"Being an artist isn’t just a “right brain” activity---you must use ALL of your brain, body and spirit to create. When the creation is done, the whole is much more than the sum of its parts… and so is the creator." - Lyrae Perry

Paint Excursions Inc. – What’s It All About?

First of all WELCOME!!

My name is Lyrae Perry and I am thrilled to be launching my new website and blog! I’m blending my love of painting and travel into a new business, and inviting all who yearn to visit and paint in exotic locations to come along.

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The Paint Excursions Inc. web site will be a destination for art education, and a travel website for art and photography excursions. I’ve been a wildlife painter since 1976, and a specialist in birds, but my heart is not limited to those subjects. However, nature and wildlife art will be a primary theme for this blog, so if that’s your interest as well, you have found a great place to connect with others of like mind!

I’m not an expert at painting, or photography—but I know some terrific people who are, and they’ve graciously accepted my invitation to participate here and on the wildlife excursions! This is a dream come true for me and I know it will be for you too. Wait ‘till you hear who’s going to be guest blogging and sharing their best art secrets! I am so excited to get started!!!

Recent history…

Like a lot of people, I was laid off from my dream job two years ago, and sent my house back to the bank when I was unable to find work. I’m essentially starting over. When I let go of my house, I made a promise to myself that the rest of my life was going to be about fun. I feel 37, but my birth certificate indicates that I’m a bit older than that ☺. But, I’m not letting my age get in the way. My mantra is “just keep moving”…and I intend to do that in a big way.

Loads of different hats…

Although not perfect, I feel like I’ve had a fortunate life with a lot of diverse experiences. Besides painting and drawing, most of my working life has been devoted to construction accounting, which has taught me how to be super-organized in all things relating to business. I write for several avian publications, and am a trained professional marketing copywriter. From early childhood, I’ve been heavily involved with birds—parrots, finches and soft bills. We’ll save the details of that for some future post if there’s time and space.

To sum up…accounting, birds, wildlife and writing and art are all coming together with travel in this new colorful venture!

MY HEART IS REALLY IN THIS!  And…I want to share with you all of the beautiful places I know and love, and explore and paint new ones too!

Art and travel are naturally compatible and complimentary activities…

I’m an artist at my core. It’s fair to say that art is my spiritual practice. I love, love, love going someplace wild and finding birds, animals, fish and bugs going about their daily lives. They have their own purposes and strategies in all they do. Just watching them quietly, you can feel their presence and life force in a way that’s hard to explain. It’s magical and exhilarating. If only I could bottle that feeling! The closest thing I’ve found to capturing that magic is translating the scene visually onto canvas or paper. This is often best done right away in a field study. For me, I’ve found that it’s easier to remember the tiny details when I do quick paintings or drawings on location. I may not always add those tiny details in the quick studies, because of time, but I’m better at remembering to look at my other reference materials (usually photos or notes) and add them in later.

I take photos primarily to help me remember the environment or setting AFTER I get the pictures of the animals. While this may not seem important, I can tell you it’s every bit as important as the photos of the animals themselves. There’s real gold in having reference materials to fill in backgrounds—which bring a painting to life. I make notes and quick sketches too if need be. I’ll be talking about how to do that in more detail later on in the blog as well.

You HAVE to get outdoors and be close to nature in order for those special moments of inspiration to touch you—in some cases they wash over you. Like all the coaches tell the contestants on American Idol or The Voice…you’ve got to let the feeling drive your art, and connect with your audience. That’s great advice for visual artists too because you can see emotion in the artwork.

How? Look at the details. Are there just a few or lots of details? If you’re excited about something, you will be open to seeing more and you’ll be adding it into the art. If you’re ambivalent about the subject matter it will show too. So choose subjects that thrill you.

Photo tips, tricks, and camera choices…. we’re gonna chat about these things too…

If you want to be a nature and wildlife artist it’s critical that you have quality reference photos to work from. I take as many photos as I can. Some are great, some are good to okay…others are totally sh***y. I keep them all and find that even some of my horribly out-of-focus shots are useful. Still, it would be nice to have better photo reference materials. It takes a little training and some practice to be proficient at getting good reference photos in the field, and you need a camera that will do what you need or want, and is reliable. There are lots of choices and options for every budget especially now that we have digital cameras. You’ll want to stick around for the professional photographers I have lined up, who can help you start taking great photos for your own use.

Failures and The importance of doin’ your homework in the field…

Wildlife excursions can help you learn things about animals that can make a huge difference in the quality of your artworks. You’ll learn how to avoid wasting your time creating a painting that looks fantastic, but misses the mark because you didn’t know as much as you should have about the animal or its environment. I have a wonderful cautionary tale on this subject, which I will share with you in a future blog post when I was working on two paintings–one of a Resplendent Quetzal and the other a Violaceous Turaco. Yes…I will share my failures with you. I’ve had some great lessons from failures—so that means they aren’t REALLY failures, right? They’re just different lessons, and I have to be grateful I learned them.

Thank you to my wonderful friends who are helping me grow…

I’m so lucky to know a lot of really GREAT artists who have graciously offered to contribute to this blog from time to time, and who will be participating as instructors here and on the excursions. It’s really a lot of fun to be able to learn new techniques, solve technical problems and paint on location with these fabulous artists. You will recognize many of the names as these are world-class artists. There will be links to their websites for you to study their art and you have a personal invitation to come along on the painting excursions to study with them!

Where are we going?

There are several destinations planned where we’ll not only be painting, but we’ll relax, sit on a nearly deserted beach, sipping a cool drink and taking in the beauty. How about a relaxing massage, hiking the hills on a tropical island, diving or snorkeling in the coral reef? Or maybe you’d like to take a dip in the cool water of a cenote? I’ve got lots of fabulous destinations all over the world to visit!

Australia 2014

green island

Aerial shot of the coral reef around Green Island, Australia

Australia is one of my favorite places to go. The scenery is every bit as spectacular and varied as our United States…and the country is huge and largely unpopulated by our standards.

If you haven’t been to the Great Barrier Reef, you are missing out on one of life’s biggest and most beautiful creations!

oz reef swimmer

It’s so spectacular, that I promised myself that I’d try to get back at least every other year.  You’ll know what I mean after you see it. I know the pictures are pretty, but you will be just blown away by the real thing!

great barrier reef

The Aussies know how to treat their tourists too—and I’ve got some great places for you to visit, photograph and paint. This is one trip you will have to take in your lifetime…and I’d love to show you around!

Would you like to see hundreds of wild black, white and pink cockatoos? How about red kangaroos and wallabies in the outback of Australia? Wanna pet a Koala? Photograph Rainbow lorikeets eating nectar and pollen in the wild? Have you ever fed a Tawny Frogmouth? It’s a bird and not a frog—and is more like an owl…but not quite.  The sounds of the Daintree rainforest are wonderful too…the Whip Bird is my favorite.  More on that one for sure.

The food is good in Oz too– lots of healthy,  fresh foods to choose from.

Future Destinations

What about Africa? The African continent is big and diverse too. How would you like to photograph and paint a Secretary bird on the grasslands in Africa? Or are you a fan of elephants, giraffes, lions and zebras? For me, I want to track down every Touraco and Roller species I can find. I love weaver birds and then there are the gigantic Baobab trees! There’s so much to see and paint!

How about going to the Andes to visit a world heritage park that has one of the largest and most diverse populations of birds in the world? I’ve got a great trip in mind where you can stay at a 5-star hotel at the edge of the cloud forest. Trek into the cloud forest to photograph birds in the morning, and if you like, you can be pampered at a spa in the afternoon. In the evening, enjoy mouth-watering cuisine presented to you by a personal server. The local people are lovely and even though Spanish and Quechua are the native languages, many speak English. It’s a beautiful mountain community, and there’s something for every one to enjoy.

Some of the exciting destinations I’ve got in the works are: New Zealand, Ecuador, South Padre Island, Texas, Honduras, Costa Rica, Canada, Greece, Aix en Provence, France, Belize, East Africa, Yucatan peninsula, Mexico.

Most of the trips will be seven to ten days. I’m not afraid of roughing it (a little), but I also love to be comfortable. Many of the destinations will be at 5-star resort hotels, and some will be for the more adventurous travelers.

Which are your top three  favorite destinations? Drop me a line and let me know your top three, in order of importance.

Are your bags and paint box packed yet?

 

 

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