Saturday, November 5, 2016

Understanding my techniques-

Recently, I found much interest after my presentation of just HOW I paint my Puma portraits.  Of course, to me it is just 'the way I create' & never stop to think others would like to understand how it all comes about.
Let me begin by sharing that I draw, sculpt, and paint in oils as well as pastels.  And what are pastels?

What are pastels?

Pastels are made from the same pigments used for oil paints.  Pastel is not colored chalk, nor does it refer to pale colors.

Pastel comes from the French word pastische, meaning paste. The pure, powdered pigment is ground into a paste with a small amount of binder and then  formed into sticks. These can then be rubbed and blended onto archivally abrasive ground, embedding the infinite range of colors into the “tooth” of the surface to create paintings. 

Because the pigments have a lasting brilliance, pastel is as close as an artist can come to painting with pure color.  There is no cracking or discoloring with age as oil paintings & their varnishes do.

Pastels originated in the 16th century and became really popular in the 18th century. Famous artists (Degas, Delacroix, Millet, Monet, Renoir, Toulouse Lautrec and Whistler) all used pastels and these paintings are still around today and look the same as the day they were painted.  Amazingly, pastel paintings in the Academy of Fine Arts on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy (dating back to 1703), are as vibrant & fresh today as when they were painted.  Despite the heat, humidity, and lack of air conditioning, the pastel paintings are in perfect condition & have never needed restoration.

In 1983, Sotheby Parke Bernet sold at auction two Degas pastel paintings for more than $3,000,000 each.  Both Pastels were painted about 1880.

When properly cared for, pastel is is among the most permanent of all painting media.  Pastel retains its' vibrance over centuries if it is properly framed behind glass and kept out of damp areas & direct sunlight/heat.  Glass protects the painting from smudging and it will safely last as fresh as the day it was painted for many generations.

So, that is your introduction to understanding pastels!

Now, why do I use them for my animal portraits?  
Because, to portray  the depth of fur realistically, we only need think of the many colors we see when delving into the full thickness of an animals' coat.  I truthfully cannot explain how I know how to capture that depth, -but I do know (did you) that there is always green in blond hair! 

Ask me any further questions at  As time allows, I will certainly be happy to share any other details with you to add to your new understanding!  I find that I am still
learning as I go, too.... 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Surprise Recognition!

(Taken at the first annual P-22 Day in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA) 10/22/2016
I needed a break after painting multiple mountain lions (pumas), so I felt my oils in my studio calling to me -and surprised the shy wildlife biologist, Jeff Sikich, with this portrait in honor of his tireless work tracking our local mountain lions.  Check him out online at:

Our P-22/Urban Wildlife Week was overflowing with wildlife supporters!  National Wildlife Foundation's CA Director, Beth Pratt, hiked the 47 mile route the awesome mountain lion, P-22, must have taken in order to make Griffith Park his new home.  He is safe there, but it is amazing that he traversed so many developments, residential communities, and crossed two busy freeways to get there from the Santa Monica Mountain range, where he was born.

Jeff Sikich has monitored P-22 in this new location & caught him near death due to the one threat facing him now on a daily basis: ingesting rat poison used by the surrounding homes.  Administering an antidote saved our now-famous P-22!  (I have also portrayed P-22 at that time.  To see his condition is heartbreaking.)  Thank you, Jeff!

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