Monday, December 21, 2009


That about says it- doldrums.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back by Popular Demand. . .

For some reason, the Downy Woodpecker is my most- sold bird subject. This is my latest version of the Downy, perched on an oak branch in October. It's inspired by a large tree in my front yard that is frequently visited by downys (downies?) as well as other bird species. Of course, you're not supposed to have large trees so close to the house, but the tree was here before the house was. It sheds leaves, branches, acorns, dead bugs and live squirrels on the roof. Those are the negatives, but it creates a shady environment for the front yard, which is a positive.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Just About Everything

If you'd like to take a look at what I've been drawing and painting for the last several years, go to: Click on the various "tags" on the left side of the page.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fire in the Sky

It's time for the annual show in the back yard. For a few days each October this maple tree absolutely glows. The photos don't do it justice, but these are my best efforts.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Happened?

Time to pick the moths and spiders off the aloe vera plant and bring it inside. It seems like a minute ago I was feeling the warm sun.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

End of 2009

The art fair season is now over, just in time for the weather to turn chilly and furnace-worthy. I'm hoping to catch up on some new paintings. I have all kinds of ideas, let's see what materializes.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Couple of Cardinals

I've bravely finished a new painting of two cardinals, following my recent trend of painting multiple birds in one picture. Cardinals are often seen in pairs, and having done many works of either male or female cardinals, I thought it was time to show them interacting. He seems to be taking some interest in her, she looks unimpressed.

Also, there is a small tree in my back yard that is in the process of changing color. I don't know what kind of tree it is, but the leaves were beautiful. I'm always looking for unusually colored foliage; this conceals my impatience with trying make green leaves look the way they should.

Here it is:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Good to Be Back on the Square

After a 2 year absence, I had the pleasure to be back in the Art Fair on the Square show in downtown Lake Forest. The weather was good, the crowd was good, and I was selling some art. The negatives: yellowjackets (they like the same foods that people do) and the traffic situation at tear down. When you have a bunch of tired, cranky artists and not enough organization in a small space, things can get unpleasant.
This was my last outdoor show of the year. At the end of this month, I'll be in a barn again. By then, I'll have at least one new painting done.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making the most of scraps: My latest painting

I've just finished this watercolor of 3 chickadees on a crabapple tree. This is the first time I've shown three birds in one painting, and the first time I've done a painting in this kind of proportion - very vertical. This was inspired by two things: attempting to experiment with different approaches to birds and botanical paintings, and not wanting to let a good scrap of paper go to waste. I like the scroll-like appearance of the design. I'll probably use a wider, antiqued frame to add balance to the narrow design.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Not a bad weekend. And an award.

The Glenview Art Fair turned out well. The weather was absolutely terrific. A very good crowd, and as expected, sales weren't fabulous, but all things considered, okay. Art fairs are a mixture of anticipation, dread, exhaustion, anxiety, exhiliration, heavy lifting, dehydration, disappointment and thrill. Those terms are listed in no particular order, but the overall sentiment is positive, or else I wouldn't keep signing up for more. Lately, I've been receiving more awards (Merit Award for this one) and it might have something to do with better framing. There is nothing that enhances original art or a reproduction like good quality framing.
My framed prints are gaining popularity. All you have to do is hang it - instant art!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Deep Purple

This morning glory is the most intensely purple flower I've ever grown. Two years ago I bought three potted plants at a Whole Foods for a bargain price. Yes, a bargain at Whole Foods. I had no idea that this variety would be a vigorous re-seeder. It pops up in gravel paths, lawn, and other gardens on the property. This doesn't bother me, as the new shoots are easily pulled. These blooms are stunning. If you'd like a few, there's plenty to go around.

I'd considering doing a painting of them, but I don't think I can match the color.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"A Garden Party"

As I may have mentioned already, I had to miss the opening of the Garden Party exhibit at The Art Center in Highland Park due to my extreme fear of violent weather. Afterwards, though, I went to view the show on a day without the threat of death by rain. There was much terrific art, and I have to say without a doubt that our Reed-Turner group produced the best botanical art in the show.
Credit goes to The Art Center for quickly responding to my request to compensate me for damaging one of my frames during setup.

Monday, June 29, 2009

At Last, Silence

Finally, the stuff that was sprayed from low-flying helicopters to control the gypsy moth plague seems to have taken effect. After munching and crunching the oak trees while crawling over buildings and people, they are dying in large numbers. It looks like most of the caterpillars won't turn into moths after all. It made for an unpleasant experience to be outside, but like the aliens in War of the Worlds, they are stopped. These critters, along with the emerald ash borer and japanese beetle, along with native species such as deer, are more challenging to a gardener than ever before.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Latest.

This painting is just finished, "Caladium", a botanical watercolor. I haven't painted a purely botanical work in a long time, possibly years. Usually there's a bird or insect included but this is purely plant. I've painted this plant before, and added them to my garden, but until now they've never flowered. This one is flowering profusely, and it's fascinating. I learned that they are a member of the arum family, like the jack-in-the-pulpit, and the flower has a scent reminiscent of wintergreen- like the Lifesavers!

Here it is:

Thursday, June 4, 2009


This is a recent photo of one of my gardens. The Siberian and Bearded Irises are both in bloom. The persistent cool weather is garden-friendly. The current plague of gypsy moth larvae is not. The trees are crackling with the sound of their munching, and they are crawling over buildings and dropping out of the trees onto defenseless humans below. Eeeewww.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Making the Best of It.

Having to take some unpaid time off from work has had a benefit. I had a chance to meet with the Reed-Turner Botanical Artists for the first time in well over a year to discuss our group's issues and actually draw in the field. It really was in a field, a prairie, and I had a chance to learn more about the prairie wildflowers, all while swatting mosquitoes. (Couldn't resist adding a complaint).

A Garden Party

I don't enter many gallery shows, but this one is tailor-made! "Garden Party" will feature garden-related art, and I'll be showing 3 original pieces: the Robin and Magnolia painting seen in the last entry, the Goldfinch and Coneflower, and the Nasturtium and Magicicada, both shown in earlier posts on this blog. Opening reception June 19, show will end July 16.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Latest.

I try to cover all 4 seasons my paintings - Hmmm . . . can you guess which season this one is? Spring hasn't come easy this year but this painting is my way of celebrating its arrival.

"Sign of Spring", Robin and Magnolia, Original Watercolor by Anne Gilna

The Art and Plant Sale

It was good to get together with the Reed-Turner Botanical Artists, though art sales were slow. It just was. The artists are very talented, and we're keeping keeping on.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Positive Sign

The NSUC show went really well. Every year I make an appearance to set up for this show, greeting the same volunteers, occupying the same booth space, and even seeing many of the same customers. Most of the same artists are there. It's very reassuring, yet strange that an entire year passes in between a show, and little changes from one to the next. Attendance was noticeably higher, in part due to bad weather (the opposite of an outdoor show) and free admission.

Back to the printer issue. It turns out that a new print head, again, was needed. We're giving it another try. It's working great presently, though by deleting and reinstalling the printer driver, the color adjustments I'd made were lost, and images looked too intensely colored, and generally off. I'm making the corrections, recalling the general tendency of the program to overdo it regarding saturation.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

It Continues.

After producing several good prints, the miserable lines reappeared, ruining a print. Though one of the cartridges was low, I decided to redo the print head alignment. While waiting for one of the test sheets to print, the machine just stopped dead and shut down. It wouldn't restart. Nothing. I waited. I changed the (presumably) empty cartridge. Still nothing.
I looked into getting the newer comparable model, which would cost the same as this one did years ago. I'm not giving up on this one though, I have it on good advice that a new print head assembly would cure the problem, guaranteed.
Though it doesn't resemble a yellow citrus fruit, I think I have a lemon printer.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Continuing Saga of the Epson Stylus 2200

For the last 3 or 4 years, I have been producing my own high quality reproductions of my original work using an Epson Stylus 2200 printer. It produces good, sharp images, and the media and ink cartridges are reasonably priced. It has been fun to create prints as they are needed, and over time I have learned which images are most likely to sell, and which ones are more likely to stick around for a while.
Last September, one particular print came out of the machine showing some unusual marks, sort of like a faint bar code, showing each of the 7 colors, at random places within the print area, but not the result of ink on the rollers, and not responding to repeated print head cleanings.
The repair center that had replaced the print head in the past wasn't familiar with the problem, but didn't encourage repairing the machine again, since it's now obsolete. I checked out the newer models, but none seemed to have the familiar, simpler features I'd grown accustomed to.
So, I took my printing business to Blueraven Creative, and was very satisfied with the results of the work. However, I still missed producing my own prints, and the flexibility of creating prints whenever I wanted, as few or as many as I wanted.
I contacted the repair center again, and the technician suggested it may be a software issue. I uninstalled the program, and eliminated all traces of the printer from the registry. Then I downloaded the driver from the Epson website onto another computer first, and ran a test sheet. It came out clean, without the strange line pattern. Encouraged, I downloaded the software on my computer, and the test sheet again came out clean. I ran 2 prints successfully, and on the third try, the lines reappeared. This was frustrating, to say the least.
Though the machine is long out of warranty, I felt that I had nothing to lose to contact Epson support online. I described the problem, and their solution was to try realigning the print head, something I hadn't thought of. It took some time, paper, and a magnifying glass, but the realignment happened, and I ran several prints successfully. No strange lines.
This takes us to the present day. I hope this saga does not continue. . .

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I've just attended the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association conference, as a vendor. The conference took place over 4 days, though I was able to sell for only one of the days. It was an unexpected find. The attendees were appreciative of my work in watercolor, as well as my portraits. I spent a lot of time discussing my bird knowledge, and I appreciate the dedication the rehabilitators have to their work. It turned out to be a productive day! I'd like to participate next year, but that will take place in Seattle - I may not be ready for that transportation adventure. We'll see.
Meanwhile, I'm giving serious thought to some springtime bird and botanical paintings.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Light and Shadow

One of the most difficult, yet essential, aspects of painting any subject is to create a contrast between light and dark. I have always struggled with achieving this effect, especially when painting birds or botanicals. Sometimes the light source isn't very distinct and I have to invent one, or I am too cautious with the dark areas, and don't want the painting to look overworked or muddy.

Now, I think I've made some progress in this area, with my latest watercolor, Kestrel. The light is cast strongly from the right side, defining the form. Another notable thing about this painting is that the bird is looking straight at us, creating more shadow away from the light. Here it is:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I no longer like metal.

Frames, that is. For years, I framed all originals and prints in aluminum frames. The idea was that the thin metal frames were secondary to the detail of the paintings and would not detract from the subjects. Okay, they were really cheap. Now, after listening to advice from other artists and having access to quality wood frames through my workplace, I have gradually reframed almost all of my art in attractive wood. What a difference! If you come to one of my shows you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Making of a Portrait

Most of my portraits begin as a snapshot, supplied by the customer. In this case, she felt this photo best demonstrated the pet's personality. It's unusual to include inanimate objects in a portrait, especially vibrant blue purses, but it's crucial in this case. We didn't want to show all of the other extraneous items, though, and I eliminated them from the completed portrait. I offered to draw the portrait in graphite instead of colored pencil, but she felt that the bright colors enhanced the cat's mischievous personality. Here are before and after pictures:

My goal was to keep the visual clutter to a minimum while still preserving the essence of the picture - a moment in time when the cat was in the bag.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Staying Productive

I've just finished another painting, actually a combination of painting and drawing. I'm still working on creative ways to blend watercolor and graphite. This latest work does that, I hope. Over the years I've done many goldfinches and coneflowers, in many combinations, and this is a new variation on that theme. I wanted to depict the coneflower in different phases of growth, typical of botanical art, but I admit that painting the seedheads gets a little too picky for me. So, by adding graphite instead of paint in that area, I can still be accurate without getting bogged down in the details. Here it is:

Goldfinch and Purple Coneflower by Anne Gilna