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.