Category Archives: animals

Anticipation

Anticipation. Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread Series, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24, Kit Miracle

This is the last painting in my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series.  I began planning this series in December 2019.  I thought I had enough material.  The theme was to observe people eating, either together or alone.  Some were family members, others were people in the public – restaurants, picnics, etc.

I had a lot of ideas but unfortunately with the onset of the pandemic, my ability to observe was limited.  I scoured through hundreds (thousands) of photos taken over about two decades.  I laid out about a dozen paintings but towards the end I was running out of subject matter.

This painting is from a photo that I’d saved from several years ago.  It was taken by a friend of mine at a special dinner, Thanksgiving I think.  I’ve always loved this image but could never figure out quite how to capture the scene.  So with his permission, I decided to add it to my series.

It made me think of several paintings of the impressionists who portrayed pets in their work.  Even the formal setting seems reminiscent of that era.  I thought, well, pets are often our dinner companions so it fits with the theme of the series.

The painting was so much fun to do that it almost painted itself.  Some pieces are like that.  I don’t usually paint animals but even the fur of the doggie was fun to paint.  If you can zoom in on it, you will see that it contains many colors and perfectly captures this little girl.

So, it is with a big sigh that I’ve finished this series last month.  Now just to do some framing and I’m all ready to go for my big show next month at the new Jasper Cultural Center.  If you’re in the neighborhood, come check it out.  More details to follow. 

Anticipation, detail 1 Our little friend R. A well-loved, well-behaved companion. Loved painting her fur/hair.
Anticipation, detail 2. A table setting for celebration.

Demonic Easter Bunny

Demonic Easter Bunny, original painting, acrylic on canvas, 10 x 8, Kit Miracle He didn’t quite turn out the way I planned.

Let me preface this post by saying it is not to disparage the Easter holiday, religion, or bunnies.  It is more a tale of bad painting.

I purchased this cute little Easter Bunny at an antique store.  It’s not an antique but certainly a mid-century collectible.  I’m always scouring thrift shops and antique stores for subjects for still lifes.  I have a whole cupboard in my studio.  You’ll often see the same items in more than one still life.

This little toy rabbit is vinyl, has lost its squeaker and most of its paint, and is a bit sticky.  I guess it would be after 50 or 60 years.  Well-loved, anyway.

The is the vintage Easter Bunny toy that I used as my subject for the painting. He’s very well-loved but cute. Not quite the way the final painting turned out.

I was taking a break this past winter from working on my big series paintings to paint some seasonal items.  These are sold in my Etsy shops and a couple of local gift shops.  They’re a good diversion from the “hard” work.  So I thought this cute little bunny would be the perfect subject.

Unfortunately, things did not turn out the way I planned.

It seemed the more I worked on the painting, the worse he looked.  Which just goes to show you that effort does not always equal success.  I should know. 

So I hid him away in my studio.  But later showed him to my son who was visiting.  He laughed and loved it.  Said it has a demonic look to the eyes.  (Whaaaaa???)  And that the granddaughter would love it.  She has his quirky sense of humor.  Guess it runs in the family.

So a sincere Happy Easter to all my friends and fans out there.  And for those of you who share an off-kilter sense of humor, I present this little Demonic Easter Bunny to you. 

A day at the zoo

Building anticipation at the zoo entrance. As you can see, it was quite chilly when we began our tour.

It was spring break around here this week so grandma and grandpa decided to take the grandkids to the zoo for the day.  We selected Monday as it was supposed to be overcast, mild and no rain.  (Rain was predicted for most of the rest of the week but didn’t really happen.)

Due to COVID, the zoo has limited visitation so we bought our tickets online. They were timed to allow only a certain amount of people in at a time.  It’s been several years since we’ve been to the zoo and one of the grandkids had never been.  He was really excited.

The drive to Louisville was as much fun as the visit.  Our conversation went like this:

Boy (age 5) I can’t wait to get to the zoo!  I want to see the zebras!  His normal speaking tone is about 90 decibels.

I stared at the sun and it didn’t blind me.

G (grandparents)  Don’t do that.  You could hurt your eyes.

A little while later

B I just stared at it for like ten minutes and I’m still not blind!

DON’T DO THAT!

The conversation proceeded along those lines until we began counting water towers and cell phone towers.  The grandson is a very chatty child so when we were talking, his response was, Be quiet!  I’m trying to talk here! Which threw us into more fits of laughter. 

Meanwhile, big sister (age 11), Stop talking.  I’m trying to read.

We finally made it to the zoo.  Parking was fine but no one was leaving alternate spaces.  As we waited a few minutes to go in, I realized that everyone else in the area seemed to have the same idea to visit the zoo.  Whole carloads of parents and kids poured out.  I have never seen so many strollers and wagons in one place.

These giant birds were part of the Wild Lights exhibit which appeared throughout the zoo. There were dragons and penguins, giant shrimp and flowers of every kind. There must have been a few hundred of these on exhibit.

Entry was organized and we were off.  I didn’t realize until we got there that they were hosting a Wild Lights event which featured giant creatures, imaginary and real, and plants, in beautiful colors of every kind.  Unfortunately, the lighted parts were only for evening tours but it was still pretty spectacular.

I’m not quite sure what this imaginary creature was supposed to be but it was still neat to see.

The route for guests is about a mile and a half, downhill the first half and uphill the second half.  It thinned out a bit but not much.  Unfortunately, several of the animal exhibits were closed which was disappointing.  No snakes, lizards or porpoises.

These beautiful pink flamingos made quite a splash.

We stopped for a break about half way through with snacks and drinks we’d brought.  Then started heading back on the second half of the route.  Grandpa got tired and took a shortcut to the top to wait for us.  The clouds never did appear so the day really warmed up. 

I felt rather sorry for this jaguar but wouldn’t want to meet him outside the fence.
At last! The zebras! Someone was soooo excited! (And you can see that we’ve peeled off our jackets.)

The second half had loads more animals (those that weren’t hiding).  Snowy owls and snow leopards.  Lions, zebras, giraffes, gorillas, rhinoceros, and lots more.  Saw the seals and a manatee.  B I dropped my toy in the tank by accident.  It was my favorite. 

The beautiful carousel had an amazing variety of animals to ride. Most went up and down but the outside animals were stationary. A good way to end the day at the zoo.

We finally made it to the top and found grandpa sitting by the carousel.  The kids both had to have a ride.  Then for the requisite visit to the gift shop and looking for the “cheap toys” as the grandma behind me remarked.

B I LOVE THIS ZOO!

We didn’t even make it to the highway, about seven minutes, before he was fast asleep.  The whole day – beautiful sunshine, fresh air, LOTS of walking – tuckered us all out.  Early bedtimes for all.

Pet menagerie

This post is about our menagerie of pets currently residing on the home place.  We’ve had several dogs, a few cats, and now a feathered friend.  Two of the pets arrived this year.

Cheeky the parakeet loves to have his cage rolled outdoors on nice days. In the shade, of course.

First there was the addition of Cheeky the parakeet.  This is the first time that we’ve had an indoor bird so a bit different from the flocks of chickens we’ve had.  Cheeky loves to have his cage rolled out onto the back porch where he can survey the yard.  He gets excited when he sees other birds but otherwise seems happy.  He particularly likes to have some grass and clover added to his feed.  And when he gets going, he gives the most interesting concert of warbles and chirps.

Leo at a few weeks old. Ready for adventure.

Leo begging to sit in my lap while I paint. Not happening. But look at those eyes!

Leo taking a cat nap in my studio, right under my easel.

Leo the cat is our newest addition in June.  I wasn’t prepared to have another cat after our old one died at the ripe old age of twenty-two.  But, well, he was really cute.  Leo has become a “mom” cat as he follows me wherever I go.  He particularly likes hanging around in my studio.  We initially had some disagreements on what he could climb on and what was off limits.  Some firm scolding and a squirt bottle seems to have solved that problem.

Mikey the border collie. I can hardly take a picture outdoors without him photo bombing it. At least a tail or head or something.

Mikey in his favorite chair on the patio. Doesn’t look comfortable to me but he likes it.

Finally, there is Mikey the dog.  Border collie to be more precise.  This is our second border collie.  They are very smart dogs but have really strong personalities.  They like to herd everything, including when I push the wheelbarrow around the yard.  He also photo bombs nearly every single outdoor photo that I take.  How does he know?  Mikey is a great guard dog.  His job this time of year is keeping the raccoons out of the corn patch.

So, that’s our pet family.  Not about art although I predict they will appear in some future paintings.  Mikey already has.

Year of the Pig

Year of the Pig, green background, original painting, 6 x 6, Kit Miracle

The Chinese Year of the Pig begins on Tuesday, February 5th.  I had this cute little pig teapot and decided to paint it for a close family friend who is Chinese and whose birth year is the Pig.  Actually, I painted two versions.

The painting is a very simple portrayal in acrylic on a canvas panel.  Although the teapot is small, the pig is big on character.  It was very fun to do after some of the more complex paintings that I’ve been doing lately as I don’t usually paint on this small scale except for watercolors.

The Year of the Pig (birth years 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019) portends good luck for the people born in this year.  They are hard workers, energetic and enthusiastic.

So, to my friends of Chinese background, and to everyone else, Happy New Year!

One version of this painting will be listed in my Etsy shop.

Year of the Pig, brown background, acrylic on panel, original painting, 6 x 6, Kit Miracle

 

Dreaming of Rabbits

Dreaming of Rabbits. Border collie painting, 18 x 24. Acrylic on canvas. Contemporary impressionism. Kit Miracle

This is a rare quiet moment of my dog Mikey.  Anyone who has ever been owned by a border collie knows that they are power plants of energy, always ready for a walk, a ride or a new adventure.  Mikey spends much of his days chasing squirrels, birds, rabbits, anything that moves, really.  Here you see him in one of his other favorite pastimes.  He climbs up onto a patio chair and takes a nap, even if no one else is around.

Artists who paint in a realist fashion are always advised to paint what you know.  This is what I know.  Just a common, everyday scene.

Painted on canvas in a contemporary impressionist style. Check out the muted colors of the shadows and the impatiens flowers.  The lovely, soft colors are so easy to love.

Yes, for sale here:  KitMiracleArt.

 

Baby wrens

Baby wrens in nest.

I love house wrens.  Every year we have a nest on the front porch, either in a fern or in the wren house.  This year there are five baby wrens.  I counted the other day but you can only see four beaks in this photo. I love to watch the busy parents feeding this brood.  I can’t imagine how many bugs, grubs and worms they bring but it’s constant this time of year.  I was watching through the window  earlier today while working at my computer.  Although I’m sure the birds saw me, my presence didn’t seem to affect them at all.  They have a very bright chirrup, chirrup, especially if they’re alarmed as when the dog decides to nap on the porch, too.  We’ve even found them nesting in the pocket of a shirt my husband had hanging in the shed.  (Apologies for the bird poop, but that’s country life!)

UPDATE:  The babies fledged the day after I took this photo.  I saw a wren already looking at one of my hanging flowerpots which is another favorite nesting site.  Might get another family this summer.

Is it or isn’t it?

Female bobcat early morning.

Female bobcat early morning.

We moved the deer cam up into the woods. In addition to deer, squirrels, etc., we caught this photo. I think it’s a female bobcat which typically weigh between 15 and 22 pounds. Unfortunately, the photo was taken at dawn, around 7:45 on Sunday so it’s in a grey light, not either day or night. It’s about twice as big as a house cat (which don’t last too long in these woods with so many coyotes around). If you zoom in on the photo, you’ll see that the legs have bands and that the back legs are longer than the front giving the bobcat its characteristic cheetah-like walk. Anyway, stay tuned. There may be more pix to come.

Night visitors

Living out in the near wilderness, we are often beset with furry critters set on eating our produce. Our 90 acres is more like a big park than a real farm. We don’t mind sharing but…there’s plenty for the animals to eat without invading the garden and orchards.

Recently we noticed that something was munching on the fallen apples. So we set up the deer cam in the orchard. My goodness, but there is a LOT of activity out there. Plenty of deer, lots of raccoons (and babies), and one slinky coyote. This isn’t counting all the rabbits and squirrels that set off the camera.

And for those of you who think raccoons are cute little masked bandits, think again. They are vicious creatures who just enjoy the pleasure of killing a whole flock of chickens in a single night.

Anyway, we’re really trying to capture a photo of a bobcat or mountain lion rumored to be living in these parts. We’ll move the deer cam into the woods soon and see what we will see.

Day visitors - a whole herd of deer munching on peaches  8:45 a.m.

Day visitors – a whole herd of deer munching on peaches 8:45 a.m.

Big buck 10:15 p.m.

Big buck 10:15 p.m.

Raccoon stealing bait from trap 5:08 a.m.

Raccoon stealing bait from trap 5:08 a.m.

Wylie Coyote 1:43 a.m.

Wylie Coyote 1:43 p.m.

Evening muncher 6:45 p.m.

Evening muncher 6:45 p.m.

Choosing a painting subject

A simple spring subject.  Oil on canvas, 11x14

A simple spring subject. Oil on canvas, 11×14

I’ve often been asked how I decide what to paint.  To me, the answer is obvious.  Just as writers are advised to “paint what you know,” so, too, should painters.  What interests you?  Do you have a passion or special message?  For me, just walking out the door will often suggest a subject.  In fact, I once had an exhibit which was solely painted from “my 90 acres,” i.e., everything and everyone was from the home place.  That was a little challenging as I do get out and about, but it was a good exhibit.

This painting that I completed yesterday is a scene just out my studio door.  The dog and some spring bushes.  Pretty simple.  However, if you look back at some of the famous painters of the past century, regional artists or French Impressionists, some of their best work was of ordinary daily scenes.  I don’t live near the ocean or the Rocky Mountains, so my usual subjects are the soft hills here in southern Indiana, small villages, flower gardens, vegetables, my favorite people and places.  Try taking a look around your own home town with new eyes.  You’ll be surprised at subjects which suggest themselves.  Good luck!