New Work! “Summer Snack, Mongolia” Step-by-step

“Summer Snack, Mongolia” 9×12″ oil on canvasboard

Fresh off the easel! “Summer Snack, Mongolia”. Without really meaning to I took 2021 off from painting and didn’t do much art at all. Quite of few of my colleagues spent the year the same way, not very motivated with Covid so serious. But as the new year has dawned folks are picking up their brushes, pens, pencils etc. again same as I am. I did another painting before this one, which I’ll also be posting a step-by-step on but am so pleased with this one I decided to share it first.

The setting is in the northern mountains of Mongolia not far from the city of Erdenet. I was the guest of a family for the aimag (county’s) Naadam festival. They are race horse trainers so I had the privilege of being part of the preparations for the races. Mongol horses are allowed to run free when they aren’t being used for work. I was out walking around and I spotted this mare and foal with the valley and mountains behind her.

I am unapologetic about tracing from photographs to save time and that’s how I started.
The next step is to work out the values, which is the relative light and dark. This is very important step.
The next step is to transfer the drawing to the canvas and restate the drawing with a pointed brush.
Since I didn’t tint the canvas I needed to get a tone down over the whole piece.
This stage and the next two I spent building up the colors and defining the shapes

Now I head for the finish…

As you can see I’m almost carving out the shapes, committing to them
The clouds are pretty much done. Background needs another pass or two. The colors and structure of the horses is defined.
Almost there. Background is done,, working on the foreground. The bare ground needs to be a lighter value than the upright grasses otherwise the horses won’t look like they’re standing on a surface.

At this point I was unhappy with the hind leg of the foal closest to the viewer. I painted it and wiped it out at least 4-5 times. And here, once again, is the finished painting….

“Summer Snack, Mongolia” 9×12″ oil on canvasboard

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)

TBT: “Hayden Valley Thunder

Hayden Valley Thunder

TBT (Last one till Inktober ends on Oct. 31, then it will become an occasional feature) “Hayden Valley Thunder” from 2003, Oil 30×15” Private collection: I had a great piece of reference from the Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park of this bull bison standing on the hill with clouds behind him. I’ve always love Maxfield Parrish. So I decide to try combining the two by changing out white clouds for sunset colors. I also added the cow from another reference photo.

3 Great Art Blogs

Here are the links to three art blogs I really like. There are a lot of them out there, but unfortunately too many artists don’t post regularly or don’t do much other than occasionally post images of their work.

These three stand out for quality of content and regular postings.

1. Gurney Journey is one of the top-rated art blogs. James Gurney is the author of the Dinotopia books, has written two books about art technique and craft and posts to his blog every day on everything from how the human eye tracks through a painting to short profiles of famous artists to how he creates his own marvelous works.

2. COLOR AND LIGHT is the blog of nationally known artist Adele Earnshaw. She started as a watercolorist, but switched to oils a few years ago and the story of why and how she did that makes very interesting reading. Recently she’s been doing what she calls 75 For 75. A painting a day for 75 days that she offered for sale as she finished them for $75. I managed to snag one a few months ago, but I had to be quick because most sell within minutes.

3. Cathy Johnson Fine Art Galleries is where you can find all kinds of great art instruction materials, along with images of Cathy’s art. I remember reading her column in Artist’s magazine many years ago and was tickled to find her on Facebook and see that she is still at it and then some. She offers CD courses, mini-classes and also information about various art media like her favorite drawing pen. Her instruction is real, not that rote “Here is how you paint a tree with my special brush and paint” stuff.

Getting Back In The Painting Groove

I last sat at my easel with a brush in my hand at the end of June. So, how to get rolling again?

I decided to do some small studies, only 5″x7″, and only spend about an hour on each one. After four, I felt like starting a larger piece, which I’ll post once I’m sure it’ll be a keeper. Then I did a fifth study because I wanted to do a bird.

The purpose was to get my hand moving and my mind thinking about, well, what it needs to think about when I’m painting. I also solved a nagging problem – I have been struggling with the greens in my Mongolia subjects. I’ve had My Beloved Sap Green on the palette, along with Viridian. The first study was a struggle because I couldn’t get the green tones I wanted. So I dug into the paint drawer and pulled out tubes of Terre Verte and Chromium Green Oxide, both of which had been sitting for so long that I almost twisted a split in them opening the caps with pliers. But…Bingo!, those more muted colors were exactly what I needed. A quick repaint and Study #1, of the Gobi, worked much better.

So, without further ado, here are the quick studies:

Gobi view

Saxaul forest, the Gobi, near Orog Nuur

Hangai Mountains, two gers

Yak head study

Demoiselle crane

With luck, you can see some improvement between the first one and the last in confidence and brushwork as I get warmed up.

New Year, New Painting and… A New Cat!


I was able to take many good pictures of Mongol horses on my trip there in September. This was a stallion who showed up with his harem very near the ger camp at Ikh Nartiin Chuluu late one afternoon. Due to lack of rain, all the herder families had left the area, along with their livestock, but a few groups of horses had been left behind to shift for themselves until their owners returned.

I wanted to really work on understanding horse structure so this is a bigger painting than what I’ve recently been doing – 24″x 36″. The horse is almost 19″ at the withers. I really loved the rhythm of the movement. It was almost like he was showing off. I don’t know horse behavior nearly as well yet as dog or cat, so I’d love to hear from anyone who can interpret what he’s doing and why.

Since the horse was what I cared about , I left the background as a field of mostly warm color with some cool color showing from underneath.



Meet our new family member, Alexander! We brought him home yesterday from the Humboldt County Shelter, where I volunteer. He’s four months old and extremely friendly. He likes other cats (although our three girls aren’t too thrilled at the moment). He’s done a nose touch greeting with Niki the collie. We’ve set him up in a crate in my husband’s office since Alex is supposed to be  mainly his cat.


The vet was just here (she does housecalls only; how cool is that?) and she thinks that he may be part rag doll because of how easy he is to handle, kind of like, well, a rag doll. She pronounced him in good health and recommended a bath at the groomer’s to get rid of the whiff of shelter odor and get him all nice and fluffy. We all want to get him the best start on the rest of his life that we can.

FYI: never bring home a new animal, either a cat or a dog,  plop them down in the living room and turn them  loose. New introductions need to be taken slowly with consideration for everyone. The new animal should be in a crate or behind a baby gate or in a room like the bathroom to ease in gently and avoid conflict. He’ll stay in the office at least until Sunday.