Jumping Back into Acrylics with Dreamscapes

I have not touched my acrylic paints in nearly two years. After I moved to a new city, they spent a year in storage. As we had opted to get an apartment for a year while we got a better feel for the area. I am a sloppy painter. A messy process, to begin with, but I somehow end up with paint on my elbows and in my hair when I paint on canvas. I don’t know how some people can just wear an apron and walk away with their clothing intact. So it seemed wise to put my paints in storage rather than attempt to use them in a carpeted apartment, the security deposit for which I wanted back. Add to that, a hectic year made worse by COVID-19, which increased my workload exponentially, and my paints sat in their boxes for almost two years.

Last month I took them out of their boxes and was pleasantly surprised to find all but two tubes in excellent shape. I was, however, not feeling all that confident and decided to dip my toes in the water with an ArtSherpa paint along with a tutorial on YouTube. Now I have mentioned Cinnamon Cooney before on this blog. I appreciated her positivity and grounded approach. I think she is an excellent resource for an amateur like myself that just wants to have some fun and paint something pretty. What sets her apart from the paint and sip type tutorials you may be familiar with is that she is a dedicated educator, and you will learn techniques and terms from her.

I landed on this tutorial of a Camp Fire Scene in Arcadia National Park. Which set me off on a bit of an after-work obsession for the last month of dreamy night skies.

My version swapped the man out for a woman as I imagined myself in this magical place. While I do enjoy it when other people appreciate my work. I really paint for myself, and it gave me a sense of peace to insert myself into this scenario.

My fire could use some work but I enjoyed making it. 🙂

I really enjoy the skies, and I often paint them in watercolor. But, I found this so relaxing I started doing more after work. They are not masterpieces, but the process of making them made me feel better after several tough and long workdays. I ended up switching to sponges for the Milky Way, which worked better for me. I found it easier to blend and get a more luminous effect.

First attempt on my own

I would walk away from my easel with a perspective on life that was more about wonder than feeling bleak. I guess that is the best you can really get out of any hobby.

I also love Aurora images and wanted to capture that dreamy magic.

I settled on calling these Dreamscapes—a landscape of imaginary night full of calm, shadow, light, and color. The idea for these was that after walking through the dark forest, one comes upon a lake or clearing illuminated by starlight and offers a good view of the sky through the trees.

I tried mixing time on the left, Aurora, MilkyWay, and sunrise On one landscape. To give the image a dreamy quality of merging three spaces in time into one. I wanted the image of the wolf to feel like an exciting surprise for the viewer after a long walk.

A lonely tree.

I hope to make a few more before I switch to ink for Inktober next month.

Happy Art Journey,



Spring is coming! Also more black paper!

This week it snowed in upstate New York. I keep trying to remind my self that warmer weather is on its way. I was lucky where I live as it was just a dusting that quickly melted but Western NY got quite a lot.

My Mother’s Facebook post on the 9th.

I stayed in yesterday instead of prepping my garden beds because it was so dang cold! But, the world will go on and it will warm up eventually. I have been painting blooming branches to remind me of that last month. This week seemed like an appropriate time to post them. 🙂

Happy Art Jounrey,


For the Birds

Last fall outside the windows of my art room, I place new bird feeders. I really enjoy hearing and watching the birds during the daytime. They often pleasantly distract me from my weekend yoga routine. Although I have painted and drawn birds in the past I became interested in becoming more realistic with my depictions. To that end, I purchased Law’s Guide to Drawing Birds.

Drawing Birds

I was attracted to this book because of the Audubon’s logo in the corner. I figured if any book on this topic was going to be good it would be the book published by the Audubon Society.

Duck Sketches
Ducks in Water

John Muir Laws is a well-known naturalist and artist. You can read his blog which contains musings on art, nature, and art tutorials here. I am not sure if he is related to the even more famous naturalist and father of national parks John Muir or just named after him.

Bird Feet Drawing Practice
Bird Feet

The Laws Guide to Drawing Birds is the book for you if you are looking for assistance on how to both draw bird anatomy in detail and quick in the field renderings. The book also includes a brief introduction to the author’s favorite materials and supplies. It is a well-rounded guide but most of the emphasis is on giving readers a detailed understanding of bird anatomy so the can better render it in their art.

The book also contains several ‘step by step’ demonstrations which I enjoyed following along with. Below are a few examples.

I have begun to apply the principles I learned about feet, body type, and feathers to my own art. While I have a lot farther to go but I think the guidance from the book is helping.

Happy art Journey,


There is a Rabbit on the Moon

Human beings are naturally inclined to find patterns even where there are none. This phenomenon is called Apophenia. For this reason, we see animals in the stars and shapes in the Moon. While it is common to view a man in the Moon in Western Civilization the rabbit is also commonly viewed in the Moon in many cultures around the world. There are many stories about how a rabbit’s image became imprinted on the moon. This last month or so I have painted several scenes relating to or inspired by the myths I am aware of.


The Sacrificial Rabbit

Monkey, Otter, Jackal, and Rabbit pledge to practice charity on the Buddhist day of observance. The animals came across an old beggar who was staving. Monkey offered fruits from the trees, Otter gave fish, and Jackal brought a stolen pot of milk curd. While rabbit seeing he could only gather grass a food not fit for humans tossed himself on the fire sacrificing himself to save the old man. The old man was actually a Buddhist God Sakra (sometimes Emperor of the Heavens) who honored rabbit by placing him on the moon. You can still see the rabbit draped in smoke on the moon to this day. This is a popular myth in Asia with versions found in China, Japan, Vietnam, and Korea. In some Asian myths, Rabbit is pounding the Elixir of Life or rice. Thus my inclusion of a mortar in some of the images. Interestingly there is very similar Mayan myth where Rabbit offers himself to the disguised Quetzalcoatl.


The Sacrifice of Jade Rabbit
The Ascent of the Jade Rabbit


In other Meso American myths, a god’s life was required to create the sun. The humble Nanahuatzin readily sacrificed himself to the flames. But, the wealthy  Tecciztecatl hesitated and only entered the flames after feeling shamed by Nanahautzin’s sacrifice.  The Gods place a Rabbit on the face of Tecciztecatl to diminish his light as punishment and he became the Moon.

Companion Rabbit

The rabbit in the Moon is sometimes seen as a companion animal to a specific diety that is thought to inhabit the Moon.  In China, this is the lovely Chang’e who rose to the heavens after consuming all of the elixir of life which was meant to be shared with her husband Yi.  There are many versions of this story.

In some versions, Yi had received this elixir as a reward for shooting down the extra suns which caused hardship drought. Or he may have been banished from heaven for killing the extra suns that were actually the Emperor of Heaven’s sons transformed and the elixir was meant to act as a get out of jail free card of sorts.  Yi who loved his wife wished to spend eternity with her and gave it to her for safekeeping. In some versions, she drank the elixir purely out of excitement in others she did it to prevent her husband’s enemy from consuming it. The Jade rabbit became her companion and pounds new elixir of life for her on the Moon. Chang’e is associated MidAutomn festival but I have painted a Moon Princess in the Spring as that is the time of year where I am now.

Rabbit Rides the Moon

In a Cree legend, Rabbit desired to ride the moon. This myth is a bit different from other indigenous American myths as he is not fulfilling his typical role as a trickster. This is a  rather straightforward story for Rabbit folklore.  Only Crane was strong enough and willing to try the difficult journey. So rabbit held Crane’s legs as they flew to the Moon. This is why Crane’s legs are so long they were stretched out by Rabbit’s weight pulling on them. Durning the long trip Rabbit’s paws began to bleed from the strain of holding on to Crane. When they landed Rabbit touched Crane’s head he and his descendants have had a red mark there ever since.

These are just a few of the Rabbit in the Moon myths I am aware of. There are more I am aware of that I have not had a chance to paint yet such as the Mayan Grandmother Moon and her Rabbit companion. Do you have a favorite Moon myth? If so please share it in the comments.