Sunday, June 17, 2018

Tool Swap Out

A small moth that I pin to the waist of a dress or coat.
Every so often I like to put the paint brush down and pick up a needle and thread and some gorgeous bits of textiles I have stashed in a closet.

In another life I would have been a clothing designer. I could spend hours swooning over dresses designed by Sylvie Facon or Alexandra Drenth. If you've ever seen their work you'd understand the attraction. If you haven't, check them out. I cannot imagine being that talented, and I wonder how they ever part with their creations.

So, this weekend, I took some time and played with my sewing skills. I realized once again how much I don't know, yet I am oddly pleased with what transpired. This first pic shows two plain dresses I rarely wore. But recently I came across a cardigan in a thrift shop, too small for me, sporting these gorgeous feathers. Now most of you know my fondness for all things "birds" so I think these feathers perk up the dresses.


I have been working on this brooch for a long time. Each feather is designed based on an actual bird feather. They have been appliqued and embroidered and then arranged in a cluster. It's large and is meant to be worn as an art centerpiece. The following pic shows it on my vintage Flax duster.



I have found when I take a break from the paints and paper and focus on another creative outlet, it brings all kinds of energy back to my "real" work. But in another life, I'd be chasing after Facon and Drenth.



Saturday, June 9, 2018

Old Dog New Trick

When I came back to writing this blog after a brief "time off" I wanted to take a new direction with it. I was hoping to share tips from working in the field and make this a bit more educational. Though this post is not filled with insight into field sketching, it does show that an old dog can learn a new trick or two.

I have always shied away from doing pet portraits. First of all, I hate the term. A pet is more than just a pet; those who have them know they are part of the family and the loss of one is devastating. But for lack of a better phrase, I have begun doing...Pet Portraits.

After years of seeing every artist try their hand at it, I rarely see one truly able to capture the essence of the animal. Most "portraits" are a straight on pose, drawn exactly to the photograph. And most of these are drawn crudely or just digitally produced.


But I know one artist here on my island who executes them beautifully, working in oil in an impressionistic style. He interprets the personality of the animal in his own way, and his work is full of movement and life, capturing the true spirit of each animal he paints.



I decided to give it a go, and see if I had what it takes to do the animal justice. I wanted my portraits to offer my vision and my impression. So I began with my own boy while he was having sweet dreams. People saw him and reacted positively, asking for me to do one for them. I explain that I work on Yupo and do not copy the photo of the animal exactly, and as long as they are happy with the results, that's all that matters.

So all that being said, I suppose there is a tip here for you. Try everything. You might discover a new medium or a new subject that touches your heart.  And I can't wait to see who I'll be working with next.



Sunday, June 3, 2018

There's no place like home.

As most of you know, I live in a tourist area. And once the season begins, and Memorial Day presents itself, I rarely leave my house on the weekends, or as we call them, changeover days. These are the days that the previous week's visitors are leaving and next week's vacationers are arriving. And with only one main road plus a beach road, driving is difficult to say the least. It's much saner and safer to remain home.

But that doesn't mean there isn't anything to catch my eye. I could spend the rest of my life sketching and learning about all the plants and creatures that either live, pass through or fly over my house.





Saturday evening, June 2nd  7:30 pm  facing SouthWest

A sky like I've never seen before made me grab my paints and paper and rush outside 
to attempt to capture this unusual sky.



The trumpet vine blossoms are now so abundant they drop with 
a plop onto the deck under the pergola.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Eye of the Beholder

Say what you want about Facebook, but I am a believer in finding the good in all situations. And without Facebook, this following event would not have happened on this level.

I love vultures, pure and simple. I find them to be a beneficial bird and yes, beautiful. After all, beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder. And this misunderstood spirit is beautiful to me. And I have found out it is to others as well, thanks to Facebook.

I put a post on my Facebook business page of a vulture painting I had just completed, and a follower suggested I read a book called Vulture, by Katie Fallon. I promptly ordered it and was treated to a fascinating book that helped me to understand this misunderstood bird that I loved. Once again I mentioned the book and people requested the title. So now, thanks to Facebook, not only is this talented writer being discovered by new readers, these readers will now think differently about this creature.

One of the reasons I teach field sketching is that I believe the more you learn about something, the more you will care and protect it. Field sketching helps foster that connection by focusing and becoming intimate with your subject. And because of the Facebook connection, I went on to explore further about this bird which led me to read about the Avian Conservation Center of Appalachia, co-founded by Katie Fallon.

Facebook allows people to connect, pure and simple. It has helped my business grow, brought new ideas to me and formed connections I never would have been able to foster without it. Yes it has had issues but let's not forget all the good it has done too. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Eye of the Beholder   copyright E.M. Corsa 2018



Saturday, May 19, 2018

One Sketch Page at a Time

Some people question how I can do a finished landscape painting when I only refer to my field sketches. Truth is, when I look back at these sketches and notes, everything about that location comes flooding back to me. I can feel the breeze, hear the birds, notice each nuance of color in that one small section of the tree ...

I am incredibly busy this time of year and can't get out to sketch as much as I'd like. So I thought I'd share some of my field sketches and the finished paintings that resulted from them. (Now mind you, when painting my birds, I use my sketches as well as photos, but only my photos, not ones taken by someone else.) I also thought I'd tell you why I chose these subjects to depict; what made them so appealing to me.


I was so drawn to the way the water drew its own lines in the wet sand as well as all the colors playing at the water's edge. I have studied this clump of grasses for years, in every season and all weather conditions.

 Watercolor on Yupo

The edge of the Atlantic; off-season. The darkness of the water and sky and the tracks from the vehicles drew me in.


Watercolor on Paper

 My favorite place on the mainland, Alligator River Refuge. One day I pulled in and saw all this smoke beginning to billow across the fields. Found out it was a control burn going on. The roundness of the plumes of smoke and the streaks of the fields captured my attention here.


Watercolor on Yupo
Coquina Beach. Always something to make me smile. But instead of focusing on the duneline, I turned and studied the hedgerow by the parking lot.



Watercolor and Pastel on Paper

 Right outside of Elizabeth City, over on the mainland, there are still lots of cotton fields around. This year, the crop wasn't harvested till later in the fall. I pulled onto a dirt road at the edge of this field.

Watercolor, Pastel and Gesso on Paper
And finally, this was the start of a series of paintings for a family who owned soybean fields. I must say, this was one of the most rewarding series of paintings I have ever done.

In the studio - in the beginning.


Close up of one of the field sketches.

Watercolor and Pastel on Paper



Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happiest Place on Earth...at least for me


It takes a few things to come together to host a successful field sketching class. Of course the weather must be tolerable, not pouring down rain at least. And you must have engaging subjects. But the most important aspect to me is students with a positive attitude, able to work with what subjects offer and tolerate the weather no matter how cold or hot. And yesterday it was hot and humid, and my students were troopers. The stars aligned, and I was blessed with eager and talented artists and the most engaging subjects ever at Sylvan Heights Bird Park.

We spent the first half of the class indoors drawing feathers, eggs, and mounts. The simplest of things like the eggs can be difficult but a great subject to teach you to draw what is in front of you, not what you think you see. But the best model was our live black swan that joined us for the last part of the indoor class. And once again, people that thought they couldn't draw, did beautifully after a few tips from me. But what I really enjoy about teaching here, is what I learn. Ashley, who heads the education department, was a fountain of information. I feel it's important to understand all you can about your subjects; listen to their story.




Next we headed out to the Landing Zone to mix and mingle and draw flamingos, budgies, and an assortment of birds at our feet and over our heads. 

If you ever get a chance to visit Sylvan Heights Bird Park, please do so. It will be an incredible experience you'll treasure forever. Since it is said that pictures are worth a thousand words, here's more for you, showing us working outdoors and some of the amazing residents of the park. I'll also be teaching a full day workshop at the park in the fall so stay tuned to my Facebook page for notices; facebook.com/emcorsa










All photographs Copyright EM Corsa 2018




Saturday, May 5, 2018

On the Wing

On May 12th I will be participating in World Migratory Bird Day at Sylvan Heights Bird Park. I am offering a field sketching workshop, teaching beginners and offering tips to advanced students about how to draw birds from life. This will be my second time teaching this class, and I was thrilled to see a return student's name on the list of 12 participants.

Some artists enjoy teaching, others dislike it intensely. There seems to be no in between which is a good thing since an instructor should be excited and eager to share their knowledge. I am one of the eager ones. George Eliot said, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." I feel the same way. Everyone, no matter what their age, can learn to draw, and it's my job to make that an enjoyable learning experience.

Birds are a fun way to begin sketching in the field. Some will pose for quite a long time; others only for a minute or two. But no matter how many times they change position, if you wait long enough, they will return to the same posture. So begin a sketch, pause when the bird moves, and return to it when they resume the position.



I teach things like where the eye lines up with the beak. That is different in songbirds compared to water birds. And think of balance. Birds may stand on one leg so look how it's positioned. You'll find the weight is distributed in perfect balance.



Other things to look for are the way the head sits "into" the neck on certain birds and extends outward on others.

So here are some more pics from a past class at Sylvan Heights Bird Park along with some portraits of the birds that reside there. If you ever get a chance to visit this park, please do so. You can hand feed flamingos and get up close and personal with birds from all over the world.

Last year's class.





Feeding Flamingos

Me and the Budgies.