Thursday, December 3, 2009

Recharging batteries is always good!

   You know, I wasn't sure that I wanted to take off on a trip...I was in the painting groove and have a busy schedule that was all coming to a head; but despite all of that...I'm glad I went.
   I can't say that going to a desert was really high up on my "to do list", but I did find it interesting.  I can honestly say I was surprised by what I saw.
   I did see lots of cacti, (and that in and of itself was interesting for the variety there was in the wild!)  I did see lots of dirt and lots of plants that were cool looking but not green and lush...that I expected.  What amazed me was the lack of clarity in the air!  My area is pretty dry, only 17 inches annually on a good year.  But the air here is crystal clear for the most part, the mountains are more so; but still, here the air is pretty clear for a long way.  What I found in Arizona was sharply reduced distance visability!  While in Phoenix, I assumed it was pollution, but outside of the cities and by the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff and Sedona, they were not likely to have that  problem, but still the clarity was much reduced to what I expected.
Being of a curious mind, I had to try and figure it out.  No one seemed to notice it much there, so I'm assuming it is sort of like the Fall here.  Here when harvest is going hard core, lots of dust from the combines is in the air.  This of course is the one time of the year where it is not so clear.  My guess is that being a desert and having breezes and winds, the fine dust of the desert is stirred up into the air and voila!  Reduced clarity!  It did make for cool sites and inspired all sorts of ideas for future paintings, especially at sunset. (Cliche or what?)
   The Grand Canyon was the highlite of my trip.  I've seen it from 30,000 feet in the air, seen shows on it, paintings of it, photos of it, and none of them brings home the massive size and dramtic splendor of it!  We hired a helicoptor ride over it (so glad we did that!)  First time in one, and what an initiation to the ride and the sights!  We were there at a perfect time of day, about 2 hours before dark; so the shadows and lighting were spectacular.  I had to think though, that when the early settlers came across to go west; after facing a desert and to be confronted by the canyon; it must have been a "throwing your hands in the air in frustration moment!"  Talk about having to make a serious detour!  277 miles worth!
   Anyway, a short trip (7 days fly by) but it did recharge my batteries and provided lots of cool ideas for future paintings and just tons of memories of seeing new things with friends and family.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Getting your head into the next project

   I've heard of artists working on more than one piece at a time.  I envy them!  It would definitely prevent overload on a particular project, especially if you are having troubles.
   Unfortunately, I am not one of those artists.  I guess I'm a little too anal for that.  So for me it is one piece at a time.  My problem is getting my head out of the last one, to start the next one.
   I find that I need to put the finished one out of site; otherwise I am constantly checking it out looking for goofs to fix.  It is definitely a case of "out of sight is out of mind"
   At any rate, I have started my next one.  Two cute little kit fox.  Their expression was priceless and they were so cute, it demanded a picture.  These guys were in a den in the ditch, about 5 of them in total.  They were really friendly (much to their mom's dismay I imagine)  They made for easy "photo ops".  Got lots of shots.  Good thing as their Mom moved them about 2 weeks later.
    I'm hoping I can capture thier facial expressions, which really makes the picture I have in my head.
Till next time.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Carving out time can be done!

   Life can definitely be busy, especially if you are married, have kids, a job, a husband who works from home, and you still try and paint.  My personal opinion is that it is even tougher for female artists to carve out time to do what they love, because socially and practically it is usually her that everyone turns to for this that and the other.  There are some situations where that may not be the case, but in general, females are conditioned to be the go to person in the home.
  In my particular instance,  we are large grain farmers and my share of that is bookkeeping, payroll, and chief cook and bottle washer for a harvest crew of about 25 people.  We provide 2 full hot meals a day for this lot.  "Safeway" loves me at this time of year.  At the end of the day, I find as I get older, I get more tired, than when I was younger.  But even so I manage to carve out time for my painting.  After I wind down from the cooking, at about 9 pm I will start painting.  I have daylight bulbs in my studio.  Some days it is a real push to go paint, but the neat thing about it is that once I start, I forget I'm tired.  This is "me" time, and I'm doing something I love to do.  Not to mention, by this time the phone has stopped, the 2 way radio demands stop, and no one is in the house!  Heaven!  As a result I managed to finish my "Bridal pair" painting and have started another.  So take it from me, if you really want to, it is possible to carve out painting time.  Just view it as "me" time, and enjoy the benifits, of stress falling away as you do what you love!

Till next time

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Getting Validation that you are on the Right Track!

Painting can be a lonely business at times. You paint because you love too, or are compelled to, or a combination of both. However a person does worry if they are going about things in a manner that is always getting better. You wonder how you are viewed by other artists, or if you should just pack it in because you are deluding yourself that you have any talent at all.

I don't think there is an artist alive who has not wondered about that at some point or other. Well this past week I was surprised (because I did not think I was good enough) and honoured to be invited to join Artists For Conservation.

I'd been sitting on the fence about trying to join for a couple of years, but was not brave enough. However both my Husband and daughter encouraged me to try. As they say nothing ventured nothing gained. So I did, and Voila! My timing was great; so I did not have to stew too long, and I was accepted!

Guess I have more going for me than I thought!

So to all of you out there who wonder, go for broke, try for a group who juries it's membership, and view it as a test to how well you are doing on your journey. A little positive reinforcement never hurt anyone's ego!

Check out the logo I now get to use! It is a direct link to the Artists For Conservation Website, Try it and check out all the wonderful members of this group who believes in giving back somthing to the Natural world.

Artists for Conservation Foundation - Signature Member - Supporting Nature Through Art

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Note to self for Next Time!

I have been painting long enough now, that you would think that I would remember a few basics!  I'll blame it on being too busy, but I did manage to forget an important detail. 
If you have visited my website ( ) you will have noticed I am a bit of a detail freak.  I love putting in detail.  I have tried to be "looser" in my painting, but invariably fall back to the detail.  This is one of the reason I generally paint on masonite or MDF if I use acrylic or canvass with oil, or illustration board for my gouache paintings. 
The reasons are fairly obvious...oil, I can't manage the level of detail I do in acrylic, so I use canvass.  Gouache tends to sit "lightly" on canvass or MDF... result, I use absorbant illustration board.  Acrylic I like detail, so the smooth surface of MDF or masonite is ideal.   Close to 20 years of painting, you would think I would remember these points.
Well the painting "Bridal Pair" is acrylic, but I'm doing it on canvass.  The only saving grace for me...fur on deer is not heavily textured; so I can "fudge" that it is not as detailed as I would normally do.  Really notice in the faces.

So for those of you who plan to start a painting...think of the detail level you plan to put in the painting, and choose your substrate accordingly!  Note the face of the deer.

Till next time!

Cindy Sorley-Keichinger

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Working the kinks out

I think I mentioned before that antlers are as individual as hands. Well after consulting with friends, hunters, the Internet, and my own observations; I ended up using my hands as models for 3/4 view antlers.

Some things I learned about antlers...Whitetail antlers at least...even a trophy set of antlers have two little guys up front and a further 4 prongs further out on the wrack. These can vary in length and thickness. A young buck will have dainty thin with only 2 prongs on his wrack. A mature buck will have the full 4 that are thick and robust.

Now there are some out there who may say that "I've seen buck with 5 or 6 prongs besides the initial 2", but from what I've found out, that generally means they have a fork on the end prong, or they are an atypical set of antlers. (And trust me atypical can get pretty out there in the prong department!)

In the end I had to use my best judgement, had a photo as a guide but ended up using my hands held in an antler manner to get the view of the antlers I wanted.

Sounds very strange I know, but hands are roughly shaped in the same manner as a wrack of antlers (and wing tips, but that is another story).

I've also changed the position of the bucks legs from before. The first set up sort of made me twitch. Could not figure out why until I noticed that my buck was about to trample my doe. Now he walks past her. Amazing how relaxed you can get when the twitch factor of a picture is removed!

Many of the in between steps on this picture are now posted on my website. If you are interested, take a look.

Ciao till next time.

Cindy Sorley-Keichinger

Monday, August 24, 2009

Making a painting to spec!

Who knew that when I offered to make a painting for my Son's wedding, the challenges it would present! My first clue should have been when I got the answer to..."What do you want in it?"

Answer..."A Doe and a Buck (with really large antlers), a fall scene, water, trees, the deer on a rise, sunset, fall lighting, and they threw a combine in just for good measure! I drew the line at the combine; but to fit it all together so they would like it and so would I? Wow!

Took ages to come up with something that they would like and that I wanted to paint. Finally did though, but let me tell you, I know more about Whitetail Deer antlers, than I care to know.

Did you know that when you really get looking they are as individual as people's hands? I didn't, but do now. Some are narrow and point up, some are wide and elegant, some are between the two. It goes on and on.

I'm about 3/4 done now and have finally started on the Buck. I procrastinated big time on that. Total by gosh and by golly as all my reference photos were of doe deer, or antlerless bucks!

Getting there though. Above is the early stages of this challenge. We'll see how the next stages go!