3-14-15, dubbed Pi Day. What I really wanted was a real pie – lemon meringue, cherry, French Silk, any of those would do! But in the interest of not gaining 5 pounds, I opted for first sketching a cherry pie this morning in my art Before Breakfast sketchbook and then drawing and painting a lemon meringue pie this evening. Surely not as tasty, but calorie free without a doubt, this was a fun small project to do.
I am currently reading Daily Painting by Carol Marine. I got it not realizing that it appears to be mostly geared to oil painters, so at first I was a little disappointed. Once I started reading, however, I realized there was no reason for disappointment. Even though the author is an oil painter, she makes sure that most of the book is geared to any media. The point is that small frequent painting teaches you so much more than only doing the occasional large work. This constant practice also enhances your larger works when you do paint big. I had already realized just how much I learned from each painting when I participated in the January 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge. My plan was to continue, if not at quite that rate, then still painting frequently. I found out that it’s all too easy to set it aside in favor of all the other daily things that crop up, so I wanted/needed the reminder-which is exactly what that book is and will continue to be for me.
That was the long version of why I came to my studio this evening, drew and completed a small painting. It is something I need to try to do every day!
One of my recent no-drawing painting attempts… This is from a photo taken in Glacier National Park a couple of years ago and was not taken with a telephoto lens, just a cell phone. Obviously the deer there are quite used to people being nearby.
What I like about this is the looseness. Even though it’s not very good, going without an initial drawing at all definitely loosened up my usually overly tight, photo-realism type painting. Being able to paint looser is something I strive for. That is not to say that I will paint this way all the time, but more practice in this manner may be a very good thing!
I always seem to be inspired by the ocean and, for that matter, most bodies of water. Perhaps growing up so near a lake has something to do with that. This was a fun painting to do, with some experiments along the way. It is based on the numerous photos I took a decade ago while on the Florida Gulf Coast. I loved watching the Sandpipers on the beach!
I am currently stressing over planning and executing a painting or paintings to enter in our Spokane Watercolor Society 2015 Open Juried Show, coming up this fall. Because of that and several other issues, I am still not managing a painting a day. I am doing something toward my art every day though – digging through years worth of photos for reference ideas, compositions, pre-drawing, sketches, etc. My smaller works might not be impressive enough for some, but after my “painting marathon” in January, for me it seems to be a better way to improve and to simply feel like I am accomplishing something. But you can’t submit anything of that size as a juried show entry… I just have to make time in my schedule for the larger works too.
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!
I still can’t quite get over that I finished 30 paintings in 30 days (actually in 28 days because of starting a little late)! I completed the collage of my work, then proceeded to add a border with text around it in one of my photo programs. That wasn’t my idea-it was available on the PicMonkey site, but my computer is too old and has inadequate memory to be able to handle that part of the collage procedure. Below are two versions; one with all 30 paintings and the other with the ones of which I am most proud-twenty of them. What a journey it was! Would I do it again? YES! Especially if I find myself slacking off and not devoting time to my art!
WOOHOO-I DID IT!!!!!!!! I actually finished this painting about 1 this afternoon, photographed, cropped in Photoshop and posted on the Leslie Saeta 30 Paintings in 30 Days blog right after. I then proceeded to use PicMonkey – http://www.picmonkey.com/ (at her recommendation) – to create a collage of all of my 30 paintings to also post on her blog. I am still so excited and proud of myself for this accomplishment! When I signed up, I honestly didn’t think I would manage to paint that many, but certainly did plan to try. Some I’m not so proud of, but some actually kind of amaze me, so I guess it all equals out. If you have followed my “journey”, you have seen that I used quite a wide variety of subject matter; good for practice on many different levels. It surprised me to see that I painted more animals, birds and sea life than even flowers. I have found that I really enjoy that challenge! In choosing what to paint, I ran across so many photo references that I really want to use-and soon. I currently have three ready to paint, so I should get to it!
I spent three hours on Friday morning/afternoon drawing for painting number 30, not to mention how long I spent on Thursday deciding on what to paint and redoing the design until I was pleased with it. Then I worked out, stopped at the grocery store, fixed and ate dinner, rested for a bit and just spent another nine hours finishing up the drawing and getting a good amount of the painting done. I finally had to face that I couldn’t finish it until Saturday-darn! But since I started three days into the challenge, I guess finishing one partial day late isn’t so bad, especially when it’s still January.
Since I have no new painting to share yet, I’ll post another of the September paintings from my first attempt at the 30 in 30 challenge. This one is my version of a Wetcanvas photo of the East Channel Lighthouse, Lake Superior on Michigan’s upper peninsula.
This is my sweet calico cat, Lindy, curled up in the bathroom sink several years ago. I have always thought this photo was just fun and knew that someday, when I got really brave, I would paint it. Nowhere near perfect-that’s for sure. But don’t judge too harshly since it’s my first attempt ever at painting a cat-and sure, I had to try a calico for the first one!
Lindy was a young adult that we got from a local rescue agency, Partners for Pets, almost 10 years ago. She had been with them for quite a long time and was a quite a depressed kitty. We decided on her, partly because she deserved to finally have a home she could count on and partly because she was just so pretty. She is one of our four rescued pets-three cats and one dog. There are just always so many wonderful adult animals needing a good home!
Yes, another floral! I had the center rose drawn for days and kept putting off painting this. I finally tackled it late Wednesday evening, adding quite a bit to the drawing, and actually finished it about 2 AM Thursday, the 29th. I was driven and simply couldn’t stop until it was completed. It’s a very special, personal painting to me, as I named it for someone I lost a long time ago whose birthday was January 29. The painting is much prettier in person – this photo simply does not do it justice. I left the background white, with the exception of the blue wash surrounding the flowers, just to keep it very soft and simple.
This is one from a photo I took on Oahu in 2005-my one and only trip to Hawaii. I loved it there and, given the opportunity, would live there without hesitation! I painted from this reference years ago and wanted to try it again. There are things I did better this time and things I don’t like as well. But it was fun to do-and any break in our drab winter, even just thinking about flowers and/or Hawaii, helps!
“Elephant Portrait” Day 24 painting “Rose Study” Day 25 painting
Oh my gosh, I have not been so encouraged for over a week! I was able to finish and post these two paintings Tuesday-and cook a delicious dinner that took all day to make! But there’s more… I also have three works in progress-one almost finished, another over half done and a third barely begun; I also have two more drawn and, assuming I can complete them all, that will make a total of 30! Only three more days to accomplish this and I fully plan to do so!
As for these two paintings-do I love them? Not so much. But, I thought they were both complete lost causes. I know both are badly overworked-but even the fact that I was able to save them enough to use them pleases me a lot! I learned a whole lot in the process and that is never a bad thing. But for right now, I am exhausted and it’s time to get out of my studio and get some rest. More to come…
Recently I sold a painting I did a few years ago. The person found me through my Wetcanvas post of the work and loved it. It was such a thrill to read that email, just to know it had been “unearthed” there and she liked it that much! I hadn’t thought about that painting in some time and even had trouble finding where I had stored it. Seeing it again made me want to paint that scene again; it’s one of those I mentioned that were drawn and ready to paint. I liked what I did the first time and suddenly I hesitated to paint it again. I didn’t want to exactly replicate the original painting, but I did still want it similar. So, here at the top is my newer version of Split Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota. Very similar to the old one, mostly a little softer colors; just for comparison sake, below is a photo of the first one I painted.
I’ve worked and worked, on top of a Costco and grocery store shopping trip and the normal everyday chores and cooking, and still no painting is finished. I wish I could figure out how to paint decently and yet faster! I have three works in progress, one very doubtful, one more drawn and ready to paint-and only 5 more days left to the challenge. On top of that, I have only finished and posted 22 paintings. Can I get 8 done in 5 days? Doubtful, but I’m still going to do all I can to achieve that goal. Whether or not I do meet the goal, I have by far painted more in the past 23 days than I have ever before and that’s something to be proud of!
Since I have nothing completed to post, I’ll share another couple of paintings from the eight I painted in September. The first one was, in fact, the first painting I did for the September challenge-mostly because it was also the Wetcanvas September Watercolor challenge. I like the way it came out, especially since I know next to nothing about boats… The second is, if I remember right, the seventh one I painted; it was done en plein air in my back yard on a beautiful, sunny day. It was one of those days when, knowing winter wasn’t far off, you can’t resist being out enjoying the nice weather while it lasts! It is an image of one of my dying summer plants on the deck, fall color very evident.
Rather than go to my sketch group, I spent a good portion of Saturday in my studio. I did make progress, finishing two paintings and readying another two. In fact, for about an hour I was only two days behind on the 30-30 challenge-and then it was midnight and back to lagging behind by 3 again. At least I’m maintaining consistency!
The crab painting is loosely based on a photo my daughter, Kristan, took when she was in the Galapagos Islands. I have had that reference pic for a few years and have planned to use it. I’ll just say that, while that was my inspiration, I took full advantage of “artistic license” in doing this. I think it’s a fun, colorful little painting.
The one below was actually completed before the crab and I hesitated somewhat before posting it. I experimented a great deal with this and, while it didn’t turn out well, it taught me a lot! And isn’t that what this painting challenge is mostly about? It was rather out of control, so I just kept experimenting with different methods and finally had the gist of the reference so figured I didn’t need to do any more damage to it! The bottom line is that, while I’m not very pleased with this painting, it’s one of my 30 paintings and I couldn’t not use it! Consequently, I’m posting it here also.
“Worcester Cathedral” – experimental Day 21 painting
My old banner collage has bothered me since I have been active on my blog again. It was fine when I started this in 2012, but it was time for an update. I have redone it with some of my more recent paintings as well as keeping some of the previous ones.
From left top, then left bottom: Mirabeau Springs Waterfall, Mission Dolores (in San Francisco), Who’s There (Eurasian Eagle Owl), On the Savanna, Abbey Reflections, Bird of Paradise; Rose Bouquet, Moo Selfie, Deserted and Pretty in Pink. While not all are 2015 paintings, none are very old and I feel it is now more representative of my current art.
This is the painting I was working on Wednesday night when the computer began misbehaving. I had almost finished the grassy background and was debating how to approach the turtle when the problems began. I worked on it Thursday to the point of almost done, then took care of the finishing touches Friday night. I’m happy with the result and I hope you can actually see that it is underwater. It’s obvious to me, but then again, I painted it!
I found this reference photo on Wetcanvas more than a year ago and, wanting to try my hand at painting a horse, I downloaded it. With the challenge this month, I decided to finally try; I drew and had a small start to the painting and then had no idea how to proceed. So it sat in my studio where I had to see it every time I was there. I studied and studied it and finally decided two days ago that if it was ever going to happen, I had to just do it! Much to my delight, I finished this painting a few hours ago! With my very limited experience painting animals-and never a horse before-I was pleased with the horse, but what to do with the background… Then I just suddenly knew, did it and, while I’m fully aware it’s not perfect, I like it! That is such a good feeling, especially when it’s a subject that caused almost overwhelming fear after I thought I had ruined it at first!
This 30 in 30 challenge is about so much more than just painting regularly. I cannot believe how much I have been branching out on subject matter as well as figuring out how to fix something I thought was not salvageable. I am so glad I am doing this and even if I don’t quite achieve the desired 30, I will have painted more than ever before and learned so much along the way!
Sometimes challenges are challenged… I’m having computer problems in my studio tonight and cannot currently paint since I use the screen for my references. I’ve got things running to fix the problems and hopefully will be able to work on things soon. Years ago when I got my first small, used laptop computer, I stopped printing everything and started drawing and painting directly from the screen image. I really hate being stalled with my painting and yes, I could use my old method and print from the other computer and get to work. I guess the real issue right now is that I’m pretty much out of the mood after the frustration of fighting with the computer for over an hour. Just one more day to catch up on for the 30 in 30 challenge.
In the meantime, I thought I would share a couple of the (only eight) paintings I completed for this same challenge in September.
I’ve had this reference photo for literally years and was never quite sure how to handle it. I actually drew it on watercolor paper during the September challenge-you know, the one where I only completed eight paintings… So, there is was and I decided to try another in a monochromatic style. Two things went wrong with this – First, I actually started with the wrong color (palette sitting there with two blues and I used the one I did not intend to) and once I was started I pretty much had to stick with it – and Second, the paper quality was not as good as I am used to, and that lack of top quality made smooth washes next to impossible. In spite of those things, I do like the overall look of it and think it was monochromatic was a good choice. Always a learning experience!