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 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

 

 

 

 

30 PAINTINGS IN 30 DAYS AGAIN-I’M EXCITED!

Well, I see by looking at my own blog that it was the end of February when I last posted-oh my! What can I say except that life gets in the way…

I have been painting a LOT lately, much of it being practice after having painted far too little for the past 3 1/2 years! During that time, I was president of Spokane Watercolor Society, which I loved doing-and for the past year, I was both president and vice-president, which was a little much! August 31 was my official last day as an officer in the group. I will still participate – a lot; but for now, I’m concentrating on painting, sketching, drawing and painting more and what a joy it is!

I participated, on Facebook, in the first official World Watercolor Month (July 2016). The only problem is that it took me two months to complete 30 paintings, completed on Aug. 31! I will photograph my work and share here when I can. I cut my watercolor paper into 15″ x 7.5″ pieces, folded each in half and then used a 7 1/2″ square for each painting, with the idea that I would assemble the pages into a book when the paintings were completed. I still plan to do so – soon! Some of the work turned out very well, some…well, not so much! That’s okay though, because I learned something from each piece I did!

So now, here it is September and this challenge has begun. I love challenging myself to do this and, obviously, signed up for it again. The biggest problem I have is time, because I am preparing for an art show, Spokane Studio Art Tour, which takes place on Sept. 10-11. Although I go to this event almost every year (this is year 13), this is my first time participating in this wonderful, local show. I hope we have lots of visitors, great weather and that many people like my work!

My first painting was begun before September, but completed after midnight on the 1st. It’s the most awesome story, one that really touched my heart. Briefly, a friend and I were plein air painting at a beautiful, popular local park. We talked to many people that evening, but the most fun and memorable was a young couple who were quite interested in our work. Since I had forgotten my art tour flyers, I told them about it and, for more info that they could contact me on our group’s FB page. He did, asking if I could paint Hydrangea (his girlfriend’s favorite flower), with the idea of getting a print for her upcoming birthday. As much as I love flowers, I have always steered clear of even trying that one. I can grow them, but I just didn’t think I could paint them. But with their off again, on again story and his desire to give her something really special, I decided to try. So, I pulled up several photos from my own garden, did a little research, played with an attempt starting with no drawing, then started drawing! It took me almost a week – and a lot of nerves over whether I could really do this – but I finished the painting posted below. And yes, I did get the matted print to him for her birthday and he seemed very pleased with it; I hope she will be too! Personally, I’m excited to conquer yet another subject that scared the heck out of me!

 

Hydrangea completed, 300PPI, ready to print-small to post-watermark added   “Am I Blue?”

Day 1, 30 Paintings in 30 Days, September 2016 challenge, original watercolor by Elaine Syth, © Fine Art by Elaine

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

Just love those flowers!

This is painting number two, completed on Friday. It was the work in progress when the day began, set aside because of problems I needed to leave alone for a while. As I’ve said many times, I love flowers; seeing them, growing them, smelling them – they just make the world sunnier and more beautiful! Of course, one of the first signs of spring are the Crocus and by the time they show up, it’s such a joy after the long, gray, snowy, cold winters we have. So, anticipating those early, happy flowers, I drew and painted some from a photo I took last spring.

Waiting for Spring-cropped, straightened, corrected PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 26 – Waiting for Spring

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

Another day closer to February!

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!

Day's End-cropped, straightened, corrected PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 25 – Day’s End

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

Oops…

I just noticed that I missed posting one of my “days” paintings. I’m not sure how that happened, but here it is. This was a class project on the 18th; mine looks quite different from the example set forth. In spite of the fact that it’s not my usual style or favorite type of subject, it’s good to try something different and I ended up enjoying it. Plus I always put my own spin on it anyway…

Old Mill Pond-cropped, straightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 21 – Old Mill Pond

 

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

More Progress – Another Landscape

This painting is another inspired by one that Jim’s class did on a day when I was unable to be there. I should explain that while in class, you can work on your own thing, use Jim’s example, painting it as he did or you can take his example and “do your own thing” with it. After so many years of painting, the latter is what I do, but also using Jim’s expertise as well as my own experience as my guidance. There is always more to learn, which is the advantage to dropping into classes sometimes. The other advantages with this class are the camaraderie and fun with the great people there-and always time to learn more from my mentor!

In addition to painting florals, which is probably my favorite subject, I very much enjoy working on landscapes covering of all sorts of subjects. Rocks are often my nemesis, so it’s always a good thing to practice them, whether simple rocks or rock cliffs; the more you work on them, the more you understand and can mentally picture their shapes and angles.

Rock Cliffs-cropped, brightened PS-96PPI-watermark   Day 12 – Light and Shadow

Landscape Painting

My Day 10 painting is based on a reference photo that I have had for years-and never had the nerve to attempt the painting! This is such an amazing, inspirational location! I decided I was finally ready to try it and worked on it for most of the month (to this point). Very challenging and colorful, but I can see the light, shadows, the heaviness of the rocks and extreme complexity when I stand back to look at it. I hope you can too!

Antelope Canyon Arizona-96PPI-with watermark   Day 10 – Antelope Canyon