Woohoo! I completed two paintings Tuesday night and have posted both on the 30 in 30 challenge. But it’s now the 15th and I’m technically 4 days behind… Or I can simply say that I’m darn proud that I have completed 11 paintings in 13 days-glass half full, you know! And the rest of the good news is that I have seven drawn on and ready to paint!
Last night was our monthly Spokane Watercolor Society meeting. I did manage one hour in my studio during the day. I was pretty tired when I got home, but I did put in painting time, working on three separate paintings-nothing finished yet though.
As for these two paintings, I’m very happy with my Rose Bouquet above; it just has a soft, dreamy quality to it and it’s pretty much always obvious how much I love flowers. Below is my Day 10 painting, “Sunset Orca,” which is another photo from the Artists Reference Photo page on Facebook. Thank you to the photographer, Alicia Nicole Wopereis!
Two birds, one stone… Not that I advocate stoning our bird friends! It all started Monday morning, while I was emailing members of Spokane Watercolor Society and then answering the numerous emailed questions I received. I suddenly realized that I had overlooked an important detail or two regarding our upcoming 2015 SWS Member Show. First, I had forgotten that because of the location where it will hang, there is a theme to this show – nature. That means that the painting I had planned to enter, a cityscape, doesn’t fit the theme. No problem-I have all these paintings I’ve already done this month which include some florals and two animals, so I can just frame and enter one of those. Oops, that won’t work either because the minimum image size is 8″x10″ and all of these are only 7 1/2″ wide or less. Oh my… So, emergency painting time! I did get it drawn and ready to paint, so that’s progress. Now, referring back to “Two birds, one stone,” I can also use it as one of my 30 in 30 paintings! Now I just have to paint it!
In the meantime, I’ll share one of the pictures I completed in early November. This was the October monthly watercolor challenge subject on Wetcanvas (yes, I was a few days late finishing and posting it). The subject is a photograph of a Florentine School statue in the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight near Liverpool. It was another real challenge to me, as I’ve never drawn and/or painted a statue before this one. I also have little to no experience painting people. I enjoyed it so much and am pretty happy with the outcome.
Challenge pretty much says it all for my painting last night! I tried something different and, while it’s not so bad that I won’t post it, it also didn’t work out very well. I do like parts of it… And it’s always a learning experience to try a different technique, subject, media or whatever else is new to an artist. I must have learned something from tying this!
What a fun project this was! I have never tried to paint a cow before so this was yet another learning experience. This reference just grabbed me! I must thank and give credit to the photographer, Raido Holm, for his imaginative camera work. I found the image on a Facebook page called “Artist Reference Photos,” where all are copyright free; you just must agree to credit the photographer.
So, I have now managed to paint and post eight, tying my previous “record.” I have begun two others and, now that I found that FB page, I have all kinds of fun new reference photos to inspire me. In addition, in looking through a number of my own pictures on the computer, I keep seeing ones I have meant to paint (sometimes for years)! So, no excuses-I just have to make the time! I love the challenge and am definitely feeling a sense of accomplishment! Practicing my art is such a happy pursuit!
“Deserted” Day 2 painting “Calla Lily” Day 3 painting
I have mentioned several times that I need to catch up with the month-well, I guess I should also catch up with the paintings I have not shared here. Day two was fun, as I love anything “beachy.” I enjoyed day three too; of course I did – it’s a flower! And last for this grouping, day 5 is from a beautiful rose bud reference – I love the rose, but the background could have come out better. But sometimes when a painting is finished, it’s all too easy to see what someone else wouldn’t notice. I love coming back to something a while later and looking at it with fresh perspective. I usually find that I like it better than I originally thought I did.
It was obvious to me that I already have a bad case of “spring fever.” Winter – here – has been fairly mild and easy so far, but it’s also dark, dreary and everything is brown or gray. I have need of sunshine, green things and lots of beautiful flowers! Painting number seven – surprise – is a floral again. I love flowers-looking at them, growing them, smelling them. They make the world a much more beautiful place. I think that Bird of Paradise is a very fascinating flower, almost alien looking compared to other more typical flowers. Not that it has anything to do with spring-or even summer-where I live, but it’s a bright beautiful flower!
I am pleased that I’ve already managed almost as many paintings as I did in September. However, now I’m looking a little for more inspiration. Today all those ideas that were in my head a few days ago seem to be missing. I really should have written them down. A few years ago I started carrying a tiny notebook in my purse and made notes whenever something struck me as a great painting idea. I still do that, but often at home I think I can rely on memory… But I do now have five more drawn and ready to paint (only 1 floral for now) and I just finished, photographed and posted (on the 30 in 30 Challenge page) this painting. Still nowhere close to catching up with the month though!
Making progress… I have completed my sixth painting and have number seven in progress. I feel good about this, as I only managed to finish eight pieces when I attempted the September challenge. I should be able to top that this weekend and it’s still the first third of the month! Mostly though I’m just enjoying the time in my studio and actually practicing my art more than I usually manage.
Yes, I also see problems with “Old Blue.” I really struggled with the front tire. Even in my reference photo it looked smaller because of the angle, but in the painting it appears even more off. I measured and redrew numerous times and never did get something I was really happy with. That aside though, I like what I have done here-and it’s a reminder to always make sure the drawing works first!
Day 8 has long since dawned and I still only have five paintings done for the 30-in-30 challenge. They’re all quite small – 1/8 watercolor sheet for the most part (7 1/2″x 11″). Still they take time and I simply don’t normally work very quickly; small seems to be the only way for me to accomplish this. I now have four pieces ready to go, one with a quick underpainting done.
Above is my first post of the challenge. I had actually started the process in December and finally finished this painting right after the beginning of the year. I love Christmas and I had such fun with this one!
Have you ever noticed that when you’re under pressure to get artwork done, inspiration sometimes flies out the window? That is somewhat where I’ve been since January 3, when I again signed up for a 30-in-30 challenge-sponsored by the same artist as last September. I started 3 days behind!!! I have yet to catch up, but I have completed five paintings so far, have three more drawn on the Arches 140# CP paper and have a wealth of ideas floating around in my head. After I squelched the panic, I just started looking around and found all kinds of inspiration. Here is my day 4 painting. It is a Eurasian Eagle Owl, which was the week 11-29-14 subject in a Facebook group, “Paint Colorful Birds for Fun.” I rarely participate in the weekly choices; I’m quite proud of this since I have almost no experience drawing or painting animals of any kind. So, between trying to do at least some less familiar subjects and trying to fit at least one painting in each day (assuming I ever get caught up with myself), challenge is the perfect word for this! Not everything I paint will be up to what I expect from myself, but to me it’s all about practice, practice, practice! You cannot improve as an artist without devoting time to your art!
Rarely at a loss for inspiration, I have no good excuse for not keeping up with my blog. I just simply get busy with daily life and often times don’t get to the fun things, even if they are more important to me. So, that being said, after way too long an absence, I’m back! I have no lack of inspiration, but sometimes a big lack of time.
Going back to 2013, I started a new sketchbook the first day I joined the Spokane Sketchers meetup that year in early June. As I’ve mentioned before regarding the group-while I cannot always make it to the meet-ups, I thoroughly enjoy being a member and networking with the other local artists. I can simply say that joining the group has been the impetus I needed to make sure my hand was busy with some form of art pretty much every day. So as for my sketchbooks, my goal became to fill three of them in that first year with the group (at 60 pages each). I did manage that, just barely, and I do love seeing the progress I made in that first year with my drawing. It certainly points out how much better we can become at something with practice-gee, they apparently were right when I was in high school band!
Unless I’m painting, I continue to sketch/draw almost every day; when I am painting, I first hand draw everything. There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get to both and take care of my other responsibilities. In September 2014, I tried an online “30 paintings in 30 days” challenge. I did not think that through very well, because it quickly became obvious that it was beyond the time I could manage right then. With Spokane Watercolor Society coming off our summer break and, as the group’s president, I was almost overwhelmed with all I needed to accomplish. As the month went on, I had to set my goal lower and lower, but I did manage to finish 8 small paintings in the month. Not close to the expected 30, but definitely a high for me in a month. So, I think I’ll start by posting one of those here and, as time allows I’ll post the rest of those and maybe also back up to show some of the sketches and drawings that have filled my sketchbooks in the past year.
September 2014 painting #1 – Sunlit Orange Hibiscus
Monday morning I dropped in for a visit to my art mentor’s watercolor class. Jim is a wonderful artist and teacher and he never fails to inspire me-and, at the age of 92, he still teaches at least one class a week. There were 6 students in his class this week, all of whom were having a great time learning from him. I so enjoyed meeting the four people that I didn’t know, visiting with the two I do know and looking through Jim’s more recent class demos. It shames me to not be painting regularly, but it also motivates me, so perhaps that was exactly what I needed to stop being lazy and making excuses and to get me back into my studio and producing something!
Have I mentioned that I am very proud to now be the president-elect of Spokane Watercolor Society? I love being a part of that group and I look forward (with some trepidation) to being the “leader” for the coming year.
I have gone to my second Spokane Sketch Club “meetup,” met several more members and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I joined to network with other local artists beyond SWS, not knowing how or if the group would fit well into my life – so far, I’m very pleased that I did so. We met in the Garland District Thursday of last week, where there was a local street music fundraiser going on to benefit our local Second Harvest Food Bank. Great cause, nice entertainment and wonderful subjects for sketching all over the place. Here is a bad photo of my quick sketch of the “Milk Bottle Restaurant” from that day.
Tomorrow is a meetup at Manito Park’s Nishinomiya Japanese Gardens. It is perhaps the most unique and beautiful park garden in Spokane, although to me the rose garden, lilac garden and the perennial garden in Manito Park are all equally wonderful, all in different ways and at different times of the year! Because I haven’t been to the Japanese Garden in years and I don’t know just where my pictures taken there are filed on the computer, I’m borrowing one from a Google search just to show how wonderful this garden is.
Also, because I haven’t painted anything this week, I’m also including a photo of a view from my bedroom window that I took 3 days ago. It is of just a small part of the amazing perennial/rose garden I have in my yard. I will add that the reason I haven’t painted anything this week is that I’ve been busy working in my yard – it takes a lot of work to keep up with the weeding and plant care – and “playing” with friends! Not very disciplined, huh?!
Japanese Garden, city-data.com post by 6-18-13 in my back yard
Wednesday was such a fun and wonderful day. I had lunch with two great friends; one of them is here visiting her daughter and I haven’t seen her in about a year-great fun! Then later, Spokane Watercolor Society’s June meeting consisted of a visit to Kay O’Rourke’s studio and then a pizza party at a local Italian restaurant, Ferrantes. Great information, great fellowship and great pizza! What more could a day hold? When I got home, I checked my email and found a message from Wetcanvas about a comment on one of my posts – from 2008! How that painting post was “unearthed” this long later, I will never know, but the comment bumped it back up and I have gotten numerous nice comments since. It is great to have people seeing that particular painting again and especially nice having them like and appreciate it. I took the photos on a trip to the Washington coast, primarily for my daughter’s wedding. We then made our way to Mt. Saint Helens and eventually down the Oregon coast for a bit. But the sunset view of Mt. Rainier that one evening was spectacular and something I will always remember. Previously, I had only seen glimpses of the mountain driving down the freeway through Seattle. No matter what the view or when you see it, it is simply an incredible sight. So, today I am sharing that painting, “Mt. Rainier Sunset,” here and a link to the Wetcanvas post – just because…
Isn’t the internet great? Just to name a few things, you can find information on almost anything you search for, watch video tutorials of all kinds, find old friends or others with like interests, easily keep in touch with almost anyone and join online art groups of all kinds! When I start a search, I’m looking for one specific thing, but often I see something that leads me somewhere else. I did that early last week. I read an article regarding the “Clandestine Cake Club” which began in the UK and has spread to many other countries. As I understand it, it started as a type of “underground” group of people who love to bake (and eat) cakes; they meet monthly in a pub or somewhere else, each bringing a homemade cake. It intrigued me – I LOVE cake and baking! Hmmm-I wondered if there are any such groups in Washington state, and maybe even near me… So, I “Googled” it and, while I didn’t find any such group locally (darn!), what I did find was almost as interesting. It was a listing for “Meetup” which is basically all types of groups formed for all types of interests-and something I was totally unaware of. I found there seems to be quite a Meetup movement here and I just had to look into it further. There were quite a lot of rather oddball-seeming groups, but also a few groups that caught my attention, including a photography group (not just for professionals) and one called “Stitch ‘n Bitch” for hand-crafters. But, not wanting to join more groups than I have time for, I chose the one that seemed perfect for me – the one art related, Spokane Sketch Club – and joined. At this point, I must mention that, in my opinion, one of the greatest things about the Spokane area is our abundance of beautiful public parks. The first meeting was Saturday at the one that I feel is the best of them all-Manito Park. I went and met up with two other members in the Duncan Gardens (a very formal garden in the park) – Don (the founder of the group) and his friend Kenny. It was a small turnout, or maybe others were there and didn’t find us, but a beautiful day in a beautiful setting. We visited and sketched from the back of that garden. Of course I didn’t create a great work of art-or even one I like very much. But the whole point is meeting more local fellow artists, learning and sharing with other members and simply drawing more. In my case, practice may not make perfect, but it most certainly does make improvement, which is what I am always after-improving my eye for perspective and composition, my drawing ability, my techniques, my art in general! I am a watercolor artist, but in order to paint in watercolor, I must be able to compose and draw the picture first. Only time will tell, but I am intrigued by this group I joined and look forward to more “meetups” and to meeting more members. Maybe the best thing about it is that it will force me to get out in my own community and appreciate all of the artistic opportunities right here in my “own backyard!” So, whether or not you join a group, get out there with your sketching materials, paints or your camera and enjoy what your city has to offer!
I’m still struggling with getting back to painting, as I mentioned in my last post. Inspiration is not the problem at all. I have so many art projects running around in my head that I want to do-and I’m confident the day will come soon when I will be back at it and turning some of those ideas into paintings. Since painting is still not working at the moment for me and I NEED to do some kind of art project, I decided to do some sketching. Working at any type of art is practice and, after a couple of months of being stalled, is necessary for me. Today I did a quick sketch from a reference that caught my interest; I found the photo in the Wetcanvas image library. It’s in a tiny (5″ x 7″) sketchbook. I then did pen & ink on it for some depth and definition. It’s not great art, but good practice and it was fun to do. I may even add a quick watercolor wash in places tomorrow.
I’ve been away from my blog for almost three weeks now. I have missed it, but sometimes life just gets in the way, in good ways and bad. I’m throwing this out because it’s a subject that can affect any/all of us as artists. Without going into details, I have recently had a major loss in my life. My art is my calm, my solace, my escape-it’s good for my soul. But, as much as I have tried to paint lately, I have been unsuccessful in turning out anything I felt was acceptable. It’s been very frustrating and is adding to my struggle with acceptance and healing. Apparently the pain of loss is getting in the way of the very thing that usually helps me to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life and perhaps only time will help. I’m not giving up – I am an artist! So please don’t give up on me.
On a lighter, happier note, I have also been very busy with the Spokane Watercolor Society elections (I’m now the president-elect) and our only fundraiser for the year. And the happiest event-a short visit from my daughter and 3-year-old grandson who live on the other side of the country. I miss them all the time and I cherish any time I am able to spend with them!
Three generations My table of work at SWS fundraiser
Busy days go by and sometimes I don’t even get into my studio. That bothers me because I know that the surest way to be a better artist is to work at it every day. As anyone who has taken a class or workshop from Stan Miller knows, he always tells you how many hours he works at his art each day and and makes it clear that it’s the only way to improve. Here’s a quote copied from an interview with him (published in: http://www.watercolourfanatic.blogspot.co.uk/) “If one wants to be really good at something one has to desire to be good more than nearly everyone else, but this means you have to work harder than nearly everyone else!” I really try to practice that myself – although usually not the 8 hour days Stan puts in – but life just seems too often to get in the way. I know I’m not alone in that. But I do have a real desire to practice, learn and improve and there simply are no shortcuts.
While I was dismayed to realize just how long it has been since I added a new post, I have had numerous ideas for paintings and have filled many pages in my favorite sketchbook with preliminary drawings of those ideas. One is in process – another floral – and another is drawn on my watercolor paper waiting for me to get past the “scared” I feel at trying yet another something new. But I needed to just finish something now, even a quick painting. And again I found inspiration online. This time it was a Facebook group page called “Paint Colorful Birds for Fun” that I just ran across a few days ago. Each week a new bird photo is posted and you can paint and post it – just for fun. Last week’s photo was of a “Lilac Breasted Roller”, a beautifully colorful bird that I had never heard of. I have been afraid to even try to paint birds in the past and now here’s my second one in less than a month. Not that they’re masterpieces, but it’s practice and I’m challenging myself to try something different! To do something quick, I resorted to my trading card size again, but this time I tried out my Derwent Inktense pencils on the bird, touched it up a little with gouache and painted the background with watercolor. And it was fun.
With spring finally here and birds everywhere, another Wetcanvas challenge grabbed my attention earlier this month. This time it’s the called the “Fur, Feathers and Scales Challenge”. The reference for this painting came from the March challenge (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1309497) and I did not paint it in time to post it there, as this one closes at the end of each month. Since I’m not very familiar with painting birds of any kind and I think Bluebirds (this one is an Eastern Bluebird) are really gorgeous, I wanted to paint it for the experience. This painting is 1/8 watercolor sheet-about 7”x 10”; it’s a very simple rendition of the reference, not well composed but practice nevertheless. Even though I don’t totally love the painting, I’m posting it because I want to encourage everyone to try new things in their art-subject matter, methods, media, whatever; it all expands our knowledge and stretches us as artists! Get out the paints and brushes and just do it!
I just had to do it again-paint another picture in the tiny format (3″x 4″) – and it’s another floral. And again I had a fun time with it. I finally have a better feel for drawing and painting that small; to me if feels very different from even a watercolor quarter-sheet, which isn’t a very large painting. The inspiration for this iris painting came from an iris picture I took in my yard two or three years ago. I have used it for a number of sketches, tried it with watercolor pencils and now I have painted a tiny watercolor version of it. Pretty much the only thing somewhat true to the photo is the flower shapes, but it has been great inspiration. I’m sure it is very obvious what joy and beauty I find in flowers and in painting them!
Last October I was privileged to have my very first one-woman show at Robert’s Mansion, a local Bed & Breakfast in a very historic part of our city. I actually had admired that beautiful old mansion for years and had taken several photos in 2011. After my show, I wanted to do some sort of artwork with those pictures, but watercolor didn’t fit exactly what I had in mind. Having very little experience with pen and ink and being ready for a challenge, I drew the mansion and then did my first fully pen and ink painting. Perfect? No! But I’m very proud of this artwork and am proud to share it here. I enjoyed using the media and techniques so much and, even though it’s a very time consuming media, I look forward to delving into pen & ink again soon! I think the results can be stunning.