Cruz the Puma

Cruz the Puma

Cruz the Puma

Cruz the Puma

The 47th annual TCA Member’s Juried Show

I am honored to tell you, Juror Dr. Julie Sasse included my piece, Cruz the Puma, into the 47th annual TCA Member’s Juried Show. Tubac Center of the Arts host multiple shows throughout the year, this is one of my favorites. There are so many talented people within the region working in so many different mediums, it makes for uninteresting show.

 I experienced something wonderful.

Cruz, the Puma is the result of a plein painting trip to the area near the  Sonoran Desert Museum and Old Tucson in preparation for PACE 2016. The plan was to paint until the desert museum opened and then meet friends to tour the grounds and have lunch. Fortuitously my friends plans changed, though I was disappointed not to have their company, I experienced something wonderful.

I had all day to watch and observe the wildlife at whatever pace I chose. There is something incredibly centering about doing your own thing in your own time not concerned for others preferences and needs, just to feed your soul, in your way. So many times we spread ourselves to thin trying to please those around us that we lose the very essence of what makes us, us. Encourage you to put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. You’ll have so much more to give.

 Sonoran Animals and Plants- lesliemillerfineart.com

As I took photos with paintings in mind, bebopping here and there, out of order, waiting as long as it took to get the perfect shots, I felt my creativity well filling. I had had the best time, but I was getting tired but the one animal I really wanted to capture. The mountain lion had been busy flirting with visitors in the window earlier in the day. I went back again to the beginning of the two mile path to visit him one more time.

Restless Cruz the Puma lesliemillerfineart.com

Restless Cruz the Puma lesliemillerfineart.com

Success

This time he was on the opposite side of the habitat area, looking for a spot to lounge, preferably with a good view. As I watched him search for the perfect spot, I found my perfect spot, set up my tripod, out of the way of other visitors but with a great vantage point. I enjoyed hearing children ask questions about the big cat, the volunteers telling stories about Cruz and about Strawberry the black bear next door, and I waited.

Cruz found his spot, vacillating between napping and watching, from his cool perch inside the rock face atop a boulder warm form the sun. I snap shots for 20-25 minutes then, as I was looking through the lens, Cruz looked right at me. I felt the connection with this beautiful creature as our eyes met and our souls spoke.

Cruz and Strawberry

A puma named Cruz and a black bear called Strawberry got their names from a naming contest. Cruz was submitted by Darlene Baty of Tucson, Arizona, and references the Santa Cruz river that runs through the Sonoran Desert. The naming contests follow the Museum’s tradition of selecting names that are particular to the Sonoran Desert, are related to the scientific name for the animal or are similar to names selected in years past. Love that the community and fans of the rescued animals are a part of the adoption process by helping choose their names!

Painting Process

I knew that Cruz need to be something special, and that I wanted to accurately portray the connection I saw in his eyes. To that end I began my painting as I often do, with an oil rub-out method. Once I had him rendered and in place, I was faced with portraying the rock face, his habitat. Quite happy with Cruz in this rub-out stage I wanted to complete the whole painting in this rubout stage. The challenge being it must be completed before the fast drying colors used begin to set up and dry.
Enter my magic tool. I can’t claim the discovery of the magic tool, that honor belongs to Julie Ford Oliver. I purchased her excellent online tutorial on fracturing. She uses it in a different way than I used here, I love her technique using the tool to break color and line then reinstate to produce an impressionistic quality in her work. and I love this tool which I use in various ways. Thanks Julie for introducing the magic tool to me.
The magic tool-lesliemillerfineart.com

The magic tool.

What is the magic tool? Simply a squeegee inserted into a paint scraper tool handle. Here are the two components, I ordered on Amazon.
I use it to scrape away mistakes, clear a spot in masses for pure color, rocks, straight lines (way harder than it should be for me to achieve)and to make repetitive marks
 The magic tool was my tool of choice to create the rock face in this painting pushing the dark values darker and giving the appearance of depth while the lighter ares where the sun is hitting the surface seem to come forward.

the Finishing of Cruz

Though I was quite happy with the rubout stage, I didn’t feel it was finished. I wanted to see it in full color, wanted to convey the excellent natural camouflage Cruz found in his habitat. Pumas are hunters after all.

 Since the initial coat of paint was now dry, I opted to uses transparent glazes to bring the color to life in this painting.
Using a mixture of Universal Painting Medium with pigments with transparent qualities, and layering multiple passes in varying strengths with a sable hair brush and wiping away in areas with a rag, to create more depth of color.
The final stage involved sandpaper, steel wool and nail files before a final coat of varnish brought the various elements together.

A little More about Mountain Lions

Fun facts from the Desert Museum:

  • Mountain lions are not true lions and cannot roar;
  • they hold the Guinness record for animal with the most names — with over 40 names in English alone;
  • Proportionally they have the largest hind legs in the cat family.

Artwork, See It In Person

 As with most art, a camera the best photographic skills cannot compare to viewing it in person. This painting is quite difficult to capture with photography, the true beauty in the layers can only be seen in person.

Go and Visit Cruz the painting at Tubac Center of the Arts opening reception Friday December 9, 5-7pm. If you cannot make the opening reception the exhibit will be on display thru January 15th, 2017. I hope to see you signature in the guest book!
Radiant Daze

Radiant Daze

Coyotes

Ever wonder why coyotes howl at the moon? Or why they get such a bad rap?
Or do you look at them and wish you could go up and hug their neck, like a puppy? Do you say ˈkīˌōt or kīˈōdē?

Radiant Daze LeslieMillerFineArt

Radiant Daze Oil on cradled Panel 36×36 $1800

A look at the folklore passed down for generations gives us a peek into the mysterious life of a coyote.
Legendarily the coyote is the bringer of fire. Take a look at some of the stories.

Hated by ranchers, feared by small pet owners and admired by naturalists the coyote has proven to be a survivor. Coyotes symbolize the freedom and the can-do, pioneering spirit that settled this country.

The coyote in the photo reference for this painting projects a feeling of confidence and bliss, knowing his place on the earth. It reminds me of that feeling when the sun is shining on your back, filling you with warmth and peace.

Reference Photos

I use reference photos and I’m not ashamed to tell you. I have a passion for animals, but it’s hard to get those suckers to sit still. I enjoy taking my own photos whenever I can. I also save time by searching out royalty free photos that inspire me via the internet. Some of my favorites sights include dollar photo club, Flickr- the commons, unsplash.

reference photo tips for artist

5 qualities to look for in reference photos

Top 5 qualities I look for in a reference photo

1. Color, Composition, Clarity:
I know this seems obvious, but why struggle with a poor quality photo when there are so many problems to address when painting?
2. Sentience: Am I able to feel an emotion that resonates within me when I look at it the subject.
3.Create: Does it ignites a passion in me to go paint
4. Captivating: Would I enjoy looking at it every day?
5.The Light! (As an artist the essence of the light is at the crux of my mission.)
(I am drawn to light and how it interacts with the subject)

Some of the Coyote reference photos in my files.

Some of the Coyote reference photos in my files.

Anthony Douglas Williams quote.

September Update

September Update

September

I can’t believe it is already September. This has been a very full year and the time is racing by, is that just a side effect of getting older?

In the past year, I have become a Grandmommy to the most adorable child ever placed on this earth. I am not even joking!!!! I feel that way.

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most adorable baby ever!

Maya's Foc

Maya’s Fox

Art de Avian

I have entered a national juried exhibit and SOLD that painting on opening night.

Baby Hummingbirds- Leslie Miller

Baby Hummingbirds- Leslie Miller

Baby Hummingbirds featured on Art de Avian brochure

Baby Hummingbirds featured on Art de Avian brochure

Walk, Walk, Walk

I’ve been on another walking trip, this time in Italy. I have many new reference photos to inspire countless paintings

.IMG_5571 IMG_5616 IMG_5826

Changes

We’ve sold our house in Sequim, Wa, in order to see that adorable child more often. And I have been painting, just not posting. So here is an update on WIP (Works in Progress) and FO (Finished Objects).

Cactus Wren_SOLD

Cactus Wren_SOLD

palette knife painting of Longhorn

palette knife painting of Longhorn

underpainting of longhorn steer

underpainting of longhorn steer

evening run for this Conemarra pony

evening run for this Conemarra pony

Cactus wren

Cactus wren

It’s been too long since posting so this will be continued…

Striving for Excellence

Striving for Excellence

fox with moxie WIP

fox with moxie WIP

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”
― Vince Lombardi

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?”
― John Wooden

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”
― Booker T. Washington

My art mentor had charged me to “Strive for Excellence”. I’ve been thinking about what that means to me and to my art.

DPW Challenges

DPW Challenges

Moonlit-RavenSometimes when I can’t decide on a daily painting to start I’ll look through the daily painting challenges at Daily Paintworks (DPW). It’s not because I have hit the dreaded artist block, it usually cause I cannot narrow it down or focus. Sometimes it’s a technique I want to improve on or a palette I would like to limit myself to, OR it just cause I love a challenge.

It’s never been said that I am not competitive. It’s not even so much that I want to compete against another. It’s more about rising to the challenge.

If it's challenging you, testing you, and pushing you... then it's helping you become more of who you're meant to be. -Mandy Hale

If it’s challenging you, testing you, and pushing you… then it’s helping you become more of who you’re meant to be. -Mandy Hale

This particular challenge: The Raven challenge  is to paint this black Raven by mixing your own blacks.
The important thing is to have interesting values, reflective colors and some blacks to describe it.

I created black using Ultramarine Blue dark with Burnt Umber. I didn’t use the given image of a raven but another I had found on Pinterest.

To my pleasant surprise this morning, i found it had been chosen as a DPW Facebook pick and a DPW auction pick!