Busy, busy, busy – and inspired!

I’m running terribly behind at this point! I completed my Puffins painting and had started yet another floral, inspired by my still-beautiful garden. That’s as far as I got because suddenly the Spokane Studio Art Tour was almost upon us and there was still much to do to in preparation. Day 1 is over; we had beautiful weather and a very interested, receptive crowd come through. I visited with dozens of awesome art lovers, many of whom are obviously looking for that one little shove to try some form of art for herself/himself. I can completely relate because, many years ago, that was me! I knew I wanted to give watercolor a try, visited a local art show/sale where I talked at length with an incredible teacher/artist. I began taking his class very soon after, have not looked back and I and my life were forever changed for the better! I do hope that I was able to, in some way, inspire even just one aspiring artist, writer, poet, etc. today to just go forward and try whatever their art of choice is! There is no failure when you try something new; you learn and grow simply by doing it!

So, a very busy time, with an almost hour drive each way; basic set-up yesterday, an hour set-up this morning, getting the paintings, cards, etc. displayed, then take it all down to stash it all at our hosts’ home and start again in the morning. Yes, a LOT of work and yes, a really awesome and tiring day. As I write this, I have mini-muffins in the oven-my contribution to the refreshments for tomorrow. (Have I ever mentioned that I also love to cook?) My exhaustion is total and sleep is calling-very soon!

Since I haven’t completed any new paintings – and am now running WAY behind on 30 Paintings in 30 Days – today I will share another of the small double page paintings that I did to participate in the very first World Watercolor Month, July 2016. They are all still to be completed as a hand-crafted book, simply for myself, as soon as time allows… Again, these are NOT intended to be completed paintings, just studies and practice. On this double page, the left painting is from a friend’s photo; just as she was ready to snap the pic of her Bee Balm, a Hummingbird flew up to the one flower-what luck, but difficult to paint well! The right painting is my attempt to emulate a Coneflower painting done by artist Susan Crouch, whose work I absolutely love. I rather like the way mine turned out, similar to hers but I can clearly see my own “style” in it.

20160903_025209_resized-croppedcorrected-as-much-as-possible

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 6

I find that I currently have so many ideas and reference photos that I’m struggling to choose! I’ve been looking over and over at the wonderful “Puffin” photos that have been shared on Photos for Artists on Facebook, thinking that they are such interesting, almost cute-looking birds and that I could paint one. So, I went through the photos and chose one, by photographer Harry Reid, that “spoke” to me. It was fun to draw and more fun to paint. Just figuring out the background is what I almost always struggle with. I have been attempting to somewhat emulate Bev Jozwiak’s style, not without problems! I was fortunate enough to participate in her workshop last fall when she was here. I learned so much, but if you take a workshop and then don’t continue to practice those methods, you lose a lot of what you learned. Having had so little painting time, that’s what happened with me, that and the fact that I wasn’t that good at following her method to begin with, after just three days. So, I’m trying to think back to watching her work and re-learn the style that I loved so much! I can only maybe do that by trying over and over… So, here is my version of the two Puffins photo –

sentry-duty-best-corrected-cropped-ps-72ppi-watermark   Day 6, “Sentry Duty”

Day 6, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 5

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed Tuesday morning and, as always happens, I ran across all kinds of wonderful photos from the group, Photos for Artists. As is very obvious, I love flowers-seeing them, smelling them, growing them and painting them! Sunflowers especially appeal to me, whether tall and regal or short and smaller – in part because they are just such happy-looking flowers, but also they produce seeds that both birds and people just love to eat! They, to me, kind of epitomize summer! So, rolling my mouse past those wonderful photos, I saw two by perhaps my favorite photographer (John Frost) in the group. One was a whole field of sunflowers, the other a closer shot of a few of them. What inspiration! So I grabbed my paper, water, a few brushes, my palette and a few extra colors of yellow paint and, without any drawing, I started painting. I NEVER just paint without first drawing (except occasionally when I’m out plein air painting)! It actually went fairly well and was fun to do – and, maybe because I really love sunflowers-and summer-I really like this happy little painting!

20160906_160329-cropped,straightenedPS-color,exposurecorrectedMS-72PPI-watermark   Day 5 – “Sunny Flowers”

Day 5, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 4

I completed my Day 4 painting and completely painted my Day 5 piece on Tuesday, September 6; obviously running behind, but not badly behind at this point!

This rooster fought me every step of the way and I almost gave up at several points. I finished him and, even though it’s certainly not my best painting, I’m proud of doing so! With every success or failure, I learn so much and that learning process seriously comes from practice, practice and practice! I don’t believe that I have ever heard artist Stan Miller speak without making sure people know that he has spent at least 40 years, painting at least 8 hours a day! That’s dedication of the type that most of us simply cannot give, what with all other demands in our life. But we still can give our art more effort and time, with minor tweaks in our lives.

The photo reference here came from Karen Broemmelsick, another of the incredibly generous photo artists on Facebook’s group, Photos for Artists.

20160906_160250-cropped,straightenedPS-color,exposureMS72PPI-watermark   Day 4 – “Puffed Up”

Day 4, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge

I gave another “scary” subject a try, which went fairly well; I also made my attempt at doing a Bev Jozwiak-style background. Obviously, I haven’t practiced this a lot since her amazing workshop last fall. Regardless, it was fun to try. The rest of the story is that when I was about 3/4 done with this Mandarin Duck, the light in my studio went out! Because my studio is completely underground, that’s a big deal! Thank you to my husband who took care of that yesterday! Even though it wasn’t just the bulbs, as it turned out, it wasn’t a huge problem. At least the fixture didn’t have to be replaced, just worked on… I’m back “in the light” now!

The photo inspiration here was taken by photo artist, John Frost, shared on a Facebook site where artists are free to use the references. This colorful, amazing creature equally inspired and frightened me; I really didn’t know if I could manage to do it justice. I do love using this month-long challenge to not only paint every day, but also to dare myself to try new subjects and different styles! Besides the Mandarin Duck photo, I was also inspired by a workshop I took last year, presented by Bev Jozwiak. The workshop was amazing, as is Bev; her style was contrary to many things I had learned over the years never to do-and more fun than I think I have ever had painting! I can’t say that I remember everything I learned, nor can I say that I have practiced those skills enough. What I can say is that I am still very inspired by her incredible work! So here is my meager attempt to paint a beautiful bird and use something from her workshop!

Just Ducky 2-corrected, cropped PS-300PPI-best-watermark-smaller to post  Day 3 – “Just Ducky”

Day 3, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

30 Paintings in 30 Days-Day 2

Yes, as usual, I am running behind on my days! I actually finished this one shortly after I posted the World Watercolor Month post; am just now getting this online.

This has been a wonderful year for tomatoes where I live. Those gorgeous red orbs were irresistible to me-and are surprisingly difficult to paint! So here is my attempt to create in 2D some of this year’s bounty”’

Home Grown-straightenedPS-300PPI-cropped,colorcorrectedMS-smaller to post-watermark   Day 2, “Home Grown”

Day 2, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

World Watercolor Month July 2016-first ever!

I mentioned my participation in the first ever World Watercolor Month, July 2016 – and that I had finally finished everything on August 31. I photographed those quickly, as two pages at once, because these will become a hand-made book. I must explain that because I have had so little painting time for quite a while now, I used these small works as practice and experimentation. It really helps to get the feel of the brush in hand again, as well as the various brands of paper, the multiple paint brands and colors, etc.! So, here are two of the thirty pages, most of which were painted using other artists examples.

On the left is one of the first paintings I did for this challenge in early July. It is a white Peony and, for the moment, I cannot remember if I took the photo or used one I found in one of the various Facebook groups to which I belong. The groups I refer to are where photographic artists post photos and member artists are free to use any photo essentially for any purpose, but you must give the photographer credit. Once I dig deeper and find the reference photo, I will do so here! The peony was a study to practice painting a white flower. The painting on the right is my attempt to follow a demo by Joanne Boon Thomas, obviously a man in the rain. It is so very different from anything I usually paint and was a fun challenge. Hopefully now, when I need to portray someone in the rain, this will help me to do so!

Under Umbrella from Joanne Boon Thomas demo; White Peony from-can't remember where I got it

 

 

 

 

Best Subject Ever!

We have a sweet, rescued dog that I named Izzy, who has been with us for over 9 years now. She probably rescued us far more than we rescued her! She is a mixed breed “mutt” that is the light of my life, so sweet-natured that I truly believe that she is the gentlest soul I have ever known. She also has a perennial “bad hair day” thing going, which makes even sketching her a challenge. I have only done that twice, with decent results, and I knew that I had to attempt to paint a portrait someday. That day came in late January and, even though this painting isn’t perfect, I’m so glad I tried and that I now have this painting of my sweetie! The reference was mostly a photo that I took on Christmas Day, 2015; after we opened gifts, I stuck the red bow on her and grabbed my camera. But, in doing the painting, I spent a lot of time studying her, especially her eyes, to get as close as possible. I must add that painting her portrait was a huge challenge!

Izzy-photo-cropped, straightened, corrected PS-96PPI   Day 29 – Izzy

Still Life – Me?

I never paint still life! It’s not that I don’t like it at all, because I have seen some incredible paintings, ones I absolutely loved. In fact, one of my friends does some of the most beautiful still life paintings I have seen. But for me to paint it…B-O-R-I-N-G! And yet, I did this one and enjoyed it immensely. The photo reference I used for this was posted by Ana Rodriguez Carrington on Photos for Artists, a Facebook group. Her photo actually inspired me to give it a try and I’m very pleased with the result. I might just try it again one of these days!

Still Life Limes-Cropped, straightened, corrected PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 28 – Still Life Limes

My son’s birthday

This painting, the third done on Friday, was inspired by my son, Craig, whose birthday is today! One of his passions is bicycle riding, to and from work (weather allowing), for exercise and to challenge himself by training and riding “Century” (100 miles) rides a few times each year. To honor his special day, I created my interpretation of the sport-it even has him in a shirt that I have seen him wear for riding. After losing all my photos when the old computer died (so no longer having any photos of him riding), for reference I used a wonderful photo generously shared by Carol Kibble on Photos for Artists. A loosely done piece for sure, but it shows all it needs to show!

Bicycle Race-scan-cropped PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 27 – Bicycle Race

Getting closer…but running out of month!

This was a complete experiment and learning experience! It is watercolor, but on canvas (first treated with watercolor ground); it handles so very differently than my usual Arches cold press 140# paper. I have had two canvases ready for weeks now and decided it was time to finally get brave and give it a try. I happened upon a video by Karlyn Holman about preparing canvas for watercolor, which definitely gave me more confidence with it. So, I drew directly on the canvas and painted away. I very much like the result, but I was unable to get a usable photo to post. I ended up scanning it since the canvas is fairly shallow and not very large. That came out better, but the actual work is far better than the image of it shows. The problem, with both the camera and the scanner, is all of the texture… But yes, I will paint on canvas again!

On the Vine-cropped PS-96PPI-more corrections MS-darker-watermark

Tulips that didn’t like me…

I painted this one right after I painted the Fuchsia, but with less success. It actually was quite good at one point, but I did what I know I should never do-I kept picking at it until it was far less successful! But, as I’ve said many times-it’s always a lesson learned, whether good or bad-and the practice is essential!

Sunny Tulips-cropped, corrected PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 23 – Sunny Tulips

Closer to catching up…

I made an executive decision that four sketches I did for another challenge count as artwork done this month…so I posted those also! That helped me get closer to catching up with myself. I am pleased that I drew and completed two pieces on Wednesday, both florals. I guess when all else fails, fall back on what you know best – although I am still experimenting with styles and methods! I also used a brand of paper that I’m much less familiar with and it definitely handled differently than my usual Arches. I do have four more pieces in progress in my studio, in various states of completion. With only 4 more days in the month, I’m still in trouble!

So, here is the first one I completed on Wednesday, Fuchsia I grew and photographed last summer.

Hangin' with My Buds-cropped, straightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 22 – Hangin’ With My Buds

Back to Animal Painting

When I first did Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, I found that I thoroughly enjoy drawing and painting animals of all types. That was something I had pretty much avoided to that point, but when you’re painting every day, you sometimes run out of inspiration/ideas. It’s the perfect time to try out something different, which I did then, and I continue to challenge myself fairly regularly with different subjects, styles and even media. I love learning and expanding my knowledge, especially when it comes to my art!

I saw this shared photo in a Facebook group called “Photos for Artists”, where amateur and professional photographers can share their work, copyright free for artists to use. There are a couple of site rules that must be followed, most important is that you give the photographer credit for the reference you use. I want to thank Mitchell Brown for his photo, which I referenced for this painting. I thoroughly enjoyed trying out this colorful style and the moose, which I have never drawn or painted before.

 

Moose of Many Colors-cropped, straightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 16 – Moose of Many Colors

Still Plugging Along on Challenge…

I actually completed this painting during the day on Saturday. It is most difficult to get into my studio when my husband is home, but I worked on it while we were going through some stored boxes in that area. I just went back and forth between the junk and my art space and actually managed to finish this. I absolutely love the photos of Hobbiton in New Zealand and I just learned that they no longer allow photography there, so they are especially precious! It was such fun drawing this, figuring out how I wanted to handle it, working on and then finally completing it! It’s just such an interesting place to me!

Hobbits Only-cropped, straightened PS-sized to 96 PPI-watermark   Day 14 – Hobbits Only Please!

Day 13 Painting Completed

Look at me, doing something involving rocks two days in a row… I decided to revisit a painting that I did recently and then sold, using a somewhat different approach. I liked the one I titled “Sunset”, colors and all; this time I tried for a brighter, sunrise look with the same basic subject. Subtle differences, but really obvious at the same time. It was really a spur of the moment decision to do this painting again and I cannot decide which of the two I prefer. I’m still running so badly behind on the challenge, having posted my Day 13 painting in the Day 21 list!

Sunrise on Basalt Cliff-best-96PPI-watermark   Day 13 – Sunrise on Basalt Cliff

Another Experimental Challenge Painting

This one was an interesting challenge. I had heard about and seen the “stone” paper, which I guess is meant more for acrylics and even alcohol inks. But I did see a demo using it with watercolor, so I simply had to try it. It reminded me somewhat of Yupo, but I think it’s a little more “controllable.” I didn’t feel the colors were as true as they are on watercolor paper, but that may have been primarily caused by their tendency to blend a LOT on the “paper.” It was also very difficult to get darks as dark as I wanted them. Regardless, it was fun to try and I will be experimenting more with it.

Nebula II-96PPI-with watermark   Day 9 – Nebula II

Catching up on my challenge postings…

My Day 7 painting was more of accidental painting than intentional, but it’s fun and colorful and an abstract that I happen to like! I know it’s an artistic style I should play around with more often, but it’s not my favorite thing and I find it somewhat difficult to do, as opposed to actually painting something tangible. But here is one, kind of a leafy thing, shown in a mat that my friend/mentor Jim gave me to use with it since it works so well…

Abstract with mat-1-11-16-96PPI   Day 7 – Abstract

More Christmas cards – Wetcanvas exchange

Before I head into my studio to work on paintings for the 30 in 30 challenge, I thought I would share a couple more of the cards… These two are similar – same cat, but somewhat different scenes. No titles for these, just fun cards to paint and share.

img048-smaller to post                                                img047-smaller to post

Another class-based painting

Basalt Cliff-scanned then cropped MS     Basalt Rock Cliff

This was just plain fun to do-as well as very frustrating! Rocks are a subject I often struggle with, as I did last week when I did this painting. Again, rather than follow Jim’s style, I used bolder and/or darker colors in the style to which I aspire (from the workshop), along with scraping for the rocks. I like the results I got, but my instructor didn’t. Regardless of anyone’s opinion, it’s all practice and that’s a good thing! I think I’ll frame it and hang it in my studio!