Jeremy is a classically trained artist. Julie is a nutrition therapist.

View Jeremy's Gallery Website - jeremycsparks.com

View Julie's Food Blog - persnicketypalate.com

Todd

Portrait of Todd

Portrait of Todd

Portrait of Todd
12″x16″ oil on panel
© 2015 Jeremy C. Sparks

Weekend Update

Getting closer on this portrait of Todd. Worked on the clothing and the hair some more. The darks in the hair really “sunk in” after they started to dry (hence the flat, matt appearance of the hair). I’ll have to try to bring them back out with some stand oil in the next pass or just wait for varnishing to really get the full effect. The clothing is close but looks a bit more orange than I had intended. I was going for some warm browns to compliment the blue background but I think I took it a bit too far. Might glaze that down and restate it a bit less warm on the next pass.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

Put in another pass on the face of Sarah as well. It’s looking much more volumetric now. Should be a good foundation for the upper layers. Excited to keep working on this one but still a very long way to go.

Sarah (in progress)

Sarah (in progress)

The Wild Animal Sanctuary

Friday was our Wedding Anniversary. I took the day off and we dropped the kids off with Grandma (thanks Rita!) and Julie and I went to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg just a little ways north-east of Denver.

Apparently they’re the world’s largest carnivore sanctuary with over 400 predators. Mostly lions, tigers and bears rescued from awful captivity situations and rehabilitated to roam on over 700 acres of land.

They have a really neat setup where the visitors walk through the animals habitats but on an elevated walkway. There are fences to contain the animals but the visitors are well above them looking down on the animals from a safe distance. It’s quite an experience.

We arrived just before 9AM, when the facility opens and it was a bit cooler than normal due to a dense fog. That really worked to our advantage though as the fog quickly burned off and it was close to 100 by noon. But early morning saw the animals still fairly active.

Here’s some of the highlights –

There were lots of tigers, most of them were in individual areas next to each other. The staff explained that, unlike lions, tigers aren’t naturally social animals so it takes a lot more time and effort to get them to the point where they can safely be release into a larger group setting. Indeed we watch a pair taking turns stalking each other and lunging at their shared wall anytime the other turned his back.

Their tigers were beautiful creatures and the sole white tiger was particularly striking.

White Tiger

White Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Tiger

Here’s a selfie (of sorts), Julie and I looking at a wolf.

Shadows above a wolf

Shadows above a wolf

There were two separate lion prides on the grounds. We caught them both during a migration out of the sun into their man-made dens. Incredible creatures.

Lion

Lion

Lion

Lion

There were several packs of wolves of different types but all of them seemed to think the day was already too warm by 10AM. Makes you wish you could visit after dark and see them more active.

Grey Wolf

Grey Wolf

The star of the day was a baby bear. They don’t normally have young animals but this was a four month old bear that they rescued from captivity and were trying to place with a surrogate mother. Apparently this was the first time he’d been out to explore his larger habitat. We spent at least an hour watching him running around and then taking a long bath in the pond. It was really fun watching him grow from tentatively pawing at the edges of the water to jumping around and splashing with reckless abandon.

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Baby Bear

Weekend Update

Worked on a couple of paintings this weekend.

Here’s an early shot of the portrait of Sarah. Still a long way to go but I think you get a good sense of where this one is going to end up.

Sarah (in progress)

Sarah (in progress)

And I spent a little more time working on this painting of Todd. Going to need another pass on the hair and the clothing is still just blocked in. Once those things are in place I should have just one more pass on the face to push the rendering as far as I can. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a decent photo once that’s all done. Really happy with how it’s coming along.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

Weekend Update

Getting close now. Most of the drawing issues are resolved with the face and the color temperatures are more natural now. Need to paint in the hair and clothing now. After that it’ll just be one last pass on the face to push it as far as I can.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

The Hardest Part of Finishing

So I know I haven’t posted in a while. Partly because I was out of town recently for a work conference and partly because I just haven’t been as active in my studio lately as I could have been.

I did manage a solid work day this past weekend working on this painting of Todd. I’m pretty happy with the drawing of the face though the color temperatures were starting to get away from me and I’ll have to correct that in the next pass.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

I’ve been feeling a little mentally overwhelmed since I got back from the conference and I told myself that I needed a bit of a break to recharge the batteries. Having an extra day off this weekend for Memorial Day was both good and bad in this regard, it was an extra day to recharge but it also was a missed opportunity for a extra studio day.

Last night I remembered something that Eric Fischl told us at NYAA – “excuses are bullshit”. Various artists, and I don’t mean just painters but people working in any creative endeavor have said as much. I believe it was Dali who said something along the lines of “there is such a thing as inspiration but when it comes it had better find you at work in your studio”. Hemingway said something like, “inspiration is great for amateurs, the rest of us get to work.” You have to treat this not as a hobby but as a profession – I know that.

I didn’t feel like painting last night but I pulled myself down into the studio and found something that I knew the direction that I wanted to go in and could accomplish in a few hours — specifically the background for this painting of Todd. I had used this Prussian Blue before in some of the earlier layers of the portrait of Paul and Mandie. I love the hue but it was simply too dark for that painting so it was mostly covered over and I’ve been looking forward to utilizing it again for this painting.

Once I started painting all the weight I had been feeling left. I remembered why I enjoy painting so much and the hours flew by. I nearly missed out on dinner as I was so focused on my work. Fortunately Julie gave me a second (or was it a third?) call to dinner and I was able to finish up the background before cleaning up to eat.

Todd (in progress)

Todd (in progress)

Still a lot of work to do on this one but it’s starting to come together. But sometimes just starting is the hardest part of finishing.