Archive for the “Cool stuff” Category

I have the good fortune to count Kate Davis, founder and director of Raptors of the Rockies, among my friends. Kate is a hoot (literally – she can imitate owls well enough to fool other owls), a fellow artist, and passionate about the raptors in her care. I’ve had the privilege of visiting her “Raptor Ranch” several times and photographing and sketching some of the magnificent birds there. Kate now has a blog going as well. If you enjoy raptors – watching them, painting them – I encourage you to visit Kate’s website and blog. She has photos and bios of all the birds, plus plenty of entertaining tidbits on her blog.

The painting shown here – “Ruffled” – was based on one of Kate’s golden eagles; the piece is now in the collection of the Lookout Mountain Nature Center in Golden, CO.

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Bruno Dillen, who runs the art history website Artinthepicture.com, recently emailed me to tell me about a new animal art section on his website. I’ve not met Mr. Dillen before (ah, the power of the internet!). While the site appears to make its living by selling prints and ‘hand painted reproductions’ of the images, it has a wide selection of animal-themed work from the 1400s to the 20th century. Some of the masters that one would expect to find – Stubbs, Durer, Rosa Bonheur – are here, shown alongside work by M. C. Escher.

The stylistic and interpretive range is great fun to explore. It’s fascinating to compare a 1763 George Stubbs zebra to a 1944 modern art interpretation of one. Some personal favorites on the site: Toulouse-Lautrec’s “Artilleryman Saddling his Horse”; Rosa Bonheur’s “Doe & Fawn in a Thicket” [these look like red deer to me]; and of course Stubbs’ famous “Whistlejacket”.

The site lacks reference to recent masters of animal art, such as Kuhn, Rungius, and Kuhnert, so it’s quite incomplete in that area. But for surfing animal imagery in general art history, it’s interesting. One big plus is that there are a lot of Bonheur paintings on the site; since she’s been rather ignored by the generally chauvinist wildlife art historians, it’s nice to have a chance to explore more of her work.

To get there: www.artinthepicture.com/paintings/tags/animal/. Once you’re here, there are other tags at page bottom to continue your animal-art explorations (eg, clicking on “horse” got me to a Lady Godiva painting … for all you guy types out there).

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I just learned, through Andrew Taylor’s excellent blog (the Artful Manager) of a new capacity that Google Earth is now offering: the ability to inspect the paintings at Madrid’s Prado Museum in extreme close-up detail. In other words, Google gives us the ability to become a housefly buzzing around in front of masterpieces thousands of miles away.

Now how damn cool is THAT?

You have to have Google Earth installed, but it’s a fun toy anyway. Once you do, you can find the Museum’s images by drilling down from the Layers sidebar (Geographic Web > Places > Preview > Museo Prado > a doohickey > Museo Nacional …) and you’ll get to its “Masterpieces” area. There are 14 paintings currently available. I zoomed in on a portion of the horse’s eye and armor for “Emperor Carlos V on Horseback”.

Wow.

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A quick note on good stuff y’all may or may not know about.

If you ever had the chance to experience the secret-formula Ritmo charcoal pencils, you know how creamy and gorgeously black they were. Ritmo stopped making these several (3? 5?) years ago, and it’s rumored that Disney immediately went out and scoured the world to buy up whatever was left.

Since then, General Pencil Company has managed to come up with its own formula that’s damn close. I’ve bought several packages of these things, called “Primo” (and even labeled with lettering that is no doubt intentionally reminiscent of “Ritmo”) and I LOVE ‘em. They’re sold only in a 4-pack, with B, HB, 3B, and a white pencil and an eraser. Doesn’t matter – all 3 of the charcoals are insanely black and wonderful. In fact, I’ve done a totally scientific side-by-side comparison* with my few remaining Ritmo pencils, and I actually like the Primos better. (*I used a Primo, then a Ritmo).

Also cool: the eraser in the pack – a weird black thing with “Factis” printed on it – is the ONLY eraser I’ve ever found that can actually remove Conte, and take off very soft black charcoal as well (with some smearing).

Enjoy.

P.S. Off to an agility trial, so no posts until sometime next week.

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…are due to Suzanne Ellis, who just won the Grand Prize in the 2007 Paint America Top 100. Suzanne attended one of my summer workshops a few years ago, and her winning painting was of (drumroll, please!) Daisy the badger – one of Triple D’s animal models! Check it out at www.paintamerica.org. Suzanne also had a piece juried into the Mini Top 50.

Waytago girl!!

P.S. Also in the category of “Cool Stuff”, an article about Andrew Denman on createbetterpaintings.com is very worthwhile (he’s listed at the top left of the page). I’ve shared exhibition space with Andrew at Birds in Art and at Western Visions; he is an extremely nice guy with a beautiful, original interpretation of the world. His technique is unusual and the article does a good job of covering it.

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