In just seeing that my last post was one of my Christmas card posts, and over a month ago, it makes me ashamed of myself for not keeping my blog current! Time just flies by, with shoveling snow, seeing friends, maintaining the watercolor group’s website and Facebook page… Well, you all probably know exactly what I mean!
All that being said, I have been busy in my studio also! I joined in Leslie Saeta’s January 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge again this year. I cannot say that I got actually paintings (as opposed to just sketches) done, but I did manage 29 sketches over the 30 days. I ended up using, in large part, the challenge prompts for the FB group, Sketching Every Day, so there are some interestingly odd works! Regardless of format, doing the work every day helps immensely with my art! So, here are the first three pieces that I did last month.
Day 1: Subject was “Something new” This is a quick watercolor, pen & ink of my Christmas gift.
Day 2: Subject was “Snow globe” This was actually from a selfie of me out shoveling a couple of new feet of snow!
Day 3: “Queen of Hearts” I chose to do a cat as the queen!
Time sure flies by-and suddenly the end of the year is only barely over 4 weeks away! I have been busily working in my studio for the past couple of months, not doing anything special, but just keeping busy with sketching. I have even spent time straightening up my space, which made it much more pleasant to be in there!
I did get a message on Wetcanvas a few weeks ago from the admin of the annual Christmas card exchange, inviting me to participate again this year. I was so pleased to hear from her; I really didn’t want to miss out! So, I’ve been working on those cards every day, trying to get a couple done each day (which doesn’t always happen). I started out with quite a number of sketches to flesh out some ideas, then worked at turning some of them into card paintings. For a couple of days, I was in a slump with no new ideas or enthusiasm. Fortunately that didn’t last long because we have more signed up for this event than have in the last few years. I now have 14 of the necessary 15 completed and must assemble the cards and start getting them sent. Along the way, I decided which of the paintings to use for my family/friend card, ordered and picked them up. I should have been sharing these pieces all along as I worked, but was so busy that I guess the thought didn’t occur to me. So, here is my first painting. I first did the background wet in wet, then used a “snow” marker for the tree and snow and a Sharpie oil marker pen for the stars. It has been fun working with some mixed media rather than strictly just watercolor – there were no limitations or rules for these!
I have also signed up for the Leslie Saeta 30 Paintings in 30 Days January challege and I know that will be upon us very soon. I need to start thinking of ideas for that too-just as soon as all the Christmas cards are sent, my shopping is done, etc……..
I have truly been trying to get my daily paintings completed! I guess that until you’re in the middle of a challenge such as this, with all the other duties and challenges life throws at you, you just don’t realize how difficult it can be to find that painting time each day. So…………I only completed my Day 10 painting a few hours ago. I always love everything Venice and this old-world-looking window with flowers and the light/shadow play just grabbed me. The last time I attempted to do shadowing such as this, I totally messed it up and ruined the painting, but this time I like the effect I got. That’s a great feeling, because it’s proof to me that I am learning and improving!
Last Thursday I went to the Sketchers Meetup. We went to a local eatery that I had never visited before and the day was ideal for sitting outside to sketch – beautiful weather, delicious food and an angle from where I sat that wasn’t ideal. So, I decided to practice the gestural drawing/painting that I’ve been studying and practicing. It’s fine to work from a video and someone else’s photos, but there comes a time when you must try it from your own viewpoint and experiences. It’s not a completed, salable painting, but it is work that I did this month, so the first photo is my Day 9 piece-no title, just fun practice!
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 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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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…
This attempt is based on an example in Jean Haines “Atmospheric Watercolours” book. Hers obviously was a lot more successful than mine, but I had to try! I know how to and love painting in detail, but I need to expand my styles to encompass the much looser, suggestive paintings too. I am determined to practice and learn! Practice and experimentation are what it is going to take and I plan to spend a lot of time on that. In the meantime, here is only my 2nd attempt at that type of method/style. More to come…