Finally got the last few details in, and officially launched my page. I will be offering free content for the first two weeks to give people a chance to see what I will be producing. Right now, the videos may not be top notch but I intend to improve that as I go along.
I would love if you would join me in this venture!
My first piece of content is just a basic overview of the tools and supplies I use.
Here is My Patreon. Check it out, and please know that I’m definitely open to feedback and ideas if you have them. Leave any thoughts in comments below.
The serpent has a long history of being a maligned creature both for it’s bite, and as a symbol of evil. Snakes, especially in the American South, are often outright killed because they are closely associated with the Devil in Biblical mythos, and sometimes for no other reason than ignorance. Even venomous species are more feared than necessary. Venom is a good reason to fear, and respect their distance. However some are actively sought out, and killed out of fear. Most snakes want little to do with humans, and when they get caught in our path it’s usually because they’re just passing through an area.
Before we became the hominid we are today, the first mammals were possom-like animals that lived in the trees of jungles. It is likely that we still retain the archetype-image of this predator in the most primal parts of our brains. An old recognition of fear passed down genetically over eons. Perhaps this is why so many people still have a fear of snakes in general. Fortunately, we have much less to fear from them now, and many have started to love the reptiles. A great deal of people now keep them as pets, study them, and even breed them for beautiful colorations.
Not all cultures have demonized snakes, and some of the more positive symbolism from ancient peoples still survives today. In the Bible, the serpent represents evil, and yet also fertility, life and healing. In Greek mythology, snakes take on the symbolism of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The ancient Greeks considered snakes sacred to Asclepius, the god of medicine. He carried a caduceus, a staff with one or two serpents wrapped around it, which has become the symbol of modern physicians.
The American snake-god was the Aztec spirit of intelligence and the wind, Quetzalcoatl (“Plumed Serpent”), who was balanced by the evil spirit of sacrifice, the Serpent of Obsidian Knives which was one of the four pillars supporting the sky. In Ancient Egypt, the cobra was believed to symbolize sovereignty, royalty, deity, and divine authority.
Native American myths from many tribes tell of wicked woman having affairs( and occasionally children) with snakes, a snake-woman who brought agriculture to the people, and the origin of snakes themselves.
It is no wonder these reptiles have had such a sordid history with humankind. One culture villifies them, while another worships them. At least now, there is a lot more we know about them, and that we can continue learning. They aren’t demons or gods, but survivors just trying to go about their days, catching a meal, finding shelter, and passing on genes.
Here’s a great organization dedicated to the preservation of imperiled reptiles of North America to check out. Amazing photos and stories.
Last week, I took my dog Bella for a walk on the Dunedin Causeway, not far from where I live. It’s a nice beach area with kayak and paddleboard rentals, and a nice view of the gulf. Bella is a black lab my family got from a breeder back in 2006, not long after our other dog, Zoe. She brought laughter and joy back to us in that time of grief. She was also a terror when it came to tearing up furniture, and playing manipulative games to get her way. As I type, she is now at the ripe old age of 12 years, with gray hair and arthritic joints. Knowing that she may not have very much time left with my Mom and I, we try to make her happy with little things that a dog enjoys. New toys, treats, bits of food from our own meals every so often, and love. She loves pizza crust, but it’s given in limited amounts. When I take her for walks, sometimes I’ll sit in the grass with her where she likes to roll around, and kick her legs in the air.
I’ve noticed that in the last few months Bella has become more affectionate, and clingy. I have the sad feeling that she may be aware that she has limited time left, and maybe is trying to savor it with us. She had a vet visit a few days before this trip, and she has some masses around her abdomen, along with little bumps all over her body. They are common in older dogs, and often are fatty tumors, but they can also turn into cancer sometimes. The vet wasn’t really able to tell, and considering her age didn’t want to do anything invasive. If it were cancer, we wouldn’t want to put her through chemo, since she is already advanced in age, and has other issues affecting her. She has been put on anti-inflammatory and pain medication to help her deal with her arthritic joints, as well. The main objective is just to keep her comfortable and happy. When there comes a point that her quality of life is drastically reduced, we will know it’s time to let her go. For now, we want for her to enjoy life and be happy.
With these things in mind, I decided to take the camera with me when at the beach. I want to save memories of her when she was happy. Remembering that she had happy times will help us later on when she has passed.
Thanks for reading. I am working on some new projects for the site, so those will be posted soon as they are ready. Keep your eyes out!
Recently finished a 11″ x 14″ piece of a pair of Eastern Bluebirds, and just wanted to share this as a quick update. I don’t have any other work in progress at the moment, but will share once I start up again.
I chose to add pink Dogwood flowers in the background as a compliment to the bluebirds. The birds are a male and female pair, as you may note the slightly duller plumage on the head of the bird behind the brighter male.
I recently had several of my pieces put on display at a local library in my area. The beginning of July was when I dropped them off to be hung, and the exhibit ends at the end of August. I’m putting more effort into having my work displayed locally when I can. I’ve frequented this library alot, since I’m an avid reader of science fiction, and other related things.
I’ve also maintained my work on other pieces of native wildlife in my Florida neighborhood. If you keep up with my instagram account, you’ll have seen these already. I will be adding them to the portfolio page of this site.
Growing up in the Florida Keys, I’d never seen them before. I was fascinated with them when I first moved to the Tampa Bay area. Like many songbirds, they are nearly acrobatic in flight, and happily raid bird feeders. They are bold enough to drive away other birds from food. They also are the first to call out a perched bird of prey, often mobbing the individual until they leave. They carry a wide array of calls, even adding some mimicry to the vocabulary. They can go from loud piercing metallic calls to low peeping chatter.
I purposely kept this minimalist, to remain focused on my subject and the flora I wanted to include. The brightness of a Blue Jay’s plumage is often overlooked, and I wanted to highlight that. Along with the tropical nature of Florida, I decided to at the foliage and fruit of the mango tree.
Instead of the hard shell most turtles possess, the softshell has a thick leathery covering upon its back. This reptile also has smooth skin on its head and extremities. Almost doesn’t look like a turtle. I’ve spotted (and rescued off the road) some of these several times. In freshwater ponds, they tend to stay hidden in the murk until they smell or see something worthy of investigation. It’s hard for me not to think them wise when I see them raise just their eyes above water to look my way. They watch and wait. Suppose they have to, since they are fair game for gators and people who like to cook and eat them.
I tried to add a brightness with my choice of colors for this piece, especially in the background. Most photos and the overall environment of these turtles tends to be very drab in color, and would wash out some of the mood and detail I wanted to keep.
Based on a photo of several wild freshwater turtles I’d taken a few years back. All of these turtles are Red Eared Sliders, with the turtle on the upper left being an old male who’s colors have faded with age. I had been cheating in a way, in order to get these photos. I was feeding them so I could get closer shots of them, and see the different patterns/stripes on each of their heads. Most of their shells were covered with algae. I couldn’t help but notice after looking at the photos I’d gotten, that they all seemed at one point to just sit and stare at each other between the time I threw more food. As if assessing which of them was more prepared to fight for the next morsels. Thus, the title “Turtle Poker” came about.
As with the above piece, I brightened some colors in the environment, and added upon that by adding lily pads.
A simple piece on tan pastel paper. No background, but the light, mid-tones, and shadows came out beautifully on this color of paper.
Based on a photo reference found online. Great for practice with reflective water surfaces, and I was happy with the final product.
So much to do, but seems like there’s not enough time and energy to do it all. Be back soon.
Sorry for the long wait between posts. I had to deal with the death of my Grandmother a few weeks back, and a lot has been going on after that. I will dedicate a post to her soon. I’m just not ready yet. Have to get everything written down for it.
In the meantime, I did get myself an Instagram account to spread my work out in the world. You can find me at the screen name “angela_deriso“. If you want updated art on the go, that’s where I’ll be posting it.
I’ve been working on some new pieces on canvases ranging from 11″ x 14″ to 12″ x 16”, and larger. Here are a few unpainted but drawn designs I have going at the moment.
And since I had extra canvases… Dragons. 😀 I’m excited to see how they’ll turn out.
I also ended up making a gift of one of my paintings to my brother. He has loved my previous octopi paintings, so I sent him one in secret! He loved it, and called me just to say so. Definitely going to be trying this color scheme with a few other octopi.
I have been working on all of these in the last week, and my wrist has been twinging. Went and got a wrist wrap-thing to help. Only problem is that I can’t wear it to do the work. It restricts mobility somewhat.
Last month, I attended the 3rd Friday event after a friend hooked me into it. I took my canvas acrylic paintings that I’d done some time back last year, and set up a single table, no tent or anything fancy. I went into it expecting the same outcome of my past experiences of nothing selling. The evening turned out to be more positive than I thought.
I was completely unprepared to display my stuff, but somehow managed anyway. Most of my 8″ x 10″ canvases started to sell about an hour or two into the night. I only have 2-3 left from that night. My larger canvases were a 10″ x 20″, a 22″ x 28″, and two 16″ x 20″s. The 10″ x 20″ sold that night, and one of the 16″ x 20″s sold a few days later through a person I met during the event.
After the event, I started thinking more about how this type of artwork sold so easily, and that I should do more of it for the next event. I am still conflicted as to having two different mediums and styles of art, and how to make that work. I don’t plan on stopping the color pencil work that I do, but rather focusing on where it would sell and what kinds of products (such as prints, bookmarks, coasters, etc.) would help facilitate sales. I do plan to have card sets made of several of my pieces, as both useful and collectible items.
I am currently at work painting more canvases, this time smaller sizes. I’m making not just turtles, but other sea life and tropical based designs. Here are just a few that I’ve completed.
The large 22″ x 28″ seaturtle canvas I had for sale was donated to a good cause with the great people over at Dobermann Rescue of Lake Placid. It will be raffled off to support the rescue of many great Dobies.
Other than painting like crazy, getting new cards made, and writing down ideas, I’m looking forward to next 3rd Friday here in Safety Harbor!
This website is also due for an update as well, so look out for that!
Illustrating birds is a specialty of mine, and understanding just how detailed they are is part of that. That’s what makes the work fun, because there’s no end to the variety of detail with so many bird species.
This diagram gives a great illustration of how a feather is put together. Birds groom themselves often to keep their feathers in good condition, thus keeping the interlocking ‘barbs’ looking neat.
There is nearly no end to the combination and patterns of feather colors on birds. Iridescence, scalloped, vividly, or earthy tones can all be observed in the world of birds. Parrots and other tropical birds tend to possess the most brightly colored plumage.
Beaks are adapted to the bird’s diet, whether it be cracking seeds and nuts, or tearing meat from prey. Feet are similarly adapted to the diet, suited specific to the environments where the food is found.
Eyes are as varied as feathers. Tropical, woodland, and predatory birds all have eyes suited to there environmental niches. Bird eyesight is many times better than human vision. They can see in the ultra violet spectrum, and polarized light( which is said to aid them in migratory flight).
Parrots in particular have a funny thing they do with their eyes called ‘pinning’. They can shrink and expand their pupils rapidly according to mood, and other behaviors. It can be a sign of excitement, or impending attack dependent on how the bird is perceiving the situation.
All images borrowed from google search. I do not own them, and I’m only using them as examples here.
Most of the time, I prefer to use photo references to do my work. It helps me get accurate shadows, light, and overall color scheme of the animals or landscape. There are things I’ve drawn from mental memory or fantasy, but they do require a bit of knowledge in terms of anatomy, and lighting.
Now, when I have used photos/images from online sources such as Google search, I may use the pose of the animal, but change the background and/or colors of the animal to avoid full on copying. Remember, if you want a reference for an entire image, I suggest getting either royalty free stock images, or taking photos yourself.
You don’t need a high end camera in order to get decent shots to work from. I personally use a Sony Cyber-shot(DSC-W20) which does a fine job of getting me the images I need. I can’t zoom in from far away and get fine details, but if I can get close enough, I can get what I need.
I’d like to share a few commissions I’ve done in the past and recent, as well as some background on them.
When I first started doing professional art commissions in 2008, most of the jobs came through online contacts. Then, as word of mouth traveled, I began getting a few local jobs here and there.
This was one of the first. I received this request from an online parrot forum. The owner of “Pickles” wanted a portrait of her quaker parrot, and she supplied an image of the bird perched among some branches. I took artistic license with the rest of the colors.
These two pieces feature a family’s horses and a very old barn on their property. One horse got his own portrait. I actually went out to the family’s home and visited the property and horses to get good photos to work from. The horses were very beautiful and charming in person. These pieces were given as Christmas gifts that year. (2008 I believe.)
Another pet bird portrait requested from an online forum member. This client wanted day lilies and hibiscus flowers in the background, as well as the bird’s hatch date. 9″ x 12″ on bristol board, 2009.
This commission was one of my more unusual requests. An old friend from high school wanted a piece with a character from a Japanese anime series called “Tenchi Muyo”, that we both used to watch. He asked for the character to be in a certain pose and appear more realistic. I added the suggested maple tree. 5″ x 6″ on bristol board, 2014.
These two pieces were done for a client wanting Christmas gifts for his children, who are fond of these two bird species. Both were done on 9″ x 12″ colored pastel paper, 2014.
This piece was done for a neighbor who had a frame and requested something to fit just right. He wanted a gray fox in the woods, so that’s what I gave him. 15″ x 16″ on bristol board, 2012.
Next post will have my photos of the CRAFT ART Festival in St. Pete, Florida! Stay tuned!