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
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’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.
Everything in this group is completely different from the previous posts. Sometimes I look at the daily prompt and am just blank as to what to do. It truly can be a challenge to figure out something fun and interesting-with perhaps a bit of whimsy or quirkiness to either make it more interesting or perhaps to challenge myself more. The first one was to be a “positive poster.” I did this in a very short amount of time -and that shows- choosing words that I try to live by each and every day.
Day 11, prompt “vintage.” I had absolutely no idea what to do, so I Googled vintage and replicated, in pen & ink with watercolor washes, this chic and stylish lady from days gone by. I do love the way she turned out. No, I didn’t come up with the idea, but any and all practice is worthwhile!
This last posted painting did not come out too well. Day 12 was “Western” and again, I was rather blank. Then I thought about going to the Grand Canyon a number of years ago, it inspired me and it’s in the west… So, I started with a nice pencil sketch and decided to work very loosely. When I actually look at this page in my sketchbook, I do see the Grand Canyon in a loose style, but I’m not sure that comes across so well in this somewhat incorrectly-colored scan.
My intention was to post 3 every day until my 29 January pieces were posted…and time just flew by! I’m disappointed in myself, in that I have truly stepped back this month and am only working on my third piece, which I have planned (in my head) all month. I will shortly have a mixed media piece to share; it’s something I have mentioned before, something that I want to learn much more about.
But for right now, here are my days 4, 5 and 6 from the 30 in 30 Challenge.
Day 4 – challenge was “in the style of Toon Tieland” I used a picture that I used for another painting a few years ago, but you’d never know that they were from the same photo.
Day 5 – the challenge here was “word art” and rather than using one word, I turned it into a phrase. So much fun to do this!
Day 6 – shells; I called this one “Shells and Floats”
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!
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!
Time simply slips by and suddenly the holidays are over, it’s a new year and I’m on to the 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge again! I did complete all of the Christmas cards and the exchange was great as always! In checking here, I realize that I have only shared 4 of the 16 cards I made. So, in order to display those and move on the the other pieces I’m doing, I’ll share several in 2 parts.
: My idea to put Santa in the wreath-like circle that was used for Looney Tunes-what fun to do! “Merry Christmas Folks!” – I added the letters on the computer later to post on Facebook for Christmas.
: My “Peace Angel” – just an idea I had from a similar ornament on a post in a folk-art type style.
: Zentangle ornaments. I had not done any Zentangle in a long time, so this was an enjoyable challenge for me. I added that colorful ribbon as I love a pop of color when doing B&W!
: “Nutcracker and Friend” I wanted to do a Nutcracker/Wooden Soldier, drew him and had him almost completed when I realized that he looked awfully lonely on the page all alone. I then added his cute little mouse friend.
: “Stuck Santa” One of my favorites this year, I loved the idea of Santa’s belly getting him in trouble along the way. I drew and started this in the watercolor class that I sometimes attend, on a day when we were “on our own” for projects. After the drawing was completed, I used liquid masking for the stars and, once that was dry, did the pen & ink work and then painted all but the night sky. That black was mixed and done in one very thick wash.
Just where do I get my inspiration for these paintings? Really mostly from my head and then, if I need a little guidance, I look for something similar that I might use to help, admitting that I don’t draw strictly out of my head very well…
Santa just must be included in my Christmas card designs-and you’ll see a few! This one, as stated above, was inspired by a tree ornament-and yes, I have many Santas on my tree every year! Just small, cute and so much fun to draw and paint!
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……..
Before I head into my studio to work on paintings for the 30 in 30 challenge, I thought I would share a couple more of the cards… These two are similar – same cat, but somewhat different scenes. No titles for these, just fun cards to paint and share.
Creepy, huh? This is from an internet search, done as part of the Facebook challenge called Every Day in September. The prompt for that day was “Jack in a Box/Joker” – you can see which direction I went! This was great fun to do, from drawing that maniacal face to using only black pen and watercolor (black mixed from other colors), along with the white of the page. I really think Halloween when I look at it. In fact, I think I’m going to have a small poster made from this at Costco to hang in my front window expressly for October 31!
This day 5 work is a sketch I did of the Nefertiti bust (from an online search) for Every Day in September, a sketch group challenge on Facebook. That challenge has daily prompts to use – the subject was “Egyptian.” I will post this for the 30 paintings challenge too since I’m running several days behind!
I drew this with pencil in my 6×9 sketchbook, used black ink in places and colored it with Inktense pencils. I have had them for some time, but have used them very little. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to play with and learn something about using them. It was an interesting challenge, considering I have done almost no colored portraits (which in essence this is even though it’s from a statue). I didn’t quite capture the face, but I enjoyed the exercise anyway! No matter what the subject matter or what the media, I just love creating art and learning from the process!
Sketch collage of five most recent sketches and the one of me recovering from a tooth extraction, after I added watercolor.
Since I painted and posted the rooster, I haven’t been just doing nothing! I continue to work daily in my art Before Breakfast sketchbook and I want to share the info on that. I have begun adding light watercolor washes to those sketches, which in my opinion improves them greatly. The sketchbook I’m using accepts those just fine and I very much like using it-a Pentalic Dream Catcher accordion-fold artist journal that I found at our local art store. It was a new item for them, being promoted with a sale price, so I got one each of the “draw” and the “watercolor” versions. I haven’t tried the “watercolor” one yet, but the “draw” version has beautifully smooth paper and works great with the pen & ink and light washes.
I am also in the midst of three paintings in my studio; one is going great, one has been set aside for now in favor of other more interesting subjects and the other is complete but I am not happy with the background. I’m thinking about what I want to do to correct that. If nothing else, the lesson that I do better when I paint the background first is more firmly planted in my mind. I was not taught in that manner when I did take classes, but I know that works for many wonderful watercolor artists and it seems to for me also.
5 minute practice sketch of Daffodils from book reference
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!
Thursday, 3-12, quick sketch of recycling bin at curb
I has been a bit of a tough week, starting out on Monday with an urgent tooth extraction. The short version is – a botched root canal a number of years ago finally led to the demise of that particular molar, no matter how well I care for my teeth. The healing is going well, but the inevitable antibiotic has me feeling poorly, staying home taking it easy.
I guess that whole process has me somewhat out of the mood for painting, but I cannot ignore my art completely. Plus there is that wonderful “art Before Breakfast” book, which I did very quickly read cover to cover. While I’m not practicing exactly as is outlined in Danny Gregory’s book, I am working at filling the small accordion sketchbook I started with something each day. The sketches are not impressive, but it is a learning experience.
In this case, that learning is from just grabbing a Micron pen and going for it with whatever grabs my attention at that time, with no pencil pre-drawing. Even when I meet with my sketch group, I start with a pencil drawing, erasing and correcting things along the way. Then, when I’m happy enough with the sketch (and if there is still time since I work slowly), I will ink it and do a watercolor wash. I have many sketches done that way that I like, but it is a crutch and I need to learn to work directly! I hope that eventually, with enough practice, I will have that skill. I will still pre-draw for my paintings with a pencil, but that might just go more quickly and be more accurate the first time! The process I am practicing now can help me to become a much better artist overall and that’s what it’s all about!
I have been tied up a lot lately with Spokane Watercolor Society things. I finally got into my studio for a short time tonight and did a little reference photo searching and then drawing. All around my studio, I have quite a few of my older works and one grabbed my attention while I was sitting there.
This is one of the first pen and ink works I did. I really like the exacting, slow process of doing pen and ink work. Being one of my first makes it a little special to me and I have always liked it. But there is a more important reason that it is special. My mother was particularly fond of old mills with water wheels. I did a painting of this one, which I now have since she passed three years ago. Somewhere along the way, I wanted to try my hand at the same scene in pen and ink. I’m sorry for the poor photo, but tonight I want to share that (possibly unfinished) work with you.