I have a lot of favorite artists, but the one that is most often at the top of my list of influences is Rien Poortvliet. Many who have heard of him are likely most familiar with his work as an illustrator. His most popular book in the United States is Gnomes. The book that I treasure is his work on Noah's Ark, and if you ever get the chance to page through it, you might agree with me that his paintings do not seem to fit the usual "illustration" category. Not only finished paintings are shown, but also sketches and studies that let you see the world through his eyes as he studied and recorded on the page what he experienced.
I would like to start a new little series on different artists that have inspired me and shaped my own work in one way or another. The first in this series is Beatrix Potter.
Most famous for her books for children, with characters such as Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin, I am particularly attracted to her nature studies. These studies of animals, plants, fungi, landscapes, farmhouses and even furniture were indispensable to her training of observational drawing which led to her being able to create these believable characters, even though they were dressed in little jackets and pinafores!
The past few weeks have been productive for me. I am working on recording online courses, and finished up a few gourds, as well as some "non-gourd" artworks that I will share in another post.
The first was more of an opportunity for me to try out new carving burs that I received at Christmas, as well as trying out a weaving technique that has long intrigued me but I never gave it a go. At left see a photo of my testing my new cup carving burs on an old gourd piece.
After taking some time off at Christmas, I found it difficult to get back into a routine. There was just so much to do that was demanding time away from art, and instead of working every day, it seemed was only able to devote one or two days to art while the rest was... well all other stuff!! I felt like I was trudging uphill and every day that started out in the clear, turned out the Lord had other plans for me! These last couple of weeks I seem to have found my legs again and have been able to balance everything better.
I started this Macaw gourd at the end of October, got it most of the way done and only finished it up just now. I had wanted to work on a parrot for a while, I had taken some photos of some beautiful parrots at the Lake Tobias Wildlife park a few years ago that I was planning to use as reference. Unfortunately, since the photos were taken through a glass window, they didn't turn out all that great. I did, however find a nice shot on Unsplash (which is copyright free) that captured the macaw preening that I liked a lot.
At the end of 2021 I took some much needed time off. As the year came to a close, my commitments to finish special orders were completed, I opted to spend some time with my family, reading, playing music with my daughter, decorating, walking, and engaging in some “non-gourd” art pursuits.
Elephants have long fascinated me. The tight familiar bonds, high intelligence, ways of communicating with one another, and the apparent displays of emotions in these gentle giants make me in awe of the God who made them. An elephant gourd has been in my mind to make for years but I wanted not just to feature one of these animals but a whole herd.
Several years ago my family and I visited Parker Dam State Park in Penfield, PA. It is part of the region which is called the Pennsylvania Wilds, and we spend some time exploring the area of the Moshannon State Forest. The big draw to this area is the elk herd in Benezette. There were a few great viewing areas to see the elk and get photos. And we even were able to hear the bull elk's eerie sounding bugle!
I don't know why I waited so long to begin this gourd, as the photos were taken for this very purpose! The bugling bull with his cow is on the one side, and as you turn the gourd you can see the rest of the herd with a few calves as well. The "rival" bull elk waits alone, along with some wild turkeys and pheasants.
Art has always been a part of my life, and I have worked in many different mediums.