A Beautiful New Year

It is a beautiful new year here at Twin Spruce; cold and clear and full of the promise of spring as the days get ever so slightly longer each day.

Misty Morning Tundra Swan

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? I did. Paint more! Read more! Grow more food! Like everyone else I start off the new year with a great deal of enthusiasm for the year ahead and like (mostly) everyone else that enthusiasm starts to wane around February or so when winter stubbornly refuses to go away. And then March. And then April…Spring comes late up here and its easy to give up hope. But May eventually does come and this year I have so many reasons to stay enthused, because this summer looks to be an incredible one with our milk cow arriving, our vegetable production expanding, and my very first art show (details to come)! I can’t afford to slack off now or I wont be ready in time. I have paintings to paint, seeds to order, and a barn to plan and help build. So I guess I’ll just have to bundle up and get to it!

Misty Morning Tundra Swan (11×14 acrylic on canvas) is available to view or purchase at the Art Shop Gallery in Homer, Alaska, along with several of my other paintings and prints.

Busy Time of Year

So much going on here at Twin Spruce! Along with buttoning up the cabin and putting the garden to bed for the winter, the new studio is coming along nicely and I have been painting like crazy. We are headed down to Northern California to visit with family for the holidays, but when I get back I will update with photos of studio progress and several more new paintings. For now…

Bubble Feeding Humpback Whale

Have a whale of a good time this holiday season! And I will see you in the new year!

New Studio!

I am pretty excited! Looks like I will finally have a dedicated studio space instead of making due with the kitchen table, corners of bedrooms and living rooms, and even, this summer, a little cargo trailer parked in the driveway as a studio.

This is it!
The humble beginnings

We bought a 10 x20 shed and plopped it down next to the garden and will be remodeling it into a studio space where I can finally spread out and really get down to business making some art. With this much space I should have space not only to paint, but to do sculpture, fiber arts, and bookmaking, too- all things I enjoy getting creative with.

Right now, it’s like a blank canvas, and I can’t wait to see what it becomes. I look forward to updating our progress as we install windows, French doors, flooring, cabinets, etc, etc…

Atmosphere

Although my paintings are inspired by what I see around me, usually nature-inspired, sometimes the subject matter for my paintings is not specifically Alaska-related. This is an example of a piece with a more universal theme.

Atmosphere

This painting, titled Atmosphere, is a mixed media piece on a cradled wood panel. Lady Atmosphere is draped with clouds. The draping is actual fabric (coated in a clear acrylic varnish for protection) and highly textural. There are collage elements as well. Each of the spheres represent certain parts of our atmosphere: carbon (black), water molecules (blue), nitrogen (yellow), and sunshine (gold). You cant really tell from the photo (which is a little dark) but the sphere being held in Lady Atmosphere’s hand is shiny metallic gold.

Of course, you can feel free to interpret it any way you wish. That is one of the wonderful things about art. It speaks to each of us in a different way, according to our own senses and experiences.

I have the atmosphere on my mind lately because of all of the smoke from the many wildfires in Alaska right now, some of which are too close for comfort, though not close enough for our immediate concern. I’m hoping Lady Atmosphere will see fit to shed some rain upon us pretty soon. We sure could use it.

Atmosphere is 11×14, mixed media collage on cradled wood panel, and is available for sale for $300. Inquire via email at twinsprucestudio@gmail.com

Sandhill Crane Sunset

New painting to share.

I just can’t get enough of these amazing birds. They will be taking off by their hundreds and thousands, heading south soon in their raucous yearly migration. It’s quite a sight, but I hate to see it happen, not only because I love seeing them around, but because it means summer is at its end, and fall is here, with winter close on its heels.

The colts are just taking their first tentative flights, so I figure we have a few more weeks with these beauties yet, so I’m greedily drinking up all of the sightings I can. And then it’s only memories until next spring when they arrive en masse again.

The painting, Sandhill Crane Sunset, is 12×24 acrylic on canvas and is available for purchase. I haven’t decided yet if I will be making prints available for this title. If so I will post that info along with the picture info in the gallery.

Seal or Sea Lion?

One common question visitors or newcomers to Alaska often ask, when spotting marine mammals in coastal waters, is “Is that a seal or a sea lion?”

To answer that, I will describe them both for you and then give you some tips to tell the difference.

First, Seals:

Hello Harbor Seals 11×14 acrylic on cradled wood panel.

These are harbor seals, which are the seals you will most commonly see in the parts of Alaska most folks visit. They are grey-brown and speckled, with large eyes, and tend to hang out alone. You will most likely spot them just sort of hanging out in the water, peeking above the waterline, or moving quietly around, disappearing and re-appearing here and there. They are distinct from Sea Lions in that they have no ear flaps. If you see one out of the water (rare-they spend the majority of their time afloat) they move awkwardly, scooting and flopping along on their bellies because of their short front flippers and their hind flippers that point straight behind. For this reason they avoid going ashore and prefer to stay in the water where they can swim quite gracefully. Harbor seals average around 300 lbs at adulthood, with males slightly larger than females.

Next, Sea Lions:

Sea Lioness 11×14 acrylic on canvas

This is a female Steller Sea Lion (or lioness). Steller sea lions are golden brown in color, with darker brown points (extremities), and can often be seen actively swimming in the large, mixed age and sex social groups in which they live. They have long front flippers they use to propel themselves through the water and small ear flaps. Unlike seals, sea lions can often be spotted hauled out on rocky shorelines, docks, or navigational buoys. They move on land by rotating their hind flippers forward so that they scoot on all fours and can move fairly quickly on land. They can also be quite loud and rowdy, with males reaching up to 1200 pounds and growling or roaring their opinions to the much smaller (around 500 lbs) but equally vocal females.

In my paintings, I have tried to convey the very different impressions one gets of these two often confused marine mammals. I’ve painted calm, soothing icy water gently surrounding the floating seals, and a sea lioness actively hunting as she dives in pursuit of her prey, while turbulent water swirls around her.

I hope this helps you to spot the differences and be able to identify two of Alaska’s beautiful and charismatic marine mammals.

Both paintings are available for purchase. Details in the Gallery.

The Living Tundra

I just added three new paintings to the Gallery. These are a continuation of the Living Tundra series that began with this larger (16×20) piece:

The Living Tundra

The three new additions are a series of smaller (8×10) portraits of individual caribou across the seasons:

Twilight Tundra
Winter Comes Early
Autumn Trek

Caribou never fail to inspire me and I’ve enjoyed painting these three guys with their varied settings. All three are lightly textured and painted on heavy 1.5 inch profile gallery wrapped canvas and are now up for sale in the gallery. I hope you enjoy them.