Monday, January 31, 2011

German Shepherd Dog Commission

This is the commission I was working on right after Christmas.  It was a gift that has now been given so I can post it.  I'm very relieved to say that both the person who commissioned the piece and the gift recipient were very pleased with the portrait. 

This painting is pastel on velour, my usual surface, with various pastels and pastel pencils and went fairly well,  As usual, the reference photos were not clear and did not show some parts of the dog they wanted painted.  The ruff under the neck was cut off and the eyes were "flashed" so I couldn't tell what color they were.  So, between the memory of the person who commissioned the painting and looking at similarly colored GSD's online, I made some educated guesses which were evidently close enough as the owner assured me that it looked just like the dog.

I was concerned that the fur was too long but both the commissioner and the owner told me that this dog was not at all smooth and that the fur length was right on.

So, on to the next commission which will be in gouache and I need to both finish the magnolia pastel painting and get the studio ready for the new cabinets.

Jeanne, from Jeanne Grant blogspot, left a comment about wanting to see the finished studio and I promise to post pictures.  The cabinets were supposed to be here by today but as far as I know, they haven't arrived yet.  After they do arrive, we'll have to install them (around my DH's work schedule) then I'll have to get everything tidied up to show everything at it's best - lol.  So, it might take a while but I'll eventually get pictures up here for you all to see!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Pastel - Blonde Cocker Spaniel

I've been working on this little Cocker Spaniel instead of doing stuff I should be doing!  But how could anyone resist that sweet face?

I'm still not finished with it but wanted to get feedback from the owner before I went much further and she was pleased with it so far.  She also gave permission to show the reference photo I used.  As you can see, there was some guesswork involved in painting the ears but I think I have them pretty close.

I still have some touching up to do and also need to finish the background but I'm in the "short rows" as they say down South!

This is various pastels (mostly Rembrandt) and pastel pencils on a 9x12 inch sheet of PastelMat.  It seemed that the tooth filled up fairly quickly this time and I had to vacuum off some of the pastel in order to make some changes.  I don't advise using a vacuum unless you have a lot of control or your vacuum doesn't have a lot of suction!  Most of the touching up I have to do comes from the vacuum cleaner leaving visible pathways on the painting!

So, I won't show this again as the basic painting is there - again, just some touch ups and a little blending here and there.

As always, if anyone sees anything that needs some attention, please don't hesitate to let me know!

Friday, January 21, 2011

In the Studio: Re-Organization and Re-Model

It's begun!  My husband gave me cabinets for my studio for Christmas and the countertop we ordered arrived yesterday!  The actual cabinets are supposed to be here by the 31st then the fun really begins. 

This set of cabinets is for the "office" area and will hold my computer and peripherals.  There will be cabinet storage both below and above the work surface.  We started with the office wall because I'll need to get the desk and tables out that currently hold my computer stuff.  Once that's done, we'll be able to get the cabinets for the other walls.

We haven't ordered them yet as I'm not sure exactly what I want and they're too expensive to get something I don't like.  I don't think I want any wall cabinets for the other walls.  I do want the counter space and cabinets beneath the countertops would be ideal.  I'm not crazy about wall cabinets because I'm so short that the shelves above the lowest ones would probably go to waste!

I'll keep you posted on how it goes!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some Goofing Off Stuff

I didn't get a lot done on the magnolia painting yesterday but I did a little goofing off playing with my graphics software and some filters.  The result is a cartooned version of my photo.

This is certainly nothing earth-shattering and not even news-worthy but I figured some of you may be looking for an update post and I didn't want to leave you without anything at all!

I did finish a commission this morning and am now working on one of the "for fun" photos that I said I wanted to do.  I'm pleased with this one as most of the photo ref wasn't what I wanted so I had to improvise.  I used the eyes and nose from the ref then had to draw the rest to my liking.  I'm not finished with it and probably shouldn't have started it but the right colors were already out from working on the earlier commission so I went ahead with it.

I'll go back to work on the magnolia hopefully tomorrow even if I don't finish the puppy painting today.  And I'll try to remember to show the commission after it's been given.  It's a gift and I don't want to spoil any surprises.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Magnolia WIP 1- ColourFix Suede

I finally got started on the magnolia painting and thought I'd share the steps with you along with my thoughts on this new paper.
First of all, I'm just blocking in color and am working left to right since I'm right handed.  I'm using a full sheet of the white ColourFix Suede paper (14 x 18 inches in this case) and am sort of "feeling" my way with it so it will probably take a while to finish.  It works a lot like PastelMat and feels somewhat like it also.  I'll probably have to do more than one painting to really decide if I like it though.  It took me a while to get used to PastelMat but since this is so similar, I hope this will be easier to learn to work on.  One thing, it's not at all like working on actual suede paper and it's too bad the name of the paper leads you to think that it would be.

This is the first time I've ever worked on such a large painting in pastel and what everyone tells you about working large is right - it's much easier than working small as you have room to maneuver!  When I ordered the paper (which is actually a card and a very nice weight), I also ordered a set of Rembrandt 60 half sticks of pastel.  I've always liked Rembrandts and am glad I have them for this painting since they're firmer than some other brands.  I'm also using Pan Pastels but I don't have the greens needed for this painting in that set.  One of these days, I'd like to have more of the Pans but for right now, I'm just working with what I have.

I started just blocking in colors with the Pans where I could then using the Richardson and Conte' hard pastel sticks that I have.  Again, the colors are very limited in both of those sets but I've layered and blended as much as possible to get the colors I want.  It's pretty time-consuming and I can understand pastel artists having huge collections of pastels!

Anyway, like PastelMat, it helps to put down a good base of pastel and build the layers before trying to blend.  You have to sort of push the pastel into the paper and that's where the Pans, hard sticks and the semi-hard Rembrandts work well.   It could just be the way I work, though.  I've found that everyone works differently and the tools used surely make a difference also.

There are a lot of tight places in spite of the size of this painting and, while I do like the Sofft tools, I find myself using the Loew Cornell Style Styx more often.  I'm very glad I found these and plan to stock up on them the next time I go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's.  The Style Styx seem to be firmer without being rubbery like the color shapers.  They're a really dense, firm foam rubber and I think they were designed to use with water media but they've been an exciting discovery for me.

Well, let me get back to it - I'll try to post another WIP as soon as I can.  My DH has tomorrow off work because of the MLK holiday and it's sometimes difficult to work with another person in the house!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

ColourFix Suede - It's Here! Now What?

The art supplies I ordered have finally arrived and now I'm in a real quandary!  I don't know which color of the new ColourFix Suede to use first!

I ordered the rainbow package which consists of the colors shown HERE as well as an extra white and an extra black.  I've decided to paint one of the magnolia photos that I took a couple of years ago but I really can't decide which color to use.  I'm really drawn to the Blush which is more of a light peachy pink, (or maybe a light shrimp?) than the more brownish color that shows on my monitor.  I think it would look good under the creamy color of the blossom but I'm not sure and would hate to try it only to find that I'm wrong.  I guess I should use the white since I do have more of it and I can underpaint to suit myself.

So, I'm dithering about trying to decide after getting so ticked off because it didn't get here as quickly as I'd hoped!  Or, maybe I was ticked because I knew I'd need some extra time to decide on a color!  lol

I will say that the colors are wonderful and richer than they show online.  The Kalangadoo isn't so much a light gray as it is a very light tan.  The Jacaranda is a sumptuous deep, bluish-purple that looks the color of a woods violet or maybe a deep purplish pansy.  The Tasman Sky is really a lovely soft sky blue.  Their colors are good but I do hope they come out with more at a later date.

In the meantime, I'll never be able to report how I like this paper if I don't get off here and try it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

UPS Basic, ColourFix Suede and Revised Mallow

I don't know if you can really see any difference but I followed Dors' advice and darkened under the petals some more,  I'd said I'd probably have to do a bit more glazing and I did.  Thanks, Dors, I'm always concerned about overworking and, while I probably could go even darker, I think I'll leave it for a few days and see what it needs then.

On another subject, I still haven't received the order I placed with Jerry's Artarama and it's a week today.  Since the order comes out of a warehouse in a city only 60 miles from us, it's kind of aggravating.  Since I noticed that their free shipping was through UPS Basic I decided to find out what exactly that is. 

I found that UPS, FedEx and other shipping companies are taking advantage of a program with our postal system where they can become "consolidators" for US Postal Service mail and qualify for very reduced mailing costs.  Since mail order companies were shunning UPS (& FedEx) because of their very high shipping fees, the shipping companies could reduce their costs and fees and win these mail order companies back by becoming USPS mail consolidators.  It was a win-win situation for both the mail order companies and the shippers but it's a real PITA for their customers and our local mail carriers!

It seems that UPS/FedEx picks up packages at the mail order companies and ships them to the local hub where their drivers pick them up and take them to the local post office.  Then the packages are taken to their final destination by the local mail carriers.  They say it saves money because their drivers don't have to drive all over rural areas for one delivery when the postal carrier is doing it anyway.  That does makes sense but why not just ship USPS to begin with?  Why can't mail order companies negotiate with the Postal Service for a reduced rate when they ship so many packages or something?

My order shipping confirmation included a tracking number for both the UPS leg of the journey and another one for my local post office.  From those tracking numbers, I found that my packages sat at the UPS hub (a city about 45 miles from us) nearly 3 days before it was put on a truck to take it to the local post office.  A friend in business locally informed me that the local UPS driver has been on vacation and the substitute drivers have been very slack so I guess it doesn't surprise me that the packages weren't immediately taken to the post office.  As a matter of fact, I'm not even sure the packages will even be taken to the post office even though they're supposed to be on the delivery truck.  While I was researching this so-called "service", I found that it seems to be up to the drivers as to when to deliver the packages to the local post office!

I know, I know - the shipping was free and I shouldn't be complaining but I only ordered from Jerry's because of it's proximity to me plus the Jerry's website said that delivery would take about 2 - 4 days!  And I also know that our ice storm was probably a factor as the UPS hub city was hit very hard and normally doesn't even see such weather.  It just seems that if the UPS truck from Raleigh could make it to the hub, trucks could make it out also.

Anyway, researching the UPS Basic service was very interesting reading.  So, now I'll know next time not to order if the company offers only the Basic shipping or unless I'm willing to wait several more days than I've waited in the past!

Maybe I'll eventually get my ColourFix Suede paper - if & when I do, I'll let you know how I like it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finally, a Painting!

Sue, from PencilPix blog, has sort of been prodding me to get off my duff and post a new painting.  Well, I did a new watercolor this morning.  I always feel that I have so much to learn about watercolor and usually hesitate to post anything I paint in that medium.  But, I also feel that maybe some of you can either learn from my mistakes or give me a critique or tip that will help me learn this elusive medium! 

The mallow flowers are courtesy of MaLu at Paint My Photo, and I didn't come close to the rich colors of the original photo!  It's hopefully enough, however, to break the painting slump and if nothing else goes a long way toward helping me forget that it's winter outside!

C & C gratefully accepted!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, No, Not Again!


Yep, it's snowing AGAIN this morning!  It just started less than half an hour ago or so and look what's accumulated already.  My DH just had to go to work this morning and left at his usual time before it started snowing.  He works about an hour from here and actually made it to work before the first flake fell.  However, it may be a different story this afternoon when he tries to get home!  I hope he heeds the advice he would surely give me and comes on home before the roads get icy as they are predicted to become (check out Atlanta who got this a few hours ahead of us!)

Guess I'll stay in today and see if I can work on a painting.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Snow, Colourfix Suede and Other Stuff

We are having a really, really weird "snow/no snow" day today!  It was cold with a very heavy frost this morning but the sun came out and it was really pretty for a little while.  Then we had a 2 minute flurry of heavy snow with high wind - almost like a mini blizzard!  Then the sun came back out again and since the weather forecasters had said all the snow would be in the morning hours, we decided to go to a Hobby Lobby about 30 minutes away.  We set off with the sun shining and got about 10 miles before we ran into blowing heavy snow again.  We thought it would end just as it had before but it only seemed to get worse so we turned around and came back home!  Bummer!

I didn't really need anything at Hobby Lobby but it seems that I've been stuck in the house forever and just wanted to get out for a bit.  The reason I didn't need anything is because I just placed an order with Jerry's Artarama yesterday evening.

Yep, I finally ordered the new Colourfix Suede paper along with some other things I've been wanting.  It should be here towards the end of next week if all goes well.  Sue, from Pencilpix blog, told me she'd been dithering over what support to use and had effectively put off starting a new painting.  I think that's the case with me and I hope having a new support to try will get me revved back up again!  The cold and lack of sunshine really zaps my creative juices and I haven't wanted to paint at all lately.

I have several things on hold that I really need to get going on but it seems that if I start something when I'm not in the mood, I struggle with it and sometimes end up starting over anyway.

I'll keep you posted on how I like the new suede paper - just hope I'm in the mood to try it when it gets here!