Monday, October 12, 2015

Bull Terrier

© Ellen Blonder
A few years ago, I posted this sketch of a couple of bull terriers in someone's yard in Kauai. It has taken me all this time to finally do a small painting of one of them.

© Ellen Blonder
First I turned him around to face right, working on an 8 x 10-inch canvas panel in acrylics. I like it on the abstract ground, but never seem to be able to leave it at that.

© Ellen Blonder
So I put the dog in a Hawaiian setting.

© Ellen Blonder
And added foliage to give the dog some scale.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Art Imitates Art

Art © Ellen Blonder
Brush handmade by Isabella Kirkland

One of the most unusual gifts I have ever received is this hand-made brush made by the extraordinary artist Isabella Kirkland. The startling thing about it is that the hairs of the brush are taken from her cat Dandelion's shed fur. The brush is even named "Dandy #12" since it's the twelfth brush she has made in this series.

The hairs are aligned precisely and glued in place on the black bamboo handle; when the brush is dipped in liquid the brush comes together in a beautiful fine point. It feels much softer against paper than a sable brush but holds a surprising amount of paint. 

To finish off what was already an incredible amount of meticulous work, Isabella hand-lettered the name on the side of the brush and topped it off with a perfectly sized carnelian from a local beach.

I tried it out in my watercolor sketchbook on a sketch of olives; then I painted the brush itself. It felt like making art imitate art. 

Thank you, Izzy. I will treasure this always.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


 ©Ellen Blonder
And now for something entirely different...

Often it feels necessary to loosen up, and I thought a monoprint workshop would help. The teacher was the delightful Cindy Miracle (check out her website here), whose own work provided beautiful inspiration, and whose depth of knowledge and gentle manner made the day fly by.

Each print is 8 x 10 inches, inked in water-soluble inks on plexiglass plates. 

 ©Ellen Blonder
In addition to the inks, we used alcohol sprays, stencils and scratching tools.

 ©Ellen Blonder
Something I found irresistible was adding layers of papers, glued between the printing paper and ink, in a technique called chine colle.

 ©Ellen Blonder
Years ago, I became interested in scribbly textures, and the plates provide a great medium for that.

 ©Ellen Blonder
Some of these feel unfinished, so I hope to either return to the workshop to print additional layers or sketch over the print.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dahlia with Curled Petals - Final

© Ellen Blonder
It probably took as long to layer on the darkest shades as it did to get to the progress shown in my last post. Now I can't wait for real dahlia season.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Dahlia with Curled Petals - Progress

© Ellen Blonder
After taking a break from a series of watercolor dahlia paintings, I realized there were more I had photographed and meant to paint ever since. This one has petals that curl in all directions.

© Ellen Blonder
No matter how dark I think my first shades of pink are, I always seem to go over them again and again as the flower takes shape.

© Ellen Blonder
Getting close.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Plumper Rooster Final

© Ellen Blonder
It has taken a month and a half, off and on, to finally get to the fluffy feathers. I've also spent the last couple of days toning some of the colors down and adding last subtle color changes in the plants all around. 

I have heard that this rooster is no longer on the premises, disappearing as mysteriously as he first appeared. I'm glad I got to see him when I did. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Plumper Rooster 5

© Ellen Blonder
With the plant coming along in the foreground over the past week, the painting finally feels more anchored. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Plumper Rooster 4

©Ellen Blonder
Some days I've only managed to paint 20 minutes, others not at all. It feels like this is going to take forever, with so many plant details waiting. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Plumper Rooster 3

© Ellen Blonder
I've been distracted by guests and spring cleaning, but I'm filling this in catch as catch can. Even though I'd love to finish painting the bird first, he's so fluffy that I'd just have to paint around his feathers afterward.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Plumper Rooster 2

© Ellen Blonder
Such a fanciful creature deserves a wild environment, don't you think? This one is going to be fun but slow going, although the canvas board is only 16 x 20 inches.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Plumper Rooster 1

© Ellen Blonder
A magnificent and curious-looking rooster showed up on the lawn our last week in Kauai, and begged to be painted. I want to set him in a more lush environment with plants from elsewhere, although the pink ginger in the lower right corner is from the property. 

Covered with feathers that looked more like fur, this guy differs from any other rooster we've seen wandering about. My husband Nick named him fancifully as a Northumberland Plumper, and I've thought of him as such ever since.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mynah - Final

© Ellen Blonder
I have finally found some time to just about finish this mynah painting. I may play with the bird's feather texture a bit more, but I'll live with it a while first.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mynah - More Progress

© Ellen Blonder
I'm slowly filling in background, adding details to the plants, still needing to add detail to the stem of yellow orchids.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Mynah - Progress

 © Ellen Blonder
I know I want a spidery yellow orchid to run diagonally across the upper part of the painting, but I'm still looking for plants to fill in elsewhere. 

 © Ellen Blonder
I've been walking, finding ground covers and a bromeliad I can try out.

© Ellen Blonder
I like the subtle reddish plants, but want to avoid bright flowers that would compete for attention with the mynah's extraordinary eye mask.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Mynah -First Steps

 © Ellen Blonder
© Ellen Blonder
I've been wanting to paint a mynah in Kauai for a long time. They're very camera-shy, and  always fly away before you can come close. I had to wait until I had a better camera with a telephoto lens, to get reference shots close enough to see details in the beak and the yellow superhero mask. This canvas is 12 inches by 16 inches, and I'm working in acrylics.