The Tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse
Bird Group, oil on canvas

If Elvis was a bird would he be a Tufted Titmouse? These funny little guys, the tufted titmice, love to flit around in the trees around my bird feeder haranguing with the chickadees and the cardinals in the winter months. They were frequently up in the trees wearing their cute little blue shoes and serenading the others at the feeder with their sweet song. One thing, I noticed about the titmice was the way they would take their seed up into the tree before they ate it. So many of the other birds would sit at the feeder gobbling up multiple seeds like little gluttons or foraging around the ground underneath picking up what others knocked out. The little titmouse would swoop down to the feeder, grab a seed and flit back up to a high branch to munch down on the newly acquired treat before breaking back into song. I wondered whether he was afraid of someone stealing his treat or was he just in a hurry to get back to his singing?

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Tufted Titmouse in the snow.

The Tufted Titmouse is part of a family of titmice according to All About Birds and are most visible in the Southeastern United States. Birds and Blooms says: “The tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) is a small songbird in the tit and chickadee family (Parade).” That would explain why I always see them hanging around with the chickadees. The reason they grab a seed and fly up to the tree tops is not because they can’t wait to sing. Birds and Blooms also tells us, “they grab one seed, fly to a nearby perch, hold the food with their feet, and then pound it open with their stout, round bills.” Seems like a slow way to eat but then they aren’t particularly fat little birds so maybe that’s why! Maybe I should grab a bite then flit off somewhere to eat it before coming back for the next bite. I might be as little and energetic as a titmouse if I did that. Interesting thought but back to the Titmouse.

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Tufted Titmouse in the Trees

The titmouse gets its funny name from the old Anglo-Saxon names “tit” meaning small and “mouse” referring to any small bird or rodent. I can’t see the mouse reference. They don’t look anything like Mickey to me but what do I know. Can’t quibble with those Anglo-Saxon bird namers. This information came from The Charismatic Planet. Another source, Birdwatching.com says that originally it was Titmase, the word “mase” meaning small bird. Around 500 years or so ago it was changed to mouse because of the widespread understanding of the word mouse. Tufted Titmice are such cute little guys, I hate to have them associated with scary, creepy little rodents. But then the word Titmouse is so much easier to say that titmase. Perhaps that is the real reason the name was changed. How could everybody know so much about mice when Mickey wasn’t even around then? Oh well.

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Titmouse in a tree

At any rate, Tufted Titmice are so cute at the feeder and just hanging around. I love to watch them. Who couldn’t love a little bird with a sweet song wearing blue suede shoes! To invite these little singers to your house, you can find out more about how to attract them to your feeders by following the advice found on the website Kaytee.com. The sweet sound of the music the Titmouse sings is reason enough to want more of them in your neighborhood. Fortunately there doesn’t seem to be any concern about them disappearing anytime soon as Thought.com says the IUCN has the tufted titmouse rated at “least concern.” Good news for a change! Maybe thats why they hang with the chickadees. Safety in groups!

Listen to the sweet sound of the tufted titmouse:

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Blue Suede Shoes

ZOOM Botanical Style Painting Workshops Open

Purple Pansies, watercolor

Registration is open for the first Two series of 3-Step Botanical Watercolor workshops that will be held in 2 hour increments over 3 weeks. The First part will cover the preliminary drawing and how to transfer the drawing to watercolor paper via tracing paper. Part 2 will focus on detailed under-drawing as the key to depth, shadow and texture. Part 3 is the finished painting in watercolor using layering or glazing techniques to achieve rich color and velvety smoothness in petals and leaves. The first series will feature sunflowers and the second will be on Pansies. Sunflowers will take place on Tuesdays and Pansies on Mondays. Two times will be available for both series. Click on the Workshop button in the side bar or go to the Workshop page. Class size will be limited to provide personal attention. I look forward to meeting new faces and seeing the art work of lots of artists out there. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.

Sunflower, watercolor

Once registered class materials will be made available for download in PDF form.

Coming up soon will be a Student Gallery of work created in the workshops! Help me make a place to showcase what artists are doing in Botanical Painting

Hummingbird Inspiration

Another week and the hummingbirds are still here swooping in and out of the yard, stopping at the feeders then swooping off again.  There are still at least 6-7 of them between my 5 feeders.  Its hard to get a count because they move so fast.  No reason to know how many other than curiosity.  They move so fast, they are blur of green, especially when the sun catches a spark of reflection on the vivd green of a little back as it swoops through the rays.  Some would insist on getting the exact color and markings correct.  Maybe I should too, but that would defeat my purpose.  My goal is to catch a little of the magic as these mini whirling dervishes zip around my yard from feeder to feeder. Magic is what these little guys are all about.il next year and the excitement of watching for the arrival of the first spark of rapidly moving emerald green.

Hummingbird with Red Throat, oil on canvas

Magic must be what guides these jewels of the sky to find that one lone feeder for miles around. Once found, they stake it out and mark it as their own.  That must be magic too.  Otherwise more would show up until the feeder is empty more often than it is full. Who has time to constantly make up another batch of nectar and refill.  I do good to get mine refilled once or twice a week.  Right now, its about every other day. If it was like this all year, I’d never make it!  Soon these emerald flashes will be gone and I’ll be lamenting the sadness of the deserted feeders.

Everyone needs a little magic in their lives now and again. Streaking bits of emerald jewels in the sky can provide magic for a little while.  For me, the paintings are my way of capturing a bit of the colorful green flashes of fast moving magic before they gone for this year.  That time is fast approaching. I’m painting as many as possible while I can.  My camera is helping.  Then I’ll bring the feeders in, wash them well and put them back on the shelf in the garage where they will quietly collect dust.  Until next year and the excitement of watching for the arrival of the first spark of rapidly moving emerald green.

Colorful Fridays-Essentially Red

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Click the links for a look back at the main reds used by most artists, for a bit of history and a few tips.

Wallet Friendly Fire-engine Red

Expensive Wormy  Insect Red

The Invisible Color of Harmonious War

Incredible Inedible Yellow-reds

The Rosy Red Sisters

The Queen’s Red

The Future of Art …Is Science

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“Artists are in some sense neurologist, studying the brain with techniques unique to them.” Semir Zeki*

One writer sees the future of science as the incorporation of the arts into science. Jonathan Lehrer wrote an article titled, The Future of Science..is Art, detailing the many ways science and the process of discovery has come about through the study of artistic movements for insight. Lehrer believes science and scientific discovery will escalate when physics and neuroscience utilize the artistic process in research. By the same token, the arts have turned to science for insight and inspiration. Is it time for the arts to again turn toward the sciences?

One example Lehrer cites in his article is how, in the 1920’s, physicist Neil Bohr became fascinated with cubism. His fascination led to examinations of spatial relationships. From cubism, Bohr formed his thinking on the solidity of matter. Lehrer describes Bohr’s study of electrons and the spatial positioning of planets through the eyes of cubism. And Bohr is just one example in Lehrer’s article. It is well worth the read for a number of other examples of science utilizing art for discovery.

During the Renaissance, artists turned to science to develop spatial relationships like perspective. Di Vinci’s The Last Supper is a significant example of the use of perspective as a primary design tool within the picture plane. The progression of art movements since that time has moved in and out of the use of science in art creation. Many would argue the Abstract Movement veered totally from science but did it really? Doesn’t abstract art make use of the science of color?

As Today’s art moves into the next generation, it seems logical that the utilization of science within the practice of art making will lead to greater and greater discovery. Lehrer’s article outlines the many ways science can be helped by the arts. That same logic would also say the utilization of science in art will produce similar results. Science needs art. Art needs science. The future depends on art and science holding hands, walking together.

*Quote is from the article by Jonah Lehrer in The Future of Science… is Art, originally appearing in Fourth Culture and later in Seed Magazine

Colorful Fridays–Two Carl, Keep Calm Purple

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“But, luckily, he kept his wits and his purple crayon.” From Harold and the Purple Crayon (1955) (from Sensationalcolor.com)

If you want to know more about this deep rich clear purple, look to the artists. Only the artists have an appreciation for this purest purple. Dioxazine Purple is a mainstay for today’s flower and nature painting but is little known outside of artsy circles. Some users of printer’s ink may have a basic knowledge of Dioxazine Purple. But to find more about Dioxazine Purple, ask the artists who know.

Liz Powley of Inspired Gumnut has most of the background scoop on Dioxazine Purple. According to Powley, Dioxazine Purple is a derivative of coal tar and was discovered by two Carls, Graebe and Glaser, in 1872. Carbazole is the extracted chemical’s name used to create this luscious, velvety purple. (Maybe they should have called it Carl-bazole??). Most makers of artist’s paint have this purple listed as Dioxazine Purple except Daniel Smith. Daniel Smith’s lists Carbazole Violet as a purple with, “intense,vibrant color,” and it “can invent an iris petal with each stroke.”

Color Curriculum from the American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), features an article by Carolyn Payzant on the properties of Dioxazine Purple. Payzant describes Dioxazine Purple as, “one of the bluest shades of violet,”and says, “it mixes well with most any pigment.” Elizabeth Floyd, on her website, says Dioxazine Purple, “is a strong staining purple that can go a little crazy at times.” Floyd advises caution by starting with a small amount of paint on the brush as, “a little goes a long way.”

Fans of intense purples can be grateful to the Two Carls whose experimentation led to artistic abilities of reaching the highest of purple peaks. If the intensity and vibration of rich Dioxizine Purple becomes overwhelming, Zazzle.com offers a Dioxazine Purple mousepad with the admonishing words, “Keep Calm and Carry on.” If you find yourself overwhelmed by a wave of purple fury during an intense session of inventing iris petals, simply look down at your Dioxazine Purple mouse pad, take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on.

Here’s a demonstration of Dioxazine Purple by Liquitex:

Rat Party Messes

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“The day is coming where a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” Paul Cezanne (from The Painter’s Keys)

A look at another story on the sad state of the financial situations of art museums brings on more speculation as to how they have gotten into this position. Today’s story is on the Delaware Museum of Art’s potential sell off of a much-loved Winslow Homer work titled Milking Time. This news comes on top of the ongoing saga of the Detroit Institute of the Arts latest dilemma, as well as, the still unresolved downfall of the Corcoran Museum of Art and the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

 DelawareOnline.com has the story on the possible Homer sale. The Detroit Free Press is stating the last offer to turn over the DIA’s art to a group of non-profits has been nixed by the creditors and the unions of the city of Detroit. NPR has an article on the hold up of the Corcoran’s hand off to the National Gallery of Art/Smithsonian organization and George Washington University. None of these articles have said much encouraging about the individual situations, but it is the NPR article that may shed a little light on how this sorry state came to be.

 NPR quotes former Corcoran director David Levy as stating, “museums have to acquire more and more and more,” to stay in business. Further in the Levy quote is a reference to art students as, “scruffy kids wandering around downstairs.” Sounds like a costly fine buffet in the magnificent parlor is in progress, adding more and more scrumptious delicacies to keep the partiers happy, while the rats scurrying around in the basement are threatening to show themselves and spoil the party.   Why are we even having this party and who is responsible for encouraging the rat behavior? Maybe Mr. Levy has an answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorful Fridays–Basically Black

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“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the cat is going somewhere.”  Groucho Marx

Artists are divided on the use of black in painting.  Many artists prefer to mix black from complementary colors believing this mix to have more depth than actual black from a tube.  Some artists use no black at all.  Rembrandt used black heavily in all of his paintings.  Impressionists used very little.  The most common and widely used black is Ivory Black.  Ivory Black, in some form, has been available to artists for centuries.

The other name for Ivory Black is Bone Black.  Rembrandt referred to the black he used as Bone Black.  Both blacks are one and the same.  This black can also be known in some places as Char Black or Bone Char.  The obvious reason for the name of this black is the source.  It was originally made from burning animal bones to charcoal using the powder residual as pigment.  Early versions were made from the charcoal of ivory, thus the name Ivory Black.  Ivory Black has not been made from burning ivory since the nineteenth century.  The original Ivory Black was almost as expensive as the Ultramarine Blue made from Lapis Lazuli.

Gamblin’s website reports “Ivory Black is a good, all-purpose black,” but cautions that its use in a painting may cause the painting to look grey.  Gamblin also says Ivory Black has good transparency and mild tinting strength.  According to other sources, the use of black will create flatness in a painting.  Ivory Black or any black may not be a good choice where more fullness is wanted in a painting.

To use or not use black in a palette is a personal choice for artists.  The idea of painting anything out of animal bones may be a bit trying on the nerves.  All current sources for Ivory Black say animals used for Ivory Black have died of natural causes.  Maybe that helps!  Still for those wishing to use black without the burned bone thing may prefer to mix their own blacks.  Some say Pthalo green and Alizarin Crimson make a nice black.  As do Viridian and Alizarin.  And these mixes have a greater depth without the flatness of plain black.

Basic black comes in many forms. For depth, use the mixes.  For flat black, go with Ivory Black from the tube.    The choice depends on the artist.  But it is still basically better to stay out of the path of the black cat unless wishing to press your luck.

More Rembrandt, (because you can never have too much!):

note: painting image is a licensed free use image

Colorful Fridays–Blow Out Blue

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If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.”  Paul Gauguin (from Sensational Color)

Phthalo Blue is anything but a soft, peaceful calming blue.  Phthalo Blue will knock the socks off of any mix it comes in contact with.  Phthalo Blue is not for the feeble hearted.  Generally blues are thought to be the color of quietness for soothing the soul.  Or blues can also refer to sadness or depression as in “a case of the blues.”  Whoever coined that phrase clearly had never met the Phthalos.  The Phthalos are anything but soothing or depressing.

Phthalo Blue comes either with red undertones for a bluer blue or green undertones for a strong green.  Winsor Newton first introduced a Phthalo Blue in 1938 known as Winsor Blue to replace “the capricious less reliable Prussian Blue.”  Winsor Newton says Winsor Blue has good tinting properties but cautions to take care when using.  Winsor Blue and Phthalo Blue can quickly “overpower.”  Artist David Rourke says the Phthalo’s are “beautiful, lightfast and high in chroma.”  But he doesn’t use them because “they are too bloody strong.”  Artist Stapleton Kearns finds Phthalo’s “strength a drawback,” but says it also can be used to make “great greens.”

 Sensational Color says, “not all blues are serene and sedate.  Electric or brilliant blues become dynamic and dramatic—an engaging color that expresses exhilaration.”  Phthalo Blue is the in -your -face blue.  If you must make a statement but just can’t go red, Phthalo Blue can do the trick.  Phthalo Blue will muscle its way in and take over, squeezing out all others.  Most blues drift in wafting around in a whisper sliding carefully over the furniture.  Phthalo Blue charges in knocking down everything in the path.  Sometimes you just want to make a blow-out production that won’t be soon forgotten.  That’s the time to call in the Phthalo Blue.  But look out.  He may take over.