Thursday, January 31, 2013

Day 30, Painting 30

Well, here I am at the end of my challenge.  You know what's cool?  I didn't feel like I had to close the month with an amazing piece of art that will blow your mind.  In fact, this isn't even anything that's out of my own head, it's my second exercise out of Stephanie Pui-Mun Law's Dreamscapes.  I went to Michael's last night and picked up a hodgepodge of goodies... watecolor paper, a new palette knife, Liquin medium to make my oils dry more quickly, and iridescent medium for my watercolors. 

Out of all that stuff, of course, I wanted to play with the sparkles.  You probably can't see the medium in my photo here, but her wings and hair have a bit of silvery shimmer that you can see in person.  I'm not sure the green scribbles in the background work for me, but it doesn't really matter.  It does give me some information on what I want to do with backgrounds in the future.

So this is why it's cool that I feel no need to blow your mind today.  Because, I will be here tomorrow, and I will try another experiment, and it might come out great, and it might not, and I may not even paint, I may sketch.  I may have a work in progress to show you instead of something finished . But I'll be here. 

My friend from Cleveland left yesterday afternoon (it was an awesome visit and over too soon!), and I didn't get into the studio at all while she was here, but I'd painted just enough to cover that time period so that I only had to produce one painting today to meet my 30.  But I couldn't WAIT to get into the studio this morning.  Art has become part of my life.

In reality I started this challenge some time around the second week in December.  I decided I wasn't going to pressure myself to finish anything because of my painting style in December, but then, not only did I not finish a painting a day in December... I didn't finish anything in December.  So I thought this January challenge would be a good kick in the butt to stop being timid and wrap things up.  It was, it was great.  Some of the experiments I tried, I would not consider a huge success and I wouldn't even dream of showing them to anyone, at one time.  But I did.  Everything's there on my January 30/30 Challenge page, all in one place so you can see it all, my successes and ... let's call them learning experiences.  Because that's what they are.  When you show up at the canvas every day, there's no pressure to make THIS painting perfect, because even if it disappoints you, tomorrow's painting might exceed all expectations, and every one of them will teach you something about who you are, what you enjoy, what speaks to your artist's soul, and what you want to try next.

So here you have it, not a painting to knock your socks off, but just one more day, one more painting, one more step on my path that I hope does not have a destination.  I'm certainly not focused on a destination right now, although I hope that by the end of this year I can call myself a professional artist.

I keep a page of fancy scrapbooking paper around near my desk.  Sometimes words and phrases will come into my own head that I scribble down on this paper, and sometimes I run across some quote or inspiration that I want to remember.  When I do, I scribble it into one of hte spaces on this page.  I have a few of these tucked away and I recently ran across an old one with this quote on it:
Writing is like driving at night.  You cannot see beyond the headlights... but you can make the whole trip like that.     -- E.L. Doctorow
It occurred to me when I ran across that little snippet that I scribbled down years ago that art is that way too... not that you shouldn't have goals, just that you should remember to savor every bit of the journey.  The great thing about art, and writing, and blogs, is that it'll be here, years from now, and you can go back and see where you've been and how far you've come.

So if you did this challenge this month, whether you did 30 paintings or not, congratulations!  And thanks for following this journey and inspiring me.  And I hope that, like me, you'll be in the studio tomorrow, sorting out where the next turn in your path might take you.  More about that tomorrow. 

If you DIDN'T do this challenge this month, but you either are an artist or you'd love to be an artist (even if you are telling yourself you don't have the talent), I hope that today holds a few minutes of art for you, even if it's a doodle on a scrap sheet of paper while you're talking on the phone. 

Safe travels :)

P.S. If you stop by this blog and take the time to read it, do me a huge favor and drop by that 30/30 page and let me know which of my efforts you like the best... I'd love to hear a little feedback !

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mehndi Inspired

I started doing henna body art in 2010.  Let me explain a little about what it is. 

A paste is made from the plant Lawsonia inermis (henna plant) and an acidic liquid -- I use lemon juice.  The paste is then put into some sort of device for application (mylar cones, in my case), then applied in fine strands to the skin.  Left on the skin for a few hours or overnight, henna will produce a deep chestnut stain, which lasts up to several weeks.

Henna art has a distinctive look; often floral, lots of spirals and swirls, often intricately detailed.  I have wanted to play with henna inspired designs in oils for a while now but I need to order more mylar cones; so I thought I would experiment with watercolor today.  I really like the way the first one turned out.

If you'd like to see some of my henna art on people, you can check out the Henna page on this site. 

I recently discovered that my henna supplier has a new product; a glue that can be applied with a henna cone and then dusted with gilding powder or fine glitter for gorgeous shimmering body art designs that last for 3-10 days.  I have an event coming up the first of March where I will be doing henna so I'm really excited to order some and try it out :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Smaug's Eye

Original ACEO watercolor/pen and ink. Click to purchase.
This one's inspired by that tantalizing shot of Smaug's eye at the end of the Hobbit.  I expected it, didn't you?  they weren't going to blow the surprise and show you the beast in the first of three movies, but there was that foreboding shadow as he attacked the village in the history part, and of course at the end he wakes amid his piles of gold...

Dragons completely fascinate me, and i suspect they'll frequently be the subject of the challenge I've set myself for next month when the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge ends... I plan do do a lot of sketching with an eye (pun intended) toward painting.  So you'll be seeing a lot more dragons from me, but for now, just like the movie, you get a tantalizing glimpse of an eye.  ;)

Crazy Frog

3 x 3 Mini Painting Original on Canvas. Click to purchase.
Another little 3 x 3 mini canvas today.  I've been doing these little ones because I want to get a jump on my daily paintings in case I don't get a chance to paint a few days next week.  I really liked this little tree frog so I decided to paint him today.  I liked his bright colors and sucker-pad toes.  :)

I think this is Litoria chloris but I'm no expert on tree frogs.  They're native to Australia.

I do think I'd enjoy keeping frogs one of these days, but for now I'm focused on my praying mantises, which I also would like to paint in oil at some point.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mini Paintings

I got the awesome news yesterday that my friend from high school, Monica, is stopping by to visit on her way from an archaeological dig in Arkansas back home to Cleveland, and staying a few days.  I'm so excited to see her, it's been 20 years!

BUT... that means it's likely I won't get time to paint Tuesday or Wednesday next week, so I want to get a couple ahead.  As a result I worked on some small paintings in oil today.

I love minis and ACEOs because it's an affordable way for anyone to collect miniature original works of art.  If you'd like to purchase any of these, check out the ACEO/Mini Page.
Stop and Smell the Daisies, 3 x 3 mini canvas
I roughed Stop and Smell the Daisies in ages ago, and then misplaced it in all the confusion of my son moving out for college, back home, then away again, and then back home again.  I found it this past weekend and put some more details on it, but it's not done yet... close, but not quite.
Joy and Friendship, 3 x 3 mini canvas. Click picture to purchase.
This one, however, I started and finished today.  I left the charcoal outlines in it a bit because I decided I like them.  This is a 3 x 3 on a mini canvas.
What Cheer? 2.5 x 3.5 oil on ACEO card, for sale here 
And I roughed in this little oil ACEO at the beginning of the month and got around to finishing it today.  I was trying to remember what the birdwatcher people say the cardinal says (they have words to match the calls of a lot of birds, which is why Chickadees are named chickadee-dee-dee), and I looked it up.  What cheer, cheer, cheer?  And then as I started to type this paragraph I realized I was hearing a cardinal outside my window.

I love these little guys... they sure brighten up a dreary winter.  I was washing dishes this morning and Mrs. Cardinal paid a visit to my garden, which is right outside my kitchen window. 

I have a fascination with painting birds lately... and I just got a book on painting wildlife, so expect to see more of them :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Transparent Color

I recently bought the book Radiant Oils:  Glazing Techniques for Paintings that Glow by Arleta Pech.  I've recently been annoyed because I can't get the color or value I want in my oil paintings without creating mud, so I thought that this book would be helpful.  And I think it will be, although her approach to painting is a little different than what I'm used to.  I add a lot of white to my colors to get the values I want, whereas she, with a watercolorist background, thins the paints to transparency and builds the values she wants in layers, as you would in watercolor.

Unfortunately, I don't have any of the mediums around that she recommends (walnut oil, primarily), but I wanted to try some of these techniques, so I thought I would play around with the concepts in watercolor -- it would take days to do the experiment in oils, anyway.

This was the result.  I learned a lot about shading and color gradients from solids to white in the process, too, as you can see, my lower objects are better shaded than the first ones I tried.   This was done with three primary paints (and I did three different brands and color versions, to compare).  The primaries are one row, and then below that I put a layer of a primary and then layered another primary over the dry paint to create secondary tones, rather than mixing my colors on the palette (the two spheres off to the side, I used the latter method, just to see the difference). 

The watercolor book I have that I have been working with, Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Watercolors, is pretty cool, but it holds your hand and walks you through creating a traced-image painting and then filling in and layering the colors like this.  Only problem is, if I don't want to reproduce someone else's paintings, I have to figure this value thing out on my own, and there are no experimental exercises like this one in it.  

I do think that I'm going to need better paint if I'm going to pursue this watercolor thing with any seriousness... the beginner sets of paints I have are obviously not as rich in pigment as the few tubes of better brands that I've bought.  But, one thing at a time (yeah right, like I ever listened to THAT advice...).

Brandon (my son, who has an artistic bent) brought up an interesting question when I showed it to him:  Why is it that we seem to default having the light coming from the upper right?  Hm. Never thought about it, but it seems to be true in my case.  Any lefties out there who tend to make it come from the left?


This is a little knotwork bird inspired by an illustration in the Book of Kells, done in my watercolor sketchbook.  As usual for knotwork, I created the design on graph paper and transferred via graphite paper to the sketchbook.  This only fills about a quarter of the sketchbook page so I will probably give it some accompanying calligraphy when I decide what I want it to say.

I had a few issues with it.  First, I got so engrossed in making it look like a bird that I forgot how the knotwork should go, and so the neck part is a little more tangled than it should be.  Also, my graphite paper seems to have wax or something in it that resists watercolor, so my lines show a little white here and there where they shouldn't.  But, overall, I'm pretty happy with it.  I want to do a knotwork animal of my own design, eventually, and maybe incorporate it into a watercolor painting somehow.  Baby steps :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


This is for my grandmother, Ann DeMichael, who believed.  Her faith was the same regardless of her religion.  When she fell in love with my grandfather and married him, she became Catholic (she was born Lutheran), but she often told me, "It doesn't matter what religion you are.  God listens to everyone."  I am certain that he listened to her, though she didn't always get what she prayed for.  It distressed her deeply that religion divided my family; she rightly believed that if your religion turned you against your family, there was something flawed about it.

She was full of life.  She was still going out dancing well into her 80s, always keeping busy, because she believed that when you stop being involved with life, you start to die, whether you're 20 or 90. 

And she was the most selfless person I know.  If faith without works is dead, hers was alive and well, and it outlived her... every one of us who was touched by her life continues to be enriched by her constant giving and the openness of her heart.  December 31 was her birthday... she'd have been 99 this past year, but she only made it to 98.  If there is a heaven, I am glad she knew the way there.

Thank you, Gram, for the faith you gave me.  It's not the same as yours, but your faith will inspire mine, always.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


For some reason photographs of water droplets fascinate me, and I've wanted to paint one for a while. This one is not done, this is the rough layer, but I think for a rough it looks pretty good.  There will be a lot more detail on it when I'm done.

This is 9 x 12 oil on canvas, layer one... who knows when I'll be able to finish it, blue is notoriously slow to dry.

I decided to not worry about completing anything today; I really was in the mood to do some oil painting and I wondered if I could finish this in one sitting, but I really want to get all the detail in on it... I may head back to the studio and do something later, if I have time after I finish my regular work.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I like to burn a candle when I'm working, but with all the paper and brushes and flammable stuff I was a little concerned about an open flame.

But my sister-in-law bought me these adorable little lanterns, so I can burn my candle and still paint and not worry about torching the place with a misplaced paper towel that has a little paint thinner on it (yikes).  This little square lantern has wirework that looks like wrought iron on it.

The other one she got me, however, has open panes of glass and no wirework, soooo... I decided to play with it today, lest I take my painting too seriously.  Time to have a little fun with something different (that was the idea this month, anyway).
I'm using Plaid's Gallery Glass paints, which I bought at Hobby Lobby.  Verdict:  I'm not impressed.  The liquid leading is a pain in the butt to work with and get a straight line, even for someone who works with henna pretty frequently, and, I might say, not too badly either ;)  It made me wonder about squeezing this stuff into a henna cone and trying it that way... once the plastic squeezy container is not full it's not going to be easy to work with at all.  I had to smooth the lines with a toothpick (a process I am also familiar with from working with henna), but the leading dries pretty quick and it wasn't always as successful as I'd hope for.
I sketched out my sun/moon design on graph paper and then used the liquid leading to trace it on the glass... in the end I had to simplify my design a lot because of the thickness of the lines.  
Here it is with the leading in place.  I can't decide if I need to put the design facing in or facing out on the lantern.  We'll see.
And here are all the panels, painted but still wet (which means they're much more opaque than they'll end up).  You can see the left-most one turning transparent as it dries. 

The fact that the color paints don't look anything like they're going to when they're dry is another issue.  The "poppy orange" rays on the sun looked pink, wet.  And some of the white areas will be clear and others white.  I like the look of the brighter colors much better than the paler ones.  I'm anxious to see how this turns out, now.
Some of the panes were still a little wet when I put them in the lantern but it was okay.   I think I'd like to try this project again with something a little more abstract, and maybe try the henna cone trick with the leading :)

Have a wonderful, creative day, and don't forget... if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fairy Exercises

Once upon a time, an elfling who wanted to be a writer discovered roleplaying games online (MUDD's... the anceint forerunner to today's MMORPG's like World of Warcraft.  They're completely text-based).  In that environment, she used to create cooperative tales with other online roleplayers. 

Nerdy, I know.
Anyway, it was during this chapter of her life that she discovered a site called Elfwood, and there found an artist named Stephanie Pui-Mun Law whose worlds in watercolor would enchant her.  While our elfling was building a website, Stephanie was even gracious enough to let her use one of these luminous works as its cover.   This was maybe 15 years ago, maybe a little less.
Fast forward.  About three years ago, after the elfling had mostly given up on actual writing (plot is not her forte, and there is not a lot of market for poetry these days) and found an outlet for creativity in other ways, like painting pewter miniatures and making wire and chainmaille jewelry (there is a nerdy thread running through this whole thing, yes).
Then she met her fairy godmother, Karen, who taught her how to paint, and more importantly, gave her the most important words an artist can know:  "Don't be afraid."  So the elfling learned to wield a paintbrush herself.
She was enchanted to discover that her favorite painter, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, had published a book on how to paint the ethereal words that she created.  She was given this book, Dreamscapes, as a gift, but it sat on the shelf for several years (she forgot that advice from her fairy godmother).

When she finally resolved not to be afraid anymore, about a month into the Journey, she finally pulled out that book, and tried her wings.

Another page in my watercolor sketchbook, an exercise from Stephanie's book Dreamscapes:  Creating Magical Angel, Faery & Mermaid Worlds in Watercolor.  The fairy, that is.  The knotwork took at least as long and is completely my own addition, and even though it has some issues, I'm fairly pleased with it... although I think maybe I should have chosen some subtler shades so as not to overwhelm the delicate fairy.  But hey, it's a sketchbook and it's my first painting that's anything like this.

Knotwork, I can tell you now, is very meditative, almost like a zentangle once you get into the rhythm.  I drew this on graph paper and transferred it with graphite paper to the watercolor page.  transferring knotwork is not meditative and is sort of a pain in the butt.

Stephanie has been one of  my favorite artists for ages, and I own this book, her Shadowscapes tarot deck, and a calendar she did a few years ago (I really wish she'd do another one!!).  There are now two more books in the Dreamscapes series, and I want them badly, but I told myself I'd have to commit to doing a few exercises out of this one, at the least, before I can buy them. :)  Besides, painting a fairy is on the list of things to try this month.

Just For Today

The five principles of Reiki are such a good reminder... I love the "just for today" concept.  Live in the moment, sufficient for each day is it's own worry... just in this moment, I will not worry.  That first one is most certainly the most difficult for me.

I've wanted to create a piece of art with these principles for a while, but oil painting does not lend itself to calligraphy, so this is watercolor and ink.  I hope it's a good reminder for you, too.

Missed Day

I didn't get to paint yesterday. This weekend is nutty, my son is moving back home after having an apartment with his friends, we had planned to have people over last night (all day really) to play board games, and to top things off I have a ton of typing to do.  If I'm honest, if I'd gotten up early yesterday I could have found time to paint (which is why Thursday's Artists Helping Artists was inspirational for me.. morning is my best time to paint too but I don't get up at 5 am.), but I didn't. 

Fortunately, one day last week I decided to play with pastels a bit and came up with this still life of a bottle of Chaucer's mead and one of the beautiful steel goblets we got as a wedding gift from our wedding party... we had an amazing Renaissance-themed wedding :)

Not sure I like pastels, but maybe I just haven't found the key to get them to do what I want them to do.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Today's watercolor sketchbook page fulfills several of my "try this" list items for the month (see the 30 in 30 page for more info). 1) it's done from a picture I took, 2) it's one of my pets, and 3) it's a mantis.

I keep and sometimes breed 13 species of exotic praying mantids. This was my first one, Kali, just after she molted to become an adult and got her pretty wings. She's an Indian Flower Mantis, (Creobroter pictipennis).

Mantids make really interesting pets and I thought they'd also be fun to paint. Some of her markings look like they were painted on with watercolor anyway, so I figured that'd be a good media for it. I need to take more pics of my critters and paint them.

I haven't updated it in a while, but if mantids interest you my mantis site is at Mantis Files.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I Am

My calligraphy skill are very much out of practice. I transcribed this poem that i wrote in 2003. Interestingly, ten years later I could pretty easily substitute " Artist" for "Poet" and "paint" for "write."

Funny how life changes.

If I write more, I'm sure a lot of it will be about the process of art.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Of Journals and Chivalry

I broke in my watercolor sketchbook today, with - what else - a horse. This might seem like it's squarely in my comfort zone, but it's not, for several reasons: 1) I do head studies pretty easily but the left brain is harder to shake on a full-body study 2) he's head-on, which means there's foreshortening involved - scary and 3) it's watercolor.   The first two things I conquered by sketching him in upside-down.  (if you don't know why I did this, you should check out the indispensable Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards).  The third just needs practice, which is the point.

By the way, I used a stock photo from deviantArt for this by Colorize Stock, who has some of the best horse stock photos on dA.  I can't even begin to express how awesome it is to have this resource and not have to take all my own pictures.  You can go to the site and click "Resources & Stock Images" in the left hand column to find stock pics of just about anything.  Be sure to read the posters' terms of use and make sure it's okay to use for off-dA media.

I'm liking watercolor. A few times I was filling in larger areas, I forgot what I was working with and let my edge dry out, so I ended up with a few lines where I didn't want them.   But I absolutely adore the subtle gradations of color you can achieve just by layering the same paint.

It's going to be really cool to page through a book of watercolor paintings, though, so I'm looking forward to filling in this book.  It's got a decent cover but not so ornate it's intimidating to "mess it up" (I'm not the only one who feels this, am I?).  And it's a nice size - around 5 x 8 - so that I can complete a page in one sitting without too much strain.

For Christmas my son Brandon got me this beauty:
Leather stamped cover, handmade pages. Isn't it scrumptious?

Now, I am a journal junkie and I have several.  I fill in the regular old lined ones every day with an average of two pages of drivel written in calligraphy pen, a la "Morning Pages" from The Artist's Way.  This serves to clear a bit of head noise and make room for creativity.  And it's cool to look back at who I was a few years ago.

However, unlined pages want Art (capital A), and I'm just beginning to perceive myself as an Artist.  So I have a lot of these very nice Sketchbook/Journals lying around waiting for me to be awesome enough to fill them.
... and that's all I've done with it, write my name in it, in calligraphy that's a little bit on the rusty side. It smells of leather and epic tales. I don't know what special, amazing thing I want to put in it. Illuminated poetry, maybe. With illustrations. I hope it'll take watercolor but I have my doubts. Still, if the pages wrinkle a little it might not hurt the ambiance of an old, richly illustrated storybook, which is what I'm going for.

What I will NOT do is wait to be awesome enough to fill it, because it deserves better.  Even sub-par Art is superior to Blank.
There. It's not blank anymore. But what to write?  I think I have an idea.  Tomorrow's project, maybe.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Surprise, Surprise

To my complete shock, I CAN do an oil painting in a day. This took me around an hour and a half. It's the other painting meant to be for the Creative Every Day theme for January, "Dark".

Painting in basically greyscale was interesting, too. It let me focus completely on value. I may experiment with more scenes in black and white to explore this further. I've also considered doing a full under painting in b&w with transparent colors layered over it.

(Wow, this is REALLY dark on my monitor.  I hope you can see the subtle dark tones on yours.)

Sunday, January 13, 2013


The point of today's exercise is to create an abstract backdrop onto which I plan to create some traditional henna designs.
I think this one will stay as is, though. These are 3x3 canvases, oil.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


So this is my flamenco dancer, roughed in. Although I think her face and arms need some work regardless, I am trying to divorce myself from the idea that every painting has to have photographic detail, and as I look at this I am wondering how it would have gone if I had done this with a knife. Not that I can't still do that. I am quite pleased with even the rough on her dress, though.

So, What do you think? Should I make this a typically (for me) detailed painting, paint in her features carefully (and fix her arms and hands), or should I let it be an impressionist kind of "gesture" painting with a palette knife when I get to layer two?  I think I'm leaning toward the latter.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Flaxen-Haired Girl

They say it takes 30 days for a habit to become ingrained.  I've been painting every day for about that long now, and I feel pretty good because this morning my day-job (medical transcription) boss called and asked could I get a file done STAT, so, I didn't get to do my morning journal-meditate-paint routine.  Still, I got the work done and went to the studio.  It's cool that it's becoming part of my day.
I thought I'd do some little ACEO sized paintings, playing with my new watercolor skills.  It didn't exactly work out that way.  The ACEO "watercolor" paper SUCKS for watercolors.  Literally.  It sucks up the paint instantly which means you can't work with the wet to blend much at all. 

I persevered anyway and came up with this cartoony-looking pony that is absolutely unlike anything I've ever done before (I am not that great with a line, so I tend to erase a lot when drawing).  Still, I'm kind of intrigued by the little thing.  It's definitely not perfect but I think, with better paper and practice, I could get the hang of this.  I'd be way better off cutting up the 5 x 7 Stratford 140 lb paper I was working with yesterday than trying to work with these awful little cards.  Maybe they'll be good for something else.  Markers?  I dunno.  Colored pencil maybel
For my next trick I tried a little blue and gold macaw ACEO.  I paint horses better than most things because I have been obsessed with them since I could recognize one in a picture and when I was a kid that was pretty much all I drew.  Birds, I haven't drawn or painted so much, but I do love birds.  I have a little Senegal parrot I intend to try to paint from life at some point. 

For a long time I was a veterinary technician at a clinic that saw small animals and exotics, so I got to work with birds a LOT.  Holding them for a veterinary exam is a challenge sometimes! -- especially macaws like this one, which are a lot of bird to handle and when they aren't happy they are ear-splittingly vocal.  Anyway, I had fun with this one, because they are such cool birds that I've spent time admiring them in detail... the little black mask of feather tufts on their faces, their wrinkly skin around their beaks, and their glorious, glorious feathers.  I have never owned a big, big macaw but my first parrot (not counting little cockatiels, parakeets and lovebirds) was a "mini" macaw (a Hahn's macaw) named Simon.  One of these days I want to paint one of these beautiful birds in vibrant oils, too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Watercolor Exercises

A little practice with washes and values...
And an exercise.  This is Project One in Step by Step Guide to Painting Realistic Watercolors by Dawn McLeod Heim, another book I adore and recommend and have been planning on using for ages. 

By way of self-critique, I need more control with my edges and my charges aren't blending as well as they need to.  I learned a lot from doing this.  (It is done from a traced drawing out of the book, then painted per the author's directions). 

I was going to do a watercolor horse ACEO today but I thought I'd buckle down and do some learnin' before I tackle it.  I also am going to need to seriously work on my drawing skills if I'm going to do any serious watercolor.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different

... and completely sappy :)  What the heck, Valentine's Day is coming up, right?  This is watercolor and ink on 5 x 7 Strathmore 140 lb. paper.

I set out this morning to play with some Celtic knotwork, so I got out the graph paper and tinkered, using exercises in my awesome book Great Book of Celtic Patterns by Lora S. Irish.  What I ended up with was a heart knot.  The little doohickey on the inside was purely additive.

Next, I used graphite paper to transfer the design to my watercolor paper, and then I played with a watercolor wash in Cerulean and Ultramarine, darker around the edges and liberally salted.  I painted in the knot, let dry (again... this takes patience, why does it feel like it takes MORE patience than oils?  Maybe because I go into an oil painting knowing it's going to take days to dry, and I won't be able to work on it the same day).

Finally, I hunted for a quote while I was waiting for the paper to dry, and since knotwork symbolizes eternity, and it's a heart, I figured a love quote was appropriate... so this is for my love (love you hon!).  I practiced writing it a few times with a Schaeffer fountain pen and another awesome book (it's been a while since I.. calligraphed?) called The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris.  And... hours later, I'm done.

I'm quite pleased with it, actually.  Definitely my best calligraphy effort, and not a bad first go at watercolor, either.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mornings In Space

I love mornings. The house is quiet with a stillness that doesnt feel the same at any other time of day. It's my time... I work best, and it seems like once noon happens I lose control of my time.

My intent is to journal, meditate, paint. I sometimes neglect the meditation. I could take a lesson from my cat-guru Magoo, who can't wait until I open the studio door so that he can commune with the space heater.
Today I put on some Vivaldi and returned to my nebula. I'm overworking it, I think. It's nearly done but I'll probably tinker with it one more time and add the big stars once this layer is dry. I'd really like feedback on this one.
What do you think? Would you hang it on your wall?

The theme for Creative Every Day for January is "Dark."  I have two paintings in mind for this theme and this is the first.

Monday, January 7, 2013


More fun with impasto gel and palette knives, this time a little bigger (and I really think, this is probably the smallest that is going to work for this technique, for me).  The lighting in these photos isn't the best.

I love the texture . The first one is SUPER thick.  The other, not so much.  I learned a few things about how I want to go about applying paint to the canvas, though, which is cool.  The second one left a lot of the strokes of the thinned underpainting showing, which is what I wanted, and also the texture of the canvas showing in the impasto.

The coolest thing about all of this is, I am now 2 paintings ahead for daily paintings, which means I can work on in-progress stuff in my "normal" technique and not worry about having to finish something. 

Next month, my goal will probably be more like, paint every day, but not necessarily to finish something every day.  But having something to show for my labor every day is kind of nice too.

It's been a week and I've done at least SOME painting every day!  :D   And, about a whole month that I've been back at this.  Go me!

Comfort Zone

This is what I'm definitely comfortable painting - horses (especially in profile), traditional layered oil technique, small-ish canvas (this one is really small, 3x3). This one has been in the works for ages, finally put the finishing touches and final shading on it.

Now to push the envelope a bit.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Scrabbling for Creativity

I'm sick.  I came down with a nasty cold, and yesterday spent the majority of the day driving to Nashville to pick up my son from the airport, and today I'm catching up on "real" work and resting.  Fortunately I'm one painting ahead so I haven't yet fallen behind.  When I feel better I'd like to get a couple ahead (tomorrow... I hope?)

I'm also hoping that I can finish up my typing (I type medical transcription from home for a day job) and sneak into the studio for at least a little ACEO, or watercolor, or at least a zentangle.  If so I'll update this post.

There's my ACEO tinkering for the day. I want to tinker some more because the clouds need some work, but I'll do it tomorrow.

And something else, not sure what yet.