just love this old one so it’s the photo of the day for this post 🙂
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.

A Falconry Story

I read Simone’s falconry story over in the Lady Hawker’s group at Facebook. While I’ve never owned a raptor of any sort, I could relate to the chasing down of a bird. Parakeets and cockatiels like to go on ‘walkabouts’ too and I’ve kept a few of those in my earlier years. She gave me permission to repost it here and I hope you find it as funny as I did. If you’ve ever chased down a bird on the loose, I have a feeling you will.

Simone and Henry of the falconry story. Simone and Henry

The Epic Story of Henry’s Walkabout in Seattle:


One afternoon in September I was coming home from the San Juan Islands with a friend and had all of my animals with me. As I was unloading my truck it was getting hot and I had Henry (gyr x merlin) in the back and he was panting a bit. He overheats quickly being part gyrfalcon. I couldn’t find my glove so just picked him up on my bare hand (I do that sometimes, he’s so tame. BAD IDEA.) and walked him to the front house door. I don’t know what happened next exactly as I would never let go of the jesses on purpose of course but he bated and slipped through my hands. Fat, zero telemetry, hadn’t flown the lure in two months and it was 91 degrees out. He landed on the awning of the porch and looked pleased with himself. “Ok, ok no big deal,” I told myself as I reached for the jesses. I was within a centimeter when he launched off the roof and disappeared behind the big trees (the trees in our neighborhood are easily 100ft tall) in our backyard and my heart SUNK. I yelled at my brother that I needed help…he was prostrate on the couch with no shirt and no shoes but ran out in that condition…bad mistake as little did he know he would be in that state for the next four hours in 90+ weather.

I proceeded to catch sight of Henry here and there (but lost sight of him many, many times for up to 20-30 minutes each time) as I ran around the neighborhood with my brother (and my mom and dad at times, my brother was on the verge of heat stroke as he had just run a half marathon and didn’t bring enough water, my mom had to rescue him on a park bench..yes, he’s an adult…24 but go figure) in the heat….My mom and dad would take shifts bringing us water or help look for Henry or keep an eye on him if his location had been confirmed. Keep in mind I live in a residential area and the people on *our* block know our house as “The Nut House” and that at any given moment there may be hawks, falcons, owls, crows, ravens, ducks, chickens, dogs, cats, or strange people. But go two blocks away and you become the stranger with giant crazy curly hair holding a fishing pole that has a dead quail attached to the end. I’m swinging the lure in the middle of the road at one point yelling “HENRY!!!!” when a front door opens and a woman yells at me: “What are you looking for?! A falcon?!” ….. “Um, yes”, I say (is she for real?) and she says, “Oh, haha, I was kidding.” Not funny lady.. maybe it was the lure, maybe she just had a lucky guess. I told her what he looked like (yeah right) and where I lived and ran off. I’m sure she thought I was crazy. Anyway, Henry had disappeared now..

And at this point my brother and I completely lost sight of Henry. The trees were too huge to get a good line of sight all around and it was easy for him to fly out of one side of a group of trees without us seeing him. I ran through neighbors backyards, knocked on doors, all the while swinging Henry’s lure, which conveniently happens to be attached to a freakin’ 12′ pole. Nothing. No crows alarm calling, no robins alarm calling. No one had seen him. I was sure he was gone. The house is on a high hill with a valley below and surely the valley and air currents were too much for a curious little falcon. But then I heard Steller’s Jays alarm calling a block away. My brother and I run as fast as we can, find the jays and eventually decide they are not talking about Henry. I’m at my wits end by this point… I trudged home kicking myself for possibly taking the wrong lead and trying to think of what to do next, though nothing seems like an option. A 300 gram falcon with no telemetry who is fat as can be in 90F heat in a neighborhood on a hill with heavy tree cover all around. ALL the odds are against me I felt like. I near the house, which looks out over the small valley (the road starts to go downhill just four houses east of my house) and there, buzzing above the slope of the hill, across a busy street, is HENRY. I take off, narrowly avoiding traffic on the busy street and try desperately to catch up with him.

I catch up with him and although he isn’t flying away, multiple times he flew around me and half-heartedly came in to the lure but never touched it or landed. He landed quite a few times in the tall trees and just looked at me. He would dive bomb my head, buzz over me, disappear and reappear multiple times. He even came out of nowhere once when I yelled his name and wasn’t even swinging the lure. It was an emotional roller coaster! Again keep in mind that by this point Henry has probably moved 20 times and each time it’s a MAD DASH to keep up with him. There are so many trees and houses in the way. When he would take off my dad would go one way, my brother and mom another and I would start swinging the lure yelling his name. There is absolutely *zero percent chance* we didn’t look crazy. How did four people escape from the looney bin in one day?

At this point it was obvious he wasn’t too into the lure so my mom called Wendy (bless her soul a million times) who was at work quite a ways south of our house. She drove from her work, north of our house to get pigeons at another friend’s house and then back south to my neighborhood with two live pigeons. Granted this is all in horrible RUSH HOUR SEATTLE evening traffic. Did I mention bless her soul a million times?!

Henry had been sitting on a certain cedar tree for about 10 minutes at this point when Wendy pulled up. My brother had my Jack Russell x Beagle Otis because Henry is somewhat imprinted on Otis (a story for another time) and will often try to steal the lure or food from him so I was trying everything at this point. Anyway, Wendy whips around the traffic circle, tosses me a live pigeon on a line without slowing down and I toss it out under Henry. He comes into it immediately but won’t commit, almost lands on a transformer, then goes by it multiple times but still won’t commit. Otis loses his mind seeing this happen and slips his collar and runs across the street, into traffic, almost gets hit by two cars (seriously, centimeters away), my brother and I are screaming at the top of our lungs for Otis to stop but he makes it to the other side safely. Now I have my dad call all the pet shops in the area to ask for finches as the pigeons are apparently a bit big for Henry. Our friend Ron has been called who works at a bird shop but they are closed and also have no finches. My dad is on the phone down the block, my brother is on the corner as a lookout in case Henry flies that way and out of sight, Wendy is on the street with two live pigeons flapping and I am in some stranger’s front yard swinging a lure with a nasty, dead, in the heat for four hours quail with hornets buzzing all around when a hornet flies up my shirt. I scream and dance up and down (I have bad reactions to hornet stings) and whip my shirt off, Wendy is yelling “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?!” and howling at me like I’ve gone crazy but I don’t even realize how utterly insane I must look..shirt back on and Henry now is pretty much ignoring us (how???!!). Hour four of this ordeal arrives and I am at my wit’s end. My dad has driven to Petco at this point to pick up parakeets (absolutely awful, I know but we were going to put them in a BC and hope for no death to parakeets) and Henry has flown up higher in the tree with his back to us. He is utterly and completely ignoring us. There’s now a dead and bloody pigeon on a line in front of some random person’s house and I’m still on another person’s front lawn swinging the lure, contemplating how I might climb their roof even if they aren’t home to give permission. Thirty minutes before sunset. I literally feel like crawling into a black hole and dying and with everything that has just gone on (I had just lost my beloved aunt, who I was very, very close with, to breast cancer and she loved Henry) I can’t imagine losing my little buddy to such a stupid mistake. In one last ditch effort I wiggle and throw and toss the lure and dead quail around on the sidewalk across the street from Henry. He turns around, leaves the tree and flies directly to the dead quail, lands on the ground next to it, hops on it, I crawl slowly, shaking, on my knees and pick the little turd up.


I learned a few things that evening after getting Henry back: family and friends are priceless, persistence pays off, Petco will take parakeets back, your friends, after hearing the story, will tell you they just saw you on YouTube topless swinging a lure…”the neighbor’s must have been filming with their smart phones after all” (don’t believe them) and my brother’s “half marathon?” Yeah… he wasn’t part of a marathon. He just ran a bunch of miles by himself with no water and called it a marathon. He didn’t realize his “half marathon” was just the warm up.

I slept like a bag of rocks that night.


Simone Lupson-Cook

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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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 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!