I was commissioned to do a pet portrait of a cat recently and it went very well although I approach this project with some trepidation. Portraits of both pets and people can be challenging and it’s hard to please both me, the artist, and the person commissioning the portrait. However this project actually went extremely well.
I never got to meet the cat in question, (He goes by Mojo the Chicken.) but I did get at least twenty photos to work with. Even with all of these, I didn’t have one that was the exact pose that I wanted to do in the painting though. So I had to combined, the face from this photograph, the body from this one, the tail from that one, etc. So the final painting is actually a hybrid of the cat, not a copy of one photograph.
I was sure to communication and show in progress photos frequently to the client. I’ve learned from post commissions that this is the way to go, no big reveals at the end.
Overall it was a enjoyable project, even though I’m still waiting to meet this beautiful cat, I believe I’ve gotten to know him. I’m open to doing more pet commissions but I’m going to stick to cats. They feel a bit more wild to me than dogs or other domesticated animals. Painting cats feel the same as painting all my other wild creatures.
Here are some shots of the work as it progressed:
This is the original image I sent for approval: client requested more contrast on geometric element.
The completed piece: Mojo the Chicken 2017
This trip was amazing and much too short. We stayed on the pacific coast near a national park called Manuel Antonio. We were there only 6 short days but managed to get in 3 jungle hikes so we saw quite a bit of the incredible wildlife that Costa Rica has to offer. It’s just choke full of animals, birds and bugs really, totally paradise.
Out of the 913 species of birds that call Costa Rica home I managed to clearly see and identify 23 of them. So I’ll be back, I have 890 more birds to go!
Here are some of the better shots of the birds we saw, I do have a SLR camera and brought a lens that goes to 250mm but I was longing for a better lens the whole time I was there.
I’ve brought back so many ideas for future paintings and I know I will be doing at least the following pieces:
Black and Green Dart Frog
Banded Owl Butterfly
Fiery Billed Aracaris
Blue Crowned Motmot
Golden Hooded Tanager
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Grooved Billed Ami
Here are a few shots of the non-bird wildlife. The titi monkeys were my favorite. They live only on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama and have suffered greatly from deforestation. In the 1970’s there were approximately 200,000 of them but now there is roughly only 5,000. This is actually up from a low of 2,000 in the early 2000’s so they are hopefully in recovery.
I’m very excited to get to work on starting some of this pieces but I have to finish up a bunch of paintings that are in process first. So off to the studio!
Wildermuth Reyes Art
I’ve had a busy few weeks editing my website and the shop that is attached to the website. About two years ago I opened a Etsy page and attempted to sell some of my work there but I didn’t have much luck. In fact the only people that bought anything off my Etsy shop were people that knew me already. They had gotten to the Etsy shop though my website, not through anything that Etsy had done. I was being lost in the massive amount of stuff that is sold on Etsy and I was paying them to be lost. So I finally decided to try my hand at my own little web store.
It was quite the endeavor. I spent hours editing, posting and staring at the computer. Time that I could have spent painting or drawing but this is all part of the life. There is some creativity to it and I enjoyed but it was A LOT OF WORK.
But now ta-da, I have my own store. I do have to pay a fee to be hosted and to be able to accept payments of course, it’s not free. But I don’t have to pay per item so I can put up as much stuff as I want to.
Now I have to get people to actually go to the store.
Last weekend was one of the busiest weekends of my life. It started off with my artist reception at Lille Aeske in Boulder Creek for my month long exhibition “The Beasts of Boulder Creek.” Then the following Saturday and Sunday were day long Open Studio events as part of the Santa Cruz Arts Council Open Studios. So for 4 hours on Friday night and then 7 on Saturday and another 7 on Sunday I was in full public mode. It was overall a good experience. I find that I’m getting better at communicating about my work and explaining myself. It used to be very hard and awkward talking to strangers but I find that I now have the confidence and charisma to talk almost anyone. I made a decent amount of sales and had some offers for future shows. So overall a positive (if tiring) experience.
However I did have one little conversation that gave me pause. A stranger asked if I was successful artist and I had to think about what that means to me. What does it mean to be a successful artist these days? Is it having a million followers on instagram (I don’t), Is it making loads of money by art sales (I don’t) Is it creating? (yes!) Is making enough to pay for all your supplies? (yes!) There are so many ways to measure success. I have friends that do indeed make loads of money selling their work. I know others that have tons of followers on social media, enough to be sponsored by brands. That is not me and if compare my success to theirs it’s down heartening. However I am moving right along and I do have what I would call success. I am very excited and absorbed with my subject matter and I can’t imagined getting tired of it for a very long time, perhaps for ever. I can officially say that I’m breaking even when it comes to expenses, that includes materials, studio fees and promotional costs. There was a very long time when the creation of the work cost more than what I earned from it. So the fact that it is paying for itself is awesome. Then there is the very important fact that it brings me joy. I am mindful and content when I am drawing and painting. So yes I guess I am a HUGELY successful artist.
Here are a few photo’s from the two events the last weekend.
A few photos of “The Beasts of Boulder Creek”.
Beasts of Boulder Creek: Artist Reception 10/6
Artwork display for Santa Cruz Open Studio’s
One of the displays of my work up at Traders of the Lost Arts.
Last night was the artist reception of my linocut show at the Traders of the Lost Arts in Boulder Creek, CA. It was a hot night, a record breaking hot night in fact but quite a few people made it out to watch me print and enjoy the art. A good time was had by all and we didn’t let the sweat dripping down our backs bother us. Here’s a few shots of the show and me demonstrating the process of printing linocuts.
Here I am in action.
The big reveal!
Here’s some photos of the work, If you are going to be in Boulder Creek anytime soon the show will be up for the month of July. If not I have some of the prints up for sale at my Etsy shop: Wild Spirit Kings.
The month of May has been extremely busy so far. I am actually participating in two shows this month. The first being a solo show at the gallery west of the Mckinely Arts and Culture Center. This show went up on April 27th and will be on display through June 16th. The center is an historical building that was constructed in 1909 and was originally a school. It’s got a lot of personality and is right across from the Truckee River.
Here’s some highlights from the hanging and then the Artist Reception that took place on May 4th.
And then the second show is an online show at the Fusion Gallery. Their May 2017 show is titled “Animal Kingdom” and I was fortunate to get the following two pieces of my works in the show. Even more exciting is the news that my piece “Urocyon cinereoargenteus” received an honorable mentioned in the Traditional Artwork category.
Urocyon cinereoargenteus 2016
Tyto alba 2016
Sylvilagus audubonii 2017
I finally “finished” this painting about a month ago and by finished I mean I had to let it go. This painting was started in June of 2016 and I just couldn’t get it right. I spent 10 months on the darn thing and it went through so many stages but I never ended up completely satisfied. Meanwhile during the months I spend working on this painting I started (and finished!) five other paintings, three drawings and two linocuts. That’s sorta ridiculous. I usually would have abandoned something going so bad fairly early into it, but I just couldn’t give up on it. And though I’m still not completely happy about the results, I’m glad I didn’t toss it to the side and end up painting over it.
I did learn something extremely important, I need to spend time on the planning and sketching stages of the piece and not blow it off. The five other paintings that I completed while this was on the easel, were all well thought out. I did many sketches and worked on the composition on paper before taking it to the panel. For this one I did one sketch, was kinda happy with how it looked, and then jumped right into the painting. I was too excited to paint and did not work out all the kinks on paper first.
So no more! What’s a few hours working on getting the sketch composition just right compared to months painting and then repainting and then repainting some more?
Here’s a few photos of the process this thing went though.
Now it’s time to let it go and start sketching.