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 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