Animal Rhythm

One of the things that makes me a little crazy is animal artists who present their subject in an awkward and sometimes even ugly pose. There seem to be a number of reasons for this, among them lack of drawing skill, not knowing the anatomy of the species,  getting too caught up in copying a photograph or simply not seeing the inherent grace and rhythm of living things. Just because it “looked that way in the photograph” is NO excuse. Be intentional. Don’t be lazy and settle for what’s in front of you. Now is the time to pull out the old National Geographic or hit Google Images. Not to use someone else’s images, but to fill in the information that is missing in your reference.

It is a matter of training your eye to evaluate what’s in front of you. Someone once said that drawing is seeing. Exactly right. As an example, here are two images of a cougar. Which pose do you think has the better rhythm?

andy1andy2The only real difference is the position of the head, but the 3/4 view really changes the flow of the top line and actually stops the sense of movement.

Here’s one of two horses I photographed in Mongolia last year. If you saw them separately as paintings on a wall, which one would draw your eye and pull you over to it?


My own eye has been influenced by looking at the work of Alphonse Mucha, the great Art Nouveau graphic artist. Notice how the hair is designed in deliberate, rhythmic shapes.

Think about how that might apply to a horse’s tail or a lion’s mane. It could save you a lot of time, and end with a far more interesting result, by seeing and painting hair and fur as larger shapes instead of individual strands. Fur rendered in excruciating hair by hair detail is definitely another of my pet peeves. There is a better way. Really.


Finally, here are some quick drawings (2 minutes or so) that I did this morning. Notice that I didn’t worry about the spots on the cheetah or the pattern of markings on the giraffe. All I wanted was to catch the gesture and rhythm of the pose. These quick sketches are also a way to find out if a pose “draws well”. Something that looks fine it a photo can look really weird in a drawing. Odd, but true. Why notice it when you’re halfway through painting all those spots?





“The true artist does not paint to please the public – but he holds the interest of all who think,  for a work of art expresses the mind of its workman. In it are clearly reflected his vices and his weaknesses, as well as his virtues. He may deceive men, perhaps, but not inspiration, which will not be duped by hypocrisy.”

William Wendt (1865-1946) (as recently quoted in the California Art Club newsletter)

Why GOING THERE Makes all the Difference – Thank You, Simon

Four years ago today, internationally known wildlife artist Simon Combes was killed by a cape buffalo while walking with his wife on a mountain called Delemere’s Nose, which is part of the Delemere estate in Kenya where they lived. Just two months earlier, I and nine other incredibly fortunate wildlife artists were on the safari of a lifetime with him. Looking at dates on my images, I see that we had gotten up the morning of October 12 at the Kigio Wildlife Sanctuary and spent most of the day driving south to the Masai Mara. When we stopped for lunch in the Masai group ranch north of the reserve proper, we saw our first Mara wildlife, a male topi on top of a mound. Then, in rapid succession it was wildebeest, gazelle, hippos, a huge male giraffe right inside the entrance to the Reserve and then…lions!

My tribute page and the photos that I took of him during the safari are here. But what I want to share today is what it means as an artist to be able to travel to a place like Kenya with someone like Simon, who knew the ground and the animals and who always seemed to get us to the right place at the right time. I had realized very quickly on my first trip there in 1999 that it was  pointless to paint animals like cheetahs and lions without having seen them in their habitat. There’s really no way to get it right and those who have been there know the difference instantly. Trust me on this. So out of the 5,218 photos I shot in 2004, here are a few that I hope will illustrate this point, followed by some of the paintings that have resulted from the trip. If you want more, the whole safari is here. on my website.

Samburu encounter
Samburu encounter

Emotion and point of view play a major role in the creation of great wildlife art. How could the two women in the front vehicle not remember  and “channel” this encounter if they paint an elephant? We’ll all remember this morning in the Samburu going from cool to warm, the beautiful light and this bull elephant who made it abundantly clear that it was time for us to move along.

Impala and baboons
Impala and baboons

Artists get asked all the time where we get the ideas for our paintings. Well, here’s one I probably wouldn’t have thought of if I hadn’t seen it. Baboons and impala breakfasting together at Lake Nakuru. Part of the problem with zoos  and game parks is that the animals are out of context. You never see the natural groupings or interactions. Or if there are different species together, you have no idea how that would play out in the wild. To me, this kind of reference is gold. I can paint this African “Beauty and the Beast” scene because I saw it, photographed it, know it happened.

Young mara lions
Young mara lions

There really is something about lions. They define “presence”, even when they are still kids, like these two. Great afternoon light and you hardly notice that his face is covered with flies. For contrast, here’s a zoo lion. He’s gorgeous, with a huge mane and perfect whiskers. Dead giveaway, along with the flat light and lack of body condition. This lion don’t hunt. Which would you rather paint?

Zoo lion
Zoo lion

We went out on an evening game drive in the Samburu and as the sun was going down, it seemed to be really important to Simon to get to a particular place. We were literally along for the ride, so just waited to see what was up. Oh, yeah, this is very, very nice. It’ll do. Thank you, Simon.

Samburu sunset
Samburu sunset

Here’s a selection of the paintings that have come out of the safari so far.

Ground Hornbill
Ground Hornbill oil 18"x 24" (price on request)

Reference shot in the Mara. Simon did some interesting jogs with the vehicle to get alongside this big bird, who just wanted to walk away .

Samburu Morning
Samburu Morning oil 18"x 24" (price on request)

I loved the northern Kenya landscape with the huge, storybook doum palms.

Interrupted Nap (Spotted hyena)
Interrupted Nap (Spotted hyena) Private Collection

Reference shot in the Mara. There was a cub, too, but that’s a painting for another day.This one was snapped up by a collector who also loves vultures and gets first crack at any I do.

Thompson's Gazelle
Thompson's Gazelle oil 16" x 12" (price on request)

John Seerey-Lester was kind enough to choose this painting for inclusion in the 2008 Art and the Animal Kingdom show at the Bennington Center for the Arts.

That's Close Enough
That's Close Enough oil 12" x 9" (price on request)

Cropped in from a large herd of buffalo at Lake Nakuru. Nobody was getting anywhere near that calf. No way, no how.

Morning Break
Morning Break oil 12"x 24" (price on request)

Reference photographed in the Mara, where we got an eyeful of cheetah every day we were there. This painting was juried into the 2008 Animal Art show at the Mendocino Art Center here in California. I’ve got to be in the right mood to paint all those spots, but I do love cheetahs!


“A few days later I looked up from my work to see a new elephant, one that I had not seen before, standing quietly only yards from my easel. He had crossed the river to my side on the outer curve of the ox bow and wanted to pass through the narrow neck where I was working. To do so he would have to pass within five yards of me or go back the long way around. I held my breath as he shifted silently from foot to foot, carefully weighing the situation. Finally, he moved forward and past me, watching intently as I stood motionless. Such rare incidents of trust between man and wild animals give me a great thrill.”

Simon Combes, from An African Experience

New Paintings and My (Current) Favorite Studio Music


I tend to start a number of paintings in succession and then finish them in batches. Is it that way for any of you? Or do you have a more even work flow? How do you decide what to do next?

Here’s a new one from reference that I shot in Kenya in 2004. It was after the conclusion of the Simon Combes safari and I had flown back down to the Mara for a few days at Rekero Camp, which is on the Talek River. Fabulous camp, great staff, wonderful food, terrific drivers. I’d love to go there again. It’s apparently one of the places the Big Cat Diary people stay when they are filming and I can see why. It’s a tented camp right in the bush. Buffalo wander through and you can hear the hippos grunting and roaring at night since the tents are mostly right above the river. A real storybook African place.

A couple from Ireland were kind enough to invite me along on their game drives. My first morning with them we saw a serval walking down the road as the sun came up. I loved the color of the first light of the day hitting his or her coat, but most of the shots weren’t particularly paintable. We were so close that my point of view was from above ( I know, I know- boo hoo) or the gesture was awkward, etc. But…..I got some great reference at the Denver Zoo this last May. Nothing special in the Light Department, but wonderful eye-level alert poses. So I put the two together and came up with this. I kept the grass loose and impressionistic so that the focus would be on the cat, who is Up At Dawn.

Up At Dawn  oil  16"x 8"
Up At Dawn oil 16"x 8" (price on request)

I’ve also just finished my first in a planned series of paintings of Mongolian horses, the ones the Mongolians ride, not the takhi. I got a lot really good shots in great light, but picked this one to start with because I loved the color of his coat.

Chestnut Stallion, Arburd Sands   oil  11" x14"
Mongolian Horses: Chestnut Stallion, Arburd Sands oil 11" x14" (price on request)

I’m going to be in a group show with a flower theme at my gallery, starting next week. It’s not something I’ve done a lot of, well, any, but I have some great hummingbird reference that I shot right outside my studio windows so….for something completely different…

Hummin' Along in the Leopard Lilies   oil  12"x 9" (price on request)
Hummin' Along in the Leopard Lilies oil 12"x 9" (price on request)

I went back to an Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts inspiration from my previous incarnation as an illustrator and used a decorative approach. Flatter light with a plain background. It was fun and I’ll probably do more flower subjects in the future. This one sure got me using my reds more than usual. The bird is a male Rufous hummingbird, just another little rottweiler in a bird costume. Thank goodness they aren’t the size of ravens or none us would be able to go outdoors when they’re around.


What do you listen to when you’re working? I can’t write this blog with music going, but otherwise I always have something on. I’ve acquired a taste for celtic-inspired world music and really like listening to Kila, Peatbog Fairies and Shooglenifty (No, really.). When I want to up the energy level, it’s time for some Afro Celt Sound System. I’ve been know to listen to Baka Beyond and Kenyan benga music  when working on African subjects and Mongolian music when I’m…. you get the idea. Favorite rock includes anything by John Mayer, Mark Knopfler and Sting. Also still Stuck in the Sixties with Quicksilver Messenger Service (love, love, love John Cippolina, my guitar hero), Jefferson Airplane and of course The Beatles and Rolling Stones. When I come into the studio in  the morning and need to ease in slowly, it’s Enya, Clannad or Nightnoise.


If anyone, in the beginning of study, will set himself to study the various compositional forms, then experiment and practice with the variations of them, he will find that his instinctive taste is developed; and subjects will in time lend themselves easily to his feeling for unity, and soon he may be able to forget all about them.

It must never be forgotten and let this be most strongly emphasized – that the dominant aim of the student should be to train and equip himself to the point where he can judge unity and all of its contributing factors by “feeling”.

Edgar Payne

Mongolia Monday- Using My Takhi Reference for Paintings and Limited Edition Giclees

Since, judging from the stats, the subject seemed to be very popular, I thought I would continue today with more on the takhi, specifically how I take the reference I shoot and turn it into a painting. More and more I start with drawings to become familiar with a new species or figure out things about one I’ve painted before.

Here are three drawings from last year, the first two of which were published in the Society of Animal Artists newsletter.

Takhi scratching leg; charcoal pencil on cold-ply bristol paper
Takhi scratching leg; charcoal pencil on cold-ply bristol paper
Takhi mare and foal; charcoal pencil on cold-press bristol paper
Takhi mare and foal; charcoal pencil on cold-press bristol paper

Now I’ll show you how I take an animal from one time and place and put her in a setting from another time and place, a challenge that every wildlife artist needs to meet successfully.  Here’s the setting:

Main takhi water source; Hustai National Park, Sept. 2006
Main takhi water source; Hustai National Park, Sept. 2006

What a treat! We came around the bend in the dirt track early in the morning and there, right in front of us were two harems at the same time, sorting out who gets to go first.

Watering place close-up; Hustai National Park, Sept. 2006
Watering place close-up; Hustai National Park, Sept. 2006

I always try for a variety of  shots; close-ups and the “big picture” for context. I used to come home with great close shots of something like a tree and found that I’d completely forgotten to get the surroundings, which really cut down on my options. Notice that the above photo is kinda fuzzy. But it’s still useable for reference.

Now here is the horse reference. Different part of the park, different year, different season. I’ve included two as an example of what to look for when evaluating images. These are similar, but the second, to me, is clearly superior. I love the rhythm of her gesture.

Takhi mare; Hustai National Park, May 2005
Takhi mare; Hustai National Park, May 2005
Takhi mare 2; Hustai National Park, May 2005
Takhi mare 2; Hustai National Park, May 2005

So next I did a drawing to capture that.

Takhi mare walking; charcoal pencil on cold-press bristol
Takhi mare walking; charcoal pencil on cold-press bristol paper

And, putting them together, here is the finished painting, completed in 2007. What I hope is that you can’t tell that I “stitched” together the reference from two sources.

Morning Drink   oil   12"x16" (price on request)
Morning Drink oil 12x 16" (price on request)

I also wanted to let you know that two of my takhi images are available as limited edition giclees, framed or unframed. The full information is on my website. Click on “Limited edition giclees” under Fox Studio in the column on the right and it will take you directly to my giclee page.

Takhi Foal; giclee on archival paper
Takhi Foal; giclee on archival paper

I saw this foal on the same trip as the mare in the painting above. He or she was quite a character.

Mongolia Morning; giclee on archival paper
Mongolia Morning; giclee on archival paper

I posted this last week, as the original painting is still available, but have also published it as a giclee. It’s another example of how I took the mare and foal, who were against a grassy hillside and moved them to a ridge that has Hustai’s famous mountain as the background. The third horse was added as a design element.

All my giclees are available for holiday delivery.


Let this be plain to all: design, or as it is called by another name, drawing, constitutes the fountain-head and substance of painting and sculpture and architecture and every other kind of painting, and is the root of all sciences. Let him who has attained the possession of this be assured that he possesses a great treasure…:

Michaelangelo (who ought to know)

Available Next Week on EBay- Small, Affordable, Original Oil Paintings!

Like many artists, I’m trying to figure out what my sales options are given the current economic climate. I’m also interested in seeing if I can sell art directly on the internet. And, a few months ago, I was showing some friends some of the small studies I do to work on various aspects of painting and one encouraged me to try selling them. Taking this all together, I have decided to offer a “new line” of small oils that I am calling “Studio Studies”, because, well, that’s what they are.

As anyone who paints most days a week knows, they do stack up after awhile and I have a few dozen that I’ve decided I’m willing to find new homes for.

I plan to start offering them a few at a time on EBay, starting next week. Here’s a small preview, starting with one that I photographed in progress, so it’s a short step-by-step demo of how I do these mostly 6″x8″ studies that usually take less than two hours. The idea is to quickly capture a light effect, so detail isn’t relevant. This should look familiar to anyone who has taken Scott Christensen’s Ten Day Plein Air Intensive, because that’s who I learned this approach from and I really like it.

STEP-BY-STEP 8″X 6″ STUDY (from last Friday’s post)-

An image I shot up on Dunraven Pass in Yellowstone National Park at first light. What I was working on the was the color temperature shifts from shadow to light.

Photo reference
Photo reference
Initial lay-in
Initial lay-in
Starting with darkest darks
Starting with darkest darks and basic shapes
Adding light and medium tones
Adding light and medium tones; notice brushwork to create trees
Dawn on Dunraven Pass; 8"x 6"
Dawn on Dunraven Pass; 8"x 6"

Here’s a couple more. First a demo that I did in about an hour at the Marin Art Festival of a small kangaroo which I photographed at a zoo.

Little Kangaroo- 8"x10"
Little Kangaroo- 8"x10"

And a landscape a few minutes from our house looking east from Clam Beach to the bluff. It was summer and the foxgloves were blooming. They’re not a native, but they look like they belong here in Humboldt County.

Clam Beach Bluff; 6"x8"
Clam Beach Bluff; 6"x8"

Finally, since I strongly believe that artists should help and support each other, here, from Alison Stanfield, who runs ArtBizCoach, is some solid advice on “Community”. Thanks, Alison! (Hope it’s readable. Let me know if it’s not.)



The artistic mind is one that takes years to develop. Painting never gets easier. Struggle is not something that one goes looking for. It will find you. Just give it time.

Scott Christensen, The Nature of Light

Seeing the Light

I’ve spent a good chunk of this last week or so working on the “light thing”, which, when you get right down to it, is what representational painters are painting. Or, in other words, the effect of light on an object, whether is be a tree, a barn or an apple in a still life. Besides a lack of good drawing skills, failure to accurately perceive, understand and represent light is one of the things one consistently sees in poor or mediocre paintings. Everything tends to be in local color (the “native” color of the object) and the shadows are too dark and lack life. This tends to come from painting from photographs.

Dawn on Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone NP
Dawn on Dunraven Pass, Yellowstone NP

Capturing the light is one of the major, almost addictive challenges of plein air painting. A given quality of light lasts about two hours at most, sometimes two minutes. It’s an opportunity to experience frustration and exhilaration almost simultaneously. Plein air painting also addresses the problem mentioned above about shadows. When you are in front of the scene, you see how much wonderful color and variation are in shadows that a camera doesn’t pick up, not even the digital ones, although they are much better than film was.

Another important point is that a given hue, value and temperature of a color exists only in relation to the colors around it. No color is dark and cool in and of itself. Not even black (if you mix your own, which you should) or white. It’s always a matter of “warmer than” or “lighter than”. How far one pushes the contrast between color value and temperature is a personal choice the artist makes in order to accurately express their vision and emotional response to their subject.

Along Goodall's Cutoff, Idaho
Along Goodall's Cutoff, Idaho

As primarily an animal artist, I found early on that when I wanted to put an animal in their habitat, I also became, ta da, a landscape artist. And that has proved to be much more difficult for me to get a handle on. I’ve taken at least as many, if not more, landscape painting workshops as wildlife ones.

I’ve done seven small landscape studies over the last few days, mostly just 6″x8″, working on two problems: that classic daybreak and afternoon glow and the wonderful effect of light on trees with dark clouds behind. The small size takes less time and lets me focus on the problem I’m trying to solve.

It’s a juggling act. What order to put the colors down, what values and what temperatures those colors should be. And I still try to do a decent composition and pay attention to the drawing.

Cottonwoods, late afternoon; Dubois, Wyoming
Cottonwoods, late afternoon; Dubois, Wyoming

The above paintings took around two hours each and were done on canvas panels with a round brush.

Oh, and I have integrated the Permanent Green Light and Manganese Hue into my palette. Haven’t quite found out what I’ll use the Permanent Magenta for yet.

More Mongolian poetry on Monday!


Nature is what you see and what you think about it. Artists change our thoughts about nature, and so, in sense, change nature. A masterpiece does not look like nature, because it is a work of art. The language you want to speak is art, so study art from the masters.

John Sloan

New Painting, New Brushes, New Paint Colors!

One among many of the great things about our visit to Arburd Sands ger camp in Mongolia was the herd of domestic bactrian camels that lived at the camp. They tended to wander off during the day, but were around in the mornings and late afternoons when the light was at its best (how did they know?) I had fun sketching them and here is my first painting of one.

Bactrian Camel, Arburd Sands, Mongolia
Bactrian Camel, Arburd Sands, Mongolia

I really enjoyed trying to get the feel of the wooly coat and painting the pattern of light and shadow.

I’m always looking for ways to live more sustainably and responsibly. More and more it involves conscious choices, which means remembering to think about what one is buying or whether or not to buy at all. There is no way to live on the planet without using resources and, currently, the deck is stacked in favor of certain ways of doing things. But it’s been changing and I’ll bet the rate of change is going to increase Real Soon Now.

And, as anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows, I’m very interested in animal welfare issues.

With that in mind, I needed to get some new brushes. I’ve been using Silver Brush Limited Grand Prix Bristles for quite a few years now. Generally speaking, real hog bristle brushes for oil painting are the superior choice. Then I got one of my regular promotional emails from Jerry’s Artarama, who I have ordered art supplies from for twenty years. They were having a sale on Silver Brush brushes and this caught my eye: “How can you save the life of animals and actually help yourself at the same time?”

On offer was a synthetic brush Silver Brush calls “Silverwhite”. And that got me thinking about the use of animal products. I have no idea where the hog bristles in my current brushes come from. Probably China. What kind of conditions are the pigs kept in? No clue. My husband and I already don’t eat meat that we can’t source to a humane producer. What about something like painting brushes?

So, I ordered the synthetics and used a couple for the first time today and I like them a lot. I plan to switch to them. But then the question becomes “What are the Silverwhites made from?” Some kind of petroleum-based material most likely. Sigh. See what I mean? Choices. Synthetic brushes have been around for years, but I’ve never seen them marketed as “animal friendly” and had never thought of it that way before. The idea is kind of “buzzy” in that, assuming the bristles come from hogs raised for meat, it’s not clear how not buying brushes made from their bristles “saves” their lives, but, as I said, I did find it thought provoking.

I’m not going to get doctrinaire about it, but at this point I’m choosing the synthetic. Thoughts, anyone?

On the color front, I want to start pushing more toward a colorist approach. Camille Przewodek is a great contemporary example. She pushes color waaay out there. I looked at the supply list for her workshops (hope to take one sometime when I have the money) and decided to buy these, for me, exciting new colors: Permanent Green Light, Permanent Magenta and Manganese Bue Hue, all Winsor-Newton. Experimentation begins next week.


Everyone has talent at 25. The difficulty is to have it at 50.
Edgar Degas

Every good painter paints who he is.
Jackson Pollock

I realized that all the good ideas I’d ever had came to me while milking a cow. So I went back to Iowa.
Grant Wood

Dog Day Friday

Niki, our collie
Niki, our collie


1. I just finished balancing my checkbooks. Ugh. But life has gotten better since I’ve started using Quicken. I highly recommend it to anyone who battles the balancing of the checkbook every month and sometimes loses. Since I have three accounts (plus the credit card)- business, personal and  “not-my-money” (for stashing sales tax, etc.), I have found an infinite number of ways to procrastinate. I was one of those math-challenged girls who was passed along in school. Even today, the mention of those “word problems” will start my stomach churning.

My husband has been a trooper through the years bailing me out and getting things balanced when they’re so tangled up I’m ready to scream. But supposedly, at least most of the time, I am an Adult, who really ought to be able to deal with this, right? Well, once I finally forced myself to sit down with him and Just Do It, and now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, it really is nifty and easy.

(Why is math such a problem for me? It took years, but I finally figured it out. It turns out that I always did great in subjects where I could literally “see it”, as in create a visual image. So, English, history, biology, no problemo. Math? Couldn’t process the information visually, so I was sunk. Same problem with inorganic chemistry. Knowing that now, it’s how I memorize numbers. I really do see the actual numbers in my mind’s eye. The anxiety with regard to the word problems came from my attempts to “make pictures” and run them like a little movie and when I couldn’t, the stress took over. )

So, yo, artists who want to make a living- you’ve got to get a handle on the money part somehow. Quicken is how. The reconciliation part is like MAGIC.

2. Sometimes I take photos that just holler “PAINT ME!” Usually it’s wild animals, but not always. We were at a state park when I spotted this chocolate lab laying by the lake. I loved his expression and the light on his coat, so I thought I’d see what I could do.

Where's the Ball?
Where's the Ball? oil on canvas board 12"x9"

And, I just finished this one yesterday. I love working the structure of animals that don’t have long fur. I shot this Jack Russell terrier at a riding stable in southern California.

What's Next?
What's Next? oil on canvas board 12"x9"

As you can see, I had fun with the background color. There will probably be more of that in the future. Prices available on request.


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Steve Jobs


Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”.

Groucho Marx

New Paintings and Equipment Review

I’m just finishing a second productive week in the studio after my return and, boy, does it feel good. As did getting out yesterday afternoon and planting some new roses and spring bulbs.


I’ve got a number of pieces in progress, but wanted to share this one that was completed before I left. It was in the Wild Visions 2 show and I hadn’t had a chance to photograph it until a couple of days ago. I’ve never done a three-panel piece and I’m thrilled with the framing. Unfortunately, the framer has gone out of business and there isn’t anyone else around here who can do this kind of custom work. Drat.

Heavy Lies the Head   oil   20"x 46"
Heavy Lies the Head oil 20"x 46"

The animals, bighorn sheep,  were photographed at the Denver Zoo. It was a warm morning and the ram couldn’t keep his eyes open. His head kept, drooping, drooping, until it sank onto the back of the ewe, who never even blinked. The pose was irresistible, but I did check with Laney, a nationally known artist who specializes in bighorns, to ensure that this behavior could have happened in the wild.

Of course they needed a more interesting setting, so I found some nice rock formations that I had shot up on Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, where bighorn sheep are often seen. Laney suggested adding the bits of snow so that the presence of the ram and ewe together would be consistent with the season.

Besides the great pose, I wanted to try to capture the feeling of the environment bighorns live in and how casual they are about heights that would make a lot of people faint with vertigo.


Some animal’s heads are more challenging than others. There are subtleties to the forms that, if they are missed, leave the viewer who knows better feeling that the painting was “close, but no banana”. Cheetahs seem to be one of the difficult ones. I think I’ve seen more badly drawn and painted heads of cheetahs than maybe any other animal, so I’ll hang it out there and offer for your perusal this new head study.

Cheetah Head Study
Cheetah Head Study oil 9"x 12"


All in all, everything worked as it was supposed to.

My husband was very happy with his LL Bean Katahdin 20F sleeping bag. He liked the larger size and the fact that it was rectangular. The Climashield fill kept him comfortable. The only down side was that it didn’t pack down as small as my down bag.

My Katahdin 20F down bag was great, as usual. One of the nice things about the rectangle is that it can double as a comforter. This is handy in a ger, which has regular beds with sheets and blankets. It can get cold at night though, but unzipping the bag and throwing it over the bed worked well. And if the mattress was too hard, as is sometimes the case, I used the bedding as a “pad” and just slept on top of it in the bag.

The LL Bean ripstop cotton pants were absolute winners. We wore ours day after day and they seemed to shed dirt and never felt icky. My husband likes them so much, he now wears them for his everyday pants.

Loved having the New Balance walking shoes for around town and camp as a change from the hiking boots. Hadn’t made space for that before. The LL Bean Cresta Hikers were, once again, comfortable and functional. David bought a pair of Keen hiking boots, which he really likes for their comfort and breathability. What we found, however, during the deluge at Ikh Nart, when we had to walk around 40 yards to the toilet, was that his boots wetted through pretty quickly. Now, he hadn’t waterproofed them, because we hadn’t anticipated such hard, out-of-season rain, but my boots kept my feet dry throughout. They are leather, which I probably wouldn’t buy now unless I could source them to humanely raised cattle, but they really performed.

The Smartwool socks rocked! The Thorlos tended to get sweaty. Next trip I’ll take more Smartwool for the field and a few Thorlo light hikers for around town.

Loved the Patagonia fleece for comfort, but will probably replace it to reduce bulk. It took up a lot of space in my duffle. The Travelsmith jacket was great. Too bad they don’t make it anymore. The only problem was that the patch pocket got caught on something and ripped loose.

I love, love, love my Icebreaker 100% merino wool thermals! The top and bottom together take up less space than one piece of the other brand. I didn’t need them very much, but found them very comfortable when I did wear them.

It’s interesting how things are going full-circle for some outdoor gear. All there used to be was cotton and wool. Then the new, improved synthetics came along and, overall, they were an improvement in weight, performance, etc. But I’m finding that the new cotton and wool products work as well, if not better, and are not made with petroleum by-products.

The MetroSafe 2000 purse was good, as usual. Very functional, practical and unobtrusive.

My old standby neck scarf and hat did the job, also as usual.

Camel ride at Arburd Sands
Camel ride at Arburd Sands

The luggage came through fine. It was nice to have the lower rigid-side compartment on the bottom of the big one for odd, ends, extras and art purchases. It’s a rolling Sportsman’s gear bag from LL Bean. The small one, which Bean doesn’t make anymore, holds the camera equipment, toiletries bag and the minimum needed to survive a day or two without the big bag.


There is a common foundation from which all the arts rise, and that is the need for self-expression on the part of the artist,-expression of his own personal experience, whether it be by words, as with literature; by sound, as with music; by pigment or with plastic shape, as with the graphic arts. But there is a further condition attendant upon this expression of which we do not always take account, namely, that the artist’s personal experience must be emphasized by strong feelings, by enthusiasm, by emotion, or the result is not art.”

Notes on the Art of Picture-Making by C.J. Holmes, Slade Professor of Fine Art, Oxford University, 1909