Sandra Blair Art & Photography: Blog en-us Sandra Blair 2000-2017 (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Wed, 30 Jan 2013 19:35:00 GMT Wed, 30 Jan 2013 19:35:00 GMT Sandra Blair Art & Photography: Blog 87 120 What a difference a lens makes! In anticipation of a trip I had planned to take this week (which has been postponed for a short time), I rented a professional lens for my bird photography to replace my Canon 70-300mm zoom which has been giving me very soft images.  The lens was a Canon 300mm f/4L IS with a Canon EF Extender 1.4x III.  I had a chance to play with the lens this past weekend and I am totally blown away!!!  This was my first exposure to a pro lens and I’m sold…the detail was absolutely incredible.  I’ll definitely be saving my pennies for this lens and extender and it will be very hard to go back to my older lens until I can get this one.  Here are just a few examples from my bird feeder.  Please click on the image for a larger view: This nuthatch was shot with the 300mm lens only. Another shot from the same distance with the 1.4mm extender attached. An enlargede detail from the first photo. An enlarged detail from the second photo. A titmouse with the 1.4mm extender attached. An enlarged detail of the titmouse. Another enlarged detail of the titmouse.

Filed under: Photography ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Photography birds Canon nuthatch outdoors photography titmouse Thu, 10 Jan 2013 09:01:22 GMT
A New Year’s Reflection Happy New Year

WOW…2012 has been a wild ride full of really big highs and some pretty deep lows!  My brightest moment has to have been my acceptance into Birds in Art, an achievement I’ve been trying to reach since 2004.  And with a whole lotta help from my friends, I was able to attend the opening in Wausau, WI which was incredible beyond my imagination.   The Woodson family members are some of the most gracious and inspiring people I’ve had the pleasure to know; and the Woodson Museum is filled to the brim with beautifully incredible bird art that I could spend months admiring and learning from.  The sale of my painting “Sun Catcher” was just the icing on the cake!

I also had the opportunity to participate in and attend the opening of the 52nd Art and the Animal exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell, NJ.  Again the art was inspiring and uplifting and the chance to see old friends and meet new ones was wonderful.  I also sold several paintings through Village Artisans Gallery in Boiling Springs, PA.  Big thanks to PJ for her efforts!  All in all, I’d have to say that 2012 was the highlight of my art career.

As for the lows…well most of you know the health challenges I went through this past summer and fall and I’m still fighting back to my old self, or as much as I can recover of that former life.  It has been a scary, frustrating, and sometimes anger-filled process, and my husband Brent has been there every step of the way helping and encouraging me, and unfortunately bearing the brunt of most of my emotional outbursts.   I hope that all of this has at least made me a stronger person.  My painting is still a challenge but one that I absolutely won’t back away from no matter how slow the progress.  I am stubborn if nothing else!  And I have some big creative shoes to fill for next year.  So here’s praying that the progress will continue on a daily basis and that my painting will finally be back to where I’d like it to be soon.

I want to thank all of my family and friends, near and far, for your kindness, support and encouragement.  Some of you I know personally and others I’ll probably never meet face-to-face, but your friendship has seen me through some of my best and worst times and I love each and every one of you.  I wish I could give all of you a big hug.  I hope that you have the very best 2013 and that your dreams and aspirations come true.  Again, thank you and I look forward to sharing 2013 with you.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Filed under: Ramblings ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Ramblings Mon, 31 Dec 2012 10:54:24 GMT
Learning the Art of Patience and Gratitude These past five months have been very challenging for me – both from a physical and emotional standpoint.  The good news is that doctors think the heart attacks and strokes were a “one-time” event unlikely to occur again and the medications I’m on should support that diagnosis.   The frustrating part is the recovery period is so much slower than I want it to be.  I’m learning that practicing patience and gratitude is an art…and one I’m not particularly good at.

I’ve never been a patient person, I’m a go-getter.  I’m used to being “in control.”  I decide what it is I want to accomplish and then I work until I get there.  As a self-taught wildlife artist, I started my painting career much later in life than I would have liked.  After I finally decided to surrender to my passion and teach myself how to paint, those years were a blur of studying other artists whose work I admire, learning different painting techniques through trial and error and finding a voice of my own.  I had finally begun to feel that in the past two years I’d really grown in my ability and success…being accepted into Birds in Art was a prime example!

And then two strokes put a real dent in my progress.  At first, I was unable to hold a fork or feed myself; buttoning my shirt or tying my shoes was a major undertaking; and simply trying to walk with a weak leg and compromised balance was exhausting.  Here I was trying to do the simplest of things that I’d been doing since I was a small child…why was it such a struggle???   I’d get mad, I’d cry, I’d throw things.  It was physically and emotionally draining and some days I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to do much of anything.

I was very lucky to be assigned two excellent physical and occupational therapists who were hard task-masters and they taught me to celebrate even my smallest accomplishments.  They gave me hope and the strength to work hard to regain my ability to function as a regular human being.  With their guidance, I realized that small steps of progress were the key.  I had to learn to regain my balance skills before I could walk properly.  I had to strengthen my upper arms and shoulder muscles before I could control my right hand movements.  I had to learn that patience and gratitude for small victories was necessary rather than letting memories of my previous life sabotage my progress.   With their help, I recovered most of my right arm function and a lot of my left leg strength and I thought, “Wow, I’m nearly back to normal!”  I didn’t realize at the time that that was just the “physical” recovery part of my journey.

I’ve discovered that while I’ve retrained my body, I’ve still got a lot of retraining to do for my brain.  In physical therapy, you can measure progress; feel the strength and control returning; and you can begin to see a timeframe for recovery.  That was my primary focus for months but now I’m finding that while there are things you can do to help your brain recover, it’s all about time.  The brain needs to heal itself and it takes as long as it takes…it’s that simple.  I have trouble finding the correct words or I forget in the middle of a sentence what I was talking about.  Processing a large amount of information is difficult.  I can paint for about 15-30 minutes at a time, then my brain becomes overloaded and exhausted and I have to stop.  Intense concentration for long periods of time is still out of my grasp.

I asked an artist friend who had gone through a somewhat similar situation how he dealt with the frustration and exhaustion of trying to get his drawing skills back to where they were before his accident.  First of all, it has taken him 4 ears to finally get there and, along with some other great advice, he told me, “The one most important thing is, still, patience…if you finished a great piece in a week, allow yourself 2 weeks.  If it was 1 month, allow yourself 2 months.”  His advice made me realize that the strokes have changed the rhythm of my life to a much slower pace.  The brain’s ability to heal itself is an amazing thing and possibly someday I’ll be back to 100%, but maybe not.  All I can do for now is acknowledge that I’ve got a lot of recovering still to do and be thankful for the things I am able to accomplish.  Regaining skills will take lots of practice and impatience will only impede the progress so every day now, I have reminders that patience and gratitude are a necessary part of my life.  After all, things could have turned out a whole lot worse.

Filed under: Ramblings ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Ramblings art Birds in Art gratitude painting patience recovery therapy Tue, 27 Nov 2012 13:28:40 GMT
American Birding Association blog post on Birds In Art Here is a wonderful article and slideshow well worth reading, about the Birds in Art exhibition by Susan Ford-Hoffert. I’m overjoyed that my Snowy Egret was one of 20 paintings and sculptures she describes in such a poetic way:

“Over there, a snowy egret (Sandra Blair) basks in a concentrated spotlight of sun, easy to identify. But wait; look again. The light glows, and I now see the prism of colors in what I thought was a white bird. I knew this was a beautiful bird but this artist has given me the luxury of a long look in open sunlight, and now it takes my breath away.”

And congrats to all my friends who were also mentioned in the article!

Filed under: News and Events ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) News and Events art exhibition arts light glows nature snowy egret Thu, 08 Nov 2012 08:16:56 GMT
We survived Sandy unscathed! The wind and the rain was less, but still intense, than originally forecast due to Sandy staying a bit south of us and moving across Pennsylvania rather quickly!  We were more fortunate than others in our area to not lose power.  Most of the trees are stripped of their leaves now and it is still gray, overcast and rainy.  Here is the photo I posted a few days ago along with the effects of Sandy on our stream but this is nothing compared to the devastation on the East Coast, especially New Jersey and New York.  My heart aches for those people and all that they have lost.

Filed under: Ramblings ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Ramblings Thu, 01 Nov 2012 11:26:34 GMT
Ready for Sandy…I think… I guess we’re as ready as we’re gonna be. We spent the weekend bringing stuff into storage or tying down anything that can’t come in and stocked up on water, canned food and batteries for the flashlights. The rain and wind is picking up in intensity with the worst expected this evening and overnight. I hate storms at night, especially high winds as you can’t see what’s happening. Guess there won’t be much sleeping tonight! Looks like the center of the storm will pass right over us here in Southcentral Pennsylvania, with 8″ of rain expected and 70+ mph winds. Here is a photo I took just a few days ago from our back deck. The stream will very likely flood so I’ll post photos of that after the storm has passed (and when we get power back on). Fingers crossed that all will be ok ! To all my friends here in the Northeast…STAY SAFE!

Filed under: Ramblings ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Ramblings Mon, 29 Oct 2012 08:31:48 GMT
SOLD! “A Faint Rustle” has gone to its new home thanks to Village Artisans Gallery!

Female Kestrel, 12×12″ Acrylic on Gessobord

Filed under: News and Events ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) News and Events Sat, 20 Oct 2012 11:31:28 GMT
Sun Catcher and Birds in Art

14×18″ Acrylic on Gessobord

I’m so excited that Sun Catcher has been selected for the Birds in Art year-long nationwide tour.  You can see the tour venues here and I highly recommend that you see the exhibit if you can.  The art in the show was incredible and I feel so honored to have been a part of it.  Here is a photo of me with my painting at the Museum.  The Woodson Art Museum staff and patrons treated the artists like royalty and everyone was anxious to talk with the artists.  It was an incredible experience and one I hope to be able to participate in again in the future.

Also, Sun Catcher has been purchased by a Woodson Museum patron and will eventually become part of the Museum’s permanent collection!  Wooo-hooo!  All in all, a great trip!

Filed under: News and Events ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) News and Events Fri, 19 Oct 2012 15:43:34 GMT
It’s been quite a while! I know…I have not posted anything here on my blog since mid-June because of some serious health issues I’ve had since the end of June.  Many of you who are connected with me on Facebook already know that I had several heart attacks and 2 strokes which left me with no use of my right arm and little use of my left leg.  The strokes also affected my vision.  After nearly 4 months of Occupational and Physical Therapy, I’ve regained nearly 90% of my right arm functions and my left leg is close to normal…still a little unsteady at times though.  My vision is compromised but I can see fairly well close-up so I can see to paint (thank God) but distance viewing is a real challenge.  I’ve begun painting again and am still having some trouble controlling the brush but that will return with time. I also have some trouble processing information about how I want to proceed on it.  But all in all, things are good.  I’m blessed to have gained back as much as I have and am thankful that my painting career is not over as I had originally feared.  Hopefully now, I’ll get back to more regular posts so stay tuned for painting updates!  Take care everyone and thanks for your patience.

Filed under: Uncategorized ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) Thu, 18 Oct 2012 07:50:19 GMT
Red Foxes Complete! “Rivals,” 14×11″ acrylic on gessobord.

Finally!  For some reason, painting the fox on the right was a major effort for me.  The perspective where the fox’s back is straight on to the viewer and how the hair breaks and curves over the back, as well as the volume of fur, was quite a challenge.  I must have repainted this section 6 times and I hope I’ve captured it properly!  This is also the first painting I’ve ever done of two animals interacting like this which presents a whole different set of challenges. This painting is available for purchase, please contact me for details or visit my website.

Filed under: New Paintings ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Fri, 22 Jun 2012 07:23:17 GMT
Red Foxes Work-in-Progress Posting 3 more updates to the Red Foxes painting.  The final layers of the back fur on the right fox has been fighting me every step of the way but I’m determined to finish this piece in a few more sittings.  We’ll be traveling over Memorial Day weekend so the target date for the finished painting is the following weekend.  Fingers crossed!

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day everyone!

Starting to really define fur patterns on the left fox and worked on the mouths of both foxes. The left fox's fur is coming along well...starting to look soft and thick. Fur is nearly complete on the left fox except for final highlights and shadows.  Time to get going on the other fox!
Filed under: New Paintings, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Work in Progress Tue, 22 May 2012 11:18:25 GMT
Sun Catcher Accepted into Birds in Art!

14×18″ Acrylic on Gessobord

I’m EXTREMELY excited to announce that my painting “Sun Catcher” has been accepted into the 2012 Birds in Art exhibition held at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau Wisconsin.   940 entries were submitted by 577 of the best bird artists from all around the world and approximately 100 pieces were accepted.  About 60 pieces from the exhibition will be selected at a future date and will go on a year-long nationwide museum tour.  This is my first time participating in this exhibition and I’m extremely honored to be included in such a great group of artists!

Since 1976, the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum has organized Birds in Art annually, seeking to present the very best contemporary artistic interpretations of birds and related subject matter.  During the Birds in Art opening weekend, September 6-9, 2012, the Museum also will celebrate the completion of an approximately 8,500-square-foot building addition and the debut of forty-three Owen Gromme paintings commissioned by M&I Bank in the late 1960s and given to the Woodson in 2011 by BMO Harris Bank.

I will be attending the opening weekend and hope to see you there!  It will be a fabulous show!

Filed under: News and Events ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) News and Events Thu, 10 May 2012 08:29:09 GMT
Red Foxes WIP Update Here are a few more work-in-progress photos of my red foxes painting.  It’s getting there slowly but surely!

Another layer of fairly loose gesso details and color washes. I'm starting to really develop fur patterns here. I'm working in more specific sections now creating fur volume and shadow areas.
Filed under: New Paintings, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Work in Progress Mon, 07 May 2012 10:21:58 GMT
The Painting Blues and Another Work in Progress The first 4 months of the year are always difficult for me in my painting habits.  In January, I’m just trying to recover from the drain of the holidays and get the house back in order.  In February, I’m seriously down due to the short days and cold weather here in the Northeast.  March usually finds me trying to pick up where I left off on several paintings before the holidays but I’m usually bored with them at this point and begin yet another painting or two. 

And then April rolls around.  April is the deadline month for two of the biggest art exhibitions a wildlife artist could wish to be in…the Society of Animals Artists’ annual exhibition and Birds in Art, an exhibition of the best in bird art from all around the world.  I’m usually frantically trying to finish my entries for these two shows and I really don’t paint well under pressure so my husband has learned to tiptoe around the house in early April.  Then I begin second-guessing my entries and think, “I’ll never get this done in time, to my liking, etc.”  This year thankfully I had two paintings set aside for my entries.  Then after the deadlines are past, time is spent anxiously awaiting the jury results in early May. 

I suspect a lot of artists go through these dry spells, I’m just not sure they are as seasonally aggravated as mine.  So while I already have several paintings in progress, I needed something different to get me going and began a painting of two foxes that I’ve wanted to do for many years.  I find that painting multiple layers of fur is calming and it’s a good way to ease myself back into the enjoyment of the process.  And it is working!  I’m looking forward to finishing this painting shortly and getting back to the Great Blue Heron painting I began in late January.  Here are the first four stages of this new painting of two red foxes having a good tussle.  Unofficial titles up for consideration are “Sibling Rivalry” or “Turf Wars.”  Stay tuned for more updates!

I've spattered and washed on several colors for a background that will not take the focus away from the foxes and will complement their coloring. Here I've blocked in the base colors of the foxes. I've painted the gesso details on the heads, washed color onto the left fox's head and started work on the eyes and mouths. I've completed the first layer of fur detailing and color washes on both foxes.  They're still looking very rough at this stage.
Filed under: New Paintings, Ramblings, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Ramblings Work in Progress Tue, 01 May 2012 14:23:27 GMT
Painting Juried into SAA Annual Exhibition!

I’m so very pleased that “Leader of the Pack” has been juried into the Society of Animal Artists’ 52nd Annual Art and the Animal Exhibition.   There were 346 submissions so I am very honored to be one of the artists selected to participate. The exhibition will premiere at the Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum in Oradell NJ, September 1 – December 31, 2012. Select pieces from the exhibition will then go on a year-long nationwide tour.

The Society of Animal Artists is an association of animal and wildlife painters and sculptors. Founded in 1960, the Society is devoted to promoting excellence in the portrayal of the creatures sharing our planet, and to the education of the public through its informative art seminars, lectures and teaching demonstrations. Some of the finest animal artists from the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Japan, and Australia are represented in the Society’s membership.  Over the past 40 years the work created by these artists has established new standards of artistic excellence and respect, helping animal and wildlife art to achieve a place of honor in the field of fine art.  To learn more about the SAA, please visit their website.

Filed under: News and Events ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) News and Events Fri, 27 Apr 2012 12:51:59 GMT
New! Note Cards!

I’m now offering note cards featuring my art on my website.  Choose from two different packs of 6 assorted cards with envelopes or 6 of the same card with envelopes.  Notecard size is 5.5×4.25.”

Cards are blank inside so they’re perfect for a quick note to family and friends or as a Thank You card.  They also make wonderful gifts!  More card designs are in progress so check back soon.

Filed under: News and Events ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) News and Events Wed, 25 Apr 2012 08:37:05 GMT
New Website and Whitetail Doe WIP Update Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted…my apologies!

First I want to let everyone know that I’ve combined my Wildlife Art website and my Photography website into one site at  You’ll find all the same art and photos, including the Wildife and Flower Reference Photos for artists.  Please stop by and let me know what you think!  And my blog is linked directly to the website on the main menu.

Second, I just realized that I did not post my last three updates on my Whitetail Doe WIP!  I posted to Facebook but forgot to post on my blog.   So here they are:

Yet another layer of gesso details and color. And...ANOTHER layer of fur detailing!  I'm refining the anatomy and muscle definition with each application of paint. I've added color and blocked in the leaves of the bush.  I'll paint the face and head when the neck and chest are finished.
Filed under: New Paintings, News and Events, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings News and Events Work in Progress Fri, 30 Mar 2012 06:53:07 GMT
Seeking Refuge Series — Great Blue Heron WIP I’ve had very little time to paint lately but have progressed a little on the Whitetail Doe as well as beginning a larger painting of a Great Blue Heron.  This is a sneak-peek at a small portion of  a 12×24″ acrylic painting on gessobord.  The beak and eye are finished but the head needs a little more work and deeper values on the shaded side.  I’ll post another update on the Whitetail Doe soon!

Filed under: New Paintings, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Work in Progress Wed, 25 Jan 2012 09:52:15 GMT
Seeking Refuge Series — Whitetail Doe WIP Update I’ve washed over the gesso with some color and will now begin the next layer of fur detailing.  I’ve started a second painting in this series so I will be bouncing back and forth for a while between the two.  I’ll post a teaser of the new piece in a few days!

Filed under: New Paintings, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Work in Progress Thu, 12 Jan 2012 12:06:29 GMT
Seeking Refuge Series — Whitetail Doe WIP

Here is Phase 2 of the whitetail doe painting. I’ve put in the first of several layers of fur detail using gesso which will take the color washes better than white acrylic paint will.  Her eyes are mostly finished, I’ll adjust highlights when the painting values are complete.  Her rear haunch and leg look strange here but they will be partly concealed by the leaves of a bush.

Filed under: New Paintings, Work in Progress ]]> (Sandra Blair Art & Photography) New Paintings Work in Progress Mon, 09 Jan 2012 06:00:28 GMT