Days 9 & 10 – Getting Further Behind

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!

20160918_025056_resized-gestural-sketch-and-watercolor-sketchers-9-15-16   Day 9, Gestural Drawing/Painting Practice

20160919_110949venice-window-straightenedcroppedcorrectedms-best-watermark-72ppi   Day 10, “Venetian Shadows”

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

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

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

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

Half Way Through…

Yes, half way through, but with only a week left in January, that’s not so good… But I’m doing the best I can and I will finish just as many paintings as possible! While they’re not all terrific, all artists know that practice is  a good thing. From practice comes more knowledge in handling your media of choice and you are always learning something in the process!

This is actually a drawing/painting that I started during the summer. Then various situations kept me out of my studio, this work got somewhat buried and frankly, I had forgotten about it. When I started this challenge, I spent some time organizing in the studio and ran across this partially finished work. I have put it off for most of January and figured it was time, for good or bad, to finish it! I actually like the way this turned out- hope you do too!

20160124_030857-cropped, straightened, brightened PS-96 PPI-watermark   Day 15 – Swallowtail

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!

Fabulous, exiting news!

Our Spokane Watercolor Society Member Show continued through January 3 at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (The MAC to locals) after our 2015 Juried Show came down the end of October. I volunteered as “docent” the past two Sunday afternoons and since the show was being removed Monday morning, the 4th, and I was there until closing on the 3rd, I just brought my 7 paintings home with me then. On Tuesday I received a “Congratulations” email from the chairperson of our show about my two paintings that had sold! WHAT??!! That was the first I heard about it and I have to say that, as always, I’m just over-the-moon excited and happy about that! I really love it when someone likes my work enough to live with it in her/his home! I thought I would share the paintings that these two kind ladies purchased.

Basalt Cliff-scanned then cropped MS-72 PPI            20160105_125204-cropped PS-72 PPI

                  Sunset (previously Basalt Rock Cliff)                                                                French Window

30 Paintings in 30 days-my day 3 floral

Heart of Gold-cropped, scan corrected MS-Day 3 for 30 in 30; day 4 for EDiJanuary-72 PPI to post   Heart of Gold – Day 3

As is obvious, I love flowers, so I guess it follows that I love painting florals! Hibiscus is one of my very favorite flowers. Not only are they delicate, beautiful and come in all kinds of color and shape combinations, but they also remind me so much of tropical places – another thing I love! This particular one is partly based on my own reference photo and partly artistic license, as I don’t think this coloring exists in nature (white with a golden center). Then, when all was finished except the stamens, I stood back and wondered how to make the flower stand out from the white-of-the-paper background, while keeping it simple. I was taught this light blue surrounding wash many years ago by a very talented local watercolor instructor and I sometimes fall back on it still. I think it works and, since I have the same blue in the leaves, that part works for me too.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Collage

PicMonkey Collage-2 with wording-smaller to post

Well, obviously there are not 30 paintings here, but I’m quite pleased with most of the 17 I got done. As I did in January, at the recommendation of Leslie Saeta, I used PicMonkey to make the collage, using their free option. They come out nice, are simple to do and there are a surprising number of arrangements and additions you can make there. It’s always fun for me to see a body of my work in one place!

My 17th Painting – 30 Paintings in 30 Days

20151001_235029-roses-cropped PS15-with watermark-smaller to post  Roses II-Less is More, attempts at looser painting

I can hardly believe it – I actually managed to finish my 17th painting! It was a work in progress for the past two days, I even went to the Spokane Sketchers Meetup Thursday and still I completed, photographed, cropped and got it posted with 3 minutes to spare! I am pleased that at least I got more than half done.

As for the rose painting, I had no reference and no guidance; still I think I did a decent job with the looser style on this. In addition, I had fun with it and feel like I learned a lot in the process.

Challenge – Day 11 Painting

20150924_001042-roses-cropped PS15-smaller to post     Roses

This is a painting that I began a few months ago. I liked it as far as it went, but the composition was lacking, so I set it aside for a time. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago and knew what I needed to do to make it work better. I was able to alter and finish this work in just a couple of hours, but it took months for the inspiration and motivation to be there…as often happens with art! And I finally have the confidence to share it on the challenge and here!

30 Paintings Challenge – Day 9

20150922_143801-Windblown-slight changes from original-with watermark-smaller to post     Windblown II

It is obvious that I’m running terribly behind on getting 30 paintings done this month, but I’m still plugging away. There have been so many things that I, as president of the local watercolor group, have had to deal with and stay on top of. I’m also still re-creating essential documents for the group that were lost with the “death” of our old computer.  I have made great progress on that, but it seems like almost every day something else comes up-something that simply hadn’t been needed or hadn’t occurred to me yet. It might sound like just an excuse, but it has taken serious amounts of my time.

This is an improved version (hopefully) of a painting I did earlier in the summer. I made some changes and I’m much more pleased with it now. Since it’s been redone, I’m sharing it here and counting it as one of my 30 paintings. I used many different techniques in the creation of this work, which made it a great learning experience as well as just fun to paint! I just love flowers and bright colors!

Day 4 of 30 Paintings in 30 Days

20150909_005713-geranium-cropped, corrected PS15-smaller to post     Geranium and Shadows

This is finally my day 4 post in the challenge. It’s not very successful, but even when that happens, I post the painting and I always learn something whether great or not-so great! The point was strong light and shadow and I did get that at least. I find this creates quite an optical illusion; even though I know the bottom is straight and level, it looks to me like the right corner comes forward and is lower…interesting how those lines affect the appearance.

Day 2 – September 30 Paintings in 30 Days

20150903_014937 copy-correctedPS15-best one       Fritillaries Love Coneflowers

This painting is special to me because my Coneflowers, all the colors, were especially beautiful this year. They are in a back flower garden which is visible from our bedroom. I just loved standing there, even from inside, just watching the Fritillary Butterflies all over the blossoms! We had such a long, extremely hot and dry summer that, sadly, the Coneflowers are pretty much done blooming-and I see more honey bees on them now than butterflies. What a wonder and blessing-and artistic inspiration-it is to have numerous flower gardens and beautiful flowers all over the yard!

Floral Sketchbook Practice

5 minute practice sketch of Daffodils from book reference

IMG_20150313_113321_118-daffodils-straightened,cropped,brightenedPS-small to post

Again, a pen and ink page of sketches, this time referenced from my book, “20 Ways to Draw a Tulip and 44 Other Fabulous Flowers” by Lisa Congdon (http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Tulip-Other-Fabulous-Flowers/dp/159253886X). Daffodils are one of my very favorite flowers; they bring such sunny happiness to spring! Since my own daffodils are not in bloom yet – and it’s one flower that always gives me fits when attempting to draw/paint – I thought a little no-pre-drawing practice from this book was in order! Can you see the improvement happening as I work in this manner? I sure can! So, this is today’s sketchbook practice; not painted directly from live references, but still worthwhile practice!

Loose and easy geraniums

I’ve been absent for a couple of weeks, since I finished the 30 in 30 challenge. I can use the excuse that I’ve been up to my neck in work for SWS-which is true! However, I learned last month that I absolutely must set aside time for my own art rather than just administrative things as president of an art group. And that’s not to say that I haven’t been actively working on art, even though it’s not been at my January pace. I will admit to a bit of a lull in inspiration though. Perhaps it’s a touch of burn-out or simply the time of the year, but ideas have been a little slim lately. That is when I sit down with an art book or at the computer to work from a video. It is all practice and I am now a real believer in the whole idea of many small paintings as a way to further/improve my art.

That all being the case, I have done a number of sketches and four new paintings. First up was a new challenge for myself – painting directly with no sketching at all, just drawing with the brush and then completing the paintings. I did two small works, both of deer, in my sketchbook in that way. Then I tried it out in my Moleskine watercolor book with a simple geranium painting. I won’t say that it was all totally successful, but it was fun and educational to give it a try! As an artist – and as a human being – I know I must continue to learn and challenge myself!

IMG_20150213_235617_707-geranium-one to use-smallertopost  Hot Geraniums