Monday, September 29, 2014

Late Afternoon Swim

©A.K.SIMON- Late Afternnon Swim - 8"x8" oil on linen SOLD

Guess you could say this is my "swan song" to the 30 paintings in 30 days challenge. Note to self, "don't take vacation in the middle of a painting challenge!"

There has been a group of plein air artists who have been meeting in Gatlinburg, TN for over 35 years. They meet the second or third week in September just to indulge in their passion for painting, fine dining, nature and friendship. I had a dear friend who painted with the group for over 20 years who passed away this March. Though I painted with her every Tuesday for the past seven years, I never made the trip to Tennessee with her. I really regret that I never took the time! So, I went this year with several of our Tuesday morning "Upstairs Painters" group to dedicate a bench in Connie's honor. Sometimes we just need to take the time to reflect on what really is important. So many times in my journey as an artist I find that it is most often about the relationships with my fellow artists that mean so much more than the work we collectively produce. Connie often painted the swans when she stayed at the Buckhorn so the bench sits by the pond for those who wish to sit and indulge in the lovely surroundings. I wish she could have been there - but then maybe she was!

This is one of the paintings I did at my stay at the Buckhorn Inn in Gatlinburg, TN last week. This is Teller the beautiful resident swan. When we first arrived at the Inn I mentioned to my husband that this swan looks sad. He of course said, "yeah right". The swan's body language just seemed forlorn to me. Upon asking, sure enough his mate had passed away 3 months ago and he is in mourning. Swans mate for life and can mourn up to 6 or 9 months after their mate passes. Husband now thinks I'm the "swan whisperer"! This one was done very quickly with the intent of showing the "yucky pond water"and the sad posture of the swan. I tried to keep the swan the color of the evening sky with the lovely broken reflection on the water.

How ironic that I was there mourning the loss of a friend and Teller the loss of a mate. Somehow I'm just sure that his pain was no less than my own!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Georgia Brown Thrasher

©A.K.SIMON - Georgia Brown Thrasher - 8"x8" oil on linen

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.

This quote best describes my artist statement. Life is about relationships as is art. Everything finds value in relating to something else. Where would we be without our friends, family and acquaintances. Where would orange be without blue, red without green, yellow without purple. And that is why I enjoy blogging and sharing my paintings.

Sorry that this painting doesn't give justice to the size of the thrasher. It's huge in comparison to some of the other birds.

More about the brown thrasher: Brown thrasher video
Georgia's governor first proclaimed the brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) as the state bird in 1935, and it was finally recognized by the Geogia legislature as the official state bird in 1970 (at the request of the Garden Clubs of Georgia).
The brown thrasher is a large bird (almost a foot in length) with a long, curved bill and a very long tail. It has two prominent white wing bars, a rich brown color on its top side, and a creamy white breast heavily streaked with brown.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Delaware Blue Hen Chicken

©A.K.SIMON - Delaware Blue Hen Chicken - 8"x8" oil on linen 
Quote for the day: I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens.
                                                                                                       Isaac Bashevis Singer

OK, so I looked and looked for the blue hen chicken online and this is what keeps coming up for the Delaware state bird. I have painted this same bird before and always thought it was a rooster. Well, the Delaware state site shows this so I went with it. 

Here's the info for the Blue Hen Chicken: 

By John James Audubon, F. R. SS. L. & E.

The Delaware state bird, the Blue Hen Chicken, is a domestic bird (chicken) and therefore has no place in Audubon's Birds of America, which is comprised exclusively of wild birds native to North America.
Adopted as the official state bird on April 14, 1939, the Blue Hen Chicken had long been used as a motif in numerous political campaigns and in many publications.
During the Revolutionary War, the men of Captain Jonathan Caldwell's company, recruited in Kent County, took with them game chickens that were said to be of the brood of a famous Blue Hen and were noted for their fighting ability.
When not fighting the enemy, the officers and men amused themselves by pitting their Blue Hen chickens in cockfights. The fame of these cockfights spread throughout the army and when in battle, the Delaware men fought so valiantly that they were compared to these fighting cocks.

Monday, September 22, 2014

American Robin - State Bird for CT, MI and WI

©A.K.SIMON- American Robin - oil on linen - $100


Quote for Today: “If I can stop one Heart from breaking I shall not live in vain If I can ease one life the Aching Or cool one Pain Or help one fainting Robin Unto his Nest again I shall not live in Vain”                                                                                  Emily Dickinson

I feel very close to this bird because Practically every morning I walk the mile and a half to a park where I meditate and then walk the mile and a half back. While at the park I totally enjoy watching the habits of the robins. There are rarely any other birds there except robins. This one is having an interesting hair day.

Happy to report that I missed painting this guy yesterday because instead we welcomed our lovely new granddaughter, Eliza Grace into the world. She came a day early to surprise everyone. What a blessing! Oh well what's another day behind when you're about 15 already!

Funny note about the bird. I watched my 3-year old grandson, Max while Mom and Dad were at the hospital getting "baby sister."  He loves to look at my paintings and especially birds. I asked him what kind of bird this is and he said "cardinal". No matter how much I tried to convince him otherwise he kept repeating cardinal. Then, when we were at the hospital later in the day he told his dad, "grandma painted a robin." It's always a surprise what comes out of a 3-year old's mouth. We are so blessed to have grandchildren! Max on the other hand doesn't yet recognize the blessings of a baby sister!

Here's the info on the Robin: Connecticut designated the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) as state bird in 1943. The Robin is also the official state bird of Michiganand Wisconsin. Robins are a true thrush and one of America's favorite songbirds. Migratory robins are watched for each year as the heralder of spring, but many spend the entire winter in New England swamps, roosting in evergreens and feeding on winter berries.
Robins were named by early settlers after the familiar robin red- breast of Europe (a bird with similar markings that is not closely related to the American Robin). The most widespread thrush in North America (because of its adaptation to human- modified habitats), robins are a familiar backyard bird often observed pulling up earthworms on suburban lawns.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Colorado Lark Bunting

©A.K.SIMON - Colorado Lark Bunting - 8"x8" oil on linen $100

Quote for Today: The music soars within the little lark, And the lark soars.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning Quotes
30 paintings in 30 days challenge - for more info and to see all the work:
Back from vacation and stepping back into the challenge at day 20 (stepped out at day 7) and I doubt I'll be able to make up for the lost time and be done in 30 days. However, I will continue the theme until it is finished. This is a beautifully simple little bird. One thing I noticed is that it's head is a little larger than others. I've read that a large head means a big brain so perhaps this is one of the smarter birds. This is a black bird but with sunshine on it's back I chose to paint it with more of a reddish/purple black. 
Here's the info about the Lark Bunting: 6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Breeding male black, with large white wing patch. Female, immature, and winter male streaked sandy buff above, white below, with white eye line, faint "mustache" stripe, white wing patch (not always visible), and rounded, white-tipped tail feathers.


A canary-like song with loud bubbling sequences and trills interspersed with harsher notes. Call is a 2-note whistle.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Toast to the Sun

©A.K.SIMON - A Toast To The Sun -oil on wood panel -SOLD

Great news at the opening of "Still Life - Not Just An Apple on the Table" at High Road Gallery in Worthington, OH. This pieces won first place. What a rush to have that big blue ribbon hang on your work. Thanks to all the friends who showed up for the event. We had a nice turn out and the show will continue to run until the end of September. Now on to the next blank canvas - does it ever get any easier?

Have to put the bird series on hold for a week because I'll be traveling - but, I'll be back (in the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger). 

Sorry the photo is blurry but it was taken at the event with the lighting at the gallery adding a little glare.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

California Quail

©A.K.SIMON - California Quail - 8"x8" oil on linen - $100

Today's Quote: Be like the bird who, pausing in her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing she hath wings.
                                                                                                             Victor Hugo

Don't you just love an extravagant hat? This is my favorite state bird! I'm a little behind because of prior commitments but I finished this one today. Since I've never painted birds I'm a little hesitant and find it much harder to be painterly without the confidence of a familiar subject. Oh well, the journey continues.

Next week is a plein air trip so I'm not sure how that is going to fit into the 30 challenge?!

Info about the Quail:

By John James Audubon,
F. R. SS. L. & E.

The California quail (Lophortyx californica), also known as the valley quail, became the official state bird in 1931. A widely distributed and prized game bird, it is known for its hardiness and adaptability. Plump, gray-colored and smaller than a pigeon, the California quail sports a downward curving black plume on top of its head and black bib with white stripe under the beak. Flocks number from a few to 60 or more in the fall and winter months, but in the spring break into pairs. They nest in hollows scratched in the ground and concealed by foliage, and their eggs, 6 to 28 in number, are creamy white and thickly spotted with golden brown.
This beautiful species was discovered in the course of the voyage of LA PEROUSE, and figured in the atlas accompanying the account of that unfortunate expedition, but without any other notice respecting its habits or distribution, than an intimation of its having been found abundant in the plains and thickets of California, where it formed large flocks. MR. TOWNSEND has lately sent me a beautiful specimen of the male, which he procured on the 6th of March, 1837, near Santa Barbara in California. I have to regret, however, that he has not furnished me with any account of its habits. MR. NUTTALL, in speaking to me of this bird, informed me that it is very gentle or confident, so as to be in a great measure regardless of the approach of man, that its manners resemble those of our Common or Virginian Partridge, and that the males in spring are seen perched on low bushes, where they utter their love-notes in the same emphatic manner as the species just mentioned.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mocking Bird - State Bird for AR, FL, MS, TN, TX

©A.K.SIMON - Mocking Bird - 8"x8" oil on linen - $100


Today's Quote: “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 
                                                                             Harper Lee from To Kill a Mockingbird
Painted this one after working all day so I am spent. Midnight and I can't get a good picture, Will try again tomorrow. Knocked 5 states off the list with this one. 

Here's some information about the Mocking Bird: The mockingbird was recognized as the official state bird of Arkansas in 1929. Northern Mockingbirds have extraordinary vocal abilities - they can sing up to 200 songs, including the songs of other birds, insect and amphibian sounds, even an occasional mechanical noise. The northern mockingbird is also the state bird symbol of FloridaTexasTennesseeand Mississippi

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Arizona Cactus Wren

©A.K.SIMON - Arizona Cactus Wren - 8"x8" oil on linen


Today's Quote: Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark.
                                                              Rabindranath Tagore

It can't get better than today (well maybe it could a little - maybe some weight loss!). Started this painting in the AM, got pampered with a nice hair salon visit mid morning, dinner with a friend at the casino and walked away a winner! Got home at 9:30 PM to finish this painting and now I'm posting at 11:30 PM. What a full and productive day and I have to say that it probably wouldn't have been if it wasn't for Leslie Saeta (AKA Wonder Woman) pushing us all the time to keep pushing ourselves.
I've never painted birds and I have to say I love this little wren. Fluffy and robust in the sun. I did see these when I was in Sedona. Just how do they balance on those cactus needles? 
Just a little side story about cactus needles. My husband was hiking in Nevada and just barely pricked his finger on a cactus as he moved past it. The next day the finger was swollen twice the size and did not bend. Allergic reaction beyond belief! My moral to this story, humans are not welcome in the desert.
Here's some info about the Cactus Wren: 
Arizona's state bird, the Cactus Wren is seven to eight inches long and likes to build nests in the protection of thorny desert plants like the arms of the giant saguaro cactus.
It builds many nests but lives in only one. The rest are decoys.
Arizona adopted the cactus wren as its state bird in 1973.
The Arizona state bird, the Cactus Wren, was a bird not known to Audubon in his time, and was therefore not included in the 1840 edition of Birds of America.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Alaska Ptarmagin

©A.K.SIMON - Alaska Ptarmagin 0 8"x8" - oil on linen $100

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become a part of the silence.” 
                                                                                ― Robert Lynd

Day two and what a rush to get this done and it may get some more tweaking before it's all over. I painted with the upstairs painters all morning the did this this evening. I'm pushing the time frame but at least I got something done.

I asked hubby what he thought of this painting and he said, "well yesterday's was really nice but I just think you can't do much with this one because it's just one ugly bird." It's in the grouse family and I don't really believe in "ugly birds" so I'm sure it's something I've done. It really is a stark white bird in the winter and brown in the warmer months. Here's some info about it.

The willow ptarmigan was designated the official state bird of Alaska in 1955. There are three kinds of ptarmigan and all can be found in Alaska - the willow ptarmigan and rock ptarmigan (which are also found in Scandinavia, Russia, and northern Eurasia), and white-tailed ptarmigan (found only in North America). The famous red grouse of Scotland is a race of the willow ptarmigan.

Ptarmigan are arctic grouse. The willow ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) changes color from light brown in summer to snow white in winter for effective camouflage from predators. Another distinctive feature is its feathered toes. In winter months the willow ptarmigan eats mosses and lichens, willow buds and twigs, a little birch; seeds and berries when available. In summer their diet expands to vegetable matter and occasionally caterpillars or beetles.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Alabama Yellowhammer Northern Flicker

©A.K.SIMON - 8"x8" oil on linen - $100


Quote for the Day:  “The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply because they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.” 

                                                                                                     ― J.M. BarrieThe Little White Bird

The Leslie Saeta September Challenge begins today and since I've been AWOL all summer I decided I need to get busy. I have been painting but not posting very much because I've been finishing some home projects that just couldn't wait anymore. Here's the link to see everyone's work:

So here goes! I love birds and my first painting every was a goldfinch so I've decided to paint all of the state birds. When I initially began I thought, "well some will just have to be finished after the challenge." Not so, there are only 29 birds to paint so I come up one short. I'll figure something out by the end I'm sure. I'm just going to do this in alphabetic order by state and post a little info about the bird. I've already researched all the birds and I do have a favorite (sorry to say it's not Ohio where I live - we share ours with 6 other states). I'll let you know when I get there.

Heads up though, I will be on vacation during this time so things may get doubled up or missed - oh well - it will be a plein air trip so maybe i'll post some of that work.

Info about the Yellowhammer Northern Flicker  Info from

The "yellowhammer" was designated the official bird symbol of Alabama in 1927 (Alabama is the the only state that chose a woodpecker as state bird). The yellowhammer (correct name northern flicker) has been a symbol of Alabama since the Civil War (Alabama is often called The Yellowhammer State). Northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) range throughout the USA (red- shafted in the west and yellow-shafted flickers in the east, with interbreeding between these two color variations in between).
The northern flicker is a common species present year- round in Alabama, but bird surveys show that flickers are declining in numbers (particularly the eastern yellow-shafted flicker). Possible reasons: use of pesticides on lawns and other feeding areas, and diminishing eastern forests.

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