Monthly Archives: April 2016

Dibs on This Blossom, Too!

Posted April 28, 2016 by Kerry McFall   #blueberrybees  #oldbluerawhoney

A couple of weeks ago, I started to stroll past my blueberry bushes but stopped in my tracks.  It was barely mid-April, but- already they were in full bloom and COVERED with bees.  Inspiration struck and I had no choice but to pull out my paints and get busy.

painted sketch of bee on blueberry blossoms

“Dibs on This One, Too!”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, 8 x 10 prints $25

There’s nothing like the process of making art to make you pay attention: the tops of the pantaloon-leg blossoms are skyblue-pink-green-burgundy.  Gorgeous.  The blossoms are creamy and frilly, and filled with stamens and pistils and pollen, oh my!  The bees seemed drunk, the pollen sacks on their legs heavy with golden powder.  I snapped a few photos, and my favorite was this busy fella, head buried in one blossom and apparently calling dibs on the neighboring blossom by hanging on to it with one back leg.

Bees have had a hard time lately, but there are people paying attention and trying to help them survive and thrive, and making delicious honey, too.  For instance, in one of those serendipitous coincidences, just this morning I received an e-mail from a fellow artist endorsing a local honey producer, the folks at http://oldbluenaturalresources.com/.  I was not aware of them before, but their web pages are beautiful and quite amazing.  Talk about knowing where your food comes from:  they can tell you where, as in which meadow or mountainside, your honey came from, and whether your honey comes from primarily blackberry blossoms or poison oak (who knew that poison oak could be a great source of butter-scotchy-tasting honey?!)  They do Honey Tastings!  It must be like the “terroir” of  fine wine, with each geographic and botanical source lending its own special flavors…mmm.

On a smaller scale, a neighbor recently posted about her backyard hives in an article titled Bee Mysteries.

If you’re a bee or blossom fan, you might also like to take a look at another painting I did last year, “Apple Blossoms“.  The original is still available, email kmcfall@gallerynouveau.biz if you’d like to buy “Dibs” or “Apple Blossoms”!

Process

The background was created using tulle netting for the small honeycomb textured areas, and sponges.  I used watercolor paint, black and white ink, and gouache paint.

Pig Latin

chicken wth quilt border

“Chicken What?!”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, based on photo from Schmidt’s Garden Center, with permission

My favorite garden center (Schmidt’s of course) published a photo of a chicken  that simply begged to be painted.  I chuckled the whole time I was playing with it.  My resident critic/husband walked past and said, “That really cries out for a caption.”  High praise from Mr. Symmetry!

How about: “I speak Pig Latin, ya know!  And someone clearly just said Icken-Chay Umplings-Day”!!  Then again, a face like that pretty much just speaks volumes on its own.

It also seemed to cry out for a quilty border, so this is a fun way to keep my quilting traditions alive but not have to get out the sewing machine!

I’ve done some chicken sketches before (Chicken Duty, Chickens Do Not Like Firecrackers, Technicolor Betty) but I think this is going to be one of my all-time favorites.

Coffee and Decisions at Schmidt’s

sketch of flower starts and coffee

“Decisions, Decisions…”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, $25 print

Osteospermum African daisies are among my favorite plants for my Pretend Porch.   The builder sadly forgot to add a front porch back in 1939, so I set my big metal glider chairs out there with a little side table.  Add a bottle of wine and lots of clay pots filled with bright flowers and you’ve got a pretty good substitute for a porch, especially when it comes to keeping in touch with the neighbors!  Porch season is not in full swing yet, but we’re getting close.  It’s about time to decide on a color theme for this year’s porch…

So I walked to Schmidt’s for my morning exercise walk, lured by their emails promising coffee and a new shipment of flowers.  I sipped my Mexican something-or-other brew (just coffee, no extra calories and a good rich color compliment match for the bronze daisy ) and painted for an hour. The front runners this year are the “Serenity Bronze”, which is a deep rich orangey magenta-ish glowy wonder, and the “Blue-Eyed Beauty”, which is actually not a bit blue but rather magenta-ish and lemony yellow and matches the color of the house a bit better than bronze…

I decided not to decide today.  Anyway, I couldn’t very well carry all those plants back home in my backpack.  Now I have to go back tomorrow – oh, Dear!

 

Lettuce Deadline Approaching

"Lettuce French Crisp", mixed media by Kerry McFall, prints $25

“Lettuce French Crisp”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, prints $25

This sketch/painting was done “en plein air” in the fragrant greenhouse at Schmidt’s Garden Center/Susan’s Coffee here in Corvallis.  The coffee is great, and their table surfaces are brightly-colored and textured, making an interesting foundation for what might turn out to be a little series of botanicals.

"Bucket o' Carnations", mixed media by Kerry McFall, $25 print

“Bucket o’ Carnations”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, $25 print

When I returned from San Diego late last week, I still had one small head of lettuce lurking among the blooming broccolini in the raised bed.  It didn’t last beyond the tuna sandwiches for lunch.  Hopefully the weather is going to stay cool enough to plant another 6 pack or two this spring, but if last summer was any indication of how long we can expect cool moist weather to continue, I need to put down the lattes and the paints for a day or two and get out there and get some “French Crisp” in the ground!

Process: Tiger Cub

Posted April 6, 2016 by Kerry McFall

"TigerCubSketch", mixed media by Kerry McFall, NFS, photo credit San Diego zoo  The March 2016 issue of ZooNooZ magazine from the San Diego Zoo had a hypnotic photo of a tiger cub on the cover.  It combined the warm fuzzies of a kitten stalking its prey with the full-on predatory intensity of a major carnivore in its brilliant green eyes – I couldn’t leave it out on the coffee table, it followed me around the room.  When I finally was able to make a sketch based on it,  I was pleased with the soft fur effect that came from using a damp sponge to apply the watercolor, but I couldn’t decide if I liked the grey outlines or not.  I felt like I captured a good portrayal of the coming pounce, and I liked the little bit of license that I took with the shapes of stripes and whiskers, but the colors were too tame… my inner voice said, “Stop messing with it before you wreck it!”.  So I did, until I needed to turn it into a birthday card for a teenage boy.

TigerCubCutout

“Tiger Cub 4 Wedu”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, NFS, photo credit San Diego Zoo

This particular teenager I haven’t been able to be with in person for too many years, but I know from Facebook and Skype that he is the epitome of “warm fuzzy” adolescence rushing into the sharp-edged intensity of approaching adulthood.  Taking the image of the sketch into Photoshop was the solution: mess around all I want, but don’t change the sketch itself.  So above is the “final final”, which primarily used a combination of the Cutout tool and the Poster Edge tool.  (There’s no way I could re-create the sequence that actually got me to this result, it’s kind of like foostering around on the Internet – I have no idea how I got somewhere… ) There was then that inevitable moment when the voice said, “Ooh, what if you filled in the white part of the background with black instead?”…Nah.  I’m ready to move on to my next challenge: lettuce.  No eyes, no motion, no fur, no threat!