Archive for the ‘Painting’ Category

Bathtime, Anyone?

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

For the first time, Steve has become uninhibited at bathtime!  Every week I spray him with warm water, and he clearly has enjoyed it, but he has never acted like a normal enthusiastic bather – until today!  Sam inspired him when Sam began a boisterous bath in his water dish.  This is the first time he’s opened up his wings so that I can spray his sores, which are thankfully small.  Hoorah!

Here are the results – and this was after 3 sprayings and he was still enthusiastic, wanting more!

YouTube Preview Image

By the way, since I last posted, I’ve been giving him once or twice a day a small dose of Metacam, which is an avian version of Advil, for his wing sore pain.  It seems to be making a big difference in helping to increase his play time and curiosity about new items in his cage.  He has even begun spending lots of time on his lowest perch to chew on foot toys and interesting chewables I’ve left down there.  More often than not when I return home, he is still “downstairs” near his play toys.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Pippin, My Wonder Lovebird

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Look closely, and you will see Pippin peeking out from under a curtain of raffia.  She is ready to pounce as a prelude to playing “attack the T shirt” game.  I throw a small part of an old T shirt over her and she has huge fun finding her way out from under the shirt.  She cheeps, she “giggles” in her lovebirdy way, she emerges and wants more!

Lovebirds are very misunderstood, especially when they bite.  They are so small that someone unfamiliar with the breed would think they would be always be cuddly.  They are cuteness personified, but they are so full of life and energy that they can appear to be quite aggressive at times.  When Pippin is fully engaged and ready for action, her body quivers with energy and anticipation.  And as small as they are, lovebird bites are more painful than a cockatiel’s!

Their metabolism is set on high all the time, and they require food constantly at hand in order to replenish reserves.

Though they come in small packages, they are every bit as smart as a larger parrot and need just as much stimulation and interaction.  They are easily bored and need things to do.  They are bursting with life and want to share it with you!

Lovebirds are territorial, as most parrots are.  They like their spaces and, unless a game is in session, they consider anything else an invitation for target practice – which can be intentionally aimed to give warning.  Or, they may lunge and try to bite, simply because they want to play and are irritated that you aren’t getting the idea, and they don’t have any other way of making their needs known when their humans are being really dense.

Amongst all of my birds, including Sam, the Jardine’s parrot, she has the most intelligence.

Because of lovebirds’ keen intelligence, they are extremely curious and fearless in exploration of their surroundings.  This is a good thing but it can also be fatal, especially in a house with multiple birds of larger size.  I nearly lost Pippin a couple years ago when, during a few seconds’ lapse of my attention, she flew over to Sam’s cage to say hello.  Sam was startled and lunged, out of instinct, and took away half of Pippin’s upper beak.  She bled profusely.   I drove as fast as I could to my avian vet 15 miles away, with one hand applying pressure to her beak and the other on the steering wheel, flying along country roads like a bat out of hell.  Even so, Pippin assured me during the ride that she was OK and appreciated my help by giving me one of her cheerful cheeps during the drive.

Pippin was very fortunate.   Her beak has grown back almost to the point of forming a new tip (not all such injuries have happy endings).  It has required regular trips to my avian vet to keep the bottom beak trimmed to allow the top beak to curve over it.   I also paid for my lapse in the terrible feelings of guilt I had for quite a long time.   (Even now, thinking of the accident, I shudder inside.)

It took me this long even to write about the experience!  So perhaps my experience can provide a cautionary tale to anyone who has small birds living with larger ones.   Needless to say, I learned my lesson and watch my flock with “hawk eyes.”

By the way,  lovebirds rarely talk.  I’ve never heard of female lovebirds being able to talk.  But Pippin, my wonder lovebird hen, does.  She can say – in a very fast, high-pitched voice –  “Whatcha doing, Pippin?” and “You be!”  (shorthand for “You be good!”).  She also says, “Chipper!” when she’s insecure, and “Chipper-choo!” when she’s really pleased and excited about something.  She’s such a love.

Back Into the Blogosphere

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

After a long absence, I plan to post regularly again.  It’s been a difficult few months. Chronic pain from an old injury is no fun!  I’m glad to say that I’ve made great progress in these past months and have hope that I will continue to grow stronger and be able to ward off the worst pain.

Over the months, I’ve had time to think about life, about art, about my passions, and what I still want to accomplish in my life.  Although it has been 13 years since I’ve been in remission from breast cancer (after 10 years, one is considered “cured”), I never stop feeling the press of time, especially as I age.

Sunrise over the Rogue Valley

As much as I love to paint and still feel the urge to do so, I’m going to continue my sabbatical from art for the present.  My other passion is family history and genealogy – and of course, my parrots.  Both of these particular passions are currently receiving all of my attention right now.

My favorite uncle Hank Domagalski, a World War II bomber pilot in the Pacific theater,  used to be the family memory keeper.  He was the only one who made 8 mm films and interviews of family members and events.  When he passed away a few years ago,  these materials came to me and I’m slowly gathering material to self-publish a number of books about my family lines.   If you are interested, you can read a short article I wrote about my father’s family at this link (my article is on pages 6 and 7 of the pdf here).   This type of research takes quite a lot of time and thought, and it is something I feel I must do as a legacy to my family.

My parrots and my house rabbit are doing just great.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing for the addition of one more rescue parrot into my family, and I’ll be posting more about that later.   This photo shows my rabbit Bun Rab checking out the carrier in which I’ll be transporting my new charge by airplane.  I’m very excited!

So that’s my news for now.

New Artistic Talent

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Here she is!  My niece Sidney – new talent has now burst onto the art scene.  She paints with bold colors and has an excellent sense of composition.  And a terrific smile.

I especially like the tree waving to everybody.

What else have you got, Sidney?

Making a Mark Blog

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

aunt peggyWhile I was away, visiting family, I learned that my painting “Aunt Peggy’s Sunroom” had been nominated for

Making A Mark Awards 2009: Nominations for the best picture (still life)

on Making a Mark Blog.  That was a lovely Christmas gift, and I’m grateful to my friend Nat Wildish for the nomination.

All of the nominated paintings are really great!  You can also see at this blog the other competitions taking place and the wonderful art being showcased.

Painting in Gouache, Part 2

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I was showing the progression of my last painting “The Meeting of Curious Minds” in  my last post, in an attempt to show how gouache can be used.

I finished adding a darker undercoat of brown to the trunk of the madrone tree.  I also finished the hummingbird.  I did not want to delay doing so, because I needed to see how the small bird fit in with the trunk and foliage before continuing further.  As for the leaves, I did reserve the lighter color of the paper underneath, as in this case it would have been a lot of work and a waste of paint to have to paint over the darker area.

owl more trunk

Here is a close-up of the juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird:


The next step was to work on the leaves of the poison oak.  Then the fun part began when I smeared big blobs of white paint with a stiff bristled flat brush onto the trunk to provide the undercoat of the bark that covers the lower regions of the madrone tree.  Some daubs were thicker or thinner, to simulate the variety of shades one encounters normally in nature.

owl white daubs

The rest was then take up with further refining the look of the bark, to make it more realistic, using shades of black to gray and some browns.  I spent quite a lot of time working and reworking the leaves, to get a balance between recognizable and super realistic.  To have done too much would have detracted from the rest of the painting.

And then the final.  I really enjoyed working on this piece, and I really love how gouache enables me to do many things that would take much longer in pure watercolor, and/or be extremely difficult to do.

owl finished

Painting in Gouache, Part 1

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Finished painting

Finished painting

Gouache is not as common a medium for fine art now as it should be, in my opinion!  Gouache is mostly used in the present time by illustrators  and designers because the colors are brilliant, they dry fast, and they are opaque like oils.  Unlike watercolors which require working from light to dark and reserving the white of the paper for lighter areas, you can work from dark to light with gouache.

It is an old medium.  It was used in the 14th century (and probably earlier) and known also as “bodycolor.”  Wikipedia states:  “Gouache differs from watercolor in that the particles are larger, the ratio of pigment to water is much higher, and an additional, inert, white pigment such as chalk is also present. Like all watermedia, it is diluted with water. (Gum Arabic is also present as a binding agent, just as in watercolor.) This makes gouache heavier and more opaque, with greater reflective qualities.”

Some artists of note who have used it often:  Albrecht Durer, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony Van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, Edgar Degas, and others.   I’d say that was good company!

As a matter of interest, I thought I’d include some photos of the progression of my last painting “Meeting of Curious Minds,” which is mostly gouache, with some watercolor.

I used a multiple-ply acid-free cotton rag illustration board for the paper support.  While you could use watercolor paper with gouache if you used thin washes, most of the time you must use a stiff inflexible support for gouache, as the thicker parts of gouache painting will crack if the support is bent.

After sketching the basic lines of the piece, I painted an undercoat for the tree, the hollow,  and the owl to give me some basic tonal values to work with.  It all looks rather ghostly so far.


I next worked further on the owl, adding more darker areas over which I would use white gouache later on.  The beauty of gouache is that you can paint dark colors as an undercoat and, depending on how transparent you make your gouache strokes, you can allow that undercoat of fur or feathers to show, as they often do in nature.  I figure that if I mess up here, it’s not worth continuing.  So I always tend to do the hardest parts first so that if I do make irreversible mistakes, I don’t waste too much time!


In the photo below, I’ve finished the owl, adding pure white feathery strokes of a fairly well-loaded brush.  I’ve worked on the aged, non-growing wood of the madrone nesting hole, and also darkened the interior of the hole so that the owl is seen in better contrast.  Now I must work on the rest of the trunk.


I see that in order to bring out the contrast between the rich hues of the tree trunk and the craggier, lighter bark that lives on top of the smoother trunk underneath, I have to make the background much darker than I have so far.  So out comes a darker brown, as well as the first greens of the poison oak that has insinuated itself onto the tree.  The hummingbird also begins to appear.


To be continued…

The Meeting of Curious Minds

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Meeting of Curious Minds-websiteI finally finished this painting – whew!  The tree is one of my favorites:  a Pacific Madrone with a hollow.

And the owl is a Barn Owl.  Have you noticed that I like Barn Owls?  I think they are my favorite owl.  That’s a juvenile ruby-throated humminbird who is checking out the owl.

What I used:  watercolor and gouache.  The gouache was especially helpful in enabling me to create the tree bark and add essential highights to the owl’s wispy facial features.

That green stuff, by the way, is poison oak!  It often climbs up madrone bark.

New Project in Progress

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

owlNever fear!  I am still painting.  I’ve had some setbacks, what with traveling to New Mexico for my sister’s surgery, dealing with some health issues (nothing serious but enough to slow me down), and life in general.

Now I’m getting back on track.  This fellow is a detail of a larger painting I’m currently working on, using watercolor and gouache.  I have a title in mind, but it won’t make sense till you see the entire painting.  I wonder what Mr. Owl is looking at??….

Stay tuned!

A Bird-y Saturday

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

SamGarbageFirst order of the day was to clean cages!  Sam is in a nesting mode, so he snuck into the trash where I stash the old cage papers.  He did not want to leave….argh!  But a little tidbit helped change his mind.

Then I took Chipper to the vet to have his check and to have my avian vet check this weird feather he was growing.  Chipper has been molting heavily – as has everybody else except Sam – and it’s taken a long time for him to grow a new set of feathers.  He’s been lethargic and grumpy.

One of his primary feathers was starting to grow weird and then it became painful for Chipper.  He’d wince or squeak when he stretched.

So the doc just pulled it out.

Here is what it looked like – a spiral feather with a really heavy, thick shaft. The doc felt the strange growth occurred when it was growing out and probably got injured.

Chipper feels much better since it was pulled!

FeatherAnd then there was the matter of the TURKEYS…

Chipper and Charlie often sit, play, sing, chew boxes on top of their cages, a side of which faces the front door.   Whenever I’m home on mild or warm days, I open the inner door and just use the screen door in order to provide more light for the birds.

Of course, they also see whenever the deer traipse through the front yard, or if the neighbor’s calico cat stalks through.  These sightings are ho-hum for them.

On this day, however, they saw — EEEK!  These monstrously large VELOCIRAPTORS!  (Or otherwise know as wild turkeys.)  At least, to the cockatiels, they looked pretty bit and very scary…

turkey1Mass cockatiel hysteria ensued and I had to collect my two witless birds from various locations of the livingroom before they hurt themselves.

Well, all in a day’s work…