Available In My Fox Studio Etsy Shop…

“Scratch That Itch” oil 10×12″

I have a nice selection of affordable original oil paintings available in my Fox Studio Etsy shop, including this one. You can get the details and purchase it here. It’s of a domestic Mongol horse foal I saw on one of my trips to Mongolia. He was having a bit of trouble balancing, but was finally able to scratch that itch.

I also offer a variety of animal-themed coloring pages, available for immediate download and only $1.99. Here’s one example:

“Cheetah” from an original pen and ink drawing by Susan Fox

I saw this wonderful cheetah on an art workshop/safari in Kenya in October of 2004. Cheetahs have always been one of my favorite big cats and it was a thrill to see them going about their business in the wild. You can download this big cat here.

Happy Holidays! New Work!

“Almost There” oil on canvasboard 12×18″ (price on request)

For the first three weeks of November I was at the easel every weekday painting the pieces that I showed the color comps of on Sept. 22 here. I finally decided not to use them for the original purpose and will be entering them in some upcoming juried exhibitions. I’m pleased and proud of them so I want to debut them here on my blog.
The one above is from reference I shot at a naadam in Erdenet Soum in 2015. I got to ride in the chase car for two of the races so I got fantastic reference as we drove alongside the horses and riders.

“After the Race, Scraping Sweat” oil on canvasboard 14×18″ (price on request)

In Mongolia the sweat of a winning horse is thought to be auspicious, so the trainer scrapes it off. The traditional tool for this was the bill of a Dalmation pelican, an endangered species, so now the scrapers are made of wood, often with nice carving on them. One always knows the trainers by the scraper in their belt or sash. I was really struck by the colors of this two-year old, who had already raced. Very pretty.

“Patient” oil on canvasboard 14×18″ (price on request)

And here you can see one of the trainers at the same event with his scraper tucked into his sash. This would be his personal riding horse. He (they are almost always stallions or geldings) has a traditional saddle that is well-worn and a common type of bridle knotted from hand-braided rope.

I’ve also kept up with Inktober52, not missing a week so far. Four drawings to go. You can see all of them on my Instagram feed here.

Life Goes On…Part 15- Art and the Garden

Inktober52- Prompt: “Garden”

Above is last week’s Inktober52 art. From the Instagram post:
“I went out to take some new garden photos for ideas and there was our 11 year old tuxedo furball, Alexander A Really Great Cat, snoozing away under a day lily. Added a couple of Icelandic poppies for color. I’ve been experimenting with combining Cretacolor Aquamonolith pencils with pen and ink and that’s what I did here also using a Pilot Kakuno fountain pen.”
You can see all my Instagram52 pieces here.

While Covid-19 is out of control in much of the country, here in Humboldt County, California we’re still doing ok. Bars, museums and other indoor only businesses have had to reclose, but the zoo is still open by appointment, along with hair salons, acupuncture and massage services (used both of those this past week) and other businesses. We did pass 200 cases this week, largely from people traveling out of the area and bringing it back.

The garden continues on its merry way this summer. Did the big blueberry picking a couple of days ago. Peas are almost ready to start picking. Two rows of garlic are harvested with more today and the rest within the next couple of weeks. We’ve been noshing radishes and raspberries along with the first of the native blackberries we’ve allowed to stay on one area of the property.

Bishop of Llandaff dahlia
Silk Road lily
South end of the Long Border (34′)

At this end of Long Border is a spiraea which is almost done, two verbascums, one pink ‘Southern Charm’ and one apricot ‘Clementine’ (slated to be relocated because it clashes with everyone else), a ‘Splish Splash’ geranium, my favorite hardy geranium. Every flower is different proportions of white and lavender. It’s self-crossed with the ‘Johnson’s Blue’ geranium (which is a deep solid lavender) so I’ve got quite a variety of variations.

In other art news, next week I’ll be hanging a show of my wildlife and animal paintings at the Arcata Holistic Health Center just north of the Arcata Coop at 940 9th St. No opening reception and the center is only open by appointment, but a lot of the art can be seen through the windows. The theme will be images that “create a peaceful and calm feeling”. Here’s one of the pieces that will be in the show…a domestic Mongol horse I saw, well, in Mongolia. The writing is “bichig” the Mongolia vertical script, which the Chinggis Khan adopted from the Uigher people, who were settled and understood administration, (yes, the same ones the Chinese are committing genocide against) because the Mongols had no written language. It’s used all the time today for fine art and advertising and is taught in the schools. I haven’t learned it but paid a Mongolian calligrapher to write out words for me. With my sign painter’s brush lettering background it was easy to transfer an outline and letter in the word “Peaceful”, which is the name of the painting.

“Peaceful” oil 18×24″ (price on request)

Wishing you a peaceful and safe weekend.

Do You Know Someone Who Wants A Horse for Christmas?

There’s still *time to get this lovely, and low maintenance, horse for someone special! “Scratch This Itch” is an original 10×12″ oil on canvasboard, available now in my Etsy shop. I saw this foal in Mongolia some years ago. He had to work on the coordination a bit but he finally got that spot. He’s waiting for you here along with a variety of other original, affordable oil paintings.
(*Delivery in continental US only, order by Dec. 17; subject to prior sale)

The WildArt Mongolia Expedition 2014, Part 1: Ulaanbaatar to Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve

A river of pink...
A river of pink…

I’ve been back home in California for a week now after eight great weeks in Mongolia . I’ve downloaded and started to categorize over 9000 images. All my journal and sketchbook drawings, along with the watercolors I did, have been scanned or photographed. Now it’s time to share both the WildArt Mongolia Expedition 2014 and then some of the other special places and experiences I had. You can find general information on the Expedition here.

The Expeditiion’s first stop this year was the Steppe Nomads Eco Camp, located in the Gun-Galuut Nature Reserve, which is about two hours east of Ulaanbaatar. This is my third time there and, as expected, it was a great starting point.

Close-up of the flowers.
Close-up of the flowers, which are a species of wild primrose (Primula farinosa)

Baits Uul
Baits Uul. There are around 60 argali in the reserve, mostly up on this mountain.

Mongolian toad
Mongolian toad. There are not many species of amphibians in Mongolia, but this toad is found in a variety of places in the country.

Kherlen Gol.
Kherlen Gol. The river that runs through the reserve.

This was a special sighting along the river....an endangered whooper swan and a family of bar-headed geese.
This was a special sighting along the river….an endangered whooper swan and a family of bar-headed geese.

We also saw a pair of demoiselle cranes, one of the species on our list.
We also saw a pair of demoiselle cranes, one of the species on our list.

My first reacion
My first reaction when I saw dandelions for the first time in the country here at Gun-Galuut in 2009 was sadness that this “weed” had also invaded Mongolia. Then I remembered….here they’re a native!

Beautiful bi-color iris (Iris lactea)
Beautiful bi-color iris (Iris lactea)

Wild iris growing by the river.
Wild iris growing by the river.

Nyambayar Batbayar
Nyambayar Batbayar, a leading crane researcher who has been a Facebook friend of mine for years, was one of the leaders of a group from the International Crane Foundation who were also staying at the ger camp. Nyambaa, who you will meet again a couple of posts from now, was trying to photograph barn swallows in flight. I just happened to be able to catch him with the rainbow in the background.

We passed a couple of small lakes
We passed a couple of small lakes on our way north after leaving the reserve. There were horses on both sides of the road, so a great photo op!

Mongol horse foal.
Mongol horse foal. There were a lot of foals to see and photograph.

Then this local herder rode by...
Then this local herder rode by…

This small lake, which one passes
This small lake, which was on the opposite side of the road from the one with the horses, is known for the number and variety of birds that can sometimes be seen on and around it. This year there were whooper swans nesting out in the middle. In the background is the Baganuur coal mine. When I first came to this area in 2009, the waste piles were off in the far distance. I was shocked at how close they have come to the lake and the road. This photo sums up one of the major conservation challenges Mongolia faces: balancing the needs of people for fuel and the economic development that resource extraction like mining provides and the needs of wildlife and those same people for a safe and clean environment. Learning about these issues and how art can be of service is really the main goal of my WildArt Mongolia Expeditions.

Next time, we’ll be heading up into the Han Hentii Mountains, on our way to Binder Aimag and the International Crane Festival.


The WildArt Mongolia Expedition, Part 12: A “Salty” Surprise

Ovoo enroute to Altay. Notice the smooth, level earth road in the background…

The next morning we drove on to Altay, the capital of Gobi Altai Aimag. It’s a small city with all the services one might need, including an airport with regular flights to and from Ulaanbaatar.

We were treated to lunch at the home of an artist friend of Tugsoyun’s. More than lunch, really, a multi-course feast. Two hours later, we made our goodbyes and, after a short stop at a local temple, were on our way east again.

Typical street scene in Altay.
Typical street scene in Altay.

Temple in Altay.
Temple in Altay.

Stupas and khadag near the temple.
Stupas and khadag near the temple.

The last camels we saw on the Expedition.
The last camels we saw on the Expedition.

The road was great
The road was great going east from Altay until we reached the aimag border. It’s the main east/west route on the south side of the Hangai Mountains. I was shocked when not long after I took this photo it turned into some of the nastiest, most miserable road I’ve traveled on in eight trips to Mongolia. There is no way solid economic progress can be made in Mongolia or the people be able to make a good living , build up a company and send goods to bigger markets like Ulaanbaatar as long as the roads are so bad. Fortunately, every year there is more tarmac laid and the situation improves. But I’d pay not to have travel that stretch again and I love the earth roads.

As we
As we bumped along and hung on, we came upon a car that had broken down out in the middle of nowhere. And in Mongolia, that’s saying something. We stopped, of course, and our drivers spoke to the people, a young couple with an older woman. It wasn’t a good situation because we had no room to take anyone with us, weren’t going near a town and it was clearly going to get cold that night. So we promised to stop at the first ger we came to and tell them where to find the car and people. We drove for quite a bit and came over a rise to see this lake and…two gers! One van drove off to the gers and ours headed to this well. In a very short time we saw a truck from the gers head back up the road towards the stranded car. So we knew they’d be ok. We looked around and decided that we’d come upon a perfect spot to camp. But first we filled our water container.

As is usually the case,
As is usually the case, someone spotted us and came riding over on this very nice-looking horse with a traditional saddle, so out came the cameras. Another man came within minutes on the motorbike.

The horse's owner and rider.
The horse’s owner and rider.

After a short visit, he went on his way.

The other man
The other man, it turned out, owned these two little gers near the lake. He was staying in one, but offered us the use of the other for our kitchen and dining room. It looks pretty tacky and was too tiny to get any interior photos, but it was comfy and cozy inside when the wind came up and the temperature dropped.

The view
The view, with oncoming horses.

What could have been more perfect?
What could have been more perfect? Settled down for the evening, beautiful late light and this lovely herd of horses coming for water and to graze.

The Boss.
The Boss.

Members of the herd.
Members of the herd.


Packing up camp. The man in the white hat was the owner of the gers. A conversation with him the night before revealed that we were camped near quite a large salt deposit and that he was a salt miner. He offered to give us a tour in the morning.

After dinner,
After breakfast, Tseegii and Soyoloo made our lunch for the day, khuushuur (fried meat turnovers). One of my personal favorites that I never get tired of.

Fresh and hot, right out of the pan.
Fresh and hot, right out of the pan. Soyoloo, our cook, turned out three course dinners, including soups from scratch, using this single burner gas cooker.

The man with his hands behind his back turned out to be the local official who supervised the salt extraction, issuing and checking permits and keeping an eye on things.

The salt deposit, with harvested salt ready to be bagged up.
The salt deposit, with harvested salt ready to be bagged up.

The "miners" would fill a bag like this and carry it out to be sold. If I recall correctly, they would get $15 for a 50 kilo bag. Hard work, very hard, but pretty good money at this point.
The “miners” would fill a bag like this and carry it out to be sold. If I recall correctly, they would get $15 for a 50 kilo bag. Hard work, very hard, but pretty good money at this point.

We were shown the two versions of the salt. The white at the bottom has been washed. The brown at the top is unwashed.
We were shown the two versions of the salt. The white at the bottom has been washed. The brown at the top is unwashed.

Our host led us all the way out into the middle of the deposit.
Our host led us all the way out into the middle of the deposit. We really had to watch where we stepped. And three of us had expensive camera equipment to think about. But we wouldn’t have missed this for anything!

One of the miners with sacks ready to carry back to the pick-up point.

I felt a little like
I felt a little like I was in Yellowstone National Park, looking down into these colorful mineral pools.

Small salt formation.
Small salt formation.

Our hosts.
Our hosts. The miner, on the left, is doing this work to earn money to pay for his daughter to go to the university in Ulaanbaatar. It’s very hard work, but because it pays pretty well he said it was worth it. On the right is the salt mine supervisor/manager from the local government office. I think they liked how interested we were and enjoyed sharing information about what they do. We really appreciated this unexpected look at one piece of life in Mongolia.

Finally, the miner demonstrated to us how the salt is washed. This simple homemade tool does the job.

He has
He has scooped salt out of the pond.

Then he rinses it
Then he rinses it with vigorous shaking.

The clean salt.
The clean salt.

Salt has been valuable as the only means of preserving food for thousands of years, really until quite recently. It is still used for that, of course, and as a flavoring. It’s fun to imagine that salt from this place could have traveled the Silk Road to Europe and ended up on the table of a king. And it’s possible.

Finally it was time to get back to the vans and on our way. The sun was now behind us, backlighting the tall grasses.



Mongolia Monday- New Painting Debuts! “Scratch That Itch” And “Mongol Goat”

"Scratch That Itch"  10x12"  oil
“Scratch That Itch” 10×12″ oil

I’ve been working on some smaller pieces of domestic Mongol animals, just focusing on my subject and not worrying about a background other than colors. I loved the gesture of this Mongol horse foal who is finally gaining the coordination needed to raise one leg to scratch an itch.

"Mongol Goat"  12x12"  oil
“Mongol Goat” 12×12″ oil

The best cashmere in the world comes from the goats of Mongolia. They come in a riot of colors, shapes, sizes and horn style, but the undercoat is pretty much the same on all of them. I was particularly taken with the bold black and white pattern of this fellow.

New Painting Debut! “Mongol Horse Foals”

I saw these lovely foals in the same group of horses that this painting came from. They were very unsure of a strange person and stayed close to the adults, but were still curious about me.

I started this painting with my new step of doing a pencil drawing at the final size first, tracing it and then doing a graphite transfer to the RayMar canvas board. My purpose was to solve any drawing problems, get the correct placement in the space and indicate the basic value pattern.

Foals 1

Once the drawing was transferred to the board, which had been previously toned with a wash of raw sienna to knock back the white, I re-stated the drawing with a brush, refining and correcting as I worked. This step was also done with raw sienna.

Foals 2

The next step was to indicate the shapes of the shadows in a dark value. I mixed a warm brownish-purple for this.

Foals 3

Then I started to lay in color, bringing up the shadows to a higher key since the foals were in really nice morning light.

Foals 4

The finished painting “Mongol Horse Foals” 14×18″  oil

Foals 5

Here’s the reference photo. I punched up the intensity of the color, as you can see, and left out all the other horses since the painting was about these two and their connection with each other.

Hustai to Arburd Sands

Mongolia Monday- Jalman Meadows And Back To Ulaanbaatar

And now we come to the last leg of a wonderful two-week tour and a look at one last ecosytem, the mountain forest, which is the southermost extension of the boreal forest that circles the northern part of the Earth.

The Jalman Meadows ger camp, run on a seasonal basis by Nomadic Journeys, was set up high on a bluff overlooking the Tuul Gol.

While there is wildlife around, it’s the activities one can do here that are the main attraction and we took advantage of all of them!

As I came out of our ger after getting settled in, this memorable scene met my eye.

Jalman Meadows ger camp with the Tuul Gol in the background.

A local herder with his ox-drawn cart fetched water for the camp every day from the river.

He also provided the means by which the inflatable boat on which we would take a river trip was transported. We walked about six kilometers to the launch site.

This time our "helper" was a yak/cattle hybrid called a hainag.

Inflating the boat.

And then we were floating down this beautful river.

The scenery wasn't flashy, but had a calm peacefulness.

We saw a number of birds, including this grey wagtail.

There were quite a few riffles to paddle through, which added a little excitement.

Finally, the ger camp came into view and our half-day river trip was over.

In the afternoon, it was time to go riding.

There is nothing like riding through the Mongolian countryside on a Mongol horse.

The next morning there was time for a hike up onto one of the hills near the camp. We walked up through the larch trees until we got to this view.

The mountain wildflowers were still blooming. The white flowers are edelweiss.

And the bees were still busy.

We were packing to leave after lunch when Khatnaa stuck his head inside our ger and told us to come quickly, there was an eagle close by. We got some great photos of this big steppe eagle.

He finally took off and circled once over our heads.

It had started to rain on and off and we needed to get down out of the mountains, but when we saw this big herd of billy goats and rams, it was photo op time.

They were all sizes, shapes, colors and horn designs. The young herder walked them back and forth past the car a couple of times, so we got lots of great pictures.

Another herder we saw, tending his animals, rain or shine. It was raining.

At last we approached the tarmac road, passing the spectacular statue of Chinggis Khan, facing east towards the Mongol homeland.

One more wildlife sighting...golden eagles belonging to local a local Kazakh. They go up into the mountains and capture the young birds, using them to hunt with for a couple years and then releasing them.

And then it was back into the wilds of Ulaanbaatar, now a city with over a million people. The noise was a shock after the quiet of the countryside.