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Caroline Henry

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An oak tree dominates the scene in a field where winter birds safely shelter. Wild mustard, which grows abundantly when it rains in the central valley of California, provides a bright yellow backdrop. This watercolor and ink sketch was done as a demo in a class I gave, but it is the only version of this scene which I have painted. I like the reflections, the colors of winter transitioning to spring, and the informal feel. This nature area is about a half hour drive from my home and is a favorite place for bird-watching, hiking, and for sketching… Continue reading… 0 comments

A yellow iris glows with color in a garden setting. The transparent colors of watercolor are especially suited to replicating the vibrancy and delicacy of the living tissue of flower petals. There is great pleasure to be had both in creating and in viewing garden flowers or wild flowers growing in field or forest. Increasingly health care institutions are seeing the value of having trees and gardens on view from patient areas. Views of nature help create feelings of calm, serenity, and hope within us. For much the same reason, landscapes and garden paintings are welcome in our homes and offices. Aside from their intrinsic beauty, the nature connection within these works of art adds to our sense of well being… Continue reading… 0 comments

A purple songbird sings merrily from his perching place on a branch. Loosely defined forest makes the background. Materials are watercolor and marker pen on heavy watercolor paper. This little 3" by 3" (8cm by 8cm)painting would look pretty matted and framed but could also be enjoyed leaning against books in a case. Little jewels of art such as this make it possible for anyone to be an art collector, even those who live in tiny apartments, boats, or travel trailers. I chose to list this today between visits to my mom who is in the last days of her life, because she has always birds, birdsong, and the beauty of flight. Much of my own enjoyment of nature came from my early years when she helped me open my eyes to the joy and beauty around me in the natural world… Continue reading… 0 comments

A red fox sits on a rock formation in an autumnal forest scene. The drawing is in ink, with watercolor tints bringing the colors of the habitat to life. This is one of my paintings that attempts to capture the surprise that awaits just around the bend in the trail. It suggests a story, whether of the fox or the hiker who spots him. I like the way the fall colors pick up the colors of the fox's fur. The shadows indicate a midday sun, but there are enough cool colors in the greens and the blue gray rocks to suggest a mild fall day rather than the heat of an Indian Summer… Continue reading… 0 comments

This is actually version two of my tiger lily painting. When we came across the particular patch of wild flowers from which this one was taken, the mass of color was almost overwhelming. Imagine walking in a hot day, in forested country but much of the time in the sun, then coming across a gurgling brook and deep shade, lit by the glow of shining orange and yellow flowers, lots of them! So first I painted a cluster of flowers. The thing is, nature can throw everything together and it all works. When you try to pour that onto a 2-D world, the world of a painting, you had better make choices. My first painting tried to take in too much. It wasn't an awful painting, but it was not very interesting, either… Continue reading… 0 comments

An egret makes its way among waterside rushes as it seeks out a meal. the range of blue tones from teal to purple complement the yellow tones of the rushes, while the white egret is the center of attention. The egret is in the sun, while light is absorbed in the shadowing dense reeds behind him. In the photo I painted from, the shadowed areas were dull grays and browns. I wanted to bring in cooler and more vivid colors to bring up the white of the bird (which actually includes blues) and to emphasize the cool appearance of these birds, even when they are in full sun on a hot day. The bird was intent on watching the water, moving into the reed… Continue reading… 0 comments

Wyoming Magpie

by Caroline , October 8, 2012—12:00 AM

Topics: animals, birds, color, nature, reflected color, shadow, watercolor

Magpie stands on a grassy lawn looking directly at the viewer. The azure highlights in its dark markings are picked up in the shadow. I photographed this fellow at Yellowstone National Park for later painting. I like the bold attitudes and wonderful colorings of these birds. I believe that being observant of nature enhances paintings--a moment is better captured if you know its before and after. Painting or drawing also adds to the experience of those who enjoy observing nature. It forces you to notice more detail, and then as an artist, to decide what is essential in portraying the truth of your subject… Continue reading… 0 comments

A row of white houses with flat black roofs line a cliff. The slopes above them are forested and across a misty distance rise blue topped hills. Left to the viewers imagination is whether they look down upon a valley, the sea, or a lake. The opening for the image is 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. The frame is 8.5 X 10.5 inches. It was a challenge photographing this one for the internet, because the reflective glass covers the entire frame and I really wanted viewers to see it in the frame which does so much to complement the rooftops and the many shades of green. (See the Small Works gallery in my studio pages.) I like the peacefulness of this scene. I can easily imagine one of those houses as a place for meditation and renewal… Continue reading… 1 comment

Harbor Master

by Caroline , September 14, 2012—12:00 AM

Topics: birds, color, nature, scratch, scratchboard, sea scape, small works, watercolor

A Pelican frequents the harbor, here standing on a favorite post. This small work of art combines scratchboard and watercolor. The scrimshaw like effect of this media combinations seems to especially suit nautical subjects. 5" by 7" painting find a place anywhere or group nicely with harmonizing pieces. Brown pelicans frequent the Pacific Coast of the US, taking on a slightly awkward appearance when on land, and showing elegance in flight. I used the weathered gray-white boards of a harbor structure for contrast behind the brown feathered bird. A touch of watercolor brings in the sky reflection in the harbor waters and the colors of the great sea bird… Continue reading… 0 comments

Recently on another site, someone asked for others to describe her painting style. She felt baffled when people asked her because the terms are so often hard to define. How well I understood! When I'm listing a particular piece of art, I'm often asking myself is it more this? or more that? I've noticed that on the continuum from realism to abstract, a good many artists settle on impressionism as a comfortable fit. More analysis might cause them to use a term that better described their art. I settled on environmental for this peice. The world is painted in layers of blue, the dark sea, the paler blue of distant hills along the coast,and a pale blue sky… Continue reading… 0 comments

Floral or Landscape?

by Caroline , October 14, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, color, flowers, making art, nature, watercolor

White desert poppies grow on the eastern side of Sierra Nevada peaks, where moisture is sparse. Their yellow centers are echoed in the dry plants and soils beyond. Few trees climb the base of the mountains. The hearty flowers brighten the day. A trace of snow dots the mountain caps behind them. It was tempting to make this painting a floral, pulling in close to the blossoms and prickly leaves of this flower. This time though I decided to place them in their setting. The viewer gets a chance to see how these bright white little blossoms capture attention even in the bigness of these western lands. The thin petaled blossoms bend to various shapes in the desert winds, but the plant they grow on shows a rugged tenacity… Continue reading… 0 comments

Watercolor Goat in Pasture

by Caroline , April 8, 2011—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, animals, composition, nature, painting

A goat in the foreground looks directly out of the picture plane to the viewer. Further into the field a cluster of three go about their goat business. The greens of spring color the field along with a scattering of wildflowers. I find it interesting that animals will give you that arresting stare and judge whether you are a danger. If they mistrust, they are out of there. If you seem okay, the stare may continue as if in pure curiosity. This goat looked up as I parked the car along the roadside, watched as I took the photo, and didn't lost interest until I was ready to go. In that instance, we both had about the same attention span! The setting had enough bucolic, spring time peace and beauty to have set a romantic poet, such as Wordsworth or Keats, to creating a new ode… Continue reading… 1 comment

Inspiration in the "Wild" West

by Caroline , August 21, 2010—10:08 PM

Topics: animals, artist life, inspiration, nature, shows

I brought home lots of art inspiration from my recent vacation, most of it in the form of wild country and wild animals in western Wyoming and northeaster Utah. In the midst of this great open country nestles Jackson Hole, where the small city of Jackson, Wyoming is one of the leading cities for sales of western art to the world__™s collectors. Best of all, it houses the National Museum of Wildlife Art, http://www.wildlifeart.org/ While most of our national museums are in the great cities of America, the structure and the setting could not be better for presenting wildlife art. The museum, designed by Denver architect Curtis Fentress, fits smoothly into a landscape of rocky cliff formations and sagebrush covered hills backed by magnificent mountains… Continue reading… 0 comments

Watercolor wash with pen and ink produced a vignette of a creekside area very near the apartment door of someone dear to me. This is another of my sketchbook pieces, done during the recent weekend. My sketches often inform other works, but this one will probably simply stay in the sketchbook. It was a morning moment when my tendency to be an early riser gave me an opportunity to take a cup of coffee out to a quite spot of wilderness within an urban area and record the pleasant scene… Continue reading… 2 comments

Pelicans on the Rock

by Caroline , February 5, 2010—12:00 AM

Topics: acrylic, backgrounds, birds, light, nature, sea scape, shadow

At the top of an off shore rock pelicans gather, and a lone comorant stands sentinel at the left end of the formation. Mists swirl in the blue sky behind them. The rock itself is a rugged blend of light and shadow. This original painting is in acrylic on stretched canvas. Without a drop of water in sight, this painting speaks of the sea. Part of it is the light bouncing white off the top of the rocks and reflecting back in the fog swirling in the sky. We identify pelicans and cormorants with the sea even though they can be found along in shore lakes at certain times of the year. The birds also speak of the ocean breeze, either facing directly i to it or hunkered down against it as several of the pelicans are… Continue reading… 0 comments

Mighty Oak

by Caroline , October 23, 2009—12:00 AM

Topics: Landscape, nature, the artist's life, watercolor

I painted this after a walk behind my brother's house. The hilly terrain is in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. I chose watercolor for it's transparency. For me it is the memory of a walk with my sisters and nieces and nephews out across a field around a natural pond fed by a spring, and among the trees. It was late spring with the trees still in the bright clean green of new leaf growth, plenty of wildflower bloom, and a wonderful clarity to the air… Continue reading… 1 comment

The Pumpkin Patch at Honey Lake was filled with bright, beautiful pumpkins casting deep shadows. I wanted to show these three pumpkins as the stars of the piece, but I also wanted to show the field in which they grew without diluting the power of the close-up pumpkins. The resulting composition was something of a tromp l'oeil piece as if the main image were on a separate sheet floated on the larger landscape. I chose sepia rather than black pens as part of a desire to make the background painting recede and move the smaller detail painting forward. Honey Lake is formed in a large shallow basin in the Eastern Sierra along the route from Reno, Nevada to Susanville, California. During mid to late summer the lake bed may be entirely dry… Continue reading… 1 comment

My recently listed oil pastel "Birches" might not have been created if I were not a thrifty pack rat. The canvas was a leftover from my husband's short lived interest in becoming an oil painter several years ago. The original attempt was of a stretch of coastal landscape in a horizontal format, with just dark under layers painted in. I found the general shapes of the composition intriguing when it was turned on its side in a vertical format. They were vaguely in the shape of tree trunks. Then I jumped to the idea of creating a stark contrast with the white of birch bark. At this point I decided I could work with oil pastels. I couldn't have done the opposite, put oil paint over oil pastels. That would be bad science. There were lean oil colors long dry on the canvas… Continue reading… 0 comments

A show title brought about the idea for this piece. The title was "Still Life Dreams" and I started thinking in terms of how a still life might appear in the dream state. At first I thought of having it held by an elephant or turtle--both mythological holders up of the world. But I thought those creatures might end of looking like ceramic pieces that were just part of the still life, and I was not yet thinking in terms of a natural background. Then a bug seemed like a good idea, because the size would be so out of joint. Of all bugs, the grasshopper seems the unlikeliest creature to balance a load--imagine the objects flying when he leaps. The drawing disappeared into the grasses when completed. At that point I decided to add color to the background only… Continue reading… 0 comments

This is just one view from one of my studio windows. You can see why the garden both inspires and distracts me. Butterflies have been abundant on the lilacs. Our cat Hobbes get quite excited about them from a sunny spot on the window seat… Continue reading… 4 comments

Sketchbook in the Redwoods

by Caroline , November 5, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: Sketchbook, making art, nature, watercolor

A recent week, renting a cabin in the Coastal Redwoods south of San Francisco, allowed plenty of time for hiking and sketching with paints or pencil. One afternoon, after spending the morning on plein aire painting of what may be the world's tallest covered bridge, I had an urge to do a watercolor sketch of the base of one of the giant redwoods. We walked back into Henry Cowell State Park to a grove of the ancient giants where I was able to paint seated on a comfy log bench. The way the base of these trees grows I like to imagine they are curling their toes into the forest floor to hang on when the wind blows against their towering forms. It's easy to believe there are a few Ents among the true trees… Continue reading… 0 comments