Capturing the best of life


Bunny and kitten, Labrador and Butterfly, by c. sabraw 2016

by cheri sabraw

I paint from photography in an effort to capture the essence of the photo and to enjoy myself, my mind far from the stresses of life.

In the case of these two paintings, done at the request of my two granddaughters, I learned how difficult it is to replicate a kitten’s nose or a dog’s tongue. I am humbled (sniff, sniff, lick, lick).

Saliva on coal-black lips, the tenuous and translucent nature of butterfly wings,the marble orbs of a rabbit and the soft pink spot in a kitten’s ear–all call into question the artist’s ability to paint  what she sees and to see what she paints.

And in the process, I have begun to scrutinize animals’ noses and tongues.


Highway 25, East of King City, Ca by c. sabraw 2016

And then there’s the technical challenge of  shadows, textured grasses, worn fence posts,  small trees and tiny steers on Highway 25, east of King City, CA. A blue sky? How to do it? Cerulean blue?

Now, as I make my way down our long and barbed-wired fenced road– the spikes and dips, iron wrinkles and old posts, who gather the iron in their arms and pull them tight–they speak to me and beckon a painting.

And what about heading west toward the town of Tehachapi at dusk, following a convoy of trucks on its way to the Coast.


A fiery orange sky, a silvery reflection, black pavement disciplined with bright lines of demarcation that remind the weary driver to stay in his lane.




About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
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15 Responses to Capturing the best of life

  1. Cyberquill says:

    So you paint from photography and then you photograph your paintings. Next, you should paint the photographs you posted that show your paintings next to the original photos, the challenge being to make the paintings look like paintings and the photos like photos.

  2. Cheri says:

    Now THAT is a good idea. You won’t be surprised to learn that I hadn’t thought of doing so. It would be like a bubble in a bubble. By the way, I am going to check the price to send a bottle of olive oil to Austria. If it is under 25.00, I’ll need your address. Great harvest and a peppery oil, perfect for your salad with balsamic.

    • Cyberquill says:

      Yum. Thanks. Speaking of free stuff, Californians can make their own laws by popular referendum, can they not? Is there any reason why you couldn’t legislate for yourselves free government-funded postage and shipping costs for everything?

      • Cheri says:

        The reason that so many propositions are always on the ballot here in California is that the legislature refuses to do its job. It took me over an hour just to wade through the voter handbook on those propositions. Even reading the pro and then the con and then the con to the pro and the pro to the con….as annoying as the previous sentence.

  3. shoreacres says:

    I really appreciate your comments about the difficulties inherent in transforming an image from one medium to another. While I’m no painter, I faced a similar problem with my camera on my recent trip. Prairies (let us be honest here) can be beautiful, but they’re subtle. They aren’t mountains, or seaside, or forest: the sorts of scenery that lead people to see their image and say, “Wow!” Prairies are grass. Granted, there is a lot of grass, but still. And, when the hills are alive with smoke from controlled burns, harvest dust from a thousand combines, and some late-leaving humidity — well, it’s a challenge.

    The critter paintings are delightful. I think your granddaughters will be pleased. Me? I like the landscape and the highway. That highway scene feels like California to me.

    • Cheri says:

      You make an interesting point about capturing–in photograph or painting–the vastness of the prairie. So true! I should take a photograph of the prairie scene that I bought from Flint Hills Gallery in Cottonwood Falls from Judith Mackey. She managed to convey the grasses, the beauty, the vastness of just flat grass.

      Glad you liked my attempt at a landscape. I like that painting the best.

      • shoreacres says:

        I’ll be darned. I just was in the gallery a month ago. Small world. I brought back this Dave Leiker photo of a prairie thunderstorm.

        • Cheri says:

          Dramatic!! Gorgeous! I love it. I am in AZ for Thanksgiving but when I return home, I will send you a photograph of my painting. It’s quite large and subtly stunning. We had Judith ship it to California, as we were on our way to Chicago from Cottonwood Falls.

          And yes, it is a small world.

  4. Brig says:

    You are good. I took painting from a lady that was a really good landscape artist. She could really capture clouds, light and shadow…
    A painting I did of the horse barn & clouds at the home ranch ended up in the Cowman’s uncle’s collection in New York, wonder where it is now…
    Anyway I love your landscapes!

  5. It is so interesting when you actually begin to SEE, isn’t it? You will begin tracing shapes in the air when you see something you want to paint. There is beauty in everything everywhere. A drop of dew on a rose, a reflection on a piece of silver, a strand of rope. things don’t need to be big to attract attention. You are doing well Cheri.

    • Cheri says:

      Coming from the quintessential artist–watercolors, oils, and clay–it means a great deal. You are right that once one tries to paint anything, you need view reality the same way again.

  6. You constantly amaze me,

  7. Cheri says:

    Well, it’s amazing what one can do with extra time on her hands! Thanks, sweet Chris.

  8. Pingback: Capturing the best of life — Notes from Around the Block | susamaimily

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