american west painting #3: piebald mustang

Posted on November 20th, 2015 by mountain girl  |  6 Comments »


Here is another oil painting on beetle kill pine–the third in my series of Western American Plains animals.


I made each of the three paintings with a primary color hue for the background, and for this amber yellow ground, I wanted to contrast it with a blue roan (opposite color scheme of the Pronghorn).  After looking at lots of photos of blue roans, though, I decided to switch to a piebald with blue highlights. I’ve loved piebalds and skewbalds since I was little (piebalds are black and white paint horses, skewbalds are red, brown, or gold with white) and since they are often found in the wild, I really liked the idea of using one for this painting.


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I ran into some trouble with this piece. I couldn’t get the area under the horse’s feet to work, and I ended up trying several different ways of creating a foreground. Beetle kill is not very forgiving (since my main goal is to keep the grain and beetle patterns visible) and my constant rubbing out and repainting was beginning to muddy the wood.


I finally hit on a cloud of dust. It worked much better than the flat prairie I was trying to create, and I was able to pull in the reds and golds from the rest of the wood, instead of introducing a flat line of contrasting color, which was obviously not working.




I am really happy with the final product. The wood has a warm, rustic feel, and the contrast of the piebald against the amber is just what I had in mind. I love how the cloud of dust materialized–just another of those unexpected turns and twists that come with the territory of making art.


This is the last of my large semicircular pieces of wood, so until the next giant beetle kill tree comes along, I’ll be working with some small, irregular chunks. Any suggestions?

The piebald mustang is now available in my shop.

around here

Posted on November 16th, 2015 by mountain girl  |  7 Comments »











the banana attack

Posted on November 13th, 2015 by mountain girl  |  2 Comments »

I was walking home from buying some groceries when…

I saw a banana attack a pizza!  The banana was just lying there when it got up very fast!  The pizza got up and tried to run away but it was too fat.  The pizza was just too slow to escape the banana!  It tried to jump but the banana was too fast!  And the banana and the pizza ran away and I walked home.

What a crazy day I had today!  I wonder what new adventure I will have tomorrow!

By Zia

pronghorn oil painting on beetle kill pine

Posted on November 9th, 2015 by mountain girl  |  7 Comments »


Here’s that new piece of art I mentioned the other day.  Pronghorn are not common up here in the Rockies (at least, I’ve never seen them here), but whenever we take a road trip to Santa Fe, we always spot a herd or two in the desert.  They are striking with their tan, white, and black color patterns, and look more like they belong on an African plain.


I worked this piece as I did the buffalo I painted not long ago, but in a softer, more realistic style. Like the buffalo, it is painted on a slice of beetle kill pine, although this one is a much thinner slab, about a half-inch. I washed it with an oil ground of blue, letting through all the glory of the beetle markings, and painted the pronghorn over it once the ground dried.


I really like the visual interplay of the pronghorn and wood, and the way they merge together.  When working on beetle kill, I just have to let the wood paint itself, since I’m not exactly sure which parts will take the oil wash and which will repel it.  Here you can see that the outer arc of the wood really soaked up a deep saturation of color, while the inner part of the semi-circle only took it lightly, even though I washed the tint evenly across the piece.  The wood is much more dense in the center–the same thing happened with the buffalo painting, to a lesser degree.


I have one more large semi-circle of beetle kill, and I’m working a third animal of the American West on it.  This one is being ornery and putting up a good fight, but in the end, I’ll wrassle it down and hog tie it, then set it free to gallop across the beetle kill prairie.


The pronghorn and buffalo are now available in in my shop.

zia’s science fair project

Posted on November 7th, 2015 by mountain girl  |  2 Comments »

Day 1a


Day 1b

Day 1c

Day 3

Day 6

Day 7b




We were pretty stoked when Zia’s study on Fruit Decay took 2nd place for her grade level at the science fair Thursday.  Her friend Lola got 1st, which made both of them very happy. :)  There were lots of ties (one was a 5-way tie!) which I actually thought was nice, since more kids got rewarded for their efforts.

She had a lot of fun over the weeks of running the experiment, recording the data, and putting together her board documenting the rotting fruit–she must get that love of fermentation from her mama, haha.  And there are already ideas floating around the house for the next science fair.