Welcome to my art blog! Why a blog? Because I love art and I love to communicate and to share my enthusiasm-what could be more perfect? I hope you will follow along with me on this journey and that you find inspiration here!
For me it’s true that even the worst day involved in an artistic endeavor is better than most any other day doing something else. So, to begin with, where do I find inspiration? After that, who knows what artistic subjects I might touch on…
Sketch collage of five most recent sketches and the one of me recovering from a tooth extraction, after I added watercolor.
Since I painted and posted the rooster, I haven’t been just doing nothing! I continue to work daily in my art Before Breakfast sketchbook and I want to share the info on that. I have begun adding light watercolor washes to those sketches, which in my opinion improves them greatly. The sketchbook I’m using accepts those just fine and I very much like using it-a Pentalic Dream Catcher accordion-fold artist journal that I found at our local art store. It was a new item for them, being promoted with a sale price, so I got one each of the “draw” and the “watercolor” versions. I haven’t tried the “watercolor” one yet, but the “draw” version has beautifully smooth paper and works great with the pen & ink and light washes.
I am also in the midst of three paintings in my studio; one is going great, one has been set aside for now in favor of other more interesting subjects and the other is complete but I am not happy with the background. I’m thinking about what I want to do to correct that. If nothing else, the lesson that I do better when I paint the background first is more firmly planted in my mind. I was not taught in that manner when I did take classes, but I know that works for many wonderful watercolor artists and it seems to for me also.
My Sunday evening daily painting. I’m so excited that I got another one done! This was a fun project, and, like so many of my 30 Paintings in 30 Days, any type of chicken is a subject that I have not tackled before. I have contemplated trying it, but have always “chickened out” – pun intended! Maybe a more complex background next time, but I thoroughly enjoyed painting yet another new type of subject!
I was sitting here cropping the photos I took of this watercolor when I realized that I totally forgot to do my Sunday art Before Breakfast sketch! Sometimes I just get busy and distracted… Even though at least one sketch every day is my goal, I guess I just have to face that there will be days when it doesn’t happen. Besides, I did get a rooster drawn and painted!
3-14-15, dubbed Pi Day. What I really wanted was a real pie – lemon meringue, cherry, French Silk, any of those would do! But in the interest of not gaining 5 pounds, I opted for first sketching a cherry pie this morning in my art Before Breakfast sketchbook and then drawing and painting a lemon meringue pie this evening. Surely not as tasty, but calorie free without a doubt, this was a fun small project to do.
I am currently reading Daily Painting by Carol Marine. I got it not realizing that it appears to be mostly geared to oil painters, so at first I was a little disappointed. Once I started reading, however, I realized there was no reason for disappointment. Even though the author is an oil painter, she makes sure that most of the book is geared to any media. The point is that small frequent painting teaches you so much more than only doing the occasional large work. This constant practice also enhances your larger works when you do paint big. I had already realized just how much I learned from each painting when I participated in the January 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. My plan was to continue, if not at quite that rate, then still painting frequently. I found out that it’s all too easy to set it aside in favor of all the other daily things that crop up, so I wanted/needed the reminder-which is exactly what that book is and will continue to be for me.
That was the long version of why I came to my studio this evening, drew and completed a small painting. It is something I need to try to do every day!
5 minute practice sketch of Daffodils from book reference
Again, a pen and ink page of sketches, this time referenced from my book, “20 Ways to Draw a Tulip and 44 Other Fabulous Flowers” by Lisa Congdon (http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Tulip-Other-Fabulous-Flowers/dp/159253886X). Daffodils are one of my very favorite flowers; they bring such sunny happiness to spring! Since my own daffodils are not in bloom yet – and it’s one flower that always gives me fits when attempting to draw/paint – I thought a little no-pre-drawing practice from this book was in order! Can you see the improvement happening as I work in this manner? I sure can! So, this is today’s sketchbook practice; not painted directly from live references, but still worthwhile practice!
Thursday, 3-12, quick sketch of recycling bin at curb
I has been a bit of a tough week, starting out on Monday with an urgent tooth extraction. The short version is – a botched root canal a number of years ago finally led to the demise of that particular molar, no matter how well I care for my teeth. The healing is going well, but the inevitable antibiotic has me feeling poorly, staying home taking it easy.
I guess that whole process has me somewhat out of the mood for painting, but I cannot ignore my art completely. Plus there is that wonderful “art Before Breakfast” book, which I did very quickly read cover to cover. While I’m not practicing exactly as is outlined in Danny Gregory’s book, I am working at filling the small accordion sketchbook I started with something each day. The sketches are not impressive, but it is a learning experience.
In this case, that learning is from just grabbing a Micron pen and going for it with whatever grabs my attention at that time, with no pencil pre-drawing. Even when I meet with my sketch group, I start with a pencil drawing, erasing and correcting things along the way. Then, when I’m happy enough with the sketch (and if there is still time since I work slowly), I will ink it and do a watercolor wash. I have many sketches done that way that I like, but it is a crutch and I need to learn to work directly! I hope that eventually, with enough practice, I will have that skill. I will still pre-draw for my paintings with a pencil, but that might just go more quickly and be more accurate the first time! The process I am practicing now can help me to become a much better artist overall and that’s what it’s all about!
Another really bad 2-3 minute sketch, this time really, really early morning and long before breakfast. Daylight Savings Time just took effect and, as is my habit, I’m still up. Since Sunday mornings are less conducive to art time than other mornings, I decided to do a quick one before I go to sleep and share it. I probably shouldn’t share any of these, because it truly makes it look like I am completely unable to draw at all. It is true that I don’t work well and quickly at the same time, but the fact is that I make a habit of hand drawing my work prior to painting. I don’t paint quickly either and, when put on the spot to do so, I pretty much freeze up and accomplish nothing! So, in addition to just making art (with a very small a) of some kind, perhaps these exercises will eventually help me to learn to work faster and still produce quality work.
I recently received a wonderful book by Danny Gregory called art Before Breakfast. The a in the title is not capitalized. This premise is described as such: “art with a big ‘A’ is for museums, galleries, critics and collectors while art with a small ‘a’ is for the rest of us.” I like that train of thought, since so much of the art that many of us make, even though we strive for perfection, simply is not perfect and/or museum quality. That’s absolutely not to say that it isn’t beautiful! In some ways, the book seems geared to busy people who have never even thought of trying any form of art, with the author pointing out some of the mental and physical advantages of it. But to me the book also speaks to all artists of any medium in that the purpose is that you make time for art every day!
Being a person who tends to flit from one project to another and another, sometimes finishing nothing, I have been making myself finish one book – if I’m reading it cover to cover rather than just using it for a quick reference – before I can start another. So, I finally was able to start reading art Before Breakfast Thursday night (I read before going to sleep). Which meant that Friday morning, I grabbed a pen and did two very quick, sloppy sketches before breakfast! These sketches were each under 5 minutes, including digging through my very limited markers to add some color. I’m a little embarrassed to show them, but I will anyway because starting my day that way made me feel great and added to the desire to make sure I spent some time in my studio. I find that most any type of doodle, scribble or sketch can loosen up my hand and focus my attention on art. So, here are those two sincerely bad sketches from Friday morning; the left one is the “title page” in a small accordion fold sketchbook and the second (photo rotated to make it upright) is, believe it or not, the bowl of grapes that I ate for breakfast. Now I just have to stick with it every day!
I have been tied up a lot lately with Spokane Watercolor Society things. I finally got into my studio for a short time tonight and did a little reference photo searching and then drawing. All around my studio, I have quite a few of my older works and one grabbed my attention while I was sitting there.
This is one of the first pen and ink works I did. I really like the exacting, slow process of doing pen and ink work. Being one of my first makes it a little special to me and I have always liked it. But there is a more important reason that it is special. My mother was particularly fond of old mills with water wheels. I did a painting of this one, which I now have since she passed three years ago. Somewhere along the way, I wanted to try my hand at the same scene in pen and ink. I’m sorry for the poor photo, but tonight I want to share that (possibly unfinished) work with you.
One of my recent no-drawing painting attempts… This is from a photo taken in Glacier National Park a couple of years ago and was not taken with a telephoto lens, just a cell phone. Obviously the deer there are quite used to people being nearby.
What I like about this is the looseness. Even though it’s not very good, going without an initial drawing at all definitely loosened up my usually overly tight, photo-realism type painting. Being able to paint looser is something I strive for. That is not to say that I will paint this way all the time, but more practice in this manner may be a very good thing!
I always seem to be inspired by the ocean and, for that matter, most bodies of water. Perhaps growing up so near a lake has something to do with that. This was a fun painting to do, with some experiments along the way. It is based on the numerous photos I took a decade ago while on the Florida Gulf Coast. I loved watching the Sandpipers on the beach!
I am currently stressing over planning and executing a painting or paintings to enter in our Spokane Watercolor Society 2015 Open Juried Show, coming up this fall. Because of that and several other issues, I am still not managing a painting a day. I am doing something toward my art every day though – digging through years worth of photos for reference ideas, compositions, pre-drawing, sketches, etc. My smaller works might not be impressive enough for some, but after my “painting marathon” in January, for me it seems to be a better way to improve and to simply feel like I am accomplishing something. But you can’t submit anything of that size as a juried show entry… I just have to make time in my schedule for the larger works too.
I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, since I finished the 30 in 30 challenge. I can use the excuse that I’ve been up to my neck in work for SWS-which is true! However, I learned last month that I absolutely must set aside time for my own art rather than just administrative things as president of an art group. And that’s not to say that I haven’t been actively working on art, even though it’s not been at my January pace. I will admit to a bit of a lull in inspiration though. Perhaps it’s a touch of burn-out or simply the time of the year, but ideas have been a little slim lately. That is when I sit down with an art book or at the computer to work from a video. It is all practice and I am now a real believer in the whole idea of many small paintings as a way to further/improve my art.
That all being the case, I have done a number of sketches and four new paintings. First up was a new challenge for myself – painting directly with no sketching at all, just drawing with the brush and then completing the paintings. I did two small works, both of deer, in my sketchbook in that way. Then I tried it out in my Moleskine watercolor book with a simple geranium painting. I won’t say that it was all totally successful, but it was fun and educational to give it a try! As an artist – and as a human being – I know I must continue to learn and challenge myself!
I still can’t quite get over that I finished 30 paintings in 30 days (actually in 28 days because of starting a little late)! I completed the collage of my work, then proceeded to add a border with text around it in one of my photo programs. That wasn’t my idea-it was available on the PicMonkey site, but my computer is too old and has inadequate memory to be able to handle that part of the collage procedure. Below are two versions; one with all 30 paintings and the other with the ones of which I am most proud-twenty of them. What a journey it was! Would I do it again? YES! Especially if I find myself slacking off and not devoting time to my art!
WOOHOO-I DID IT!!!!!!!! I actually finished this painting about 1 this afternoon, photographed, cropped in Photoshop and posted on the Leslie Saeta 30 Paintings in 30 Days blog right after. I then proceeded to use PicMonkey – http://www.picmonkey.com/ (at her recommendation) – to create a collage of all of my 30 paintings to also post on her blog. I am still so excited and proud of myself for this accomplishment! When I signed up, I honestly didn’t think I would manage to paint that many, but certainly did plan to try. Some I’m not so proud of, but some actually kind of amaze me, so I guess it all equals out. If you have followed my “journey”, you have seen that I used quite a wide variety of subject matter; good for practice on many different levels. It surprised me to see that I painted more animals, birds and sea life than even flowers. I have found that I really enjoy that challenge! In choosing what to paint, I ran across so many photo references that I really want to use-and soon. I currently have three ready to paint, so I should get to it!
I spent three hours on Friday morning/afternoon drawing for painting number 30, not to mention how long I spent on Thursday deciding on what to paint and redoing the design until I was pleased with it. Then I worked out, stopped at the grocery store, fixed and ate dinner, rested for a bit and just spent another nine hours finishing up the drawing and getting a good amount of the painting done. I finally had to face that I couldn’t finish it until Saturday-darn! But since I started three days into the challenge, I guess finishing one partial day late isn’t so bad, especially when it’s still January.
Since I have no new painting to share yet, I’ll post another of the September paintings from my first attempt at the 30 in 30 challenge. This one is my version of a Wetcanvas photo of the East Channel Lighthouse, Lake Superior on Michigan’s upper peninsula.
This is my sweet calico cat, Lindy, curled up in the bathroom sink several years ago. I have always thought this photo was just fun and knew that someday, when I got really brave, I would paint it. Nowhere near perfect-that’s for sure. But don’t judge too harshly since it’s my first attempt ever at painting a cat-and sure, I had to try a calico for the first one!
Lindy was a young adult that we got from a local rescue agency, Partners for Pets, almost 10 years ago. She had been with them for quite a long time and was a quite a depressed kitty. We decided on her, partly because she deserved to finally have a home she could count on and partly because she was just so pretty. She is one of our four rescued pets-three cats and one dog. There are just always so many wonderful adult animals needing a good home!
Yes, another floral! I had the center rose drawn for days and kept putting off painting this. I finally tackled it late Wednesday evening, adding quite a bit to the drawing, and actually finished it about 2 AM Thursday, the 29th. I was driven and simply couldn’t stop until it was completed. It’s a very special, personal painting to me, as I named it for someone I lost a long time ago whose birthday was January 29. The painting is much prettier in person – this photo simply does not do it justice. I left the background white, with the exception of the blue wash surrounding the flowers, just to keep it very soft and simple.
This is one from a photo I took on Oahu in 2005-my one and only trip to Hawaii. I loved it there and, given the opportunity, would live there without hesitation! I painted from this reference years ago and wanted to try it again. There are things I did better this time and things I don’t like as well. But it was fun to do-and any break in our drab winter, even just thinking about flowers and/or Hawaii, helps!
“Elephant Portrait” Day 24 painting “Rose Study” Day 25 painting
Oh my gosh, I have not been so encouraged for over a week! I was able to finish and post these two paintings Tuesday-and cook a delicious dinner that took all day to make! But there’s more… I also have three works in progress-one almost finished, another over half done and a third barely begun; I also have two more drawn and, assuming I can complete them all, that will make a total of 30! Only three more days to accomplish this and I fully plan to do so!
As for these two paintings-do I love them? Not so much. But, I thought they were both complete lost causes. I know both are badly overworked-but even the fact that I was able to save them enough to use them pleases me a lot! I learned a whole lot in the process and that is never a bad thing. But for right now, I am exhausted and it’s time to get out of my studio and get some rest. More to come…
Recently I sold a painting I did a few years ago. The person found me through my Wetcanvas post of the work and loved it. It was such a thrill to read that email, just to know it had been “unearthed” there and she liked it that much! I hadn’t thought about that painting in some time and even had trouble finding where I had stored it. Seeing it again made me want to paint that scene again; it’s one of those I mentioned that were drawn and ready to paint. I liked what I did the first time and suddenly I hesitated to paint it again. I didn’t want to exactly replicate the original painting, but I did still want it similar. So, here at the top is my newer version of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota. Very similar to the old one, mostly a little softer colors; just for comparison sake, below is a photo of the first one I painted.