Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Young Photographers


The photo below is the one that gave me the idea to paint my friends' Facebook photos for the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge.  My friend Chris posted the photo, which her son Mathias (age ten) took while they were out hunting Pokemon (Team Valor!!).  I was really impressed with his eye for framing the photograph and I instantly adored all the linear perspective, which I haven't played with in YEARS.  Looked like the perfect time to play with some "urban sketching" style painting.

I did the sky in watercolor because I was pretty sure I couldn't lift out Inktense the way I needed to, in order to get the crepuscular rays.  And I fell in love with my Daniel Smith watercolors all over again and decided I need more of those (maaaaan....).  I penciled the rest of it with my handy dandy vanishing point ruler, then inked it with Micron pens, then filled the rest of it in with Inktense blocks & pencils.  Yes, it's a lot more color than in the original, but I think I like that about it.

The really infuriating thing is that the masking fluid I put on the tops of the buildings and the brightest parts of the clouds pulled up and tore the cheap watercolor paper -- it's 140# but it's Hobby Lobby's Master's Touch brand, BLAH, it's going into the circular file and I am GETTING MYSELF SOME GOOD WATERCOLOR PAPER, help need recommendations!  I really dig the 6 x 6 size for daily painting, you can say a lot in that little space but it doesn't take an age.


So this is Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, Ohio, one town over from where I grew up.  This is what shopping malls turned into in the US, these little shopping towns.  Legacy Village was new when I left greater Cleveland ten years ago.  I got a tiny bit homesick painting this.

Mathias, thanks for the awesome picture and the good memories painting it brought up. Keep taking pictures, you have a good eye!

Monday, August 29, 2016



Among the many ideas kicking around in my head, one of them I'll eventually get to is silk painting. Because of the nature of silk, in order to keep the colors from running together, the French serti technique uses a resist called Gutta that is not washed out of the silk but remains as a three dimensional texture.  It's often metallic colored, but it keeps the pools of paint in each section, giving a lovely stained-glass feel to the piece.  In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here is one Etsy shop with the kind of silk painting I'm referring to:  GABYGA.

I thought I'd try something like that for this piece.  I used Yupo paper, which is challenging because the paint puddles on it and evaporates rather than soaking in.  So in order to keep the colors separated I used Sakura Gelly Roll Souffle gel pens for the "resist".  Souffle gives a puffy, raised line that worked pretty well and didn't have any problem sitting on the yupo paper.  In between the lines I used the same ink I'd use on silk... Inktense.  I used the blocks (as pan watercolors, basically) dabbled into puddles of paint and moved around.  The nice thing about Yupo is that it's really easy to keep a wet edge, which is important working with Inktense because once it dries, you're stuck with it (maybe... Yupo seemed to make that a little more fluid).  Then I went back with the Inktense pencils for the lines and softened them a bit with water.  It was a fun process, actually.   

Lovely photography courtesy of Nicole Hanna

I've been racking my brain for a theme for the rapidly approaching 30 Paintings in 30 Days and yesterday it hit me (and then obsessed me... well, that happens):  my friends' Facebook pictures.  I have some friends who are amazing photographers and other friends whose family and pets I've wanted to paint for ages.  Well, this is a good excuse to do it.  So I put it out on Facebook and tagged some people, and the response was overwhelmingly positive and instantaneous.  

My friend Nicole Hanna is a woman of limitless talents who does a lot of the same things I do -- she takes breathtaking photographs, she is an artist herself, and not only makes the most amazing wire woven jewelry known to man, but shares her techniques with the world.  If jewelry interests you at all and you don't already know her (how do you not?), you should check out her website.

As soon as I had this idea her Facebook photos were one of the first to come to mind.  She does adorable photos of her cats and crazy cool stop-action water droplet photos.  But when I put up the post she shared this picture.  I still want to do one of her cats, but it's not September yet so I still can.  ;)

Anyway this photograph looks like a watercolor already so I thought I'd go a little surreal with it, with the silk painting technique, and I'm fairly happy with the results.

Actual silk painting is still in my future.   I can do it with Inktense, too.  And I think I'll try this on Yupo again, this time with some sort of metallic resist, and maybe on the transparent Yupo.  Mmm, ideas.  Thanks Painting Muse.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Video Is Not My Forte


This is a little ATC (art trading card) size dolphin done in Inktense pencils.  

I thought I'd make you a video of the in-progress painting of this.  The tripod I bought for my camera didn't work so I just propped it up on a box above where I was painting.  Yeah, that didn't work.  Oh well, maybe you'll enjoy it anyway.

My all-things-photography guru Chuck Sutherland is coming over this week to show me how to do proper time lapse on my DSLR!  Chuck's a master.  Check out this one of his.



It's getting to the point where I have all these little paintings floating around -- ACEO sized, postcard sized, and 6x6.  I had the ACEOs in little trading card sleeves, but it was pretty bleh as far as a way to display them.


So I thought, why not make scrapbook pages out of them?  I bought these little corners at Jerry's and that way, if I ever sell one, I can pop it right out of there and leave a spot for another one.  

And then I thought, I could put more than these little paintings in here... I could put my favorite photographs, even photographs of jewelry I'm really proud of, poems, photos of larger works or things that won't fit in these, all that stuff.  It could be for real a scrapbook of every creative thing I've ever done.  Well, okay, I don't have every creative thing I've ever done and this scrapbook would hardly hold it all.  


These pages are not all finished, but on a day when art was frustrating (nerdgoat) it was nice to see something come together.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Ain't So Hot

My friend Penny and I have a standing joke between us... cat videos are all right, but if you REALLY want to cheer someone up, share a goat video.  So we do, frequently.

Another friend shared this picture of her goat guy and he made me laugh.  I told her that even though I had a dozen projects, everything was going to have to go on hold till I paint Nerd Goat.  Isn't he adorable!?


Yeah, so I bought this hot press paper when Bran and I went to Jerry's Art-a-Rama.  I cut myself a 6x6 piece of it and got to work.  Well, I don't know if it's only sized on one side and I used the wrong side or what, but it was really not workable with wet media, it kept balling up the way you'd expect a napkin to if you tried to paint on it.  BLAH.  I may try it again, but the way it responded was completely unworkable for this piece so I scrapped it.  Darnit... NERD GOAT MUST BE PAINTED!  Maybe I will save him for September's 30 Paintings in 30 Days, though.

I didn't want to start all over because I knew I didn't have enough time to finish at this point, so I tinkered with another project that's been rolling around in my brain for a little while now.   I think I'll save it for another post, though.

Check back in for Nerdgoat!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Scratchboard Experiments

I ran across some amazing scratchboard + inktense art  (check these out, rah-bop on deviantArt and that's just her first one, check out her gallery!, and Karen Hull -- WOW!) that I thought was absolutely mind-blowing.  I had those scratchboard kits before and sorta liked them, and I'm enjoying my toned ink on black paper, so I thought this might be something I'd like.  Before I go investing in the stuff to do this (I tend to get a million crazy ideas, buy the stuff, and only some of them come to fruition), I thought I'd pick up one of those cheap scratchboard kits with the art already done on the top for you, you just go over it and scratch it out.  And it was on clearance, yay!


Sure 'nuff, I like doing the texture on these.  This particular one is not the plaster that the Ampersand Scratchboard is, but a metallic stuff underneath.  So the ink didn't become one with the board the way I assume it will with the plaster.  It actually stuck better than I expected, though.


Most likely, more experiments forthcoming on this front.

Monday, August 22, 2016



I'm slacking a little on my nature journal entries.... maybe because it's been too godforsaken hot outside to notice much in nature.  It's been a bad one here in TN.   So while puppes are only sort of "nature", my nature journal is a little more encompassing than just the traditional observational nature journal.  It's usually one picture to a page.  One of these days, I'm going to make a website where you can feel like you're turning the pages.  It's next to best, because I love this book.... it's got paper that feels almost like fabric (it doesn't warp with water media either, which is nice, but erasers and frisket are NOT ITS FRIENDS, either, which is a little intimidating). 

Anyway, this is the story of Eevee.  I named her that because we were out hunting Pokemon when a wild Eevee appeared, and she's the right color, and I have no idea what she's going to turn into.  That's a super nerdy Pokemon reference, I know.

I know this:  I want to draw/paint more dogs, and get better at it.  It's amazing how much life a shiny nose and eyes adds to a painting, though.

I work with a group called Friends of White County Animals, and they want me to write Eevee's happy story for the local newspaper.    

Happy tails to little Eevee, her fur-ever family, and to you!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cute Falcon is Cute

I got to play with my new Inktense pencils this morning.  I used a ref from Wet Canvas (love that site!) for it.

Mr Falcon (Falco peregrinus) says I elongated his head too much and made him look like a pigeon. It's bad for his image. Sorry Mr Falcon. 

Later that evening I snagged another ref photo from the same site and tinkered with Inktense flowers (this is an anemone).  I used gel pens for the white in the water droplets (man, I really think I got that one water droplet PERFECT... wish I felt that way about all of them), so this is technically mixed media.  I like it pretty well, though.  First time I've ever framed anything like this, with a border on a 6x6 square piece of watercolor paper.  I think some experiments with toothless hot press paper are in order.

This is art every day this week except Wednesday, and two today. Go me!  This means that I am very well on track for... *drumroll*

Yep, I'm doing it.  Even though I have a yuuuge craft show to get ready for in October, this is where my heart is right now.  Maybe longer than right now, despite my fickle artistic nature.  

Saturday, August 20, 2016

That's Intense


My Inktense came today!  This is the first time I have ever bought a complete set of ANYTHING art related so I am super excited.  I have the full set of blocks and the full set of pencils in their dreamy fancy wooden box.  So I stole a little Art Time and made myself some swatch cards (very important when starting out with a new set of anything).  


I didn't have time for much other than that, so I just made this little mushroom doodle from a photo I took a couple of years ago.  I REALLY like them.  They fill in the gaps where I was struggling with watercolor, and I love the texture that the pencils can add to the mix.


Yesterday Bran came by to work for me in my day job business, and I taught him to do henna.  This is the first time I've been on this end of a henna cone in years.  Then we went to Sparta Green Market, where he did henna for free so he could practice.  Didn't take him any time at all to get the hang of it.

He starts class again next week, his official senior year as an art major, so he'll be working on his thesis.  But he's recently made the decision to try to make a living from his art, which is always a big step.  My friend Janin is doing the same... she said, "Two weeks ago today, I left the steady no future/ no appreciation/ no benefits day job I'd had for three years...In that two weeks, I've been cleaning up my arts and trying to help turn them from a hobby into a life (with various results); I'm at that stage where I'm scared to fail...and equally scared to succeed."

I know it well.  I'm at a similar crossroads myself, trying to figure out where my passion is.  But then again, I always seem to circle around to that crossroads and the ground here is well worn.

You can check out Brandon's art HERE, and Janin's art HERE.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Peace Love and Yupo

My painting for today is pen and ink flowerdy peace sign on Yupo paper with watercolor mush around it. Yupo is WEIRD y'all.  Not sure I like it.  May need to play more.  I think it might be cool if I did a thick, permanent resist with puddled colors in the center, similar to THIS painting, but in watercolor on Yupo instead of acrylic on board . The cool thing is, this stuff comes in transparent form, so there are ideas for that.


Yesterday my (art major senior at TTU) son Brandon and I had an artist's date of sorts... my husband is in Nashville for his NRLCA Union convention so we went to have dinner with him and spent the day in Nashville.  This entailed a trip to Jerry's Art-a-Rama, and to the Frist Center for Visual Arts, where their rotating exhibit is currently Italian cars.  I took a TON of reference photos, since I'm mildly fascinated with painting cars lately.

Also on exhibit was the work of surrealist Inka Essenhigh.  I didn't think I was a surrealist fan but I thoroughly enjoyed her work, especially this painting, called In Bed . I'm sure my little thumbnail does it NO justice, but its subject is splayed out in bed with gremlins pulling her eyes open and spilling her guts.  Haven't we all had nights like that?  One thing I was particularly fascinated with was the source of light in several of her paintings.  In this one it seems to be the center of the subject and the center of the painting (the "guts") -- see the shadows the gremlins cast and the bed, as well?  I also love the way the blinds add a touch of the mundane and lead the eye into the painting.  The colors are impossibly vibrant, too... no photo of it could possibly do it justice.  If you're local, take a trip up there, it's worth it.

Russ's convention was at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, which is an amazing place.  It's nine acres of gardens which are INSIDE the hotel, with the rooms built around and overlooking it, complete with waterways (you can actually take a boat on one of them), waterfalls, gorgeous fountains.  The hotel was all but destroyed with the horrible flooding we had in 2010.
I took a lot of reference pictures there too, but walking through the lobby I spied this glass sculpture and rushed over to it, thinking:  CHIHULY!!  It wasn't, it's done by Ludech Hroch, and once again, my picture does it no justice.  If you get the opportunity to visit the grounds of the hotel, you should take that too.  The sculpture's name and theme are totally appropriate for the hotel and its return from near destruction; it's called "Resurgence."


I dropped by Hobby Lobby looking for a frame for the picture I did of Nick's car, having not found anything online that I really liked.  They had a 12" square frame with a 5x5 opening but nothing with 6x6, but then I saw this "floating" frame that is truly perfect.  Nick liked it, too.  I'm pretty happy with how it came out, considering it's the first time I've painted anything reflective in watercolor.

In a final bit of news, the little painting I did of Oldham Theater this week prompted a friend to commission me to paint the entire theater (not just the marquee), with "Star Wars" on the marquee, because he has fond memories of seeing Star Wars there.  Since I planned to paint the theater at night anyway, I'm looking forward to that challenge.  I think I might go for an evening/sunset theme, just to give myself a headache.  

Lots of news today!  Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Big Horn, Little Painting


A few weeks ago my super cool friend Chuck Sutherland took an adventure out west, where he visited and did cool science stuff.  Chuck is also a photographer (if you didn't click that link, go look, I'll wait... you really need to see his photographic wizardry) who has graciously agreed to let me use his photos as reference.  

That's good because I need a lot of practice when it comes to landscape in watercolor.  The pale colors in this rendition of his photo (HERE) really do it no justice.  I'll have to keep trying.... and maybe go back to the ink and wash style I've been playing with.

This is sunset over Medicine Mountain in Big Horn National Forest.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Local Landmarks


My PLAN today (notice my best laid plans don't work at least half the time??) was to try out the watercolor pencils I found while cleaning my closet.  They are cheap and crappy and I abandoned them after two sections of this and went back to my little Koi watercolor box, which performs pretty well. It's ink and wash, technically mixed media because I used a white Gelly Roll pen for the lights.

So, this is the sign at Oldham Theater.  I knew who to go to, to find out its history:  Belinda Elsberry. She is a collector of local history and she is THE lady to ask if you want to know what happened when in White County, TN.  She didn't disappoint.

Oldham Theater was originally at a different location, starting in 1928, and it was just a couple of years later that they installed a "movie phone" so that locals could see pictures with sound.  Little Sparta was among the first towns in the state to have such fancy equipment.  In 1935 the theater moved to its new and current location on Liberty Square in the heart of the town.   The Cardwell family operated it until 1977, when it was shut down. Many White County residents have fond memories of the movies they went to see there, with tales of 25cent movies (can you imagine?  we are paying 40 times that much now...).

In 2004 the building itself was torn down, but the marquee was preserved as the facade for a town Welcome Center. It is without a doubt Sparta's most recognizable landmark, though many people mourn the fact that it wasn't kept open as a theater, and it is rarely open as a welcome center.  I have only been inside it once.

At some point I will take on the challenge of painting Oldham at night with its neon lights ablaze, in a bigger format (this is a little postcard sized daily painting).  Belinda suggests I talk to Mr. Cardwell about all the history behind it.  Sounds like a fun project!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Gelly Roll Call


As so often  happens, the day got away from me and right before I went to bed I realized I hadn't made anything today -- no art, no jewelry, nothing.  I had so much fun drawing Nin's portrait with my Gelly Roll pens yesterday that I decided to play some more with them tonight.  

Why a poison dart frog?  We recently took my sister-in-law to Tennessee Aquarium and my son Brandon (age 23 right now) went.  While we were there we saw a habitat with poison dart frogs of all sorts, and Bran and I had fun reminiscing, because when he was little he collected little plastic life-size PDFs.  We had fun pointing out "You had that one... and I think that one..."

Good times, good memories, and art before bed.  Hope you like him.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

That's a Sexy Cat

I tinkered years ago with gel pens on black paper -- mostly the metallic, cheap kind.   Today, when my husband's kitty Nin-Nin did what he does every day and curled up on my art/writing desk while I journaled, I had an inspiration.  I wanted to know if I could draw him on black paper (he is pitch black with little white patches on his chest and belly... the purpose of these is to tempt you to touch them so that he can RAWR your hand).

So I got out the MUCH better gel pens that I own now -- Sakura Gelly Roll Pens -- and had a go at it. I'm fairly pleased with the result, though the "Souffle" pens don't work that well on this paper (the light blue background parts).  Or any paper, really... but I want to try them on photographs because I think the effect might be cool.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Love Letters


The other book I bought yesterday was a lettering book (I don't have the title handy at the moment and the dogs are hungry so I'm rushing!), and I decided to see what I could do with it.  I'm not entirely happy with this but it's a doodle/experiment, and the awesome thing about making art every day is that bad art isn't the end of the world!

I hope to do more ink and wash with calligraphy quotes and borders and such... stuff I've wanted to master for years.

Hey if you're on Instagram, follow me over there!  You'll see ALL the crazy stuff I get up to.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Art Every Day, Take 12 or Something

I've fallen off the Art Every Day wagon again.  I try, I really do.  But I want to do 30 Paintings in 30 Days in September (I am asking for it, I have a huge craft show to get ready for in October...), so I want to start here and now.

I got a book called Creating Mandalas:  How to Draw & Design Zendala Art by Deborah A. Pace, and this is the result of me playing with it today.  I am loving the Sakura Gelly Roll Pens on black paper!