Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just a little something...

A small burst of the creative spirit. My first wreath for my first home.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Virginia is for Lovers

So we've settled into our new home in Virginia.  The move itself was full of trials and tribulations.  Barely made it through a single state with some sort of issue.  We've been here for just over a week, and a few house related things have been accomplished or at least identified as future project.  One of the most important things we've taken care of was selecting a palette for our home.  We chose Valspar's Colonial color scheme, with colors like "Sandy Cove", "American Schooner" (dark blue), "Bliss" (light yellow), and "Polar White" for aaallll the trim.

On a more artistic note, we have a large open space right above our fireplace that is just screaming for a painting. So I've decided to do one.  One of the many great things about where we live is the proximity to a large Jerry's Artarama.  Heaven on a budget! I purchased a set of palette four knives for $10 and a 30 x 36 in 1.5" gallery wrapped canvas for like $35.  Stellar deal if you ask me!

The next task was to what exactly I wanted to portray.  I've ultimately decided to find a scene from around the area, and I think I found it.  It's a view of a local park and it incorporates just about every color of our colonial color palette.  So that is my big project!  Pretty excited about it.

However....in the mean time, I have a small autumn themed wreath to make with tiny woodland forest creatures.  I'll be sure to post a picture of it once completed.  Big thanks to hanging around.  I hope from this point on posts will get more regular and feature more work.

Friday, September 16, 2011


As if it wasn't already evident, but I will be taking a temporary hiatus from the blog and painting/drawing/crafting in general until my family and I have completed our move to VA.  These past few weeks have been filled with house hunting, home inspections, and general nonsense related to general home procurement. And these next few weeks will be a whirlwind of packing, driving cross country, unpacking and settling. I do hope you'll stick around.  Our new home has a 3rd room that I can transform into my artistic working space! Not exactly a studio but space with a door at least.  In the mean time, thanks to everyone for following and I hope to be back and active by late October.  

Friday, August 19, 2011

Touch Ups

Since I completed "The Poppy" it's bothered me. It just screamed "Come Back, I'm not done!"  I liked how the colors for the palm came out and I was happy with my rendering of the flower, but there was just something that felt unfinished.  I received many compliments, but when I put the color pencil Poppy next to the acrylic I felt that the color pencil piece had a greater presence and sense of completion.  So I thought and thought about what I should do, if anything, to the acrylic Poppy.

A few things had to happen for me to approach my painting again.  First, having completed some more ATCs (which I will post later) I felt more creative and accomplished.  This gave me more confidence that I could maybe achieve what I wanted to.  The next trick was to figure just what that was.  Due to the sad demise of our local Border's bookstore, every week there have been heavy discounts.  Surprisingly, the art books have actually gone quite quick.  So even though it was discounted as much as I wanted, I went ahead and bought some art books that I had kept my eye on.  "Botany for the Artist" by Sarah Simblet, "Colored Pencil Painting Bible: Techniques for Achieving Luminous Color and Ultra-realistic Effects" by Alyona Nickelsen, and lastly "Acrylic Landscapes in a Weekend" by Keith H Fenwick.  The last one about acrylic landscapes finally introduced me to the technique that I figured would be perfect for my Poppy Problem.  Sounds so silly not to have thought of this before, but what I learned to do was to use glazes.  The examples in the book really helped to spell it out and make it a very easy technique.  

After stewing on it for awhile and finding the time, I set out to apply some glazes.  I started on the palm first.  I layered a Permanent Green Light and Thalo Blue mix glaze to help define each leaf.  I went back and forth a few times.  Touching up here, adding there. The palm now has characteristics of  watercolor, which I really like.  I think there's more depth now, and I like how they stand out more.  The next area that I figured needed correcting was the poppy.  After I finished it and referred back to the original photo I realized it was WAY too orange. I decided to go with a straight Cadmium Red Medium glaze.  This definitely deepened and brightened the flower.  I think that I have now achieved a color that is closer to the original and is a lot less orange.  

Below are the before and after so you can determine if you can see the differences. Finished with my touch ups I think that I am now TOTALLY done....(I think...)

"The Poppy" -Before-
16x20 Acrylic on wrapped canvas

"The Poppy" -After-
16x20 Acrylic on wrapped canvas

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In the mean time...

As I continue my search for my next painting subject (which has been excruciating) I've completed a few more ATCs in the mean time.  Virtually all the ATCs I've completed have been for private swaps with my aforementioned friend.  Only one have I swapped with someone else.  The kicker is, in that larger non-private swap my friend was randomly selected as my partner!  So I sent mine to a stranger and she sent one to me.  Needless to say I have a rather extensive "e" ATC collection.

The themes for the 2 ATCs I'm going to post were "Favorite Places" and "Tin Foil".  The "fave places" ended up being a bigger challenge than I anticipated.  I knew I was going to do an Maine themed one, but I had a hard time figuring out just how to go about it.  I ended up doing it in two phases.  I started with a computer printout of Quoddy Head Lighthouse and the Sea Dog Blueberry Ale logo.  I had another image of a moose I was going to include but I just couldn't make it work.  The final push to put the finishing touches came when I discovered and old "Downeast" magazine and my friend's stash of extra craft supplies arrived. From the magazine I included the Lobster Festival logo, and the Maine heart.  I included the word "home" because that is what Maine represents to me.  Even though I'm not from there and I only spent roughly 2 years there, there hasn't been a single place I have been or lived that has felt like "home".  My husband and I share the same sentiment and one day we will go back to stay.  We can't wait to go "home".

The second theme, "tin foil" I chose to mix it up a bit.  I figured working with an unusual material would be fun.  I also knew exactly what I was going to do when I came up with the idea.  My brilliant idea was a toy robot.  It was Erin's craft supplies that provided me with the materials for the details.  All the little embellishments came from her stash.  I pre-cut and wrapped each part of the little robot's body then glued him onto the cardstock.  I chose to do his robo-claws with red glitter, just because.  I loved this little card and I'm happy to know that in my friend's possession he'll be appreciated.

Our next to themes are "layers" and "coins".  I've finished the "layers" one and will ship it out this week before I post it and I already have an idea for "coins". So until I find that perfect piece for my next painting, I'll just have to be satisfied working on these little creations.

Favorite Places ATC- Maine Sweet Home
Tin Foil ATC- iRobot

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Landscape #3

I attempted my third landscape acrylic painting.  Recently I have been using my free art time (between the hours of 6pm-9pm) with the creation of ATCs. I had mentioned them previously and since then I have finished two more.  Their themes were "Favorite Places" and "Tin Foil".  These were private swaps between my friend and me.  Although I had forgotten to take their pictures before sending, I'm sure I can count on her to take and share the pictures.  Since I have completed those two, I wanted to paint again. I chose to do another landscape.

I have a pretty decent stash of wrapped canvas in various sizes to choose from so my first task was to determine the size.  Did I want to go large scale like "The Poppy" or smaller like "Tree with Flowers"?  Ultimately I chose to go smaller with a 9x12 gallery wrapped canvas. Next, and the hardest part of all was the subject.  I dug and clicked through most of all my photos on my hard drive and KodakGallery.com account. I eventually had to go through some of my friends and family's "Shared" albums.  I came across an album of my moms from when she and my sister came to visit me in Maine in the Fall of 2007.  We took a trip down through Fryeburg, ME and into Conway, NH.  We stayed that this super cute B&B called Crystal Lake Bed & Breakfast.  The beautiful fall foliage around the lake and with little white steeple church just made this shot quintessential New England.

I took a few creative licenses primarily with the trees.  The original picture has oak trees, but I decided to go for birch trees.  Ultimately, I am very happy with this piece.  I framed it temporarily with a frame I found at an antique shop.  Unfortunately the canvas is a little too deep for the frame so until I find another way, this will have to do.

Below are the original photograph and the competed painting.  Please enjoy!

Crystal Lake, Conway NH, Taken Oct 2007

"New Hampshire in October"
12x9, acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Heron

I finished "The Heron" this evening.  I had been working on it for a few days on and off.  It started from a photograph I had taken of a heron at the Cincinnati Zoo.  He was in an enclosure so there was no natural background to include. Due to the lack of background interest, I had to come up with my own.  This is something I haven rarely done, of have done successfully.  I did a lot of research into marshes, herons in marshes, and reeds vs cattails.  I had to figure out my horizon line and the light source.  I ended up doing this piece backwards (I didn't think it all the way through).  I didn't complete the background at all before I drew in the heron and cattails.  So that was a challenge.  Working with a light source that I determined would be behind the heron, I adjusted my cattails accordingly, and rather successfully.  However, as I looked it over I realized the lighting didn't match the heron's.  This was the lighting issue I had mentioned previously.  This was corrected by just making the heron much darker than I originally rendered him. My next major challenge was water.  I have never sketched water before.  Again, I went back to researching images of marsh water and other graphite drawings.  I think it came out alright.  Probably the least successful element of the piece I think.  Overall, very happy with my heron and I hope you enjoy it as well.

"The Heron"
 Graphite on Strathmore 80#

Monday, July 18, 2011


So my best friend in the whole widest world has introduced to me the potato chip of artistic expression.  Allow me to explain where the potato part comes in.  These little works of art are known as Artist Trading Cards aka ATCs. They can be anything and everything as long as they are 2.5x3in in size.  They can be tiny representations of larger works, fine art, collage, vintage inspired, ephemera, etc.  As soon as you complete your first  one you are on such a roll that you have to make another, and another, and another....I've made 3 this weekend so far.

My friend and I decided to do a little personal swap between the two of us.  We chose the theme "nature".  You typically set a deadline for completion and mailing, ours was a loose date of before July 22nd.  Right off the bat I had a terrible time!  I couldn't think of anything. I googled for inspirations to little avail.  I went through at least 3 ideas and a lot of hair pulling until I FINALLY figured it out.  I took a more liberal interpretation of "nature".  I received my friends card on Saturday and it was beautiful!  She used real pieces of evergreen which made it extra special.  I think my hang up came from wanting to make something directly personal to her.  It's not that I didn't in the end, but as soon as I kinda let that part go I had more success. I'm not going to post the one I completed until she's received it (it is now posted), but I will post the other one that I finished for an upcoming swap.  Sorry for the quality, but my phone actually took a better pic than my camera, go figure.

Folks trade ATCs all over the world.  The catch is to trade not sell.  I've already signed up for a swap for later this month.  I already completed the card for that as well.  Another of my larger hurdles is the lack of crafting supplies I have.  Plenty of paint and what-not, but no embellishments, ribbon, glitter, etc.  Most ATC swaps require some sort of embellishment.  Cash flow is pretty tight in our household.  We're trying to get approval for a home loan when we move in Oct, and I wasn't offered a course this term so $$ has been tight.  I'm trying to get into this quick art with as little investment as possible at this point.  Lucky for me it was 1$ days at Michael's!

The greatest benefit of all came from the fact that having completed these little works you get that instant gratification of project completion so its a lot easier to maintain the momentum.  With that said, although I keep thinking about my next ATC it's brought me back around to take my hand back to my paintings.  My heron piece is coming along, but on hold since I think I have a lighting issue I need to work out first.  So maybe after all of this I'll bang out another painting this week. Maybe even a big one!  We'll just have to wait and see what pops up to prevent this new drive I've gained.

"Button" Theme
Completed 7/16/11
Materials: Scrapbook paper background, vintage ballerina print,
1 button, iridescent ribbon, glitter and 3 adhesive gems.
All coated/glued on using Soft Matte medium. Button was sewn on.

"Nature vs Nurture"
Completed 7/13/11
Materials: Scrapbooking paper background,
jeweled butterfly adhesive, words and image from Vouge Magazine

Friday, July 8, 2011

My Trip Home

I've returned from yet another trip.  This time it was much more inspiring than my previous trip.  I was in Cincinnati for a very good friend's wedding.  While in Cincinnati, I visited many of my favorite places from when I was growing up.  Such as, Eden Park, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Mt. Adams, the and Loveland Castle (where the wedding was).  We even drove to our old houses.  It's weird how they are pretty much the same but different.  For example, at the house I grew up in my mother had planted a weeping cherry tree next to the driveway.  I remember this day acutely.  I remember all the mulch, plants, and dirt from that day.  It was the first time we were attempting significant landscaping of the property.  Any way! The weeping cherry is huge!  Easily 8-9ft tall now.  I remember when it was as tall as me, 4-5ft at the time.  Other members of my family have gone back to Cincinnati several times and maintained significant relationships.  Me.. not so much.  I believe this trip was the first time I've been back to Cincinnati in ~7yrs and almost 15yrs since I've see our old house.

I'm so happy that I still find the Cincinnati area beautiful.  The smells are the same, the Ohio and Little Miami Rivers are the same, how lush the rolling hills are, all brought forth real nostalgia.  Of course things are different, they're building a huge casino in downtown, a bridge that was once blue(or grey) is now yellow, there's a hospital where it used to be a field and its full of shopping centers and restaurants.  It used to be a more suburb-rural-ish area, now there's sushi places, a Target, even "Asian massage" places. It seems like a much smaller place now.  Then again, I was a much smaller person when I lived there too.  It's more crowded and congested than it was when I grew up there, but thats what happens. 

All in all I came back with some really great photos that I have some big plans with.  Some are way out of my ability range (a great view of the Ohio River), while some are just right like 2 drawings I am currently working on.  One is a prismacolor of a beautiful purple-pink hibiscus and the other is graphite drawing of a great heron, both I captured at the Zoo.  I've put up the first phase from my great heron.  I hope to complete this over the weekend, but we'll see what happens.  In the meantime I'm going to enjoy my time at home before we head out to MT in a few weeks. 

14x11 Graphite

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Uninspired but had to do something

In the previous post I lamented my lack of inspiration from a recent trip out of town.  I decided I needed to do something to break the funk.  In the Wet Canvas Reference Image Library there was a series of egg carton photos.  I did it very quick with the intent on really just using this as an exercise.  Overall pretty happy with it.  I had wanted to use charcoal again and this was the perfect opportunity.  Man it feels good just to let it loose and go crazy. 

16x20 Strathmore Drawing Paper

Credited to She-She, WetCanvas.com
Reference Image Library


Okay, the trip to Minnesota was completely uninspiring.  The feeling of "Eh.." as I looked around was really depressing.  I tried everything.  Sitting in different parts of the house, on the deck, even when on the boat (I did catch a big Bass, but that wasn't artistically inspiring), and I still felt nothing.  Nothing "moved" me like I had hoped it would.  I just went back through my photos and still nothing.  I tried to look at the trees differently and the way light and shadows mingled, but still wasn't feeling it. Ugh! Here's hoping our trip to Montana will yield better results.  In the meantime I'm going to dig around Wet Canvas's photo library and hopefully something will grab my attention. Until next time...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One of my BIGGEST interruptions

There are always little things that get in way of my small spans of time that I can work on something.  But, this time it's something much bigger.  It's a move.  A pack up the household, pets and kids and take them across country sort of move.  Don't get me wrong I am OVER THE MOON about heading back east and living back on the coast! Yes, the Dakotas are beautiful and I do think every person should visit this part of the country at some point in their lives, but man I have been jonesin' for a Macy's for a while.  Oh, and seafood, we've really missed fresh seafood.  Landlocked in the middle of the continent doesn't bode well for the freshest of fresh ocean fish.

In the meantime, we're going to take advantage of our central location and visit Glacier Nat'l Park, Yellowstone, Tetons, and one final trip to Minnesota in the few months we have left.  The last time we were in Minnesota at the lake house, I took that Minnesota Sunset photo a few blogs down.  Maybe I'll take my pencils with me. I'll have the camera of course, but maybe I'll do some sketching. Haven't done that in a while.

I hope to get some more things done and posted before the move.  Please, hang with me and if anything I'll post some pretty landscape photography! :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's Your Creative Style?

My best friend posted this quiz on her blog so I decided to give it a try too.  This was my result:

You communicate through creativity

You think of art as a means of reaching out to others but, at the same time, you use it as a shield to some extent. It’s a way of participating in society, in a community. It’s the way you communicate with others and the way they can communicate with you. Seen in this light, creativity provides the basic materials to build a bridge between you and other people, so you can’t think of it as something that lies outside your relationship with others. You like the attention and good opinion of others. When you show people what you’ve made — a birthday cake, or a piece of music you’ve written — it’s your baby, so you are very sensitive about any criticism. You need to be able to distance yourself from the result, and allow others to enjoy it and feel part of it, without it reflecting on you alone. Your creativity allows you (or would allow you) to feel part of the world. You’ve got an inner exhibitionist and you think that this strengthens your relationships. What you really want is for others to see the good in you. You prefer to get on the stage than stay in the wings analysing your inner life (although you do that, too). So let the show begin, but make sure your life doesn’t depend on the applause. •  Take the quiz here: http://www.psychologies.co.uk/tests/whats-your-creative-style/

Yep, it pegged me.  Especially "When you show people what you’ve made — a birthday cake, or a piece of music you’ve written — it’s your baby, so you are very sensitive about any criticism." No one enjoys negative feedback, and I've been pretty fortunate so far those who've visited my blog have seemed to enjoy my pieces.  I am acutely aware that I have A LOT more work to become the artist I really want to be and that a lot of my stuff isn't that great, but the trick is to enjoy the process and I am. 

"The Poppy II" in Acrylic

Phase 3 complete.  From my original image, to the prismacolor rendering, and finally to an acrylic painting.  As with most things on this blog, this was my first attempt at anything like this.  I completed "The Poppy II" in two stages.  I did the background palm frond first.  I really surprised myself with my color mixing.  Like I had mentioned in the prisma drawing the palm frond is more of a dusty greenish-blue.  I was able to achieve the color I wanted and it's variations by mixing titanium white, thalo blue and cadmium yellow medium.  It's going to sound so silly, but I was really impressed with myself to achieve those colors and I was ecstatic when I finished it.  Lastly I completed the poppy.  Again using primarily cadmium yellow medium and cadmium red light.  The purple-reddish shadowing was a mix of cadmium red light, thalo blue, and alizarin red and thinned out.  The poppy's center was alizarin red and thalo blue.  After everything was initially completed I decided to go back and give a little more definition to the palm.  Using the same mixture of thalo blue, titanium white and cadmium yellow medium I lined along each of the strands.  This was all completed on 16 x 20 gallery wrapped stretched canvas which I painted along the edges so it doesn't require framing.  Thank for looking and I hope you enjoy my interpretation of a poppy.

Phase 1: Background

"The Poppy II"
Acrylic on 16x20 Canvas

Side by side comparison of the acrylic painting and prismacolor drawing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Completed Piece "The Poppy"

It's finished!  Took me longer than I anticipated due to unexpected interruptions (I didn't choose this Blog name on a whim!) I did exactly what I said I'd do.  I took my time and did section by section.  Obviously the palm took the longest.  Looking closely the palm frond is a combination of greens, yellow, and dusty blues. I used a random combination of colors for the palm.  Each individual leaf (?) was completed using the same colors but in different order. I didn't plan each one, just kind of let it happen. I took great care to make sure each one was different.  The palm as well as the poppy really needed to POP!  I'm believe that's been accomplished! So please enjoy "The Poppy".

"The Poppy"
Prismacolor pencil
12x14, Colored Canson Pastel Paper 98#

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Progression Documentation

I've decided to document my progress on my next piece.  Since a great painting comes from a great drawing, I'm going to do a great drawing first.  The key is to pay attention, not to rush, and focus all my attention to the color pencil drawing first.  I tend to rush as I approach the end of a piece.  I get so excited to be close to done and see the finished product that I tend to get ahead of myself.  So this is going to be more of an exercise for myself in patience and focus.  Below is the original picture source and the first completed stage of the piece.  Although it's very faint, the palm frond is sketched into the background. I'm very happy with this first phase.

Poppy and Frond
Taken 5-29-2011 

Phase 1: Poppy
Prismacolor Pencils
12x16 Canson Pastel Paper 98#

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day?  There is a difference and apparently most folks don't know that.  Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those military men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  Veteran's Day is a day we remember and think of those who have served, both alive and passed.  So yes, there is a difference even if it's subtle.  As a military spouse, I take these days pretty seriously, and tend adhere to their proper definitions.  Below is a photo I had taken last November during a trip to Boston, MA for a convention.  It's a view of the symbolic tags in The Memorial Garden.  The Memorial Garden is a place to honor the men and women in the armed forces and the civilians who lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.

To celebrate this day of remembrance, we took a small extended weekend trip into Denver, CO.  Having never been there before there was a lot to explore.  Denver. Is. Awesome.  We fell in love with it immediately.  Needless to say, not a lot of artistic accomplishments outside of some pretty pictures from the Denver Botanical Gardens.  One of the biggest selling points of making the trip was the opportunity to visit Jerry's Artarama.  A really fantastic art supply store with the most reasonable prices I have ever found.  I found them online first and was very excited to see that they had a Colorado location.  I walked away with a great table easel, large mural brush, a fan brush, and 12x16 pad of Canson Pastel Paper, and all for under $50. So excited to have a favorite art supply store that isn't Michael's.

I may or may not have some extended free time coming up.  I hope to get some more works completed during that time.  Looking forward to it!

"Their Tags"
The Memorial Garden, Boston, MA
Date Taken: 11-6-2010

Sunday, May 15, 2011

More Love for Color Pencils

Since I've decided to take a break from the watercolor and I didn't feel like setting up the acrylics, I sat down with my colored pencils again.  Tonight I completed "Pears".  The other picture, "Lemon Tea", I had done a few weeks ago but never posted.  "Lemon Tea" was done relatively quick.  I wanted to use white as a primary.  I also wanted to tackle the tin flower pot.  Couldn't quite master the reflectiveness of the pot though.  I am pretty happy with the tea pot and the daisies. 

"Pears" on the other hand I am very happy with.  I really enjoy burnishing.  The colorless blending pencils and marker really help to smooth away the tooth of the paper.  I was hesitant to add the dots on the skin of the pear.  I waited until I was more or less done and then decided to go for it.  I think it makes it look more realistic.  The creamy flesh of the inside of the pear was a combination of White, Creme, and Light Peach. All were layered multiple times in different combinations to really achieve that particular color.  The pears were a combination of, Crimson Red, Tuscan Red, Pink, Carmine Red, Poppy Red, Goldenrod and Mulberry.  Again, all were layered in different combinations to match the red of the pear's skin.  One of my favorite techniques I learned from my favorite art instructor was the use of indigo blue.  I rarely, if ever, use black.  indigo blue just adds that touch of color to a neutral area, in this case the shadows.  I may end up framing my "Cherries" and "Pears". All of these pieces ("Cherries", "Pears", and "Lemon Tea") were completed on Canson Pastel 9x12 paper. Using the colored paper add to the whole composition of the pieces I think.  Automatic background!

It's rewarding when I am actually pleased with my work.  The completion of "Cherries" and "Pears" really makes me happy and accomplished.  I hope everyone enjoys them too.

8x11, Colored Pencil, Canson Pastel Paper 98#

"Lemon Tea"
8x11, Colored Pencil, Canson Pastel Paper 98#

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I haven't used watercolors in a little while so I pulled them out again.  Another reason I wanted to try them was because I had purchased a watercolor canvas.  I've never used them before and was eager to try.  I've spent two days on it so far, and I'm not exactly happy with it.  One the challenges I've run into using the canvas is the fact that you pretty much just push the color around.  There is very very little absorbancy.  Which of course is good and bad, but what I found was its hard to layer.  As soon as I'd brush over it it'd pick up the color that had already dried and I'd have to start all over again.  This piece though did give me the opportunity to use the white watercolor.  It helped me achieve the pink in the tulips. I think I'm going to set this one aside for a little bit, but keep it in sight so I can decide what to do next.  In the meantime, I'm going to start something else.  Not sure what yet, but something! 

In the Tulips
12x12, Watercolor, Watercolor Canvas

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FolioTwist and an Update

I've started a FolioTwist site. FolioTwist.com is a site and service that provides professional personal artist websites.  It's designed by the same guys who are responsible for EmptyEasel.com (a personal fave of mine).  They have a 10 day Free Trial where it allows you to start, design, and upload your own work for display.  It can even link a Paypal account to make the purchase of your works a whole heck of a lot easier.  I'm still in my trial window, but I think I may make it permanent. 

Their current promotion is what peaked my interest.  They state that in light of the economy and the fact that many artists really love FolioTwist but can't afford the $45/mo fee for the site, they are doing a pricing experiment.  So what they've come up with is, start the free trial, decide if you like it, and then submit a REASONABLE offer as to how much you'd be willing to pay per month.  They also send a weekly how-to email that tells you all about site promotion and how to really optimize the site and its feature to your full advantage.   

By the way, totally posting this because I wanted too and under absolutely no coercion from the website.  I just think it's pretty cool!

Quick note about what's happening with me.

I've been on vacation for pretty much the past 3 weeks, and driving took up at least 2 of them.  Needless to say, not a lot of work getting done.  However, I plan to pick it back up this week (sometime).  I've received some pretty positive feedback about my painting, in particular Landscape #2.  So that is quite encouraging.  I was starting to feel that my painting just wasn't worth the bulk of my time.  I switched back to Prismacolor Color Pencils because I feel "safe" with them.  I felt I could produce more finished and successful pieces with this medium, and I think I did.  With all of the positive comments though, I think I might give the paints another try. 

I really just want to feel validated as an artist.  I'm not "formally" trained nor have any fancy art degrees.  I have the confidence from my friends and family and some past successes to keep trying.  I may even submit some more work to another contest, because why the hell not!?

All in due time I guess...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Vacation Inspiration

I didn't bring my supplies with me on vacation.  It was more of a matter of space, and honestly I didn't want to bring them not use them and feel the guilt.  However, I did bring my camera.  I mean who goes on vacation (especially to the beach) and doesn't being a camera?  While soaking up my year supply of Vitamin D, I admired one of the shells my husband found.  I decided I wanted to try something different.  Usually I'm all about landscapes, and believe me I have tons from this trip too, but with this one I wanted to try something explicitly artistic.  I surprised myself too!  Very happy with the result of this one.  I've found many other sources of inspiration.  So when I get home and settled I'll pick it up again, and that has me pretty excited! Ready to get home and pick it up again.

Sanibel Shell
Digital Photo, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

For the love of colored pencils

It's amazing how much time there is that I DON'T get to paint/draw, but when I do, it's heaven. The previous work "Cherries" was a lot of fun and I think really successful.  As a result I decided to give the colored pencils another go.  This time I used my best friend's photo from this year's cherry blossom blooms (I won't post the original w/o consent of  the photographer).  I used the burnishing techniques this time as well.  Not quite as successfully as before, and my blending marker was too stained by the "Cherries" to use it effectively.  I went beyond nature's palette, with the inclusion of Light Ceruleen Blue, Prama Violet, and Canary Yellow.  I find it to be a rather pleasing "Spring" palette, since cherry blossoms bloom in spring it was appropriate.  I used Canson Pastel Paper again this time in Blue.  It's also executed in a 4x6 space.  I wanted to make it smaller.  It not only helps me keep things tight, but I think for composition and display purposes it would be suited better as a smaller piece. Enjoy!

"Cherry Blossom Buds and Blooms"
Colored Pencils (Prismacolor)
Canson Pastel Paper

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A drawing

Ugh, I just can't seem to stay on task.  It's probably because I haven't found my voice or even what I'm best at yet.  However, that may have changed...maybe...

I follow this blog Paint and Draw Together.  The site posts a picture for everyone to do just that, paint or draw their interpretation of it. That's what I decided to do tonight.  I completed this in Prismacolor Colored Pencils.  I also attempted a new technique that I just recently learned about, burnishing.  It's a technique used to ensure that colored pencil drawings don't appear overly waxy (a constant problem of mine) and also to create a shiny smooth surface.  I applied layer upon layer, blended with a colorless blender, layered some more then blended with a blending marker. I cropped the original photo to achieve, what I think, is a better composition. 

8x10, Prismacolor Colored Pencils on Cason Pastel Paper

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Another Go and a Series

I have been painting more than usual.  I managed 2 more.  The first is another landscape of a tree with a field of flowers.  Biggest disappointment in this one is the tree.  Acrylics are think and sometimes it's tricky to get fine detail.  At the completion of the piece however I went and bought from GOLDEN Soft Gel (matte) medium. Definitely liking the stuff. Just need to figure out the best way to use it.

The second piece I've completed is the first of a series I'm going to do. I've been researching and reading about art and artists and often the advice for beginners is to paint what you know or what you like/love.  Well considering my background in food, I've decided to work with food for a bit.  So the series I'm going to do is fruit.  Yes, yes I know it's not that original of an idea, but that's not the point here.  I'm practicing, feeling it out, trial and error.  If it works well, then maybe I'll try and mix it up (once I figure out what my style is).

This WHOLE thing (painting, the blog, blogging about painting) is pretty much to help me find a voice and style of my own.  I need to figure what I like to paint and what I'm good at painting.  I'm also looking for my favorite medium.  Graphite, charcoal, pastels, acrylics, watercolor, etc.  I haven't tried oil yet, pretty intimidated by them at this point.  Plus, I don't have the $$ to reinvest into yet another medium.  So in the mean time I'm going to continue with my acrylics. 

"Landscape #3" 9x12 Acrylic on Canvas board

"Apple" 8x10 Acrylic on Wrapped Canvas

Friday, March 18, 2011

Landscape #2

OK, I think I finished it.  I went back and used some GOLDEN Retarder and Titanium White to help soften the sky a little.  Then I started on the trees.  They needed to be lighter and I needed to fill them in a bit.  It took a little more experimentation than I anticipated, but the end result is OK.  I moved onto the fields.  During this process I finally concluded where the light was coming from (the left).  This helped me to decide how to go about adding the detail into the fields.  Playing with these colors was a lot of fun.  There was a lot of blending involved.  I manipulated the terrain a bit, but it's hardly noticeable unless you know where to look.  I may end up keeping this one.  I really like my rock/boulder!  Just Ultramarine Blue, Titanium White and a little Phthalo Blue (Academy Acrylics). Not sure it's to the caliber of the art my mom usually displays in her home.  But that's OK, I'll just have to do another one!

For next time, I'm going to do a landscape again.  Most likely will keep it smaller too, like the "Tree with Flowers".  Working on the 9x12 canvas board allowed me to focus and keep my colors and composition a bit tighter.  I enjoy working larger, but that may have to wait a bit.  Again, if you have any comments or constructive criticism, please share. Also, forgive the lighting, it's actually a bit darker than it appears. 

"Wild Blueberry Fields in the Fall", Acrylic, 16x12

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I haven't forgotten about my fields painting.  I can't get it off my mind actually.  I keep thinking over and over what I'm going to do to improve on it.  I have a few ideas, I may even just paint over the whole thing and start again; an idea I'm warming up to. 

Aside from working on my game plan, pulling everything out and setting up seems daunting.  This whole week it's been just the baby and me all day.  Rodney's shift changed to days, which threw a wrench into everything.  AND the baby has officially switched to an afternoon nap, but that's a good thing.  However, it means he goes down a bit later which eats into my personal time. 

Just need to get started again.  It's just like an earlier post, inspiration and motivation come in short bursts.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I finished two landscapes this week. The first one was from the class I attended on Thursday, "Tree with Flowers".  I'm very happy. I sort have surprised myself with it.

The second one is supposed to be for my mom, titled "Wild Blueberry Fields in the Fall". It was/is a challenge. It still may be considered a work in progress.  Something is missing...  I want the fields to be vibrant.  Its supposed to be more representational than photo realistic.  I may have to come back to it tomorrow. 

Constructive comments are welcome.

9x12 Acrylic "Tree with Flowers"

12x16 Acrylic "Wild Blueberry Fields in the Fall"

Friday, March 4, 2011

A painting class

Signed up for a Michael's Fine Art class a few weeks ago.  It was advertised as a landscape course.  I was excited because I haven't completed a landscape before.  Showed up to the class and was informed by the instructor this was his first class. Oh! and that he hates doing landscapes...Awesome.  But we did one any way.  It was only me and another lady who flaked out in the middle of it and quit because she just couldn't get the hang of it.  It really wasn't that difficult, but she was used to watercolors and we were using acrylics.  Pretty happy with the end result.  Still needs to be finished.  I'll post a pic when its done.  I would really like to take a real art class, where I could be taught something. Alas, not much in the way of availability here.  Just have to keep up with the trial-and-error technique. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Practice, practice, practice...

I set up today to work with pastels.  I've always done pretty well with this media, so I wanted to revisit it.  Originally, I wanted to work with color on a floral arrangement I have in the house.  As I went to set it up I decided to make it more of a still life with other objects, but I really couldn't find any other items that I thought would work. In my search I spotted some ramekins.  I stacked them up in a rather challenging formation and sat down to work.  I set out to make this an exercise and not any sort of final work.  I needed to work on my values and proportions. 

I used  a 9x12 Canson Pastel Mi-Teintes 98LB grey/blue paper, with white pastel and a 3-6mm Farber-Castell Natural Charcoal stick. 

The most challenging part of this set up was the tilted ramekin.  It didn't turn out quite right.  I wasn't able to achieve the depth I wanted in the bowl with the proper shadowing.  Other than that, I am quite pleased with the result. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Competition Submission Update

So I did it.  I sent in my work yesterday to the Dave Brown Project 2nd Semiannual Competition.  The 4 I ultimately chose were: Custer Valley (renamed South Dakota), Minnesota Sunset (renamed Minnesota), Baxter State Park (renamed Maine), and Lake Towada Dock (renamed Lake Towada, Japan). 

Mr. Dave Brown has already provided me with some feedback, which I greatly appreciate.  He felt that images 2 and 4 (Minnesota, and Lake Towada, Japan) were the strongest of the 4.  What that means, not exactly sure.  Does it mean they're all bad, but 2 and 4 are less so? Not sure.  Will I make the top 25 or even the winning 7? Most likely not, but I'm happy I did it win or lose.  I'm not tyring to be all self-defeating here, just realistic. 

I've put the 4 images up here again.  If one wins or is recognized and you want a print, lets talk :)
South Dakota

Lake Towada, Japan

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Color Theory

How I wish I had taken or could take a class in it!!  There's an exercise in "Acrylics for Dummies" that does a one color, two color, and three color paintings.  Essentially you do three paintings of the same scene but with one color, then it's complimentary color, and finally three colors or you can use the whole spectrum.  So I started with a single color exercise in Ultramarine Blue.  Only white, ultramarine, and black were used.  Pretty excited how it came out.  I may just use Ultramarine Blue for a number of works so I can really get a feel and understanding of this color.  

Motivation to paint tomorrow?  I put a large glob of paint on my Stay-Wet palette that I desperately need to use so I don't feel like I'm wasting it.  So will definitely have to paint tomorrow, darn it! ;)

Feels good to paint again.  As the blogs name points out, I was interrupted by life (again).  I knocked out a first draft for a manuscript submission, paid the bills, and other general household hold ups.  My husband also gave me a "bedtime".  I need to be in bed no later than 9:30pm otherwise I can't make it through the day.  Thank goodness for Tazo "Awake" tea.  Kinda sad, but when I didn't make an effort I'd be up way too late.  Since completing this one piece took 2.5hrs, I can paint catch up on a little TV then go to bed.  I want to make this a daily habit.  Just need to make the commitment and stick with it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Submission for a Competition?

So I signed up with a website that promotes art competitions. Some are free, some are not.  This one popped up this morning and I'm giving it serious thought.  You can check out ther Prospectus here: Dave Brown Project Prospectus  There's a $40 entry fee, but that seems pretty reasonable to me.  I've never entered one of these before.  I figure I don't really have anything to lose (except $40).  If it's picked great!  If not, no biggie.  My whole career and definition as an artist isn't based solely on this entry. 

The subject matter can be anything and the media can be anything.  I was thinking one of my photographs may be the most appropriate.  These are the ones I'm considering.  Tell me which one you like and why, please :)

Custer Peak Valley

Custer Peak Valley 2

October Aspens

Minnesota Sunset

Baxter State Park

Lake Towada Dock, Japan


This is just for fun, if you don't see one you think would be appropriate for submission, please tell me!  I don't want to look like a fool, I want to feel like I at least gave it my best shot.  I'm not telling which one is my choice before I see what everyone else thinks.  Thanks everyone!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

New Works!

Yeay! Finally have some pieces completed!  This first was taken from a book I mentioned earlier (100 Creative Drawing Ideas).  Take an object and focus on a single point that does not represent the object as a whole.  Since I'm surrounded by toys, I decided to use what's around.  Can you tell what it is?  I intend to transfer this into an acrylic painting on a larger canvas. 

Which brings me to my next piece. I finally did it. I bought paints (Golden brand) and some new brushes.  I watched a YouTube video of an artist.  Her segments are called Karrie on Canvas.  She's really fun to watch.  One of her videos was an abstracted flower piece.  Now, I didn't follow her 100% but I used it as a source of inspiration.  The whole point of the exercise was to loosen up and just paint. So that's what I did!

It took some additional time since I am quite rusty with my color theory.  For example, the background was a much brighter red at one point, the table was purple, and the vase was yellow.  I think the end product is more than acceptable. Especially  since it's the first acrylic painting I've done in over 10 years. 

Speaking of color theory, I REALLY need to brush up on it.  I have an exercise I found in "Acrylic Painting for Dummies".  You paint the same scene, but the first one is in one color only.  The colors are to range from pure white to black with the color gradation in between.  The second piece uses 2 complimentary colors, and third with either 3 colors for the full color wheel.  I think I'm going to paint a really large color wheel that can double not only as a reference piece but also as an art piece I can hang in my living room/dining room and it wont look out of place (our house is full of bright colors). Since I don't have a work space, I work at the dining room table so it would be nice to have it right there.  

In conclusion, Yeay! I finished two pieces!! Feel darn right proud of myself.  I hope you enjoy them too.

PS. If you haven't go to the Google Art Project yet, you must go, go now! :)

Colors 1: Prisma Colored Pencils, Strathmore 80#
Colors 2: Golden Acrylics, canvas board

Colors 1

Colors 2

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Going back to what I know

Of all the work I've done, the pieces that got the most attention have been either my graphite still-life's or photo manipulation.  I mentioned earlier about going back to what I'm good at and growing from there.  So I think I'm going to head that direction.  I may have even found a source of inspiration. 

I have always been drawn emotionally and spiritually to the culture of the Native American.  As long as I can remember I have always held a curiosity and respect for their art and beliefs.  Living in South Dakota has brought me into the presence of a great nation, the Ogala Lakota Sioux.  Everyone is in some way familiar with the Sioux. Crazy Horse, battle of Wounded Knee, Custer's Last Stand, Sitting Bull, Dances with Wolves, the teepee, the war bonnet, intricate beadwork and many other iconic images that we use to associate with the "Indian".  You can't spend time in the Black Hills without feeling and understanding why this area was sacred to the Sioux people. I highly recommend "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", by Dee Brown.  There's a whole different side to how the west was won, or as some have put it "how the west was lost..." For any one who fancies themselves an American History buff, it should be required reading. 

So I hope that my source of inspiration, the buffalo and  War Bonnet, do justice to show my respect and awe of this beautiful culture.  I hope to use my personal buffalo photographs as well as borrow from an item that is quite exquisite, a buffalo skull with war bonnet imagery.  I hope to convey as sense of life/death/rebirth with my work.  I don't want to go into too much detail, but I really hope I come through on this one.