View Full Version : Where The Wild Things Are - Oils

03-28-2012, 07:20 PM
Hey guys - I need fresh eyes on this one to tell me what you like/don't like. I am not 100% done with the foreground still. Anything in particular catch your eyes? 18"x24" on claybord. Its my 3rd oil painting.


Tim Taylor
03-28-2012, 09:51 PM
Is this the one you were saying was giving you trouble on FaceBook? You could fool me! The bear looks wonderful. I can't believe how great your paintings look on only the 3rd one! Well I knew you had it in you. Keep painting, scratching can take a back seat for a while.


03-28-2012, 10:12 PM
Thanks Tim - yep this is the one! I felt so lost with all that dark underpainting on the bear :) I lost all my drawn on guide lines and definately wasn't sure i could pull it off for a while.

I have been given some good feedback on the oil painting forum and not calling it done yet.

And alas scratchboard can't wait as I have MANY shows that I have been accepted into because I do something 'different' that everyone else (haha...all those oil painters), so they are all anticipating scratchboards! So I work on both :)

03-28-2012, 10:53 PM
Wow, this is stunning! I love those different layers, colors, and variety in lengths and textures in a bear's fur. You've really pulled that off nicely. The only thing that bothers me (and I know you're not done with it) is the grass. I really like those longer strands along the edge of the rocks and I think if you put quite a bit more of those in, it would help. I just feel that the longer, tan colored grass would complement the bear's fur a bit more than shorter green grass. However, that's just my opinion. ;)

Regardless of what you decide to do, this painting is a real stunner! Something you should definitely be proud of.

03-28-2012, 10:57 PM
Impressive as always. I can't find anything I'd change.

03-28-2012, 11:03 PM
What a gifted artist you are. So much seems to come so naturally to you. I have long enjoyed and appreciated your scratchboards, photography, and graphite drawings. Now we get to enjoy your amazing oil paintings. Your bear is so realistic you expect to feel the water when he shakes!

03-28-2012, 11:36 PM
Cathy, the lighting on this one is magical! I really like the contrast between the big, tough bear and the innocent, delicate butterfly. I love your scratchboards, and this oil piece is equally amazing!:clap:

03-28-2012, 11:48 PM
Beautiful work. The fur is fantastic!

03-29-2012, 12:19 AM
I hate to critic Cathy, but one of the butterflies legs on the right side is a little longer than the other ones!!!! ARE YOU CRAZY????? This is perfect and I LOVE IT!!!!!!:clap:Nicki

03-29-2012, 02:34 AM
Outstanding work Cathy absolute eye candy.

chammi kaiser
03-29-2012, 03:35 AM
Cathy, this is a wonderful painting. The bear is superbly done,(great work on the fur). Also love those rocks. Not so sure about the butterfly -somehow it detracts from the powerful natural environment of the bear. Looks like a bit out of context. That is just my humble opinion. There are probably hundreds of viewers who love it.

03-29-2012, 06:31 AM
Amazing, and checked out your website - your work is outstanding!

Greg Long
03-29-2012, 06:35 AM
Cathy, the underside of the Butterfly wing should be darker, and I'd lose the white outline underneath the body. The Butterfly is reading more as a cartoon amongst the rest of the painting. (It looks sort-of stuck on.) Apart from that it's wonderful.

03-29-2012, 09:18 AM
Absolutely amazing image, I love everything about it colour choice, tonal values, contrasting shades and shadows with excellent highlights. The shapes all so hold great value to this image.
This is mastery workwomanship with a brush.
Painting joy

03-29-2012, 09:28 AM
Cathy - if this is only your 3rd oil I just can't wait to see how you do after 10 or 20 !!! :) Nice!!

I personally would subordinate the greens in the FG by glazing a red tone over the top, or bringing down the tonality by casting some of the grass in shadow - IMO that strong of a green doesn't fit in with the overall subdued colors you have going on in the rest of the painting.

I am a tiny bit unclear as to what is going on with the bear's shoulder hump - there is something about it that doesn't quite sit well with my eyes but I can't pinpoint it.

The only other things that I see are just differences in the way that you and I approach painting style...

Bravo! I think you're on a really wonderful track with your new medium :clap:


03-29-2012, 09:35 AM
Cathy - When I first opened up this thread, i was totally blown away by the image. My initial reaction was - this is definitely of the quality of Bonnie Marris and Joe Kronenberg (for example). Knowing you, I would say your potential and skills are easily at least comparable to these fine artists. I have no doubt you could find representation at one of the major Western art galleries in Santa Fe or elsewhere - one of the major ones. I can really see your art career taking off with this level of oil painting, which I think would be in great demand.

Secondly, I agree with Greg and Chammi about the butterfly. I am not an oil painter so I don't know the difficulty of this, but I would even remove the butterfly. I find it detracts from the masterly quality of the rest of the painting. i am 'blanking out' on the words I'm seeking right now, but the jist is that I think the butterfly renders the painting more 'cutesy' or something to that effect, considerably reducing the level of 'seriousness' of the image. I am not articulating that well, but hopefully you get the jist.

I have long been an admirer of your work - I have no doubt, like I say, your career will really take off with oil paintings of this quality and level of craftsmanship. I do agree with Chammi's feedback, tho - that the butterfly 'detracts from the powerful natural environment of the bear.'

I'm really looking forward to seeing more oil paintings!!! (and congrats on all your upcoming shows!)


03-29-2012, 09:42 AM
PS - I do see what Nancy (midcoast) is saying about the shoulder hump. I agree with her perception/read on that as well.

Overall, superb work (of course)!


Orchid Lady
03-29-2012, 11:16 AM
Beautiful work, Cathy! I, too, think the bear's shoulder hump has a problem---it looks a bit flat on the top with angular sloped sides. Perhaps if you make it a bit smaller and rounder on the top, that might help. I really love the lighting on this!

03-29-2012, 11:24 AM
Stunning work! :clap:

03-29-2012, 12:11 PM
Cathy, you have taken to the oils so well, I do envy you your wonderful talent, fab painting:)

03-29-2012, 01:13 PM
Thank you each and everyone for your insightful and thoughtful comments! I truly appreciate you sharing them with me :) I am going to take a look at each of them and give them a try in photoshop and then proceed with my painting.

About the hump... my instructor told me that he thought I should deviate from my reference photo and make it more round, which I did, but afterwards I told him that it doesn't look anatomically right now to me. So you guys are spot on and I will put it back more how my reference has it.

So here is a mock up without the butterfly. I dunno. I feel it needs something there, but maybe not. Do you like this better?


03-29-2012, 01:23 PM
Secondly, I agree with Greg and Chammi about the butterfly. I am not an oil painter so I don't know the difficulty of this, but I would even remove the butterfly. I find it detracts from the masterly quality of the rest of the painting. i am 'blanking out' on the words I'm seeking right now, but the jist is that I think the butterfly renders the painting more 'cutesy' or something to that effect, considerably reducing the level of 'seriousness' of the image. I am not articulating that well, but hopefully you get the jist.


Ginny thanks for your lovely comments about my work and your thoughts. The butterfly absolutely does change the 'tone' of the work from serious to cutesy. I knew this when I decided to put it in. And while serious sometimes sells, I think cutesy sells faster :D My wolf with butterfly scratchboard has been one of my top selling prints and the original sold quickly too. Its a bit of a toss up for me, as sometimes that 'cutsey' looks too contrived, which may well be the case here.

Thanks again and I absolutely know what you were trying to say.

03-29-2012, 01:32 PM
Hi Cathy! I am a HUGE admirer of your scratchboards and am blown away by how fast you took up oils! Love this painting! My opinion about the butterfly, is personally, I love the shot of color and the touch of whimsy it gives the piece. It def changes the tone of the piece, with or without. I think ultimately it comes down to what you want to say or convey in the piece. But personally, I prefer it with the butterfly. It'll be interesting to see what others think. Amazing painting ! :clap:


03-29-2012, 01:34 PM
Great job Cathy I did nt expected less from you I was going to suggest to tone down the butterfy that IMHO distract from the bear
As much as I love the poetry tha happens in nature it transform your wonderful painting into a great illustration painting and the story is cute but it is said
I think without the butterfly it is more intense and the viewer mind starts wondering what is overthere andit does nt tells one story but hundreds
Bta the butterfly is gorgeous

Greg Long
03-29-2012, 04:11 PM
Cathy, I'd just modify the Butterfly but leave it in, particularly as the bear is looking at it.
Forgive the manipulation, but it will give you the idea.

03-29-2012, 05:51 PM
Bear love honey so may be a bee.

Painting fun

03-29-2012, 05:54 PM
Thanks for the PS work Greg. I worked on it more today and did tone down the butterfly (though not as much as you have), though have still not decided about getting rid of it totally.

Does the hump 'read' better? I blended it into the body more and also shrunk it down a bit.

Toned down the foreground, as I felt it was drawing my eye too much.


03-29-2012, 07:41 PM
WOW! just WOW!

03-29-2012, 07:46 PM
I personally LOVED the butterfly!!:):):) Nicki

03-29-2012, 07:54 PM
Cathy - Here is another take on the butterfly issue. If you remove the butterfly, you create a tension (positive) and excitement in the viewer. What is the bear looking at? What is the object of it's focus? If you keep the butterfly in, you have answered the question. It's an issue of whether you want some mystery and story left to the viewer (and in the painting), or provide that answer yourself.

When I viewed your earlier post showing the painting without the butterfly- I wondered about lightening the background rocks, which I see you've done already and that really helps, as well as adding some subtle touches of color. You did that thru some dainty flowers that you've added - what I was thinking would be to maybe add some color to the flowers at the cluster the highest rock on the right (foreground) - if you remove the butterfly.

Without the butterfly, my focus goes entirely on the masterly play of light on the bear - the wonderful light coming thru the wet fur, the water droplets decending. It's remarkable.

I realize you have to think about the very real and important 'bread and butter' issues as well in your decision making. And all of this is personal preference of the artist, of course - what is the message you want to convey thru your painting, what is your goal, your intuition about the painting - and then you work to address that.

I read and study the western art mags every month so have some familiarity with the types of works commonly seen in galleries (that may not be your goal at this point - or ever) and that was why I wanted to voice my opinion about that (Whistle Pik Gallery, Trailside, and Insight Gallery are a few that come to mind - Whistle Pik's site wasn't working when I checked but their Facebook page gives you a feel for samples of work there). Either way - with or without the butterfly - your skill is abundantly evident and the painting is gorgeous. I know I have occasionally seen some works which do have a lighthearted aspect (like the butterfly) - and I'm talking more about in traditional/realistic pieces as opposed to contemporary or more abstract.

As an aside, when I thought about the bear and the butterfly, I was reminded of a movie made years ago, The Bear (looks like 1988) - and in one scene the bears have eaten some kind of hallucinogenic plants and were having loopy visions but seems like they were chasing some butterflies or having butterfly hallucinations in that - anyway, made me think of that. :)

As a final note, I think your correction on the shoulder hump has improved the feel/appearance.

Good luck with all this, Cathy - I'd love to have this hanging on my wall, with or without the butterfly!! It's a beauty any way you look at it!


03-29-2012, 08:04 PM
I posted it as a poll on facebook - so far 26 say leave it in and 22 said take it out :)

To contrast your 'tension is good' theory... take it out and you have 'another' portrait of a bear. Leave it in and it tells a story (at least to me). I think it is more memorable with the butterfly in it, but perhaps 'too cutesy' for many. However, I think the bear, itself, is somewhat 'busy' in shading, as well as the water drops, so this makes the butterfly perhaps over the top and distracting. LOL... as you can tell even I have not decided yet what I am going to do!

I'm going to keep playing with the foreground too... still not really happy with it.

03-29-2012, 08:13 PM
Good points, Cathy - I see what you're saying re: the story line angle.

Also - if you feel the bear may be a bit too busy, then the butterfly may offset that somewhat? (I see what you mean with that). I think Greg's version with the butterfly just being very subtle but there - is nice also; maybe toning down a bit more from what you have?

Ah, decisions, decisions, LOL!


03-29-2012, 10:04 PM
Stuuning! I love everything about it! I especially love the way you've handled the wet fur, and the droplets of water!
Really amazing work!
I like the changes on the hump! Reads much better now!

03-30-2012, 12:24 AM
Seeing your name I knew we were in for a treat; scratch board or third oil the quality and skill shows.

The hump did feel a bit awkward; as if it were sliding under the fur to the viewers' side of the bear rather than positioned over the middle of his back. (see the line in mid skull passes behind the hump to the line down middle of his back). The hump is muscle?

An artist friend paints wildlife. One of his best selling prints is of a grizzly which he purposely made less intimidating and somewhat cuter than your average bear. He would likely agree with you. Women are the primary buyers.

A dragonfly rather than butterfly could permit use grass greens and stone blues making the viewer search a bit to see what the bear is looking at.

Matters little if at all ..... the painting is beautiful.

03-30-2012, 12:49 AM
WOW! I love everything about this!
Toning down and rounding that hump reads much better now!

Greg Long
03-30-2012, 04:37 AM
Thanks for the PS work Greg. I worked on it more today and did tone down the butterfly (though not as much as you have), though have still not decided about getting rid of it totally.

I wouldn't get rid of it at all.:eek: If you take out the white antennae and the lower outline of white I think your wing is now dark enough. Monarch Butterflies have quite a light coloured under-wing unlike tortoiseshell and peacock butterflies which are very dark underneath. You won't need to see the body outline or the antennae in the painting as if you saw a butterfly flying past in RL they are not noticeable, all you see is the flash of colour from the wings.
...mind you, I feel I am putting my vision onto you to a certain extent, and you have your own vision for the work, which by the way makes me a little jealous :envy: :lol:

04-01-2012, 01:02 AM
Just magic... wow!

04-01-2012, 01:39 PM
Extraordinary work, it's a gorgeous painting!

04-01-2012, 05:31 PM
This is just awesome.

04-01-2012, 06:26 PM
Wow, you are not only a master of the scratchboard but oils as well, I can almost feel that cold wet coat dripping :clap:

04-01-2012, 06:51 PM
I like the butterfly, as mentioned, it changes it from just another bear painting. the wet fur is stunning. the light, wow! ok, now...walk away! put down the brush! frame it!

04-05-2012, 07:03 PM
Well I am calling this one done. Some will think I was wrong to take the butterfly out, but enough objected to it, and since I wanted to possibly send the work to a competition, the butterfly went away. You can see that the foreground got an overhaul too.


04-05-2012, 07:38 PM
Oh, gorgeous, Cathy! I really like what you did with everything. I'm glad you took the butterfly out as well, as I feel this is a more "serious" looking painting and the butterfly kind of detracted from that. That red foliage is also very nice. Congrats on another gorgeous painting! :)

04-05-2012, 09:01 PM
Did you copy that from a photo that you took at the zoo?? I would also love to paint a grizzly. In fact I was going to use one that you posted in the reference library. Is that alright?? I am aloud to do that right?? Ha ha. I do live in Colorado and there are no grizzlies here except at the denver zoo. Even if I could photograph wild ones, I could not get too close.:clap:

Dave Hawk
04-05-2012, 09:08 PM
Cathy this turned out great. He dose leave you wondering whay he is looking at. , I think it adds to the mystique of this magnificent beast.

04-05-2012, 09:16 PM
You know when you say you are done and then you see something else ;) Well I did that... minor stuff mostly, most noticeable being that I modified the long hair in between his front legs and made it shorter and toned down. I found it kept leading my eye down and away. Also the hair right behind the ear bothered me - noticed it had some lighter tufts behind the ear that I had missed. And some other minor edits. I won't bother to post another photo, but if you want to see it you can see it on my web site with the zoomify feature (shows you it at 100%). go to --> http://www.cathysheeter.com/Zm-onthewind.html

04-08-2012, 06:59 PM
I have been out of town several days, Cathy, and away from a computer. What a magnificent piece! I am really looking forward to your continuing work and evolution with oils. Congrats on such a beauty!


Diana Lee
04-09-2012, 01:06 PM
Hey, I came here in hopes of some close-ups, please post some.


04-09-2012, 08:51 PM
Hey, I came here in hopes of some close-ups, please post some.


Diana - go to http://www.cathysheeter.com/Zm-onthewind.html and you can see the whole thing close up!