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.

 

Day 11 – Nature Journal Series

A nature drawing for my Nature Journal series: Leaf on Water

About this journal entry

My son says my nature sketching looks like a turkey feather. It is not. It is a leaf half submerged in the water, haha. Can’t have the world at large making the same mistake.

About the Wild Ozark Nature Journal

Get the index to the other journal entries and read about my project at Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

If you keep a nature journal online, share the link to yours in the comments.

Nature Drawing in Progress: American ginseng in October

Two years ago I made a nature drawing of American ginseng in October, with yellowing leaves against the dark backdrop of the Wild Ozark forest.

Repeating the Same Nature Drawing

Since that time I’ve learned a little more about certain techniques I can use with my pencils, specifically blending, and so I wanted to re-draw the picture so I can enter it into a contest.

Usually I like to scan each step as I go along with a drawing, but for this one I forgot. This one picks up at the blending of the background stage.

Background First

You can see in the image that most of the drawing hasn’t been blended, only the very bottom part.

Although I have some color on the leaves and plant itself, I have barely begun on that part of it and have a lot more color layers to add before blending for that part begins.

Nature Drawing by Madison Woods. Background stage: Beginning the blending.
Background stage: Beginning the blending.

 

 

 

Needs More Detail

Once I finished blending the ground background, I decided I wanted to add some more form to the surroundings. So I added a christmas fern, one of ginseng’s habitat companions. Now it balances out the empty woods surrounding the main object.

Looking at it from Different Perspectives

When I scan each step, I’m doing more than just recording a step in the process.

When I look at the picture in another format, like on the computer or the small screen of my phone, I can see things I didn’t see in the original.

The first image I posted showed me that the background was too empty.

The next one showed me where I have spaces that are too light or need *something*.

"Ginseng in October", a nature drawing in progress. Ground floor background blended.
Ground floor background blended.

At the base of the fern and on the lower levels of the background above the floor, it needs to be darker and I’d like some vague suggestions of more fern to the left.

Here it is again, with the background blended, after I added darker lower levels and a bent fern frond to the left.

Background finished. "Ginseng in October" nature drawing in progress.
Background finished. “Ginseng in October” nature drawing in progress.

Foreground Next

The next step will be the dried leaves at the bottom. Those two dead leaves are the foreground. Once I get those done, I’ll start working on the ginseng plant.

Halfway There

Here it is again with the dead leaves done, and the background finished. I’ve just begun working on the ginseng now.

Ginseng in October, in progress

I really like drawing autumn and winter leaves. Here’s the dead leaves, closer:

Zoomed in on the dead leaves.

Signing off for today. So far, this has been several days of work. Today was the first day I spent the entire day on it, though.

Tomorrow I should be able to get this wrapped up and I’ll post the finished scan …

And here’s the finished drawing:

Ginseng in October by Madison Woods. Prints available.

The first drawing

I didn’t know about blending at all yet when I drew this first one. But that really didn’t matter at the time to me, because I drew it in situ, and it was only meant to be a journal entry. It was late in the afternoon and dark in the woods, and finding the plant to begin with was unexpected.

ginseng in october
Ginseng in October, the nature journal entry

I’m glad I have it now to go by, since I didn’t get any photos of the plant that year. Now I can’t find the same plant at all.

The Blending Process

The blending takes a long time. It’s tedious and it makes my arm and eyes hurt if I don’t take plenty breaks. So just finishing the background alone could take several days of steady work at blending.

I’m not sure if there’s an easier way to do this step or not. I saw on one tutorial video that the artist used mineral spirits. Well, I tried that and it didn’t blend very well at all. Perhaps we used different brands of pencils.

The Tools

I use Prismacolor. The only set I have right now is the Premier Soft Core and a colorless blending pencil. I need a set of the VeriThin, but that will have to wait until after the taxes get paid for this year.

The paper I’m using is a water-color paper for Epson printers. It comes in very large sheets that I have to cut down to size. Our printer does fine work for smaller art prints, like those I use on my note cards. And this is archival quality acid free paper. However, for larger than 5 x 7 prints, and especially those I sell as “art”,  I use Scott’s Frame and Art (Scott Imaging)  in Fayetteville.

Stay Tuned

I’ll post updates to the work as I make progress. Let me know if you have any tips!

ETA is the end of the week because there’s a deadline involved for the contest I want to enter.

If you’d like a print, stop in and see me at the Downtown Rogers Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, now open year-round!

Here’s their FB page and ours:

Oct. 22, 2015 – Two Sweetgum Leaves for the Goodreads Giveaway

The original sketch and journal entry in the copy of My Nature Journal that will go to the winner of my Goodreads Giveaway.
The original sketch and journal entry in the copy of My Nature Journal that will go to the winner of my Goodreads Giveaway.

Goodreads Giveaway on October 31, 2015

I wrote a fairly long post about this sketch over at my main blog. This is one I won’t get to keep because it was done in the copy of My Nature Journal that is going to the winner of my Goodreads Giveaway on October 31.

More than 600 people have entered the contest and the performance anxiety was mounting about whether or not I’d be able to do a good job of it, so today I decided to just get it over with and do it.

I’m glad I did. The drawing came out nicely and the paper in the journals I designed worked great!

Nature Sketching Day 21- Down the dirt road in October

I’m not real good at trees and landscapes yet. I can do single items like leaves fairly well, but the larger view pushes outside my ability. Maybe with practice I’ll get better.

Wild Ozark Nature Sketching Day 21- Down the road in October
… stop and take a few photos (finished the thought on the back side of the page).Wild Ozark Nature Sketching Day 21- Down the road in October

 

Nature Sketching Day 14

At this time of year it’s even harder than usual for me to make a quick trip to town and back. If I bring my camera with me, it’s a guaranteed impossibility.

Today I had to stop for photos of the Felkins Creek valley as the sun was setting.

Wild Ozark Nature Sketching Day 14-Evening Light on Hillsides
Nature Sketching Day 14-Evening Light on Hillsides

 

Thank you for visiting and sharing this moment in space and time with me 🙂

Nature Sketching Day 6 – “Lobelia Inflata”

Today I went out on foot, backpack loaded with my towel and cushion to sit on, sketch journal, and pencils to do my daily entry for the Wild Ozark Nature Journal.

Once I found my subject, this aging Lobelia inflata plant, I settled down to tune in with my surroundings. Turned out that the towel and cushion weren’t very effective at masking the fist sized rocks underneath. So after some adjustments I was able to get semi-comfortable.

Unlike the past drawings (except the first one), where I tried to minimize the background, this one I chose almost specifically *because* of the rocks stacked behind the lobelia plant. The first was also chosen because of the rock.

I love rocks. I love collecting them, especially the ones with fossils embedded. I also like sitting on them. When I find a rock to sit on, I like to just listen. When you sit alone in nature you’ll hear a lot of sounds. At first you’ll hear the loudest, closest, or most prevalent sounds. But then you’ll start to notice the other more subtle ones that are usually overlooked by people in a hurry on on a mission to get from point a to point b.

A creek trickling in the distance, maybe just a drip-drip-drip from a slight elevation drop before the water goes back beneath the sands and rocks during a dry spell.

Insects drone and buzz, sometimes annoyingly close to ears and eyes. Sometimes it is even more annoying when the buzz suddenly stops, because usually that means it has landed…on me.

Squirrels overcome their irritation and alarm chirps and resume normal chatter and chirrs. I know that’s not a real word – WordPress has informed me of that with the red underline. However, I don’t know how else to describe that particular utterance they make.

Anyway, I liked the rocks stacked behind the lobelia plant and so today I decided to make them more real and less just shadows behind the subject.

It takes more time to do it that way, but today I had more than the allotted hour to make my entry. As the light faded and the details of the leaves became harder to differentiate, I had to speed up and get it finished.

Wild Ozark Journal Day 6- Lobelia inflata
Wild Ozark Journal Day 6- Lobelia inflata