Here is a painting I recently completed titled “Arctic Wolf on the Glacier”. It is an oil painting, a medium I haven’t worked in for over 25 years. Although I enjoy doing large compositions of whole body animals, using oil paints presents some special challenges, especially in a painting measuring
There are many differences between using oil paints and watercolor paints. The first difference is that oil paint remains wet, while the artist is working on the painting. So, you must be aware to not put your arm or hand on the wet paint, while moving across the image. Most oil painters use a mall, a long handled rod with a padded bulb at the end, which rests on the easel, holding the other end in the opposite hand, while resting the painting hand on the supported rod. This allows the artist to have a steady hand while painting, without touching the wet canvas. This does work well in theory, but in actuality, as a water colorist for the past 40 years, I am used to touching the painting, while I am working on it. No matter how often I remind myself, I constantly find myself putting my arm on the painting, ending up covered in oil paint.
Another difference is that the oil paint is toxic, as are the solvents required to use the paint, and clean up. Just having an open container of turpentine in the studio will poison the air, and cause many health problems. It is essential to have an air cleaner with a charcoal filter to clean the air. You need to develop safe painting techniques, not putting the brush in your mouth, not eating while painting, not putting your fingers in your mouth, and not, for goodness sake, smoking while painting!
Many commonly used pigments contain toxic doses of heavy metals, for example: Cadmium yellow, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red, Cobalt blue, cobalt violet, and leaded white pigment. Most classically trained oil painters, insist on using leaded white paint for priming the canvas, a very dangerous process. However, most of these important safety measures are fairly easy to perform.
Another way that oil paint differs from watercolor paint, is that the bushes are completely different. Watercolor requires small soft round brushes, usually made of sable or a combination of sable and synthetic bristle. Oil works best with flat hogs-bristle brushes, and some round brushes. Since oil paint is thick, and water color is thin, it requires a different method of applying the paint. Oil painters like the ability to endlessly move the paint around, until they get it the way they like. Watercolor is a one brush stroke at-a-time application style. Watercolor paint dries almost immediately, so you must get it right the first time. There is no going back to change it. Nor can you manipulate the paint endlessly. This is what I really like that about watercolor. On the other hand, I don’t like the way oil paint is so squishy, and movable.
In my opinion, oil paint is less satisfying than watercolor. Oil paint also smells bad, takes too long to dry, and its toxic. Plus, I am able to achieve the same effects with watercolor, as I am with oil paint.
So for all of the above reasons, I am sticking with watercolor as my most preferred medium. I will also use Acrylics on canvas, again with the same visual results as with oil paints. In my opinion, it is not necessary to risk your health using toxic materials, when there are alternatives that achieve the same , or even better results.
To see my paintings Click Here
Years ago, I lived in a community where there were many horses, quarter horses, thoroughbreds, and Arabian horses. We had a racetrack at the nearby fairgrounds, which attracted many horse shows. I was able to see many beautiful horses, and meet their owners. I decided that I would paint a few horse portraits, beginning with the most famous race horses, Secretariat, and John Henry. I followed that with a few quarter horses, but was finally inspired to paint several Arabian horses.
I found some interesting qualities about the horse owners. The people who owned quarter horses were nice people, who treated their horses well, had practical working horses, and also showed their horses, which were gorgeous. But, being practical people, were not interested in having portraits done of their horses. But the people who owned the thoroughbreds did enjoy paintings of race horses, especially famous ones. They were the people who purchased my horse paintings.
After that I thought, since Arabians are also beautiful, so maybe I could do well by painting some famous Arabian horses. I planned to start by creating a few paintings of these well-known (in the Arabian horse world) horses. I got permission to paint “Gdansk”a polish Arabian horse, and followed up by doing portraits of “Bey el Bey”, a horse from the Santa Barbra area. During that time, I attended many Arabian horse shows, took photos, met the horse owners, etc.
Finally, I thought I’d do a painting of three well-known horses, all related, and owned by a well-known Arabian horse breeder. I figured that if I put her in the painting, it would be a sure fire seller, to the owner hopefully. I went to meet her in Santa Barbra, at a horse show, and was able to show her the painting, which she looked at briefly, with no comment. That ended my interest in doing Arabian horse commissions paintings on speculation. I ended up painting the owner out of the three horse painting, and finally sold the painting to someone else. I’ll post the painting on Facebook, soon since it is a very nice painting.
After that, I approached a few Arabian horse owners, and actually got a couple of commissions. As I did the photography for the portraits, and spoke with the Arabian horse owners, I began to get strange requests for the portraits. The owners were asking me to change the size of the horses eyes, to make them appear larger, slim down the horses neck to make it look thinner, and basically alter the actual look of the horse to a more fantasy version of their horse. After visiting the horse barns, I noticed the Arabian horse owners did things to their horses to alter the horses necks; bandaging them at the throat, to make the neck slimmer, putting drops in the eyes to make them look more luminous. Breeders of Kentucky Walker horses, actually broke the horse’s tail, and then taped it in an upright position, so the tail would flow more.
As I met more Arabian horse owners, I realized that I would never be comfortable working with these horse owners. These owners did not seem to be animal lovers at all. So, I decided to stick with painting wildlife. But I would love to paint more horses someday.
If you’d like to see some of my wildlife Paintings, Click Here
I have enjoyed painting all big cats, but one of my favorite big cats is the Snow Leopard. Snow leopards are not really leopards, but are more closely related to tigers. They live in one of the world’s most harsh environments, the Himalayan mountains.
The snow leopard hunts the wild Himalayan goat, called a Markor. Snow leopards are very agile; they need to be in order to catch the equally athletic Markor.
What I appreciate about the snow leopard is its beautiful fur. It has lovely markings, and a very long and fluffy tail, which it wraps around itself to help it keep warm. In my view, the eyes of the snow leopard are among the most beautiful of the big cats, greenish blue, and luminous.
I will continue to paint these wonderful big cats; they are an endangered species, and few remain in the wild.
To see some of my Big Cat Paintings Click Here
I have had many wonderful pets over the years. With the recent death of my beloved Papillion, Cassie in 2013, I have enjoyed the last of my pets. I thought back to the first pet I had as an adult. He was a wonderful Beagle. We named him Cicero, as he was quite the orator. He was a very cute doggy.
Later, I adopted two cats, one of whom was hit by a car within two weeks. The 2nd one, a Russian blue, we named Daniel, lived to be 20 years old. Then we found Panda, a black and white cat, made famous by my painting of him. He lived to be 14 years old.
I then expanded my menagerie to include goats, ducks, geese, rabbits, and a pony. We also had two English shepherds, one Great Pyrenees, and one Chihuahua, who had two puppies. Our brood increased again when the English Shepherds had puppies. So we ended up with several dogs, three cats, ducks, geese, rabbits, goats and even a pony.
We had a great time with all the live stock, dogs and cats. I was also milking the goat twice a day. The kids were in 4H and showing the rabbits and the goats. So, I thought I should raise Guide Dogs for the Blind. It is a great organization and I wanted to help, by raising puppies for them. They gave us a wonderful female yellow lab, named Doreen. She was a very sweet dog, with a gentle temperament, and became a great mother. Guide Dogs went on to breed her four times before she was retired, and became our forever doggy, living to be 12 years old. We also acquired a golden retriever named Buffy when Doreen was six years old. Buffy and Doreen became good friends. After Doreen died, Buffy was our only pet, for the next five years. When she died, at age 12, I adopted my little Nicky, a rascally white, very funny Devon Rex. He lived to be 11.
Then I found my most favorite and beloved little Papillion. Cassie. Cassie was a huge part of our lives for 16 years. She was a total member of our family, and did everything with us. When we traveled by air, she flew in the cabin with us, in her own carrier that fit under the seat. She stayed in hotels, and walked the streets of many cities, enjoying the parks with us.
Cassie was a great hiker, and hiked many trails with us in Idaho, and Colorado. She was able to hike at altitude for seven or more miles. She was only limited by how far her humans could go. She loved hiking, and would start to excitedly whine when she recognized we were going on the trail. When we would stop for lunch, Cassie had her lunch also. Having Cassie hike with us improved our hiking experience; she provided the entertainment.
But Cassie developed pulmonary hypertension at age 15. She did pretty well for ten months or so, but she finally began having seizures. This only went on for 24 hours, before it became obvious that it was time to euthanize her. So I had to say good by to the sweetest, smartest and best dog I ever had. We had her cremated, and buried her ashes off the trail at Horsetooth falls hiking trail. Now when we hike that trail, I look off the trail by the tree where she is buried, and I call out, “ Hi Cassie!”
Looking back at it now, I have had a good time enjoying all our beloved pets, over the past 50 years. I loved them all, and was lucky to have had each of them for a long time. Now, I am enjoying my memories of them.
As long as I can remember Cheetahs have had a special place in my heart. I admire their beauty , grace and speed. They are the fastest animal on the land, capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles or 96 kilometers in 3 seconds. Even at these high speeds they can
make sharp and sudden turns to get their prey. However, they can only sprint this fast for short distances and must sneak up on their prey to get close enough to catch it with their short burst of speed. Their chases are over in less than one minute.
Their beautiful spotted coat serves to permit them to blend into the grasses, making them hard to see. They also have excellent eye sight enabling them to find their prey which is often well camouflaged by the grasslands, requiring them to hunt solely during the daylight hours.
After making a kill cheetahs need to drag their prey into a hiding place or risk it being stolen by hyenas, lions, leopards or several other creatures. Cheetahs are pretty tough and can survive without water for up to four days.
Cheetahs usually have litters of 2 or 3 cubs, and raise them for about 2 years, during which they learn how to hunt for themselves. They have a life span of 10 tom 12 years in the wild. Males live alone or in small groups, often with their brothers.
Cheetahs are found in central and southeastern Africa, but only less than 10,000 are estimated to be left today. These numbers continue to decrease as more and more land is devastated by humans.
My latest cheetah painting (on the right) can be seen at my website. Click to View.
Around 20 years ago, I decided to change the way I frame my watercolor paintings. I had contacted a few galleries about showing my work, which I do from time to time. They stated that watercolors were much harder to sell because of the glare from the glass. Even non glare glass was a problem due to breakage, during shipping. And clients were not as interested in art under glass.
So I felt that I needed to develop an alternative to putting my paintings under glass. So, I looked at vanishes, and after some trial and error, I came up with a pretty good formula that works.
I first spray my painting. I use Krylon Matt spray. I do it out doors so I do not breath the fumes. So, the outside temperature needs to be at least 50 degrees. Otherwise, the varnish will get cloudy. How do I know this? That is the trial and error part. I have had the varnish get cloudy after I complete the spraying, and bring it indoors. This is very upsetting. So it is important to spray when the temps are 50 degrees or above.
So, this is the first step. Two spray coats with 24 hours of drying between coats. I use Krylon matt varnish spray.
Step two. After the two spray coats of Matt varnish have dried, you can then move on to the 2nd step. The liquid varnish. I use Golden brand called Polymere UV protection satin varnish, two coats, allowing them to dry for 3 hours between coats. This gives the painting a nice satin finish. For a black animal, such as a black bear, I use a gloss varnish. This really makes the colors have depth and pop out. Before I use the varnish, I roll the bottle back and forth on a flat surface. I do not shake the bottle as that introduces air bubbles. But it is important to mix the flattening agent in the varnish. That is what gives the varnish its satin finish. Sometimes, when the bottle is nearly empty, I get a sparkly speck on the painting. These is the remnants of the flattening agent. It is easy to pick up this glitter with a piece of drafting tape, low tack. This picks up the sparkly bits very easily, once the painting is dry.
If for some reason, say the cold temperature, the varnish does get cloudy, you can remove the varnish. It is soluble with Mineral Spirits. You can remove the varnish, with great care, using a paper towel, very delicately. If you end up removing some of the pigment from the painting, it is very easy to repaint the area.
If you have a problem with the liquid varnish, it can be dissolved with ammonia. Since the liquid varnish goes on after the spray, removing it usually does not interfere with the painting. It is annoying to have to remove a varnish, but it is good to know that it can be done, and the painting will be fine.
I hope that this is helpful to those of you who want an alternative to glass on watercolor paintings.
One of the advantages of living here in Colorado, is being very close to the wildlife and Nature which I enjoy. We live just a short distance from Rocky Mountain National Park, and hike there on an almost weekly basis in the Summer and Fall. This winter I plan to get a little more adventurous and try snowshoeing, weather permitting.
Rocky Mountain National Park is now 100 years old, a wonderful tribute to our forefathers who had the foresight to preserve this beautiful mountain land for all future generations to enjoy. Just being there and witnessing the vast panoramas is both relaxing and inspiring. We often see visitors from all around the globe (sometimes too many) traveling here just to see what we have so close by.
Abundant wildlife exists in the park, but most of it is pretty shy and therefore difficult to see. We do see lots of elk, especially in the fall, around mating season. Chipmunks and ground squirrels are always begging for food. Bears are in the park, and usually keep to themselves, so we see them only once or twice a year. We do see Big Horned Sheep,(as in the Photo) but usually on our way up to the park, not in the park. My personal favorites are the Gray Jays who always invite themselves to our lunch spot; but I really enjoy feeding them.
The road that winds thru the park closes after the first snowfall , usually in mid-October and remains closed until the end of May, and sometimes longer. The access from the East remains open all winter, allowing us to get to the trails for snowshoeing. If you drive thru the park in June you can see why the road closes in the winter…the snow on the sides of the road often exceeds 10 feet in depth!
So that’s my story of how I enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park…
Be sure to come back for more of my stories and paintings.
To see a larger version and learn more Click Here
Watercolor brushes need to be able to form a fine point in order to do the fine detail I require in my Paintings. Different brushes are used for acrylic, oil, and watercolor.
Since I am a watercolorist, I’ll discuss the brushes I use for my watercolor paintings.
These are soft brushes made of sable or synthetic fiber or a combination of the two.
I use both round and flat brushes
Round brushes are available in many sizes ranging from tiny to quite large. The brush size is designated by a number from 0 up to 16, 0 being the smallest, the latter being used for fine details including whiskers and individual hairs.
Personally , I use numbers 1 , 4 and 8; and have found that the sable- synthetic combination to be the most effective and longest-lasting of the round brushes.
The flat brushes I use are made of boar bristle. These are also used by artists working with oil and acrylic paints. I use them for applying paint to broad areas and lifting color , when lightening or blending paint.
Since I like to work on semi-rough watercolor paper, my brushes tend to wear out fairly quickly, especially on the tips. Once the tip has worn off , it becomes impossible to do fine detailed work. You can try to trim the brush to slightly improve its performance, but you won’t be able to restore it to its original tip. As a result, I go thru brushes rather quickly; at least one or two per painting.
Some specialty brushes I use include the extended tip brush; which has a large base and tapers to a half-inch long, skinny tip. This brush will hold lots of paint, enabling you to do a long, thin brush stroke, as long as two or three feet!
I also use long ( one and one half inch)skinny brushes ( number 1) for whiskers.
Large brushes (8 to 10) are used for applying paint to large areas.
I now prefer the brushes made by the Rosemary Brush Co. in England. They are a combination of sable and synthetic, are reasonably priced, and last over twice as long as any others I have used. My previous favorite were the series7 made by Windsor-Newton; but are the most expensive brushes on the market. I have used thousands of these over the years, but the quality seems to have declined; thus my change to Rosemary. I have never regretted the decision.
Please get back to me if you have any questions, or better yet, check out my paintings at ;
Here’s a painting I recently completed. The subject is a small cat from South America
called a Margay. Since he’s elusive and nocturnal I’ve titled it “Out of the Darkness”.
I’m afraid they don’t make good pets; since they are pretty vicious. Have you ever heard of this little cat?
To see more of my paintings go to Jacquie Vaux Art
The painting above that I did to honor Cecil the Lion was entered in the
Fall Show held by the AANC ( Artist’s Association of Northern Colorado).
I was pleasantly surprised when it received a First Prize Award.
Unfortunately, it also sold quickly, but I have made arrangements to
have it made into a Giclee print. These will be available for sale soon.
For more info go to my website: http://jacquievauxart.com.
On May 8th, in Ranthambore Park in India Ustad ( or T-24) allegedly mauled and killed a
forest guard. Days later he was tranquilized and moved to Udaipur Park about 530 Km away. Fortunately the authorities have stepped in and prevented any further action until
this case is decided by the Supreme court. For the time being he is OK until the court decides his fate.
He was saved by a petition that was flied by Chandra Bhal Singh a sincere tiger lover.
The supreme court usually only considers urgent matters during the summer; but this case has drawn world-wide attention. He believes the tiger only acted to protect his family when the guard entered his territory.
He also believes the National Tiger Conservation Authority acted hastily, due to the pressure of public opinion, without any scientific inveastigation, or studying the details of the attack.
For the moment he remains at Udaipur, awaiting the final decision of the Supreme Court.
What do you think?
Here’s a quick over view of the best places to see a real tiger in the wild.
Bandhavgarth National in Madhya Pradesh is a wildlife sanctuary with the reputation of having the most tigers ion the region. It is also known as “The land of the White Tiger”
but they have been extinct since the last one was captured in 1951.
The central area for tigers is over 100 square kilometers and contains about 50 tigers; so it’s still not a sure thing to see one on a regular basis.
The part of the park known as Tala Zone 1 is the best place to see a tiger; but viewing is
strictly controlled and youm need to purchase safari tickets in advance.
You will also be able to see many other animals quite uniquie ti India including:nigali antelope, chital deer, sambar deer, barking deer, wild boar, four-horned antelope, Indian Bison, wild dog, leopard, blue bull, Indian fox and bear.
This park is open starting in October thru June; Tigers are easiest to see April thru June.
This comes at some cost; rooms start at around $50 USD and go to $150.