Monday, June 20, 2016

Mocking Beethoven

"Mocking Beethoven"
Original Clay board Engraving ©Amanda Brannon
I'm in the process of engraving state birds. Since I live in Tennessee, I chose the mockingbird to do first. One of the joys I get from doing different birds is that I learn about them in the process. Also, once I research and go through the process of engraving a bird, it becomes part of me forever—always recognizing it when I see it.

In learning about the mockingbird, I learned that they like to sing during a full moon! Also, around the same time, I learned that an artist friend of mine teaches her resident mockingbirds songs, including "Beethoven's Fifth" and "Dixie"! That is what inspired my engraving "Mocking Beethoven".  What songs would you teach the mockingbirds in your area?  I'm going to teach mine "Amazing Grace".

Monday, January 25, 2016

Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival

Whew! I just returned from the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in Titusville, Florida and boy, was that a wonderful time!  Although the weather was chilly, the bird & wildlife watching opportunities were plentiful!  Roseate Spoonbills, Scrub Jays, Wood Storks, White Pelicans, Yellow Legs, Snowy Egrets, Herons, Pileated Woodpeckers, Barred Owls, Red Winged Blackbirds, and bobcats were checked off my list of things I hoped to see!  The only bird I didn't get to see was the Painted Buntings...maybe next time! 

Also, what made this festival particularly wonderful was the wonderful new friends we met. Their hospitality was over-the-top. If you ever hat the opportunity to visit Titusville, Florida and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I highly recommend it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers
Original Clayboard Engraving ©Amanda Brannon

I'm loving woodpeckers right now! Every morning, the local woodpeckers come to my back deck to get their share of the peanuts before the greedy Blue Jays get them all. I find their markings and also their call very charming.

This recent engraving of mine depicts both female and male Red-cockaded Woodpeckers. Notice that little red spot on the side of the male's head?  Rarely visible, except perhaps during the breeding season and periods of territorial defense, the male has a small red streak on each side of its black cap called a cockade, hence its name. The common name came into use during the early 1800’s when 'cockade' was regularly used to refer to a ribbon or other ornament worn on a hat. The females lack the red cockade. Juvenile males have a red 'patch' in the center of their black crown. This patch disappears during the fall of their first year at which time their 'red-cockades' appear.

Monday, December 28, 2015


"Anhinga" ©Amanda Brannon
Original Clay Board Engraving
I've been burning the midnight oil in my studio, while preparing to showcase my art at the Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Expo in Florida in January. This handsome fellow is going with me. It's an anhinga, in case you didn't know! Another name for them is "water turkey" because of their tail feathers. I'm loving researching the native birds in that region.  Next on my list is to do a Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bristle-thighed Curlew

"Bristle-thighed Curlew"
Original Clay board Engraving.
©Amanda Brannon

A couple of years ago, I was selected to be the featured artist for the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer, Alaska.  I had really hoped to do a sandhill crane illustration (my favorite bird) for this event. Much to my chagrin, the committee chose the Bristle-thighed curlew for my subject matter.  "ARGHHH!!! A Bristle-thighed what?!!!"

I was a little grumpy about this decision, at first. But, after some soul-searching, I decided to adjust my attitude and take the opportunity to learn about this bird. Boy, am I glad I did!  This fascinating little bird migrates between Alaska and the Pacific Islands! Although not exactly colorful, I appreciate the beautiful mottled pattern on it's back and it's fluffy "pantaloons." And what about that long, curved beak?  In my engraving, my Bristle-thighed curlew is exploring the shore of Kachemak Bay, with China Poot Peak in the background. This is my favorite place in Alaska. I love combing the shore there, looking for little pieces of beach glass, sea shells, and heart-shaped rocks.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to get to know this darling bird. Since then, I've been illustrating a variety of birds as a means of learning more about them.  Right now, I'm working on an Anhinga. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Warhol Raven — Corvid of Many Colors

Talk about a departure from what I typically do!  But I'm really loving the bright colors of this pop art piece. It's a take-off (rip-off) of Andy Warhol's "Mariln" <LOL>.  I don't have much else to say, except that this piece is making me think of doing more of re-creating classic artworks using Pacific Northwest birds and animals! 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Horned Puffin

"Horned Puffin" ©Amanda Brannon
Clay board engraving with acrylic ink color-wash.
The Horned Puffin is one of my favorite birds to watch for, when cruising Alaska and British Columbia. I just love their cute little size (about as big as a pigeon) and their adorable beak and eyes are simply captivating, don't you think?  I just love nature and it's infinite inspiration.

The original art engraving is available.  If you are interested, please contact me through my website.  I also have cards and prints of this piece.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Star Shakers

"Star Shakers" ©Amanda Brannon
Clay Board Engraving with Acrylic Ink Color-wash
When I was inspired to create this piece a couple of years ago, someone near and dear to me in Alaska was going through a major transition. I kept having this vision of Dall's sheep frolicking beneath the Northern Lights. Sure enough, on the final night of her life on Earth, the Northern Lights danced outside her window and an earthquake shook the house. All I could say was, "We were not surprised." Hers was a life well-lived, full of laughter, love, and MUCH adventure—more than most people could dream of having. She was one of the most remarkable women I'd ever known, so it made sense that on the evening of her departure, there would be beauty and awe.

This piece reminds me to live more fully and with abandon, like a couple of Dall's sheep under the dancing Northern a Star Shaker!

Prints of this piece are available, for the first time, in 8x10 gallery wrapped canvas through Taku Graphics.

If you're interested in a differnt size, please feel free to contact me through my web site.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Moose Party!

Who knew that moose were so sophisticated?  I started with the handsome bull and realized he needed a glamorous companion. These two make such a lovely couple, don’t you think? 
It almost looks as though they are about to be married.

They would make a fabulous gift for a couple or even for yourself!

They are available on 8x10 canvas and also on cards through

For larger-sized prints, you can contact me directly through my website.

"Moose-stache" ©Amanda Brannon.
Engraving on clay board.

"Glamour Moose" ©Amanda Brannon
Engraving on clay board.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Giving Thanks

"The Party Crashers"  ©Amanda Brannon.
Original clay board engraving. 24" x 36" 
Different-sized prints available.

The thing I love most about Thanksgiving is the opportunity to share my favorite dishes with my favorite people. This year's was particularly wonderful, with both family and new friends. I also relish the opportunity to give thanks for what is actually important:  good health, loved ones, and the everyday blessings that we take for granted.

Our country has lost sight of what is really important.  Camping outside a store and fighting over merchandise is both shameful and exploitative of consumers. How embarrassing to be reduced to lowly behavior over a so-called deal. Wouldn't it be better to spend time with your loved ones on a lovely hike or stroll in the park, while sipping hot chocolate or apple cider?  Or playing board games indoors or making holiday crafts?

Rather than buying the usual meaningless stuff, wouldn't it be lovely to buy one extra-special gift from a crafts person or artisan that would be a forever keepsake?

My hope for our country this year is that more people begin to wake up and take notice of where they are placing value. I will continue my personal tradition of my annual "Buy Nothing" day, on the day after Thanksgiving, to celebrate what is really important:  Sharing and giving thanks.

I hope your holiday season is filled with joy and gratitude and, of course, lots of art!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Northern Cardinals

Every morning I awake to the sound of Northern Cardinals outside my bedroom window at my Tennessee home. Although they are a little shy, they are quite vocal! In studying them, I learned something wonderful. The male Northern Cardinal actually feeds the female during courtship! I just love that. 

Come to think of it, when my husband was courting me, he made me a very special meal on one of our early dates. They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Well, the same thing can be said of women!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Turn the Ink Blobs of Life into Something Beautiful

"Midnight Waltz" by Amanda Brannon

A friend of mine shared this with me on Facebook today and it really gave me food for thought.  My edits are in red. ;-)

I've never worried about if my art was good or not. I just keep after it until it feels right and it's the best I can do at the time. Also, whether or not someone resonates with what I do or my subject matter is simply a matter of personal preference—which has nothing to do with ME!  But I do notice if people are respectful and kind.

When I was learning to draw, I remember the day I was making art at the kitchen counter with my mom. I cou
ldn't have been more than 5 or 6 years old. A blob of ink shot out of the fountain pen I was holding and made a puddle on the paper. Boy, was I was dismayed! I thought it had ruined my artwork. Then, my mother showed me how to make it better by adding wings to it. Suddenly, that blob of ink was a butterfly! That moment changed the art process for me for the rest of my life.

In many ways, that life lesson has been one of the most important ones in my life:  Learning to make best use of what I have! 

When you make best use of what you have, in a way you're accepting the way things are while taking what you have and making it better!  Instead of resisting and bringing creativity to a halt:
• "An ink blob ruined my painting!" (or)
• "I hate my life!"

You stay in "the flow" and open your eyes and heart to opportunity:
"I can turn this into a butterfly! This brings unexpected whimsy to my painting!" (or)
• "These particular things in my life are going well. I acknowledge it's not ALL bad. I choose gratitude for even the smallest of things while I figure out how to shift away from what isn't serving me through love of self, of others, and a deepening relationship with God."

In addition to love and gratitude, an important element is RESPECT.  Respect yourself. Respect your God-given gifts, whatever they may be. And respect the process while you hone your skills.

Thank you, Mom, for this powerful life lesson! I love you!

This image is available on 8x10 gallery-wrap canvas from Taku Graphics!
1-907-780-6310 or 1-800-278-3291.

Product information for 8x10 Art on Canvas:
Artist: Amanda Brannon
Product code: BA CA-10 Midnight Waltz
Price: $45*

*Ready to hang! Wood easel for table display available at extra cost.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Loony Love

I love the call of the Loons. The sounds they make are awe-inspiring. The first time I experienced loons was when I was at a fly-fishing retreat in Alaska for breast cancer survivors. I would listen to them at night, as I drifted into my dreams. Loons will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Tennessee Whale

The view from the back deck of our rental home.
We spend every morning sipping coffee on the back deck of our rental home, watching the birds that come to the feeders and also the deer and wild turkeys in the distance. We're building down the road, in the middle of 153 acres in North Central Tennessee.

Our Tennessee whale - 153 Acres
From the very beginning of our property search in TN, it's been more than apparent that God's plan for us was to move here.  During our search I met a young man, who was working behind the desk at the hotel we were staying in, who told me about a hidden gem where he lived. "There are lots of properties there for sale. I grew up there. Let me draw you a map."

So, on the third day we followed the map which took us right to the street our land is on. Our realtors live right down the road and are stewards of this community and also Christian leaders. They host community bible study each week in their home. It's such an incredible opportunity to get to know one's neighbors and to hear their testimonies and their joys and their challenges and to pray together.

There is so much love here. I could feel it when we drove in the first time. It's a genuine community that is prayed over constantly. And it's rich with history:

After we had our land surveyed, the first thing I noticed was that it's in the shape of a whale!!!  It makes sense to me because, in a lot of ways, it feels as though we've taken on a whale. LOL  And, interestingly, the location of our home site is in the belly of that whale.

It gives me cause to reflect on the biblical account of Jonah and the whale:

You can run, but you can't hide from God. He is in control. God can and does provide  supernatural means and circumstances when we need to follow a certain path and to guide us in the right direction. It reminds me to trust more and try to control less. Keep on the path that God provides and let go of the burden of trying to control outcome.  As an artist, trusting more and fearing less allows me to get in to the place of creating with joy and celebration of God's amazing creatures, who offer endless inspiration!

One of my favorite things Jesus said was, "Fear is useless; what is needed is trust."  — Luke 8:50, Mark 5:36

I'm thankful for our Tennessee whale and for the opportunity to grow closer in our walk with our Lord and Savior.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chickadee-dee-dee Tea!

Tomorrow is February 1st and the beginning of a month of hearts and flowers! I just love Valentine's Day. I used to not always embrace it as I do, now. In my earlier years, I would have a lot of anxiety around it—hoping someone would show me I was worthy to receive that heart-shaped box of candy or a bouquet of flowers.

At that time of my life I was looking for love outside of myself, rather than feel the love from within. Now, I have no expectations from Valentines Day. I use that holiday to celebrate and share the love I feel for my friends and family. Rather than expect my husband to treat me to a fancy dinner, I celebrate him by making him a beautiful meal and tell him how much I appreciate everything he does for us. My only expectation from him is that he buy me a cheesy card that says "To My Wife on Valentine's Day" on the front. I love it that I qualify to receive a "to my wife" card! <giggle>

One year, I decided to honor my girlfriends with an over-the-top tea party, complete with door prizes, silly valentine-themed gifts, and LOTS of scrumptious cookies and tea that was served from a beautiful samovar. It was amazing. I'm looking forward to doing that again, some year.

My life lesson: Love yourself and treat yourself like the loved one you are.  Love others fully and without expectation—love, love, love 'em up!  Forgive your own missteps. Forgive others missteps. If they are a bad dancer, show them how. If they continue to step on your feet, you can lovingly accept different dance partners and wish them well. After all, we're all just little children in grown-up bodies, just trying to get through this life with minimal suffering.  Like my soul sister Donna Maltz said, "You may not like someone, but you've gotta love 'em!"

Blessings and love to you.

Valentine's Tea Party 2010

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Oldie but Goodie

Berry Happy Raven

This is the very first bird I did an etching of.  It was the Fall of 2009.  I had finished a long bout of treatment for breast cancer and my hair was coming in. My husband and I drove to Hope, Alaska to go camping, take photographs, and enjoy the local music that is played every weekend at the Sea View Cafe.

Another activity we enjoy there is strolling down the little dirt streets and admiring the old log homes and other classic Alaskana artifacts filled in-between with Cow parsnip, fiddlehead ferns, and fireweed. It's rustic quaintness has a flavor of it's own.

During that particular visit, we walked past a log home with an attached art gallery called Sherritt Fine Art Gallery. 

Sherritt Fine Art Gallery in Hope, Alaska
As we strolled past we could see the owners, Scott and Fayrene, out front visiting with patrons and family around a fire pit. (Fire pits are very common near Alaskan homes, as they enhance the enjoyment of the very long summer nights.) We walked over and introduced ourselves and began to talk about one of my favorite subjects:  art.

Since they are "in the business" I questioned them about what shows they like to participate in. They told me about one in particular that is held twice per year and suggested that I dip my toe in the water and have a table at the next show.

Well, I got busy doing etchings of some of the photos I took and that is show that started it all for me. I'll never forget the people streaming through the doors early in the morning on their way to their offices. Right away, I started selling prints. People were actually buying my artwork!!!  It was exhilarating.  From that moment on, I was set free—free to create, knowing that people would resonate with the joy and love and humor that I put into my work. I was free to trust the process.

My husband, who likes to name my artwork, named this one "Berry Happy Raven."  Berry happy indeed.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Foxy Lady!

This illustration is going on a Chai tea label (which is why she's wearing an Indian dress) that I'm doing with The Kobuk Coffee Co. in Anchorage, Alaska. The whole time I was illustrating this, I was hearing the foxy lady song by Jimi Hendrix in my head. LOL  

My foxy lady is sitting in an Aspen grove and is accompanied by a Common Redpoll bird.  Although I can already see the completed artwork in my mind, there is always a surprise waiting for me. This time, it was the fox's captivating eyes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Night Owl

This is my latest clayboard etching...a Great Horned Owl, holding a cup of coffee.
On the cup is a band of three blind mice musicians, playing jazz music. Musical notes are wafting upwards in the steam.

My mind is my playground...

Sunday, October 5, 2014

I bet you didn't know...

All you ladies know what month October is: breast cancer awareness month. Pink ribbons everywhere. And, yet, for all this "awareness" we've dropped the ball on the basic facts about breast cancer. I can tell you this, because I AM A BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR of 6 years.

I would like to take a moment and share with you what every woman needs to know.

1. Breast cancer CAN hurt (mine did!) So, if there is any symptom not normal for you, don't let nurses or doctors shrug it off. Be like a dog with a bone and do not take no for an answer until you have made them run every test to prove to you that you do not have breast cancer.

2. Over 75% of breast cancer patients have NO FAMILY HISTORY of the disease. (I was the first in a very large family of women.)

3. Mammograms only catch about 80% of breast cancers. (Read #1 again.)

4. Men can get breast cancer, too!

5. Breast cancer is best treated early, so don't let fear of diagnosis & treatment prevent you from getting examined. Furthermore, there are many financial support options for women who don't have health insurance, so have faith and get to a doctor!

6. Most types of breast cancer is treatable and beatable! Again, it's best to catch it EARLY!

Please share this with the women in your life.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hummer & Bumble

There's something mystical about hummingbirds. They're like little flying jewels—fairy-like with the way they zip around, with that unmistakable sound that their wings make. 

Whenever I illustrate a bird I haven't done before, I do lots of research to make sure I capture the bird's essence—each type of bird has its own personality. The hummingbirds, for example, have a certain "innocence" about them, in contrast with the rascally ravens.

As I was learning more about hummingbirds, I came across some pretty disturbing news: the very plants that we buy in big box store garden centers, even the ones labeled "Proven Winners Bee Friendly Plant" are likely contaminated with bee- and bird-killing neonicontinoid pesticides!!!  If you have inadvertently purchased some of these plants, find your receipt and return them for a refund. It doesn't matter if you don't have the original containers.

Years ago, I remember seeing advertisements for "organic flowers." I remember giggling to myself, thinking that it was silly if we're not eating the flowers to bother having them be organic. I was sadly mistaken. Anytime something in the ecosystem is singled out, it effects ALL things. Without the pollinators, we starve. 

We are all connected...down to the little hummingbirds and Bumble bees.