We went on vacation at the end of January, which really threw me off schedule. But it was a wonderful excuse to not be in the studio. It was nine days on a cruise ship in the Caribbean Sea and it was glorious. No, we were not on the Carnival ship that got stranded, thank God. This piece was started before we left but got shelved over the last few weeks from traveling and all the business that follows after returning home. It’s finally finished and though it took forever I’m really enjoying pushing my limits with what I can do with color on these boards. It’s still a learning process but I feel like I’m getting further each time.
I have a show tomorrow at the Decoys & Wildlife Gallery in Frenchtown, NJ, and much of my new work will be on display there. Sadly, this lion didn’t have enough time to be framed and ready for this show, it will have to wait for later.
In the midst of a creative dry spell, I asked Facebook what manner of animal I should use as my next subject. The choice was overwhelmingly for a bird, an eagle specifically. Though I love eagles, I had a hard time working on an idea for an eagle that did not seem patriotic and cliched. Wildlife art has a reputation for being cliched and though I might be as guilty as the rest, I try to avoid that sentimentality in what I do. Since I needed some more small works in my collection, I settled on hummingbirds, happy little visitors to my garden. I also have one more addition to my butterfly series. These are all 6X6.
I finally jumped right into a major work in color. This is a clouded leopard, 16X12. It has at least six layers of scratching and ink, with a few more in some areas. I’m still learning what NOT to do, but I’m liking the direction these pieces are going.
I’m trying to work more color into my scratchboards. Scratchboard is a very effective medium for strictly black and white, but it can also be very striking with the right application of color. I’ve been experimenting with various inks and pencils, trying to develop a technique to produce the kind of look I want. I’m not there yet. This stage is always the most frustrating. Knowing where you want to be and mucking through the work required to learn how to get there. Color on scratchboard is entirely different from color on canvas in oil paint and what I know from working with oil paint isn’t all translating well to scratchboard. The zebra was the most complex to color, getting the balance between warm light and cool shadow right, and the point where the two merged was difficult. The swan was far more difficult to scratch and I used the blade, a dremel bit, sandpaper, and steel wool to get the right effect on the feathers.
A newly finished leopard here, a little behind schedule. Also some new smaller works as requested by my gallery, each only 5X7. The penny with the zebra piece is for scale.
Finally moving to the North American continent for my newest scratchboard, a mountain lion. 14X11
The largest I’ve done yet, at 14X18 and one of the most complicated due to its subject matter. The mane required numerous layers of ink and scratching in order to make it believable as thick fur. My tentative title for this piece is Battle Scars, to draw attention to the scars on his nose from fighting other males for dominance, though I’m not yet sure if I feel comfortable with it seeming a little cliche. I seem to big on a cat kick right now as I have two more lined up following this one. A mountain lion, progress on which I will share shortly, and an ocelot. Not many people are familiar with the ocelot; it tends to be lumped in with leopards, but they have such expressive eyes and I hope I can do one justice.