While this isn’t really a part of my bird journal, this February photo capture seems appropriate to this string of postings. The squirrels are always here, but this particular February photo-op capture was amazing to me. Since there is a February gap in returning birds (once winter really hit again), this little visitor fits right in. He/she was on the deck looking in the door and “hid” so cutely when I approached with my phone; this is the picture I was able to catch – and then paint for my day 1 in the 30 Paintings in 30 Days February Challenge.
Once the weather started improving, outside clean-up seems to have been my narrow focus. It’s not that I haven’t been doing anything artistic; it’s more that I have spent my limited time on small daily projects. For the month of April, I took on the Sea Lemon Eye Doodle Challenge (#sealemon – thank you for this unique challenge). It started with a printable file with the number, the name of animal and a small circle guide. I divided it into two sheets, which prints it a bit larger (1/2″ circles) giving more room to work. Watercolor on regular printer paper is an interesting challenge in itself! In addition to watercolor, I used whatever I needed to achieve my goal – including waterproof ink, white gouache and occasionally a white charcoal pencil. For the references, I simply searched for images since this is strictly a practice exercise, except for images 1, 2, 8 and 13 (my life “models”). If “the eyes are the windows to the soul”, then this practice is invaluable! It was also fun and interesting-and a real challenge in every sense of the word (artistically)! I mean, how often have you looked at the eye of a llama or a chameleon-I mean really looked at?! But, even if just in photos, that’s necessary to attempt to replicate an authentic-looking eye!
(One more thing-if you notice that “one of these things is not like the others” (day 8), it’s because I simply cannot look at a snake-not even in a picture-long enough to try to replicate any part of it!) 😝
Sealemon Eye Doodle April Challenge-collage, my completed eyes
I already said that I’m pleased and proud-and I really am. This is the first time in quite a long time that I’ve managed to do 30 pieces. There’s nothing wrong with doing fewer-it’s all good practice and a wonderful learning experience. But, as I’ve also stated earlier, I was determined this time to do all of them – mostly because I spent so much of last year painting far too little and it’s time I work at being the artist that I can be, that I want to be! If it’s in you, it’s something you need to do; it’s something I NEED to do!!!
Collage, all of my February 2018 30 in 30 challenge paintings!
This one was fun and very, very frustrating! I’ve been loving painting on the rough paper surface, but maybe not so much on this one. The bird went fairly well, but the rocks it’s standing on simply didn’t work very well. In fact, I had to wash off that part the best I could and correct what I was able to. It does look better than it did…but then the scan isn’t great either. But that’s what this challenge is about – practicing, trying new things, finding out what works and what doesn’t, fixing what you can; it’s ALL a great learning experience! I know I’ve mentioned how very valuable this process is!
“I’m Talking Here!”
(Reference photo credit and my appreciation to Dennis Flynn on Photos For Artists, a Facebook group.)
Since I wanted a bit of practice, I drew that lobster magnet, which as I said, was not intended to be a part of my 30 in 30, even though it ended up to be… This is what I ended up with and it takes me back to last month’s 20-30 minute painting challenge, since I finished this in less than 30 minutes. I guess that was good practice after all! This is also another one on the Moulin Du Roy rough watercolor paper, which I quite enjoy using! I love all the things I’m learning and all of my experimentation this month; hopefully it will stick with me and make me a better artist in the long run!
Lobster on rough paper
(Reference photo from which I drew this lobster, Phil Wingate’s pile of lobsters photo on the Facebook group, Photos For Artists.)
The best laid plans…rarely work out! I thought I would have plenty of time to sketch and paint yesterday, but that wasn’t the case. Between housework, shoveling the 7-8″ of new snow that fell and making Valentine’s Day dinner for us, including a lemon cheesecake with lemon curd on top (must sketch that)-and being on the phone with my son for his birthday-there was no time. After dinner, I could hardly keep my eyes open, so rather than working on art late last night, I slept! Two or three days ago, I did a sketchbook sketch of a lobster magnet I have on my fridge. It was not intended to be completed and posted as part of the 30 in 30 challenge; it was just sketch practice. I painted and inked it this morning, making it my late Day 13 painting. You do what you have to do…
I wanted to work in at least one bird during the 30 in 30 challenge, then I thought something more exotic than typical backyard birds. So I searched my go-to legal-to-use reference sites and found an awesome Toucan photo. That’s another one I’ve never attempted before. Hand drawn, guided by the reference photo, watercolor on Moulin Du Roy rough watercolor paper (which is something else new to me and I really enjoyed using it). The title I have given this piece is a riff on the Froot Loops bird…
I strongly recommend not only challenging yourself to something like the 30 in 30, but also to different subject matter, styles and papers. I’ve only ever tried rough paper once before and, for some silly reason, didn’t use it again. Obviously it isn’t for every subject matter, but for this it worked great!
“Just Call Me Sam”
(Thank you to Wendy Sinclair for sharing this wonderful photo!)
This seal popping his head through the water’s surface-what a great photo. I have not tried to paint a seal before and water is always challenging to me, but that’s what this is all about – well challenging with new subject matter and to paint every day! It’s an amazing process and I’m so glad I signed up for this again!
(Photo credit to Jim Brown on Facebook’s Photos For Artists group page.)
My day 8 piece is another mini painting, a ginger cat. I love cats, a self-described “crazy cat lady”! This photo grabbed me because of the incredible eye and the concentration the “model” cat had on whatever she was watching!
(Reference photo credit to Linda Gleason Ritchie on FB group, Photos For Artists)
This one was far more difficult than I thought it would be-and then more difficult still to get a good scan of it. What can I say – dragonflies fascinate me with their oh-so-delicate wings that look like they shouldn’t hold up their bodies. So I attempted to paint a red dragonfly and make those wings look transluscent and delicate; I’m not sure it worked very well!
(Photo credit for Red dragonfly to “yabby” on Wetcanvas)
This was a fun project! I think giraffes are incredibly beautiful creatures and very interesting looking too! So, that’s what I painted for today, fresh off the board just a bit ago.
These challenges are such a worthwhile thing for an artist to do! A few years ago, when I first ran across this 30 in 30 challenge, I signed up, having no clue what I was going to paint each day. Of course I paint flowers and some landscapes, but what else? That conundrum was the reason that I finally tried my hand at painting birds and animals! Much to my surprise, I found that I seem to do pretty well with them overall. What a wonderful learning experience and outcome from the first couple of challenges in which I participated! Now, there’s no question that I’m going to commit to the challenge, although some timing is better than other timing and I don’t always manage to complete 30 pieces-even though my goal is always to do so.
“Hello Down There, Shorty!”
(Photo credit the Ernie Griffith on FB group, Photos for Artists)
My Day 3 sketch is a day late in two ways… I’m posting it on the 4th and it was meant to be my piece for the 2nd, which was Groundhog Day! The sketch was in my book, but I didn’t get to it until last night. So, here’s a silly rendition of a “tribute” to that silly day!
This one somewhat got the better of me. I’ve painted an owl (different type) before and loved the result. This one gave me a rough time, maybe partly because of using the sketchbook rather than watercolor paper. But, as always, I post what I do because it’s part of the challenge and we, as artists, all know that not everything comes out the way we want it to! That’s called learning!
I’m excited to do this challenge again-and determined to complete 30 pieces, between today and Feb. 2! I’ve already read that many choose a theme, which I’ve never done. I’m not really going with any theme this time either, except that I want things to be small, fun, with perhaps some whimsy thrown in! My first sketchbook piece is from a photo I took last month; this squirrel wanted to peak into the house, but he/she didn’t like that I had my phone in hand trying to take pics. The result is this really funny attempt to hide from me! Hand drawn, watercolor with a bit of pen & ink thrown in.