Friday, April 20, 2007

A Big Change of Pace

To start...all I gotta say is "this bloggin is nuts!" the pictures somehow never seem to end up in the spot I intended with the dialogue to go under it. Any how, this pic above belongs down below under where I am pictured painting. This is a close up of the plein air I was working on at Gates Pass, sorry for any confusion:o)
With the Sonoran Desert Cactus in bloom (one pictured above), I decided it was high time I get myself a French easle so I could do some plein air paintings outside. I've only wanted one for the passed 25 years, and finally here it is. James and I took off for the hills and I began my first paintings out in the open air since the early 1990's.

The day was beautiful! We went up to Gates Pass and you can see the rock formations in the background that I'm looking at for the painting. (Above picture is what I talk about here....)Below is a close up of the pastel in progress, about 20 minutes in. The lighting changes so quick, so all the plein air pieces I started this day will be done in 2 parts. Need a day with little wind, so I can have my umbrella up to protect me from the beating down sun.
Below is James standing in front of a towering saguro cactus right near camp. Look how tiny James is next to this collassal cactus! They are beginning to bloom now which is early for them, and some like this one, don't even have any buds.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A look at my references for the Tarantula Painting

I have entered the third week and third coat of oil paint on this massive painting, and it continues to evolve.
This is a detail shot of the Tarantula hawk wasp (pepsis wasp) sitting on the "pearl" found in the Saguaro cactus arm skeleton that I found. I thought it would be perfect for the background of her while she is stalking the tarantula as a predator.
Above is a close up pic of the rare "pearl" we found in this saguaro cactus arm skeleton I am using for the painting. It appears that a healthy live saguaro will develop a scar tissue to any intruders or foreign matter and this particular pearl is believed to be the left behind evidence of an insect that burrowed into the cactus us when it was alive and well. Being very rare as an occurrence, we stumbled upon something that fit right in with what it is we do with an insect focus.
I must admit, this to be the perfect piece of saguaro cactus that I imagined for this painting. James and I searched acres of the Sonaran Desert, and as the hours passed, it became apparent to me that we were literally looking for a needle in a hay stack! What a great and exciting find we made for this painting.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Painting Progress

Nine days in on the painting at the Desert Museum. The visitors have been awesome, and the interaction while painting has been so exciting. I finished the second coat of paint on Sunday and begin the third coat on Wednesday when I perform again. I will take a pic of the saguaro arm skeleton reference I am using for the background habitat and post with next blog, so that all of you can see how intense and twisted it really is. Thanks for tuning in!

Friday, February 09, 2007

New Painting at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Pictured above is day 4 working on this massive new painting at the Desert Museum. I am painting a female Tarantula hawk wasp in her hunt for an Arizona blond tarantula male as he crosses the desert in search for a female. You can see my specimens at the lower left next to my paint palette and did I mention this painting is 60" x 120"! I have until April 22 to get this one done....and I'm excited about this one.
I've had great crowds and visitors peering in on my creative process and demonstrations. Folks from all over the world, and the response has been awesome! The paintings look great in the gallery space and I'm getting a ton of ooowws and aaahhs...that's what makes me tick, just what the doctor ordered. It feels good to put the show on again after our 3 month vacation.

Above a quick pic of the progress, just 4 days into it, she is coming along nicely. If your wondering about the background, James and I went out into the natural desert here and searched for a saguaro cactus arm skeleton, and to my delight after searching all day, we found the perfect specimen for the painting. I will take a pic of it and blog in a future post. The piece we found also has a something very special about it as I have been informed by the botanists at the Desert Museum. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

"Achilles and Hector" is finally finished!

Above is the finished pic of Achilles and Hector. Hector is the mantis nypmh you can barely see in his beak and was the last of details added to the painting. I finished him on January 28, 2007 and had a huge turn out with about 100 people for the varnishing and signing on January 30.
Above is a detail of Achilles head and added feathers under the eye from previous progress photos.
This pic shows the details of the belly, back, and tail feather ....these feathers were extreme to paint but the colors were so fun and challenging!
Pictured above are my Aunt and Uncle that live here in Tucson and they joined us for the varnishing and signing party. This was the first large painting of the exhibit that they had seen in person and they just loved him! I think he turned out great! And I have already started a new painting at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum this past Saturday on a large posting soon.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Webcam Launched!

Hey Project InSECT Fans! This is Project InSECT friend and web designer Lacey Lewis reporting in for Jessa and James.

Achilles was in fact finished by Jessa's goal date, and images of the completed painting will be on the way soon. She and James are now busy performing at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, thus updates have been slightly delayed.

Can't get enough of the awesome bug art? Check out the webcams! Watch live to see Jessa perform live 10:00 - 18:00 MTZ Wednesdays through Sundays, or check out the webcam archives while they are not performing.

Friday, January 19, 2007

A few more days to go

I am getting so close to wrap up, I can taste it! Above is near completion of the breast feathers. Below is finish of the belly feathers and meeting of the tail feathers. You can also see where I filled in the inside of the fore wing. Today I am going to finish up the long awaited tail feathers and hope to plug the baby mantis in his beak by the end of the weekend! Wheeewww!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Getting Closer!!

The breast feathers have finally begun to take shape and will upload more pics tomorrow. These were taken two days ago..and I've put in 20 hours since then. You can see how rediculous these tiny bird feathers are and to give you an idea, the white and grey feather area measures about 8" x 12" on my canvas and took 2 solid 12 hour days to paint.
Here is a pic taken further back and you can see where I have blacked in the feather shapes on the underside of the wing and the rest of the breast feathers are to come!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

From Dizzy to Cross-Eyed

The back feathers have begun and boy is he popping bright now. The way these iridescent back feathers overlap is real crazy to sort out which is what and what is where. I got all of them laid in yesterday with only shadows and highlights left on each one, I would guess there are near 200 feathers tips on his backside. Above is a detail of the way they look so far, with the base carve out of feathers I left in the bottom right corner. I love the color palette on this particular part of the bird, very fun to mix and paint.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Getting Dizzy

Hi all, I just put in a 14 hour day on the painting and I got most of the iridescent throat feathers done along with a patch between the shoulder blades on the move. I had to take a photo of him from a right angle as I do have bad glare due to the lights I am working under on this big painting, so he does seem a bit ascue. I do have to say, standing in front of the painting, is a bit crazy because the colors are so intense it messes with your vision, and the iridescent throat feathers make me go hummm??!! WOW
I thought I would throw in a close up of the throat feathers, although it is no where's near the same in person...They really do look iridescent with regular ol' oil paint..and made my eyes go nuts while painting...quite dizzy in fact, and don't know how much of this maddness I can handle again in the future. But I am quite pleased with the outcome. 1 more week to go and counting....Stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

More Throat Feathers

These feathers are taking forever...I finished the top and back of the head except a few minor spots of toning and highlighting. The throat is half done from top portion. I was delayed today in getting any painting done, in which I had hoped to put in a long day and get the rest of the ruby throat finished, but unfortunately, James has been sick with a cold and this morning I woke up with the nasty myself. I have a one week deadline on this painting now, and with seven days left and many more feathers to go, I see that cold or not, I will be painting around the clock to make it happen. I feel like I'm running in the Tour De France with this one.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bring on the Color

I've finally gotten started with the irridescent colored feathers as you can see on the top of his head...It is taking hours to get an area no bigger than 3" x 3" done in one painting session. The colors and complications of feather design is crazy, but this is what I call the fun stuff...and for those watching me it's like watching moss grow on a rock (as an artist friend of mine put it)
The results are coming along nicely though....and I will update with somemore pics over the weekend, check in again!