Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Colored Pencil Painting!

If you've known me any length of time at all, you know that the colored pencil medium is not one of my favorite mediums to work in.  Don't get me wrong, it is one of my favorite mediums to look at and long to do well, but the mastery of it hovers slightly out of my reach.  I think it has more to do with getting bored with a painting before it's finished than anything else.  I also think the average non-artist would be amazed at the length of time a really good colored pencil piece takes to do really well.  And that's the rub for me - I just don't seem to have the required patience and stamina to do a colored pencil work as well as it should be done.  Take this cat, for instance.  I started it way back in September, I think.  It's only 5 x 7 inches and is on Ampersand's PastelBord so a background wasn't necessary to paint.  There is a bit of detail in the face with several color changes but, really, it shouldn't have taken this long to finish!  And, no, I wasn't working steadily on it the whole time.  Frankly, I'd gotten bored rather quickly and had put it away soon after starting it and only worked sporadically on it since.

So, I found it when I was trying to straighten up my studio and decided to finish it.  It's not at all perfect as I didn't have the colors I really needed to "optically mix" the colors I wanted.  But, I did finish it and am proud of that fact!

Maybe one day I'll decide that I really want to pursue colored pencil but for right now, I'm content just to have finished this one!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Back to Normal?

Well, the holidays are finally over and hopefully, life can get back to normal, whatever that is.

We had a nice time with our children and grandchildren at Christmas even though the youngest granddaughter careened into a doorway edge and put a large dent into her forehead!  Children are so resilient though and she was fine after a few minutes of intense wailing.  We thought about taking her to the emergency room but it didn't seem necessary and the rest of the visit was completely normal.  No problems since then either according to her father.

The scanner I had ordered arrived on the 23rd but I didn't have time to do much more than install it.  It seems to work well although I have to tell a funny on myself about it.

I installed it and was really trying to get it to work and it just wouldn't produce any picture no matter what I tried.  I ended up uninstalling everything and reinstalling it and even though it made all the proper noises and seemed to be working, it wouldn't scan my picture!  I was beginning to think about returning it when I blew out my breath in frustration.  A corner of a protective sheet of paper fluttered just the tiniest bit and after I removed the paper from the scanner glass, I was able to get a beautiful scan!

No nasty comments, please - remember, the same thing could happen to you!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Holiday Gift Portraits

Whew! Christmas is almost here! Please check with me to see if I can paint a custom portrait for you in time for the holidays. If not, may I suggest a gift certificate? Either one would result in a gift that would be treasured for life!

You may contact me at jan @ petstoposies . com (remove spaces) to commission a portrait or to order a gift certificate.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Annie - Pastel on Color-Fix

Pastel on Color-Fix
copyright - Jan Gibson

I think I'm coming out of that awful painting funk I was in finally.  Now I'm all hyped up and wanting to paint but have to direct my energies to cleaning and cooking for Christmas!

Not that I mind, really, but it would be nice to be able to paint now that I feel more like it!

Anyway, here's one product of the new-found energy and enthusiasm for painting.  This is Annie, a ShiTzu, who was painted in pastel on a blue ColorFix sanded paper.  I used my new Pan pastels, some Rembrandt and Jack Richeson sticks and some pastel pencils.  The bandana is in the Denver Broncos colors and it was requested that I leave it on since Annie's owner is a huge fan.

This is a digital photo instead of my usual scan but I think it came out fairly true to life.  I've ordered a new scanner and hope to get it soon!  At least with a digital photo, you don't see all the little grains of sand like a scan would pick up!  Maybe I should try to photograph that bunny I did on the hemp and recycled paper!  lol

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Crunch Time!

It's getting down to the wire as far as Christmas is concerned - is everyone ready?  I still have one or two gifts to get but don't know exactly what - do you all have people like that?  It's the ones who you don't really know that well but want to bless with a little something and you want it to be something they'd like to get.  Well, not much time to figure it out, is there?

Sorry, no pictures with this post - I have been painting a little but my scanner died so I don't have any pictures to show.  I don't know about you all but I have a difficult time taking a digital photo of my paintings and would much rather scan them.  Not only has the scanner gone south, but the weather has been very overcast and rainy so there hasn't been any good natural light for photos anyway.

As a matter of fact, we started out with a snow/sleet mixture yesterday morning and got some intermixed snow off and on for most of the day.  The temps rose overnight and are above freezing so there's nothing on the ground, thank God.  I know some people like snow for Christmas (& there's a chance for it on Christmas Eve here!) but it's a nasty four-letter word to me!

It doesn't help that everything practically shuts down here when one snowflake falls so you can't do last minute shopping or anything.  Of course, most people just jam the grocery stores for a while then stay home and watch it fall.  That's fine for them but it's such a pain to try to get to the barn to take care of Bonnie when it's slick and icy out or if you have to slog through snow.  Then, there's the extra clean-up because she stays in her stall more and ice to either chip out of the water tank or having to put in the tank heater.  She's worth it, of course, but I'd still prefer no snow!

Friday, December 11, 2009

More "Brown" than Green?

I don't know if Jeanette (see previous post) chose the TerraSkin paper because it was environmentally green or for other reasons. If she chose it for it's green-ness, here's another for her to try:

PooPooPaper! Yep, you guessed it. It's made from elephant poo or, more accurately, from grazing animal poo. However, even though the undigested fibers are recycled, it takes a lot of water and probably bleach and chemicals to make the paper usable.

So, would that really make PooPooPaper green or are they giving us a load of brown by calling it green?

Also, I have a slight addition to my previous post about TerraSkin printing ok on my old printer. Since I had pretty good results with the one print (the baby), I thought I'd try it again with a more complicated image. Those results were a disaster. It probably depends on your image, your printer and the luck of the draw but I guess the TerraSkin people are right in recommending that the paper not be used in inkjet printers!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

TerraSkin Experiments

After Jeanette at Illustrated Life posted about using a paper called TerraSkin, I set off to find out all I could about it and also ordered some samples. (Note: start with Jeanette's December 2, 2009 blog post on Rocky the Snowman and work your way forward so you don't miss anything!)

TerraSkin is a paper made from ground stone (mineral powder) and a small amount of non-toxic resin binder and is supposed to be highly "green" and good for the planet. Of course, I was very hopeful that it would be good to use for my favorite art media so I did some very quick experiments. You can click on the pictures to see them larger but they may not show very large even then. The samples I received were about 6 x 6 inches and I squeezed the different media onto one of the sample sheets. I received about 10 samples, each a different weight from almost tissue thin to a very heavy-weight sheet. I used the lightest weights in the examples above.

OK, where to start. I guess with the print since that picture shows up first. The TerraSkin is not supposed to print well with inkjet printers but I thought this came out very well. I was using an old Canon bubblejet type printer to print with and I didn't have any problems at all with it. It came out quite a bit darker than usual but that could have been the printer also.

As for the different art media, I'll take them one at a time and give my impression of how they work. I will say that I was most surprised at some of the results I got!

At top left is a very quick soft pastel sketch and I only added it as I had a bit of room left on the paper. I had tried my pan pastels on another square of the TerraSkin and was impressed that it went on so well and actually adhered well to the surface. Since the paper is almost slick, you wouldn't think pastels would work at all. The soft pastel sticks went on well also and also seem to adhere well. However, layering was something of problem. I don't know if workable fixative would help or not, but I do think this paper would work for glassless framing using the PVA glue between layers as the paper is almost plastic-like and does not seem to be very absorbent.

Moving down, I used some Twinkling H2O's that I had and they also worked fairly well which, again, was surprising. They're waterbased like watercolor until they dry in your painting then they become more or less permanent. There was still some beading up and they needed to be flooded on to cover well.

The same was true of the acrylic inks, the tube acrylics, water soluble oil and the gouache which all worked in a similar manner - the color would bead up and sort of crawl unless globbed on (that's an artistic term, btw).

Since Jeanette had already tried watercolor and colored pencils, I didn't repeat her experiments with those. I did try the Inktense pencils though. I used them dry then dampened with a moist brush. If I got the color too wet, it would also bead and crawl but otherwise was a surprise in that it worked better than I thought it might. I was disappointed in the color intensity though - I couldn't get it real bright or saturated at all.

Last, but not least, I used some plain ole Crayola markers and was super impressed with the way those worked on this paper! I have never used markers in a professional capacity so have no idea of how to use them properly or if professional markers would work in the same manner but I had a ball playing with the Crayola ones. I was able to layer and blend and change colors and the color stayed put - it didn't bead or crawl at all!

So, if you're a marker artist, you might try this paper to see if it works for you. If you're an artist who uses wet media, you'll probably be a bit disappointed with it. However, a lot depends on your methods and how wet you work and how detailed you are.

I think acrylics or oils would work ok, again depending on the way you work. I don't think I'd advise using pastels unless you're going the frameless route because layering and blending is very difficult. And I'm not sure it would be any better using the PVA between layers. The pastel smears but doesn't really blend.

One note repeating what Jeanette said - marks do not come off of this paper. I used every eraser I have (except the Magic Eraser) and the pencil marks especially were just barely lightened. (I just tried the Magic Eraser and it does work but takes some effort. FYI, according to the ingredients listed, there are no chemicals in the Magic Eraser brand I have.)

In summary, I don't think this paper will work for most artists but if you like the look of art on Yupo or watercolor canvas or other supports that tend to make your media bead up and crawl, you may love this paper. It's so great that it uses so little of the earth's resources and breaks down into non-hazardous elements when we're finished with it. It would be wonderful if we could trade some of our less earth friendly supports for the TerraSkin and perhaps the inventors will eventually make it so that it works better for artists. Perhaps a little texture or something. I say go play with it and see how it works for you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Still Ugly

I've honestly been working on this but in stops and starts. It's still not anywhere close to being done. I'm adding layers cautiously using some blue in the underlayers in places to add richness to the black I've mixed from a dark blue (probably ultramarine but I can't be sure because the color tag I put on the palette well has worn off), Roman red & dark umber.

Anyway, it's still in that ugly stage but I thought I'd post an update anyway to keep me working to prove that it will (hopefully) come out right in the end!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Over The Top

I just want to thank Teresa at Blueberries, Art and Life blog for the lovely award. The rules state that the following questions should be answered with only one word but I don't think I've ever been able to use just one word! However, I'll try!

1. Where is your cell phone?…pocket
2. Your hair?… back
3. Your mother?… creative
4. Your father?… hmmmm
5. Your favorite food?… pizza
6. Your dream last night?… forgotten
7. Your favorite drink?…water
8. Your dream/goal?… to be my best
9. What room are you in?… studio
10. Your hobby?… reading
11. Your fear?… none
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?…where I'm supposed to be
13. Where were you last night?… home
14. Something that you aren’t?… insincere
15. Muffins?… banana nut
16. Wish list item?… electronics
17. Where did you grow up?… Kansas
18. Last thing you did?… fed horse
19. What are you wearing?… sweats
20. Your TV?… old
21. Your Pets?… dog, horse
22. Friends?… great
23. Your life?… very good
24. Your mood?… contemplative
25. Missing Someone?… several
26. Vehicle?… older
27. Something you're not wearing?… earrings
28. Your favorite store?… art
29. Your favorite colour?… green
30. When was the last time you laughed?… yesterday (it's early yet this morning!)
31. Last time you cried?… ?????
32. Your best friend?… husband
33. One place that I go to over and over?… WalMart (closest store with any variety)
34. Facebook?… yes
35. Favorite place to eat?… out anywhere! lol

Now for the hard part - I'm supposed to pass this on to just 5 other bloggers but so many more deserve it!

Here they are in alphabetical order:

Carole at Art Plus
Brenda at Brenda Thour's Art Blog
Mary at Dough Ditties
Sue Clinker at Pencil Pix
Kay Prior at PettPaintings

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmasy Watercolor

I haven't done much more to the dog I posted about yesterday but wanted to post another watercolor that I did some time ago for an art exchange at a forum I belong to. I was rather pleased with this as it's all freehand without a preliminary drawing. I wished I'd added some more darks to the leaves but, overall, I think it came out pretty well.

Watercolor is really not my medium of preference most of the time although there are times when the work just sort of calls for it. This is one of those times when it all just seemed to come together and work!

The recipient has received it and seemed pleased - I hope so anyway!

Will post more on Heidi, the dog, when I've got more to post.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Watercolor WIP

I almost hate to post this as I think the ugly stage is going to last for a while but I haven't posted in so long that I figured I needed to show you something. Wouldn't want you to forget me, lol.

The truth is, I just haven't been in a painting mood for quite some time and am still having a hard time getting going with this. The sketch went quickly though and it seems that if the sketch goes well, the painting does also. Let's hope that's the case with this portrait.

In case you haven't guessed it, this is a black dog with touches of orange like in the eyebrows and lower chest area. This blue gray color that I have so far is the highlight color. Of course, it's in the very beginning stages so there's a lot left to be done.

This is not really a commission but is from a rescue group's auction where I had donated a gift certificate for a portrait. I got to meet this pretty lady in person as I shared a booth with a friend and Miss Heidi came by for a treat and some petting. She had been adopted from this rescue group and now has a great home. I wish all the animals there & in shelters or foster care everywhere could find loving, forever homes.

If you have room in your home and in your lives, please consider a shelter dog - they are so loving and grateful to you for adopting them and they can make the best pets! I know because ours came from rescue organization foster homes and there's none better!

Anyway, pop in from time to time for updates. I'm hoping to be able to finish this by the first of next week at the latest.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Some of the Booty

I had a great time at the Art of the Carolina's trade show and got some really fantastic deals on art supplies. But, oddly enough, this storage unit is probably my favorite purchase.

I've been wanting some kind of storage with drawers to hold all those tubes of paint, the tons of both pastel and colored pencils and all those other supplies that you want close at hand but off your work surface.

This unit is perfect - it has casters which I removed so it would fit under my monster work table and holds more art supplies than I have at the moment! lol The drawers aren't large enough to hold paper and other supports but I have another storage unit for that.

So, I have it tucked up under the "Monster" and everything is right at hand just as I wanted it to be!

We have been unusually busy this past weekend and not at home so I haven't gotten to use any of the art stuff I bought. Oh, wait, I did buy a new watercolor brush and played with it a bit this morning but just haven't had the time to get serious with the pan pastels that I got in last week or the UART paper or Ampersand panels that I bought at the show. I wish I'd had triple the amount of money that I spent as there were so many bargains there - cheaper than ordering online without the shipping costs! Of course they added our state tax but it all still ended up being very reasonable compared to what I usually have to pay.

My husband agreed that I got some real bargains but also commented that the prices just pointed out that there must be a huge mark-up on art supplies. Well, I figure that we rarely go out to dinner, we don't go to movies or out to bars or concerts, etc. so it's really a pretty cheap form of entertainment when all is said and done!

Don't worry if you don't see me for a while - I'll be in the studio playing with my new toys!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Art of the Carolinas Trade Show

This will be another day when I don't get to paint because of time. I'm going to the Art of the Carolinas trade show put on by Jerry's Artarama today and I'm very excited. It's the first one I've ever attended although we went to one in Boone, NC put on by Cheap Joe's Art Supplies and had a blast.

The show runs today from 9 am until 5:30 pm at the North Raleigh Hilton and since it's Saturday, I'm hoping to avoid the insane traffic that occurs on weekdays. Of course, I'm sure the trade show will be busy as it draws people from all over. It will also be going on tomorrow from 10 until 3.

There are quite a few vendors listed and I'm particularly interested in the UART booth as I've heard their pastel/colored pencil paper is very nice. It's a sanded paper and I believe it comes in several grits so you can choose the one that's right for you. I wanted to try out the different grits and see which one I like the best. Even though this paper comes from an industrial supplier of regular sandpaper, the art version is acid-free and suitable for long-lived works of art.

So, although I really don't need any art supplies at the moment, I'm sure I'll find something I have to have once I get there! lol

I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Quickie Pan Pastel

I'd ordered some of the fairly new pan pastels and they arrived late yesterday afternoon. I wish our delivery people would come earlier in the day because all the companies seem to arrive about the time I have to start dinner, feed the critters and do the barn chores! No time to play with any new toys!

But, I managed to paint the attached and it only took a few minutes! The most time-consuming part of of the experience was unscrewing all the colors so I could see what I had!

Anyway, I know this isn't great art (just look at that crooked horizon!) - it's all free-hand (from a photo from Morgue File, btw) and it's on a scrap piece of cheap watercolor paper! There's not much layering on this because of the time factor but I can tell that they will layer beautifully.

So, what do I think about the pan pastels?

I really, really like them. I'm someone who hates the feel of pastel on my hands and have even had some cracking of the skin on my hands when I've used soft pastels in the past. I don't like working in gloves so the pastel pencils and these pan pastels are perfect for me!

I got the portrait set because it seemed to have the colors that I thought I'd use most for pet portraits. I added a single black because the portrait set didn't have black in it but I think I could have done without it. There's a dark umber and a very dark blue that I think would mix a good black. However, I was going by experience and past advice about not really being able to mix colors in pastel so was trying to get the exact colors I thought I'd need.

I was really impressed with the smooth lay down of color and with how far the colors go on the support. I got a really good collection of the Softt tools and sponges with my set and I like the way they work. I've heard that detail isn't possible with the pans but I'd think you would be able to get quite a bit of detail with these tools and some improvision (I think the Style Stix would even work to put color down precisely). But, even with regular soft pastels, you still need the pastel pencils at times for detail.

I was also impressed about how well the pastel clung to the paper and how little dust is produced when working with them. While I admit that I didn't have the tooth of the paper completely filled, I was still delighted to find that what I did have didn't fall off when the back was thumped hard!

I'm anxious to try these on the proper support and with a more detailed subject but I have to go out today to help a client find a frame (yaaaaay! more art stores and she's buying lunch!) and I'm nearly finished with the commission I spoke of in another post so want to complete that.

BTW, I tried Teresa's advice for getting motivated to paint and it does help! (see the comments under the Painter's Funk post). Of course, new art supplies work wonders too! lol

Monday, November 9, 2009

Painter's Funk

I hate to admit it, but I've been in kind of a painter's funk lately. I guess that's similar to writer's block but, whatever it is, it's not fun!

Actually, I think it may be due to the fact that I feel a little overwhelmed these days. So much going on and so little time it seems. I actually have a stack of photo references that I really want to paint but I look at them and then put them away again. I can't even decide what medium I want to use for them!

I'm working on the cutest commission too and even though the dog inspires me and I really want to paint it, I start then end up wiping off what I've done. I've gotten a ways into it in both watercolor and pastel then seem to hit a brick wall and end up just throwing down the brush/pastel in frustration! This is my last commission before Christmas too and I really need to get it done and in the mail before the holiday rush.

So, how do we get past this? I know that I would just let it naturally run its course at any other time but this commission has to be done soon and I need to snap out of it like today! However, it seems that if I try to force it, I just mess up and end up spending more time and effort on any painting I'm not in the mood to do.

On the other hand, if I feel that I still have time, I'll put it off until I absolutely have to do it and I may still not be in the mood. Grrrrr!

So,if you have them, how do you handle these times of artistic funk?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dough Art - The Rejects!

Well, it was my first try in probably 30 some years! Don't laugh too hard.

I made Mary's (DoughDitties) dough art recipe and it made a luscious, smooth dough that was easy to work with. I want to state that my failure was certainly not her fault!

The two ornaments I've posted were just sloppy work on my part. In case you can't tell, one is a bell and the other is a candle! (They're wrapped in plastic wrap to keep the grease off my scanner so forgive the shine.)

I did make two other ornaments that I'm very pleased with though but I can't really post them yet. One is for an ornament exchange at a forum I belong to and some of the members follow my blog. Since I don't know who I will be sending the ornament to, I don't want to give away any secrets here!

And besides, the ornaments that did turn out still have to be painted - I just hope that goes well! Guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Oh, Mary! Does the dough keep well? I've wrapped it in plastic wrap then put it into a plastic bag with the air squeezed out. Then I put it into the fridge - will it keep for a while just in case I mess up the painting part and have to re-do the ornaments?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Great Pecan Debate Rages On

This is a freehand digital painting - no photo, no filters or anything but a stylus, digital tablet and a home-grown pecan for a model. I posted it because I wanted to brush up on my Painter (software) skills and I had a pocketful of pecans yesterday when I came in to rest a bit after picking up pecans all morning.

Ok, it's a pecan - what's there to debate about a pecan?

Let me give you a little background and I'll bet a light begins to glimmer! My darling other half is from down-home Georgia stock even though he was pretty much raised in Florida and has lived here in North Carolina most of his adult life.

I was raised in Kansas on a farm even though I spent several years in Mississippi and most of my adult life here in North Carolina.

Needless to say, there's a rather large cultural difference and sometimes, an even larger difference in speech. Sort of, you say potAto, I say potAHto. So the great pecan debate rages on here especially during every pecan harvest.

I was raised to call these luscious nuts peCAHNs, my husband was raised to call them pEEcans. He's pretty stubborn and insists he's pronouncing the name correctly even though I've told him time and time again that a pee can is something you put under the bed in case you have to get up during the night!

What do you say?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Follower

You all know that I'm interested in just about any art form and I recently found a blog that specializes in dough art. I used to play around with dough art back when my daughter was little but haven't really thought of it since (and my daughter is in her 40s!). But I recently signed up to make an ornament for a Christmas exchange and I thought of the dough art immediately because of the fun I'd had with my daughter those many years ago.

I was searching for a recipe for the dough when I stumbled upon the Dough Ditties blog. Mary, the blog owner, had published her recipe in her blog but instead of just taking the recipe and leaving, I was so intrigued that I had to read many of her blog posts.

Now, I haven't had any real contact with Mary, but I feel as if she's a kindred spirit and her dough art creations are both unusual and very well done. I was really drawn to her blog because of her willingness to share. She not only shares her recipe for the art dough , but she also shares her techniques on her blog. And even more, she's posted some wonderful sounding recipes for real, edible bread which is another passion of mine! I've found that artists as a whole are really giving people and Mary fits right in that group with her generous spirit!

Thank you, Mary! Now wish me luck in making that ornament for the ornament exchange!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Another Cute Photo

I know it seems as if I'm taking more photos than doing any art these days but I am painting - I'm just not painting anything I can show right now.

But, back to the photo. That's a cute little frog stuck to our glass kitchen storm door in case you can't tell. He was there when I came back from the barn after tending to Bonnie. It was still fairly dark out and I had a hard time getting a good photo. I tried to take a picture from inside but the kind of glass we have in the door evidently isn't good for shooting photos through as all I got was a yellowish blob!

I don't know what it is with the wildlife lately, but our porch has been attractive to it. Yesterday morning as I was going out to the barn to feed Bonnie, there was a little rabbit not far from the kitchen door! Again, it was still pretty dark outside and I didn't see it until I was right up on it! It startled me good, let me tell you! Of course, I'm sure it was startled more than I was! Since I'd come from around the corner (we have a wrap-around porch and I'd gone out another door) I guess it didn't hear or see me coming.

He hopped down the steps ahead of me and couldn't get away fast enough! The little frog didn't hang around very long either. I'd planned to try for more pictures after the sun came up but he was gone by the time that happened.

Oh, well, at least I got this one! I don't know what to expect for tomorrow morning but I'll look carefully before going out - there's been a whiff of skunk in the air the past couple of mornings!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another "Two-fer"

This doe was out front this morning right along the edge of our pecan grove. She stood still while I got several photos of her and, while this isn't the best shot of her, I was surprised to find a bonus in it when I downloaded it from my camera!

If you'll look at the bottom right of the photo (click to enlarge), you'll see one of the pesky bandits we have to combat in our quest to harvest ripe pecans! You might say that we could surely spare a few for the squirrels but they come in hordes from the woods surrounding us and can literally strip the trees of nuts in a surprisingly short amount of time.

Plus, they aren't the only thieves we have among us! The crows are very clever and will drop the pecans into the driveway in hopes that we'll run over them with the cars! That way they can just dig in and feast on the already cracked pecans!

Then there are the raccoons and possums and even our neighbor down the road has confessed to picking up a pocketfull from near the road while he was supposed to be picking up trash along the shoulders of the road!

So, maybe the pecans that the squirrels get don't sound like a big deal but I'm thinking that we'd better blast some rock music (or maybe a 410) or there won't be any nuts for us to collect! After all, we're the ones who planted the trees, watered and fertilized them and who have waited patiently for over 20 years for the trees to bear a nice crop - I'd sure like to be the one to reap the harvest!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Photo in a Million

I looked out the kitchen door this morning to see a hawk sitting on a fence post in Bonnie's pasture. I ran for my camera and it stayed still long enough to get a couple of shots with him and Bonnie alongside one another! This one is the best of them both together.

I think this is a Cooper's hawk but am not 100% sure. If anyone can verify, I'd appreciate it. The reason I'm unsure is because we have several varieties of hawks around here with the most common being the red-tailed hawk.

Anyway, I'm not a great birder and we so seldom see these magnificent creatures this close. He was eating a grub on that fence post. We've been exceedingly dry up until a few days ago and then have had rain nearly every day since. I guess the grubs are coming to the surface to keep from drowning and we have birds everywhere right now! BTW, that's why my Bon looks so dirty - she loves to be out in the rain and mud!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

When Will I Learn?

The lady with the pet food shop who stocks my notecards asked for some cards with bunnies. So I painted this bunny on a paper with a laid texture and it came out awful. The texture was impossible to cover and I'm not one of those who like to see a prominent texture in a painting. Well, I do like it from some artists but it doesn't fit with my style and I don't like it for my work. It's even worse for paintings that will be printed as the texture seems even more obvious.

So, this will be a do-over on a support I like to work with!

I know, I know - why did I even choose the paper to begin with? Well, my wonderful husband took me to Jerry's Artarama on Sunday as I needed a few things for my next commission. I really hate to drive in Raleigh so I was really blessed that he took the time to drive me. Anyway, I got the supplies I needed then happened to see that they had some paper by Strathmore on sale. It said it was made from hemp and "post consumer waste fiber" and, hey, it's good to be green, isn't it? And, besides, I like trying new things. Well, this paper isn't quite as bad as the Tiziano fiasco but I think I've learned my lesson about buying something new even if it is on sale! Fortunately, it wasn't expensive which is why I used it for the rabbit in the first place. If I'm painting something specifically for a card or other reproduction, I don't always use my favorite supports. Perhaps I need to start!

OK, chalk it down as another lesson learned!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Christmas Gift Quandry - What To Give!

Every year it's the same question - what can I give to (you fill in the blank) for Christmas? Of course I'm going to tell you that a gift of original art is always appropriate and it needn't break the bank either. There are some wonderful ACEOs or OSWOAs available that are very reasonably priced for what you receive. They are so reasonable they can even fill the bill for those gift exchanges where the dollar amount is limited! Check e-Bay and Etsy and other online shops and stock up now for the best selection!

And, although it's getting almost too late, a custom portrait of the giftee's favorite pet is truly a gift that will be remembered and treasured for a lifetime. Even if your favorite artist is all booked up and it's too late to commission the portrait itself, a gift certificate is the next best thing.

But, I really think other artists read my blog more so than non-artists - what does an artist want for Christmas? My daughter says I'm impossible to buy for because she feels as if she's in a foreign country when she goes into an art store. She says it's overwhelming and she's afraid she'll get the wrong thing when she goes in. There is that danger, of course, but again, a gift certificate would be a great gift.

But, at least for me, there are easier solutions that don't even involve a trip to the art store! My favorite aisles in WalMart are the stationery aisle and the arts and craft aisle and there are really some great items there that would make super stocking stuffers for the artist.

One thing I always need are those 2-hole pencil sharpeners. Pastel pencils dull the best sharpeners very quickly and I always like to keep several on hand. The sharpeners with 2 holes usually fit any pencil I have. And while we're in the stationery isle, markers are another item I always look at with longing but just don't buy for myself. And pencils! A few plain ole pencils would delight most artists and some mechanical pencils with different sized leads could bring tears of joy!

Moving to the arts and crafts aisle there are craft knives and blades and those rotary cutters are very nice too. There's tracing paper, some specialty art supports (which would be suitable for practice if nothing else), and my WalMart carries some brand name art items like Prismacolor in limited supply. There are also these bags of brushes for just a couple of dollars and I like them for applying masking fluid or just having around for the youngest grandkids to use. There are lots of acid free, lignon free papers for scrapbooking that work great for collage too.

And if you look around the store, you'll find many other items - for instance, I use quantities of that lavender colored low-tack tape in the painting aisle and can always use a new roll . Foam brushes and those small foam rollers or refills are great ideas for applying gesso or primers.

These are just a few things that I would definitely like to get and they don't require a trip to the art store nor a second mortgage to buy either!

I'd love to hear more suggestions from those of you who stop by here too. Let's hear some suggestions for everyone and then some specific suggestions for the artists among us!

What would YOU like for Christmas?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Camouflage or Deception Paintings?

There was surge of popularity in what are commonly called "Deception" or "Camouflage" paintings not too many years ago. These paintings have sort of hidden pictures within the picture so to speak. One of my favorite artists of this type of painting is Bev Doolittle and I prefer to call these "Camouflage" paintings rather than "Deception" paintings because the items are simply hidden and not really meant to deceive.

However, there are some so-called artists out there who do try to actively deceive their customers. One such artist was brought to the attention of the members of one of my art groups. A web link was posted to ask us whether we thought the paintings posted as examples were really painted at all as the artist claims or whether they were photo manipulations. Photos can be changed with certain filters and made to look like paintings and that's fine in my book. My beef is not with photo manipulations but I detest it when they're called paintings when in fact they aren't.

Even when paint is applied over the photo, the base is still a photo and should be called that. Thomas Kincaide is known for applying paint over his prints but he's very upfront about it and besides, the prints are from his original work, not a manipulated photograph!

Take a look at the photo above (you can click on it to make it larger) and see if you would ever call this a painting. It's actually a photo manipulation that I did in about 4 minutes to see if I could reproduce the same effect as the artist we were discussing in my art forum. Of course, the original photo is not the same as his, but it's similar and the effects came out pretty similar also. If anyone would call this a painting, I'm going to give up spending hours and hours slaving over a hot easel and start selling MY photo manips at the same price that my paintings bring!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

New Art Exchange

We are having a new exchange of 4"x6" art in my LMA group and this is the painting I did. It's already been received so I'm not blowing the surprise by posting it here. This is the size that would be called an OSWOA if the art were sold but I don't know what to call it since it's an exchange!

Hold on to your hat as it will surprise you to learn that this was done in colored pencil! Yes, I know - not my favorite medium but I wanted to try out the ColourFix primer on matboard and thought this cup of coffee would be a suitable subject with which to experiment. The ColourFix is the same primer that I used to salvage that awful Tiziano paper that I'd bought on sale.

This painting used a variety of colored pencil brands and the support is acid-free mat board. I applied the primer with a small paint roller and that seems to have worked well. I don't claim to be any great shakes at still life painting but this came out pretty well if I do say so myself. Of course, I always see things that could be improved but I doubt if I ever get over that and actually hope I don't!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pastel Glassless Framing - Instructions

Since there are so many artists interested in glassless framing of watercolors, colored pencil and pastel, I thought I'd share the process of my latest attempt.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I've been experimenting with glassless framing for a long time. Glassless watercolor preparation or glassless colored pencil preparation is no problem and very easy. However, trying to prepare pastel for framing without glass did not work well for me.

I tried the methods of many artists who had gone before me in this new, experimental process but my light colored pastel areas always "melted" away or dissolved and I wasn't happy with any project I tried.

However, with Libby, I'm on my fourth coat of the diluted PVA and have not had to touch up much at all! Whoooo hooooo, praise God! So, what have I done differently this time?

I used the Ampersand PastelBord as usual (you can use other surfaces and I'll explain how later) but I did not use the pastel pencils much on this painting! That's evidently the key to successfully framing pastel without glass! I used mostly the Richardson pastel sticks and some Rembrandt soft pastels this time around with touches of the pastel pencils in the details.

I also used diluted PVA as my isolation barrier instead of the Golden Soft Gel but I don't think that was a major factor in the success this time.

Anyway, I am very pleased with the glassless prep of this painting and look forward to more paintings prepared this way.

I know you're wanting to know the exact process and I can only tell you how I do it. I've had input from many different artists who were very generous in sharing their methods (you can go back in my blog for their names and links) but the main thrust came from Jana at Phinearts blogspot. I just modified her methods to suit my way of working and chose products that were convenient for me to get and that I knew were archival.

OK, here we go:

1. Choose a support that can handle water and will not deteriorate over time - paper by itself is not a good choice. As I stated above, I use the PastelBord but I've heard of artists using the PVA to glue paper to hardboard cradles then proceeding with the painting after the glue was dry. Or some (brave souls if you ask me!) glue their finished work on paper to a hardboard cradle then proceed with their glassless method of choice. (You can find out about either method by searching on Google or some other search engine.) I have not tried to use velour or other "fabric-like" supports for the glassless framing & don't think it would work well. I think the nap of the fabric may be difficult to seal. However, maybe some day I'll take a small test piece and try it.

2. After your pastel is finished, we begin the process of preparing it to be framed without glass. Because your typical varnish will probably yellow over time, most artists use an isolation barrier of some kind of archival, non-yellowing material between the art and the varnish. That way the varnish can be removed and re-applied without damaging the actual painting should it become necessary.

I use about 4 coats of the PVA glue/sizing as the barrier in my paintings. I spray these coats to avoid disturbing the layers of pastel and I found a nifty gadget that is the perfect sprayer! I do have an airbrush but it's a real pain to drag out and the compressor is kept in the barn because my husband uses it more there. Anyway, it's just a whole lot easier to use a Preval sprayer. These sprayers can be found in automotive parts stores, some paint stores, and some home improvement stores. They're extremely reasonable in price and the gas canister lasts a very, very long time.

I dilute the PVA to the ratio of 1 part PVA and 9 parts water, stir it well and start the spray off the painting then sweep across it lightly back and forth until it's all been covered. Then turn the painting on its side and do the same thing again. I spray with the painting propped up but lay it down on its back to dry.

Clean your Preval sprayer thoroughly after each use: spray some warm water through it for a few seconds then I store the nozzle and the stem in water until I'm ready to use it again. I've had the nozzle and the screen in the stem get clogged even after I thought the sprayer was completely clean so it's worthwhile to take extra precautions.

Let each coat of the PVA dry thoroughly. This doesn't take long if you haven't sprayed too heavily. If necessary, touch up the pastel between coats. The PVA does darken the painting some but not nearly as much as other sprays have done. On the painting of Libby, I decided it wasn't enough to worry about.

3. After your coats of PVA have thoroughly dried, you can varnish the painting to protect it. I use Golden's Polymer Varnish with UVLS which is both archival and also protects against ultra violet damage. I use 3 coats of the varnish letting it dry between coats.

A note of caution here - even if you want a matte finish to your painting, make the first 2 coats a gloss finish with the final coat the matte finish. That is because there are particles in matte sprays that dull the shine. Too many coats of a matte finish will make the painting look "milky" or "foggy". The gloss finish is totally clear, and, to be honest I actually prefer the gloss for all 3 coats. It's not as shiny as you might think it would be and you save by not having to buy both the gloss and matte (or satin) varnishes. However, you'll have to make that judgment for yourself. Experiment to see what you like best - you can even mix the gloss and matte to get the perfect look you like.

I use the Golden products in my Preval sprayer because I've heard they're the most archival and there's no smell and less harm to the lungs than when using aerosols. Jana and others use aerosol UV sprays like Krylon UV Clear or other products like it. It's certainly more convenient to use the aerosols but, again, that's a decision you'll have to make for yourself. It's best to spray them outdoors though. If you look at the photo above, you'll see that I made a cardboard "spray booth" so I can spray indoors where drying factors are more consistent. However, I wouldn't want to spray an aerosol inside.

And that's it. It's really a simple process. It does take some time and some touch up may be necessary but I think it's actually quicker than trying to frame with glass if you don't count the drying times of the PVA and the varnish. Plus, it's a much safer way to ship a painting!

If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll try to answer them. If you don't know about the products I've mentioned, please do a search to learn more about them. There's a plethora of information on the internet!

Libby - Accepted!

I heard from my client this weekend and she loves the painting of Libby - whew! I have it propped up in my studio where I can see it and I've decided that I like it. That's kind of scary to me as when I like a painting of my own, many times others don't like it at all!

This time it's worked out though and both my client and I like the painting!

Now, on to the glassless preparation. I've used workable fixative between the layers of the painting as I painted it where Jana uses PVA between layers. I'll use a couple of layers of the PVA as a barrier between the painting and the final finish and that will probably require touching up after each spray before the final PVA layer. After the final barrier layer is completely dry, I'll spray with Golden's UV protectant acrylic varnish. It's time consuming to mix the spray materials, spray, wait for it to dry, touch up any "melted" pastel, spray again, touch up again etc. until the pastel has enough build up to look as it's intended. At that time the final varnish coat can be applied.

It's really not as complicated as it sounds but just takes time to get right. The end result is worth it though and my customer will be able to ship the painting to its destination without the danger of the pastel being smudged or damaged. Also, there will be no glass to break in transit! The colors remain brilliant and the painting should be preserved for many, many years to come!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Libby - Almost There?

Well, I think I'm getting into the short rows with Libby's portrait. I emailed a copy to the lady who has commissioned the portrait and I hope to hear back from her soon.

I can see a couple of things that need changing now that the ref photo and the portrait are side-by-side - mainly that her face may be a tad too wide. I've used eyes from another photo of her but they weren't very clear in that photo either so the eyes and nose are a lot of guesswork.

So, critiques are welcome. This is my first white animal and I think white animals are way more difficult to render than black ones!

This is pastel on Ampersand's Pastelbord and when the painting is finished, I plan to seal it for glassless framing. This is a gift that will have to be shipped and since it will be framed also, we don't want to have to ship it with glass. I've been experimenting with a method used by Jana from Phinearts and it seems to work better than others. I basically use her method but don't work on canvas so don't have to prepare the canvas as she does. Please pray that it all goes well when the time comes to actually seal it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Libby Commission Progress (or lack thereof)

I don't know what it is about some commissions but when I really want to do my best, it seems that the opposite happens. This is the commission that's due for Christmas and that I had a really good start on but I ended up hating it!

This may look awful at this stage but the colors are just being tried out and laid in and I don't think it will look this colorful when it's finished - certainly there's a lot more detail to do. However, once I just turned loose and decided that I was going to do it the way I first saw it in my mind's eye, it's begun to go more smoothly. I hope it goes smoothly to the finish!

My customer is a wonderful woman who has ordered from me before and who has always said to paint the way I want to. She believes that the end product will be better if I'm given that freedom. I don't know whether she's right or wrong.

On the one hand she knows my style of painting so she knows about what she's getting. On the other hand, she knows my style of painting based on other pet portraits! What she doesn't know is that realistic pet portraiture is pretty strictly regulated by what the owner/commissioner sees as their pet. In other words, most owners don't give me free rein - they want a portrait that looks very much like like the photos they give me only a little more painterly.

So, when I'm told to paint it the way I want to, I tend to tighten up and wonder if that's really what's meant or if they think I've painted other portraits "the way I wanted" and are basing those words on those portraits! I've told others to do something the way they wanted and it ended up being something far, far from my mental image of what I thought it should be. Can you see my dilemma? Mostly, it's just that I really care that the commissioner is blessed by what I've done and I'm never really sure what will please them. Sometimes it's better to be told what is expected!

With this portrait, I really see it as a realistic portrait and I have problems doing much else other than realism anyway. However, when I first saw these photos, I was struck by all the luscious colors in the coat of this "white" dog and I literally itched to put them in.

At first, I didn't and I wasn't pleased with the portrait at all. Now I've gone back and put in those golds and creams and lavenders and peaches and blues in the base and the dog is coming to life. Or, at least she is in my opinion!

I hope this turns out the way I see it in my mind. As I said, this is for a wonderful woman and it would crush me to disappoint her in any way. I'm sure she has a mind picture of what this should look like and I can only hope my vision matches hers!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Painting with the Grandchildren

Well, I got the house cleaned up (except for the studio and I just closed the door to it!) and the grandchildren arrived as promised. It was rainy so they couldn't be outside as they usually are. We went to a little park near us for a few minutes between rain drops then went to a brand new Dollar General store that opened in the tiny little town about 5 miles from us.

We'd given the kids some money and to my delight our granddaughter chose to buy a small paint set. So, when we got home, we sat at the kitchen island and painted. Our grandson is almost 5 and our granddaughter is 3 and it was a real hoot to watch them paint. I would post their paintings but they took all but some squiggles home with them. I was using some little pieces of Arches with the very cheap paint and managed to produce the goldfish above.

It came strictly from my imagination, no reference at all, and I think it came out pretty well. Of course, as pleased as I am with the fish, nothing is as good as spending quality painting time with the grandchildren!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

I received the Kreativ Blogger award from Dors the other day and have been very remiss about thanking her for it. I want to rectify that right now and say "Thank you!" to Doreen for the lovely award. You all should see Doreen's art - it's so beautiful and you can find it on her blog HERE. Thank you so much again, Dors!

Today is a busy day as my step son and the two grandchildren are coming. My house is fairly clean but needs a good pick up and vacuuming again. Of course, with a dog in the house, it always needs vacuuming! The main concern is that I have my art supplies scattered about my studio and the little ones love to check out anything to do with painting or coloring! Fortunately, I can just close the door on the mess - plus, it's all on a table that's out of their reach (I paint standing up and use a cabinet height art table.)

Anyway, it's been a few weeks since we've seen the grandchildren and I'm delighted they're coming. The bad part is that it's rainy today and although we needed it badly, Tanner, our grandson will be so disappointed if he can't ride on Granddaddy's big, honkin' lawnmower or the tractor! Our granddaughter hates the noise of both the mower and the tractor so she won't care about the rain but both love to go into the orchard to pick apples and grapes at this time of the year. They also like to go to a little park not too far from us. Like us, they're very much outdoor children and the rain may dampen our outdoor plans!

So, I guess I need to get busy and get the vacuuming done and do a little picking up of stuff I've left lying around! If I were very rich, I know about the first thing I'd do would be hire a housekeeper! No, I think it would be best if I could hire a mother - a good, old-fashioned mother who would take care of everything and yell at me to clean my room!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hello Again! Updates and News!

Life has been weird lately so I had to forego writing here in my blog. I don't want to get too far behind though and thought I'd take a minute to get you up to date with all that's been going on.

First of all, my wonderful husband had to make a trip to Florida as his mom's house sold and he and his sister had to get all the furniture and everything cleared out quickly. (Many of you know that his mother moved to an assisted living home a few months ago.) With the housing market so glutted with homes for sale, we were thrilled that the house sold so quickly and at a very good price. Well, my husband flew to Florida then rented a U-Haul to bring back almost another house full of furniture! He also brought his sister as a buffer to keep me from killing him!

His sister was a true God-send as she not only kept my husband alive, she was also able to arrange all the new furniture so that it fit into our house and not only fit, but actually looks pretty good. We had to store a couple of things upstairs but they will probably be used eventually.

Then I had the small show I had told you about in a former post. That was last weekend and it proved to me again that street fairs like that are not conducive to selling art. However, I did give out many business cards and hope to receive commissions in the future.

So, I think we're pretty much caught up on all the news for now. I'm working on a commission but just haven't taken the time to stop and scan/photograph the steps. It's a Christmas gift and even though there's plenty of time, I want to get it finished and delivered. It seems that I've been interrupted with it so many times that I don't want to take any more chances that it won't be finished in time!

Oh, one more thing - I'm sure you've seen the little Zazzle shop panel here on my blog and also on my website. I'm excited about being able to offer some of my paintings on different items so please go take a look and tell me what you think. Even if you don't like something, I'd like to know about it.

BTW, you can click on the different items and to go to the shop itself and see everything I have so far. Of course, more to come in the future!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Different Direction

One of my goals, especially as I've gotten older, is to keep growing as an artist and as a person. Landscapes are totally different subjects for me as is gouache as a painting medium. So when my sister sent me photos of their vacation in the western states of the US, I decided to stretch a little and try to paint one photo that was particularly inspiring. I also decided to paint it in gouache since I've only done a couple of gouache paintings so far. I know this isn't perfect but I'm especially fond of the sky and proud of myself for pushing beyond my comfort zone.

I want to do that as a person also. Yesterday was the 24th anniversary of my husband's and my wedding and I got to thinking about wedding vows. In this day and age, it's pretty common to go get a divorce at the least little provocation and for a marriage to last even a few years is getting to be very uncommon. Wedding vows, as well as other legal contracts, just don't mean much any more.

It takes a lot to make a marriage work. I'll admit I failed to hang in there with my first marriage. It lasted twelve years and fell apart when we left the support system and old-fashioned, small town values of our home town. We came from an area where we were expected to honor our vows and stay married no matter what. When we left that area, the pressure to stay married was also left behind. I won't go into the reasons for leaving my first husband, they were sufficient for me at the time, and I also don't regret it as I'm now married to a man with whom I'm far more compatible and with whom I share more goals.

But, even with the perfect mate (and no one has one!), marriage is definitely not easy! That's when you have to go back and remember your wedding vows, remember the words and also remember the solemn ceremony used to seal those words of promise.

Not only did we take communion at our wedding ceremony, but we also took a covenant of salt. Biblically, salt represents purity, seasoning and preservation or commitment. So, the words of our wedding vows were seasoned with commitment and meant to be preserved. That is not to say that a person should stay in a marriage that is damaging to them, but it does mean that you don't give up and run at the first little disagreement. It means you work together to overcome any obstacles and that you compromise to bring harmony into the home.

Fortunately, I have a husband with whom it's easy to get along! But mostly, it's to his credit that he puts up with me! He really is a wonderful man and I look forward to at least another 24 years should Jesus tarry!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Show Preparation

I've decided to participate in a charity event by our local animal rescue organization and will share a booth with my friend, the owner of the pet food store near me.

To be honest, I really don't like doing events like this - it seems that you expend a tremendous amount of time and energy in preparation, then you sit for hours while people file by and comment on your work as if you weren't even there! I don't mind honest critiques and I don't even mind if people don't like my art, but I don't like thoughtless rudeness at all. And, after all the time and trouble you've gone to, most of the time at the end of the day you find that you haven't even covered your expenses!

But, this organization is one of my favorite causes and while I usually donate a gift certificate for a portrait, this will be the first time I actually set up a booth at the event.

So, now I'm scrambling to get an assortment of items together to display (and, hopefully, sell!) as the event is in a couple of weeks! I'm thinking of unframed work since that will be easier to display and more affordable also. And I'll be promoting pet portrait commissions also.

Jerry's ArtaRama
is having a pretty good sale on their mat show system items and I just bought some mats, backing boards and bags. I received the black mats for the OSWOAs yesterday and matted this cat in the black mat. I hope the white mats come in today and I'll see which one looks the best on each of the pieces I have done so far.

So, wish me luck in the preparation and good sales on the day of the event! I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fabriano Tiziano

If you've been reading my blog for the past few weeks, you might remember a post about some Fabriano Tiziano paper I bought on sale.

Well, I'm not one to let any art supply go to waste if I can help it, so I ended up applying a coat of Colour-Fix Primer to one of the sheets and it actually worked! The paper did buckle a little but a quick mist of water on the back then overnight under a pile of books solved that little problem easily.

I bought the CF Primer on a trip to Jerry's ArtaRama quite a while ago and have never used it. OK, I was chicken to try it as I'd heard it could end up streaky and uneven but I didn't feel I had anything to lose with the Tiziano paper. Actually, it went on very easily and while there was some streakiness, it wasn't all that noticeable after applying the pastel. It shows up slightly when the painting is scanned but a scanner will sometimes pick up every grain of sand anyway.

The painting above was done for an OSWOA exchange and I was very pleased with the way it came out especially since it proves that I don't have to let this paper languish in my paper drawer!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sassy Little Pom - WIP 2, Maybe Final

I've been working on this off and on since my last post and I'm still not satisfied. However, I'm on the verge of overworking it so may just call it finished unless someone has any suggestions.

The biggest thing is the shadow areas. They don't look right to me but I've worked and reworked them and don't know where to go from here.

Anyway, this is Sassy. I think she's finished - at least for now! lol

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sassy Little Pom - WIP

I'm told this dog's name is Sassy. This isn't a commission or anything - she was in a car at a shop I go to & since I had my camera and she was being sooo cute looking at me from the car window, I had to take her picture! The shop owner told me about her as I guess her owner is a frequent visitor to the shop.

Actually, this is more experimenting with the Jack Richeson pastel sticks. The paper is Strathmore charcoal and pastel paper and I'm also using some pastel pencils for detail. Right now, all I've done is block in some colors and there's still a lot to do on her.

The photos didn't come out that well as they ended up looking very streaky from the reflections on the window glass. I clarified and did as much as I could with my photo software and have guessed at some of the details in the eyes. I'd say the eyes are about 95% done but I'll have to tweak them before I finish, I'm sure.

I don't know when I'll finish this as I'm also working on a commission. The commission is a dog and I'm at the planning stage which is always the most difficult for me. The main photo has eyes that can't be seen and the other photo has the dog looking totally different from the first photo! If the client hadn't sworn they were the same dog, I'd be very doubtful! Anyway, I'm not even sure what medium I want to use but I think it will be watercolor. I keep sketching very flowing lines which seem most suitable for watercolor but I'll just see what suggests itself when the sketch is finally finished! Fortunately, this client is wonderful and always leaves it up to me to work however and in whatever medium I want.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Jack Richeson Pastel Sticks Review

I don't think I've said a whole lot about the Jack Richeson pastel sticks that I recently bought. That's because I really haven't had time to adequately test them.

Actually, I still haven't given them a real test but I did paint this tomato primarily with them. The support is a scrap of charcoal/pastel paper and it was a soft taupe color. You can see that, in spite of several layers (fixing between the layers), the background color still shows through the white.

The colors went on ok, I guess. I don't know exactly how they're supposed to go on. They don't behave either like the pencils or the semi-soft pastels (Rembrandt) I have. The colors seem a little translucent, even the darker colors, which surprised me. They're billed as being very high quality pigment rich and more lightfast than NuPastels.

I'll have to determine their lightfastness later but I do want to discuss the colors in the set I received. I bought the 30 color set and the picture in the catalog showed a pretty good variety of colors. There is a good variety but I was very surprised at the colors I received. For one thing, there isn't a true green even though there are several greenish shades in the set. I had to do some optical mixing and still didn't achieve the colors I wanted.

Anyway, I want to do some more with them before I judge them. So many times I start out not liking a certain art supply then end up with it being my very favorite! I did find the sticks a little awkward and since I really don't like pastel on my hands, the fact that they aren't wrapped was a little off-putting. Also, I have rather large hands and found the sticks kind of clumsy trying to get into the small spaces. I think once the sticks are worn into different shapes I'll be able to use them better. A little experience with them wouldn't hurt either!

Monday, August 17, 2009

My New Still Life

What?!! You don't like it? Well, blame my DH as we bought some nice looking cherries at the grocery store yesterday and I went through them as I washed them and laid aside several to use in a still life. I knew I wouldn't need them until this morning so I left them on the kitchen counter to bag separately after they were dry.

You all know I'm not much for painting still lifes but the cherries were so pretty that I decided I'd give one another shot. Yep, you guessed it - the love of my life ate my still life! And, no, this isn't an excuse along the lines of "the dog ate my homework" - he honestly ate my still life - or at least one component of it!

This is just a few hours after we stood in the produce department of the grocery store while I debated with myself about buying the cherries. He finally said to just put them in the cart and if they wouldn't work for a still life, he'd eat them. I guess he mis-spoke and evidently meant that he'd eat them so they wouldn't work for a still life! lol

Aren't men wonderful. Mine truly is but he rarely really listens to what I say. I'd be willing to bet if I'd had that long conversation in the grocery store about painting cherries with anyone else that they would have remembered it and my cherries would still be intact.

Oh, well, there are some cherries left - not as pretty as the ones I'd selected - but there are some cherries left. So, this morning I set up some different still lifes and photographed them. Somehow though, I'm not really in the mood to paint a still life any more.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Angel in the Azaleas

This is the OSWOA (Original Small Work Of Art) that was my contribution to an art exchange at Let's Make Art, an art forum I belong to. I said yesterday that I would post it so here it is! lol

I was very pleased with this painting even though I had trouble getting the highlights to stay after spraying with fixative. It seems that light colors in pastel seem to just melt sometimes. Anyway, this is from one of my own photos and it seemed to just flow. I wonder if I should have made the azaleas more definitive but I wanted the angel to be the focal point.

Anyway, a long-time member of LMA and someone I consider to be very special received this painting and I'm glad it was she who received it.

My husband really liked this painting, probably mostly because it's of one of our "neighbor's" front yard before the county ruined all their beautiful azaleas by paving our country gravel road. Seeing this angel standing watch in the midst of all those azaleas was a sight to behold. I only hope I've conveyed that feeling of awe and beauty in this painting.

Friday, August 14, 2009

WIP - Lab Final

I had contacted Belle's owner yesterday and she preferred the red background so that's what I did. I finished it up today and emailed a copy to the owner who approved it wholeheartedly. I just returned from putting it into the mail.

Whew! I was sweating it as it seemed like pulling (my own!) teeth to get this halfway the way I wanted it. However, Belle's "mom" said it looked just like her and she was so excited to know that I mailed it today. Hope she's just as excited when she receives it!

I didn't have anything but a very bright red for the background so I ground up some red, some green and a little blue and mixed them together to come up with a color that the owner wanted. I have this photo cropped but the background is vignetted. The mat will cover everything but the red color though so this is pretty much the way the dog will look after it's framed.

Oh, I did tweak the eyes and nose just a little more before I mailed it but didn't make another copy - they were slight adjustments.

Now, on to my next commission - another dog. This time it's a pure white toy dog and I have some ideas for it but nothing has quite jelled yet. This is the commission that isn't due until November and where I'm given free rein to paint it the way I want to! How cool is that?

Also will be working on an OSWOA for an exchange in an art forum I belong to. We just had an exchange and it was so successful, we decided to plan for another one. I'll show the OSWOA I did for the last exchange in tomorrow's post but will have to keep the new one a secret!

Shhhhh, don't tell but I think it's going to be a flower!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

WIP Update 5 - Lab

My husband happened to read my blog yesterday and yelled at me for even considering starting this portrait over. Of course, he's not an artist and doesn't realize some of the problems and complexities but many times he's right.

In this case, he suggested a background and also suggested playing around with the color in my graphics program. So, I did. I know the wall color of my client is a tannish, grayish, pinkish taupe color and I know the dog is so light (actually lighter than I have portrayed her and I intend to rectify that) that I need a darker background color. Do any of you have any suggestions for a good color to use?

I also played more with the Richeson sticks and realize that the PastelMat needs a lot of pastel in order to build enough of a base for blending. Before that base is built, about the only way to blend is with another pastel. Even so, the pencil marks are still not covering well and it's still difficult to layer the lighter colors over the darker ones. I still have more work to do on this so please think good thoughts for me!

So, it looks as if I'll continue with this and hope I don't overwork it or otherwise mess it up. If I do, well, then I guess I'll start over at that time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WIP Update 4 - Lab

I got the new Richeson pastel sticks in yesterday afternoon and have been working on this lab this morning. The new sticks are nice and they are very pigment-rich but they still don't cover the pencil marks or even over darker colors.

I think I'm giving this one up as I just can't seem to get it to where I want it to go. It must be the pastelmat support as none of the light colored pastels seem to want to cover over darker ones. I've never had that problem with any other support, or at least not to this degree. So, I think I'm going to start over again on another support - velour perhaps or maybe pastelbord or even colour-fix - I'll have to see what I have on hand.

This is such a pretty dog in her photos and I want to do her justice in my painting of her. But, it's just not happening. That's the way it goes sometimes. Usually I can work over areas to make corrections but not this time. As I said, it must be the pastelmat paper as I'm using the same pastels I always have except for the new ones. There seems to be plenty of tooth left but the colors just aren't covering as they usually do.

I'll let you know when I start over or if I have a miraculous break-through with this one! lol

Saturday, August 8, 2009

WIP Update - Lab

I don't know if this is just at the "ugly stage" or is really just bad but I'm about ready to start it over again. I bought the PastelMat to experiment with but, for me at least, it has a steep learning curve!

I probably should have left it alone until the Richeson pastel sticks arrived but it was lying there on my work table with the pastel pencils beside it and ----- well, I just couldn't resist adding a stroke here and there!

I'm still working all over the place and have the eyes, nose, collar (& everything else!) left to do so don't judge it too harshly! I am going to leave it alone until the new pastel sticks arrive and then, if I can't rework it to my satisfaction, I'll start over again on velour or maybe even PastelBord.

On a brighter note, I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday and got a few supplies. They offered a 40% off coupon, were having a 30% off sale on some items plus it's our annual tax-free weekend so I bought some things that I wanted. Actually, I didn't get much because Hobby Lobby doesn't carry much in the way of really good art supplies but I did buy the wedge-shaped Style Stix. I thought they might work as well as my finger for blending but it felt clumsy to use when I tried one. I probably just need to practice with it though.

I also got some Winsor and Newton workable fixative. I don't think I've ever seen that at HL before so I was tickled to find it. All I've ever seen around here is the Krylon stuff and that smells sooooo bad that I really don't like to use it. Hobby Lobby also had a low odor spray by Blair but, if I remember right, I don't think it said that it was a workable fixative. Anyway, I bought the Winsor and Newton and like it so much better than others I've used. To tell the truth, I think I like it better than the super expensive Lascaux that I've been mail-ordering.

One of these days I want to try the SpectraFix fixative that another artist has developed using milk casein. It's supposed to be much like the stuff that the old masters used without any of the more harmful chemicals or anything. It's also not supposed to darken your work. If that's the case, I may go back to experimenting with glassless framing!

So many art supplies! So little time and money to try them all! lol

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Loew-Cornell Style Stix - for Sue

Some time ago, Sue from PencilPix had asked me about some tools from Loew-Cornell that I had picked up and started using for pastel blending. I promised that I would tell her how they held up on sanded surfaces once I'd had a chance to try them on one.

Well, I'm about half-way through a painting on Colour-Fix (about 9 x 12 inches in size) which is very rough in my opinion and I've also used these on the WIP painting of the Lab that I show here on my blog. The Lab is being painted on PastelMat which is not really a sanded surface but is still an abrasive surface which would certainly test these blenders also.

The Style Stix are actually made to be used for painting and not blending pastels but they work beautifully for blending in my opinion. I purposely left one of the Stix unused so you could compare it to the others. The Style Stix come 4 to a package and in this instance, they are cone-shaped which is great for getting into tight spaces. I haven't been exceedingly rough in my blending but I haven't taken it easy on them either and they seem to be holding up very well. If I'd used a paper tortillon, it would be nearly shredded by now.

I don't know the exact material these are made from, but it seems to be a very dense foam-like substance. Even though they do stain, I can wipe the excess color from them and don't get any unwanted transfer from one area of the painting to another. And they can also be washed when they get really dirty.

Because they are cone-shaped, these haven't been used over large areas. I've mainly used them to blend in corners or other small areas and I've not needed to be very aggressive with them. There are other shapes available from Loew-Cornell also. You can go to their website to check them out - just scroll down the frame showing the product line and they're right after the yellow "Sponge-It" tools.

You can click on my photos above and enlarge them to see how the Style Stix have handled the abuse I've given them to date. I don't think what I've done so far is much of a test, but, as I said, a paper tortillon would be fairly well shredded on the end by now. I don't know how long these will last but they weren't exceedingly expensive (about $6/$7 for the package) as Loew-Cornell is known for making inexpensive products for artists. Because of the low price, I have doubts that they'll last forever, but for me, they're certainly a good thing to have on hand.