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.)
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.
I not only finished the challenge, but I completed this painting about 11:30 PM on the 5th day! Yes, I kept it simple – and fun! This one took 22 minutes or less and I would like to say that I learned a lot from this “speed” challenge, but I’m not sure about that aspect. What I know this challenge reinforced to me is what I’ve known for years and years-sketching, painting, just doing something artistic every day really makes a difference!
These next three are all so very different. Again, using the subject prompts from my Sketching Every Day FB group, the subject matter jumps from one thing to something completely different daily. It really keeps things challenging and interesting.
First, I have my day 7, with a prompt of “appliance.” I was a bit at a loss as to what to sketch, so I walked into the kitchen and stood there, struggling with a sketch of my single-serve coffee maker.
Day 8 prompt was “still life”. While I have a true appreciation for well painted still lifes, I may have mentioned before that I absolutely hate painting them. I had just made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese frosting (YUM), so I went “off prompt” and drew a woman enjoying a chocolate cupcake. This was a very quick sketch, but I enjoyed it and think it worked okay (for a quick piece). I especially like the black and white look with small pieces of color. I’m not sure this shows correctly, but in fact, this is all black & white, with only her lips and the cupcake having added color.
Day 9 subject was “in the style of Sally Bartos.” I was unaware of this artist (and most others that end up in these monthly sketch lists); it’s wonderful to look up and become familiar with artists that I’ve never heard of. In this one, I cannot take any credit for the composition; this is my attempt at replicating in watercolor a painting that she did in acrylic, one that I particularly liked.
Here are the rest of my 2017 Christmas cards. They were such fun to draw and complete, especially the whimsical ones! I also loved working with mixed media on these as opposed to strictly using only watercolor. Each of the recipients seemed to really enjoy her card and I know I certainly appreciate the incredible cards I received – from all over the U.S. and even the world!
: “Santa Dog” This is modeled after my “bad hair day” little rescued dog, Izzy (definitely her sweet face), although she is somewhat smaller than the dog in this appears-and she will not keep a hat on her head for even a second. I love her so much that she simply had to be the “model” for this, my favorite card this year!
: “Lavendar Angel” Another folk-art type angel, inspired by the mixed media Meetup that I attended last year for a few months. Just sweet and fun!
: “Nutcracker Ballerina” This piece didn’t turn out as I wanted, mostly her face. I posted it on my Facebook monthly sketch group, never intending to use the card. I got such encouragement from my fellow artists on there that I did send this card too. I wish I had done a better job on her face, but as with all sketching-type work, practice helps one to improve!
: “Pastel Bells” was inspired by a piece a friend did in our watercolor class. He used traditional Christmasy colors and the pieces look nothing alike, but when I was lacking in inspiration, his idea got me going to draw something similar and put my own spin on it!
: “Christmas Cat Ornament” Being a “crazy cat lady”, the inspiration for this came out of my mind-I simply had to include at least one cat card! This was just pure (or purr) fun to do and I love the whimsical look of it!
: “Merry Christmas Bells” This piece was inspired by the “ornament” prompt on my FB daily sketch group. I wanted to try bells and once I got them done, I just couldn’t resist turning this into a card by adding the hand lettering! I think that simply came from making so many cards this year – apparently I just couldn’t stop!
Actually, I think this was my first card painting… I was in a Thursday afternoon class and had repeatedly done the same color lesson, so decided to go “on my own” and begin my card paintings. I drew this directly on my watercolor paper, inked it and painted it, with the light cord the only thing left to do. I did at home, using a Sharpie oil paint marker. I like doing pretty Christmas cards, but I love doing silly, whimsical ones; needless to say, that’s the style of the majority of the 14 I have completed.
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 –
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.
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!
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!
January is about to give way to February, but I am making great progress. I had one painting started when Friday began and ended up finishing that and drawing/painting two more before the day was over! That may be a record for me… So now, instead of up to 10 days behind (as I have been at least once along the way), I have one painting partially completed, which only leaves two more works to do. Barring anything major, I know I can do it – although it may actually be the 31st by the time I finish. Then will come the collage of all the month’s work. While it can be a lot of work to put together in a pleasing way, I do love seeing it all in one place!
All that being said, here is the first of my three completed Friday paintings. The photo credit goes to Jim Brown, who shared it in the Facebook group, Photos for Artists. I love sunsets, but painting them can be quite a challenge-one that I make myself try!
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.