Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Unconditional Love

I have heard it said that dogs are about the only creature who give unconditional love.

An internet friend posted a photo of her sister and her dog and I thought it captured that love beautifully.  This is my attempt to translate that feeling into a painting.

Soft pastel on PastelMat.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Orchids In Oils - WIP 3

Here is the third installment of the work in progress of the orchids I've been working on.  It doesn't feel finished but I don't know exactly what is wrong so I can finish it!

Any C&C gratefully accepted!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Orchids in Oil - WIP 2

I haven't done a whole lot with this painting but thought I'd post an update of the little progress I've made.  It has a long way to go but at least you can sort of tell they're orchids now!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Watercolor Painting for "Gates and Doors" Challenge

You can probably tell this was a real quickie.  It was done for a challenge on an art site I belong to (Art Class Friends) where the theme was "Gates and Doors".  As usual, I had to put an animal into it!

Watercolor on Arches Hot Pressed.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Floral WIP Painting in New Oils

Well, I started another oil painting this morning and got this far before deciding to do a WIP (work in progress) of it.

This is a painting of some orchids and I know the pencil drawing is a little light so hope you can see the actual flowers well enough.  As you can see, the background is pretty much finished although I may tweak it a bit later.  I'm very pleased with it so far and it was a dream to paint as blending is easy as is layering lighter colors on top of dark ones.

The only things I'm not sure about are the leaf in the bottom left corner and that stem beside it so I may take them out.  I'll wait and think about it a bit more first though.

My DH, CiCi (our Maltese) and I went to Hobby Lobby yesterday where I got some paint brushes, a nice canvas and this cradled panel with canvas texture from Ampersand.  This one happens to be 12 inches square as I knew I wanted a square format for these orchids.  I usually love Ampersand products although they're very pricey but I'm not real sure about this one.  The paint seemed to drag more on this than the canvas I used for the wave painting shown yesterday.

Which brings me to the brushes I bought - I had seen several recommendations for the Robert Simmons synthetic line which are very reasonable and I've used them before for acrylics & liked them.  However, these seem almost too soft to use with the oil paints.  Of course, it could have been the Ampersand surface instead.  Anyway, I'm reserving judgement on both for right now.

So, I'll eventually try other brushes and surfaces -  Jiminy! a painting supply addiction is almost as costly as a drug addiction!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Experimenting with Water Miscible Oils

Some time ago I was asked about painting a pet portrait in oil and I said no because of the odor, the mess and frankly, the cost.  Then I remembered some water miscible oils I'd briefly used many, many years ago and thought I'd give them another try.

Of course the tubes I'd used way back then were dried up and harder than brick bats (what's a brick bat anyway?) so I immediately did a little online research and placed an order for some Lukas Berlin water miscible oil paints.  They arrived yesterday and I did the little painting shown above.  Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination but it did give me a good indication of how I'd like these oils.  (I do!)

Because the order was being shipped via that crazy UPS to local Post Office method that took nearly 2 weeks the last time, I wasn't really prepared with canvas or brushes.  I'd hoped to get to Hobby Lobby or Michael's to pick up any supplies I needed as I wanted to see them in person.  But, surprise!  here's the order and I wanted to get started painting so I found two brushes left over from my oil painting days and a small (5x7 inch) stretched canvas.  The wave seemed to have the perfect proportions for the little canvas so I started painting and finished it pretty much in one sitting (alla prima).

I'm someone who really gets inspired playing with the different mediums and I started out painting in oil in high school art waaaaaay back in the 60's so painting in oils again felt very comfortable.  These water miscible oils are great too.  There's virtually no smell and the clean up is quick and easy.  As with any other medium, there is a downside to using them - they still take up to a week or more to dry to the touch and 6 months to a year to dry/cure enough to varnish.  However, many artists are opting not to varnish their paintings so I may follow their example (which would have been heresy in my early years of painting!)  I know I have to relearn some techniques, prepare to be patient with the drying time and practice, practice, practice but I think I'll really enjoy using these paints.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Watercolor and Gouache Floral

I'm still playing around with watercolor and gouache and thought I'd try a flower painting instead of an animal this time.  These are some cosmos flowers from a reference photo by Debbie Byess on Paint My Photo.  It's a work in progress and is watercolor and gouache on Arches Hot Pressed watercolor paper.

I still have some shading to do on the stems and some additions of the ferny leaves.  Also, the background needs some more work.  While it looks black here, it's really a mixture of various greens, blues and the pink and maroon of the flowers.  Since I'll want to use this primarily for prints (if it ends up good enough!), I want the background to look flatter and more varied than it appears right now.

While I've got you all looking, I'd like to put in a plug for my friend, Sue Clinker from PencilPix blogspot.  She has a wonderful entry in a "Best of British Drawing Contest" sponsored by Derwent and the winner will be determined by votes.  Her painting is of her husband trying to bar-b-que in the rain (which I gather is pretty typical of British weather much of the time).  Here is a link to the contest:


You can vote for up to 20 entries and I do hope you'll find Sue's entry and will vote for it as I think she's done a wonderful job on this painting.  It's called "Typical British BBG" by Sue Clinker.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Watercolor Lucie

I've been exploring pet portraits in watercolor for some time and really like the medium of watercolor and gouache (opaque watercolor) but I haven't had a lot of time to experiment with it lately.  Recently an online friend posted some photos of a little service dog trainee that she was keeping and I couldn't resist painting her.  I also felt that she would be a perfect subject for a watercolor portrait.

My husband is usually my best critic and he thought the painting lacked enough contrast (first photo) so I went back in and deepened some of the color.  I think I like the first version best but it's done now so I plan to leave it alone.  What do you think?  Comments and critiques are always welcome.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Playing With Frames

I've been doing some painting lately but really have nothing to show at this point.  I've also been playing around with making my own frames and the frame shown here is an example.

I've mentioned before that I'd like to get away from having to mat and frame my work under glass as having art framed is so expensive.  Even frames by themselves without glass are also expensive so I decided to try to build my own.  The frame on the left was a relatively simple design but dressed up with the addition of a little decorative moulding.  I don't have a lot of fancy woodworking equipment so the frame was made using a simple hand saw and a miter box.

The trick was to get all the sides even with the miters cut so there would be a perfect fit.  That's not at all easy with a hand saw and I did end up cutting more than one of some of the pieces before getting that perfect fit.  I even measured more than twice before cutting!

Anyway, I don't think I'll go into the framing business - at least without investing in a good miter saw, but I did have fun making a couple of frames!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All the Colors of White

We recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Pensacola, Florida where we went to see my husband's family, primarily his mother who is in her 90's.  Most of the time was spent visiting with family but we did take some time to go to Pensacola Beach and all the way out to Ft. Pickens which is part of our National Parks System (you can read about Ft. Pickens HERE).  The weather on the whole trip was somewhat overcast and on the day we went to Ft. Pickens, it was very cloudy and very windy!  I thought our little baby, CiCi really illustrates the strength of the wind, don't you?  lol

Anyway, I was wanting to take some photos of magnolias for painting references and looked at some under these cloudy conditions.  I didn't end up getting any photos of any but I did really look at the "color" of white in several kinds of flowers and under different conditions.

It's always amazing to me to really study a white object and see all the colors that are actually there.  You can see that our C is a white Maltese but if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can also see all the reflected colors that show in her fur.  My husband's shirt color is reflected in some areas.  There is both pink skin showing (the groomer clipped her really close this time!) and also some pink reflected from her skin onto her fur.  The pink skin also makes for sort of lavender gray shadows in some areas.  There are even some areas of yellow there!

If you've trained your eye to really see, you can look at any so-called white object and see a multitude of colors residing there!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Busy, busy, busy!

It has been a wild and crazy last month or so around here and I haven't done much painting at all.  I did finish the double portrait of two beautiful Golden Retrievers some time ago so I thought I'd post the final portrait since I hadn't shown it to you before now. 

I was pleased with it and it really looks much better in person than here.  This was the largest portrait I've done to date and it took a while.  It was on a full sheet of either PastelMat or Colorfix Suede (I've slept many times since it was finished & don't remember which one!  lol) or about 20x27 inches.  I think the owner was pleased also.

I titled this post Busy, busy, busy for a reason.  My DH has finally retired after working at the same place for slightly over 40 years!  He started the retirement on May 1st so we've had almost a week to get used to having one another underfoot and adjusting to a different schedule.  So far it's working out ok and it's really nice being able to do things during the week at whatever time is convenient for us.

A new BJ's warehouse club opened up in a town relatively close to us - about 40 - 45 miles away - so we decided to check it out one day.  That was interesting.  We ended up joining (they give you the "opportunity" to join at a special price before you can actually shop there although they offer a trial membership also.)  I must say that I was disappointed in the experience with everything bundled so that quantities were either way too much for two people (like some of the fresh produce) or there were too few choices in items that you could stock up on.  For instance, as a vegetarian, I was very disappointed to find the one & only brand of baked beans they had was prepared with meat.  The prices weren't bad so I guess it was a good idea to join.  My husband's opthamologist is right around the corner from BJ's so I guess we'll use it some at least.

It is also the week of my husband's birthday so the kids are coming this evening to celebrate both his birthday and his retirement.  I made potato salad and cole slaw yesterday and biscuits this morning (for tomorrow morning's breakfast).  Potato salad and slaw always seem to taste best when they've had a chance to marinate and completely chill.  Later I'll be making baked beans and hush puppies so I'm taking a little break right now to make this post!  Since I don't usually cook meat, we got some pit cooked bbq from a local restaurant not too far from us.  Add a little cake and ice cream after dinner and we'll call it a celebration feast!

Another perk of my DH being retired is that we can travel some and we'll be doing a bit of that off and on.  He's a big gardener and has put in a really comprehensive vegetable garden this year so we won't be gone a lot because of that.  But, I may not be posting on a regular basis again.  I'm looking forward to getting all settled in our "new" life so I can get back to painting again!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It Is With A Heavy Heart

that I tell you little Avery has lost the battle with SMA.  Heartfelt condolences to her parents, family and friends. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ATC Trade

We're doing an Artist's Trading Card trade at an art forum I belong to (Art Class Friends - let me know if you would like an invitation to join) and these are the two cards I painted for the trade.

Both are regulation ATC/ACEO (Art Cards Editions and Originals) size at 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches and both were painted in watercolor or watercolor and gouache.  Both of the painting photo references came from MorgueFile.com.  I hope the recipients like what they get as I had a lot of fun painting these. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

A New Blog - Pray That It Keeps On Going

I just stumbled upon a fairly new blog and want to share it with all of you as it will tug at your heartstrings and also give you pause if you're of child-bearing age.

Many of you know that I have two beautiful nieces who were born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy or SMA as it's called.  It's a genetic disease where the muscles eventually lose all tone and because the heart is a muscle and the lungs are powered by muscle, death  is the result.

The new blog I found is that of a baby named Avery who has been diagnosed with SMA and is chronicling her bucket list as she has been given only 18 months to live. 

Please go take a look at the blog and be aware that many of you carry this horrible gene and may not even be aware of it.

I'm sorry if this sounds choppy and disjointed and I'm sorry if you were expecting something about art.  Just please take a look and say a prayer for Avery and her parents.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Showing You Mine

Well!  It's certainly been a while since I've posted here on my blog.  I apologize but probably still wouldn't have a post if it weren't for my blogging friend, Sue, over at PencilPix.  She and I email back and forth some and we were chatting about updating our respective blogs when she issued the challenge saying "you show me yours and I'll show you mine" - well, I decided to take her up on that challenge!

It wasn't that I wanted to neglect my blog but I'm not much for multi-tasking and there's been a lot happening in the past few months.

For one thing, I'm still trying to find and learn a medium which will allow me to produce the paintings I want to do yet not have the paintings be so fragile.

Well, you know pastel is my medium of choice and it's really not so fragile if handled responsibly but it does need to be framed under glass and I'd really like to get away from that.  So, I've been experimenting with gouache, watercolor and acrylic.  I've produced quite a few paintings in one medium or the other but still haven't become really comfortable with any and all have attributes that just don't fit my way of working.

I really like pastel for the spontaneous way I can work in it.  It's always ready to go - no squeezing out paint, searching out brushes, getting water and no mixing on a palette.  That's such a plus for me as I tend to work "a stroke at a time" and it's so easy to lay out the pastels on my work table and work "as the spirit moves me".  There's no mess to clean up after every session and I don't have to worry about painting drying up and becoming unusable.

But, I ship a lot of paintings and I really would like for them to arrive intact, hence the exploration into other media.

I kinda stretched the truth a bit when I said that I had produced quite a few paintings during my blog hiatus.  It's true that I've started many paintings but I haven't really finished many.  I get to that "ugly stage" and just lose interest so they remain unfinished!

However, I did finish (I think it's finished anyway) the portrait of the little Maltese above recently.  It's been painted in acrylics, mainly acrylic ink, and it went fairly well.  I do find that I paint more loosely with a brush than I do with a pastel stick and I don't know if that's good or bad.  I also agonize over brush strokes, color and trying to get that one last stroke that completes the painting without over-doing it.

There wasn't really a reference photo for this little fluff - it's a combination of refs along with looking at our own little one for some of the details.  I would have used our baby exclusively but I really find it hard to paint our own pets.  I just didn't want to add that pressure on top of battling with an unfamiliar medium!

OK, Sue, here's mine - where's yours?

Friday, January 27, 2012

A New Web Friend From Brambleberry Cottage

Only this one I met in person first!  I was shopping with a couple of friends last weekend and found the perfect stroller for our little rescued Maltese in a thrift shop in a neighboring town.  I'd just paid for the stroller when another lady came up with a cute little Yorkie to inquire about the same stroller.  I found out later that her name was Liz and that she has a gorgeous blog here on Blogger.

We exchanged pleasantries and I gave her one of my business cards with the painting of CiCi on it (you know I can never resist showing off my baby!)  Today she left a comment on my blog here as well as emailed me. 

To make a long story shorter, I've spent the morning looking at her beautiful blog and came across a post of hers on "Morning Glories" http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com/2011/08/glories-of-morning.html.  The photos are spectacular but I think she may have some bindweed there instead of true morning glories (sorry, Liz!)

I've long been enamored of the bindweed that runs rampant on our farm and even painted some a few years ago.  I entitled the painting "Glorious Strangler" because that's what bindweed does to any plant around it.  Not only does it strangle out plants but it also puts out some sort of substance from its roots that helps prevent other plants from growing around it.  Not a plant that plays well with others but very, very beautiful nonetheless.

Please go take a look at the way Liz has arranged and photographed these flowers and you'll probably agree with me that their beauty far outweighs their nasty nature!  Thanks so much for the photographic eye-candy, Liz!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thank You, Christine!

The internet is a wonderful place for meeting some terrific people.  One of those people is Christine from Fine Arts Graphite Portraits blog.

I was stunned yesterday when our mail carrier brought a package containing a portrait of my dear horse, Bonnie, who we lost about a year and a half ago.  Christine knew how much I loved Bonnie and how difficult it is for me to paint my own pets and sent me a graphite portrait of Bonnie just out of the blue! 

It's a gorgeous portrait that looks just like her and I cried when I saw it.

Christine, I know how busy you are with your new little boy and for you to take the time to draw my Bonnie means so much to me.  You did a wonderful job and I there just aren't enough words to thank you for your kindness.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Artistic Dead Space

Gouache on an absorbent ground
prepared hardboard

Contrary to what you might have believed, I'm not dead but just having a little artistic dead space.  I really have been working but I've kept hitting slick spots on the artistic road of a double portrait and decided to pull over to rechart my course.

All that means is that when you keep making mistakes with a project, sometimes it's just best to switch to another project to try to get your mojo back.  lol

Sometime ago I bought some of the Golden Absorbent Ground but hadn't had time to try it.  I had several odd pieces left from the hardboard I bought ages ago and decided to prepare one to try out the new ground.  The above painting of the waterlily is the result.

It's only 4 x 6 inches so didn't take a very long time to paint but I'm not sure if I found any difference between the absorbent ground and a plain gessoed board.  I won't give a review of the ground until I've had more time to use it.  I will say the next time I think I'd use a roller to apply it to try to get a more even surface and maybe to get a slightly dimpled surface similar to cold pressed watercolor paper.

I'd also wanted to take this opportunity to use gouache as it's usually intended which is usually more like oil or acrylic than watercolor.  But, gouache is kind of tricky - at least in my experience.  It seemed that I was either mixing it too thin or too thick so I ended up using it much the same way I use watercolor but applying my lighter colors last as in oil or acrylic painting.  

I guess that ends up being the best of all the media and I was pretty pleased with the outcome.  Now back to the portrait of the two beautiful Golden Retrievers which I hope to finish soon!