Friday, December 30, 2011

New Painting Finished!

After giving my brother & sister-in-law a painting of Rudy (the painting I actually use in this blog banner!), they loved it and expressed a desire to have a painting off all their canine kids.  I just completed it this morning, photo'd, and mailed it off.  It's a surprise!  Shhh...!  I hope they like it!  It's a quarter sheet in size, slightly bigger than I normally paint in, but with four pups in the frame I needed to go bigger.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Still Sketchin' Daily

I am still sketching daily in my 75-Day Sketch Challenge. This is one page I feel good about, a sketch of an ametrine crystal I bought a couple years ago at the Tucson Gem Show. There is truly some fascinating colors in this rock, mostly an amethyst shade but with yellow and gold glowing from within.

This morning I spent quite a bit of time looking at handwritten font styles, as well as ways to portray dates in your journal. One of the biggest take-away's from my info-gathering this morning is to SLOW DOWN when writing letters in a journal. I used to have good penmanship and I remember clearly in elementary school working hard on it and trying to decide on my own personal style. I had a few weeks of drafting in middle school and that further motivated me to write neatly. But ever since the Computer Age dawned for me in the early-1980's, my penmanship and lettering has gotten progressively sloppy and hurried. I've felt vaguely ashamed about it, but would just shrug it off as a sign of the times. Now it seems an old artform is resurging into my awareness, the lost artform of hand lettering and neat penmanship. And another thing I discovered this morning? It's almost impossible to find information on just how to do this on the Web. It's all about digitized fonts, baby.

One thing I want to mention is that the palette you see contains Winsor and Newton Cotman paints that have been removed from the original lumbering plastic container into this nice streamlined Altoids tin (sprayed inside with black enamel gloss paint since I did not have white). I like it!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

"No Excuses" Sketch Kit

I came across Laure Ferlita's blog which led me to her demonstration video on the "No Excuses Sketch Kit". This kit is so small, so compact, that there is absolutely no excuse why someone who wants to sketch on-the-go could complain of lack of materials on hand. Your watercolor palette is simply patches of pigment scribbled in from watercolor pencils onto a folded piece of watercolor paper. To use the pigment, simply apply the tip of a waterbrush to the patch and get some color and paint!

Years ago I found a Derwent 36-color watercolor pencil set for a good price ($20 I think) at Costco and picked it up--and consequently hardly ever used it. Now Laure has inspired me to make a good use of it! So I gave it a try, and did a little ACEO-sized painting (on Yupo paper) with it:

Now this is a kit I can actually put into my small purse! Thanks, Laure!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Start of a 75 Day Sketch Challenge

I've recently discovered Brenda Swenson's blog and I really love the pen and watercolor style she uses in her sketchbooks. And the color! I am so inspired by her work (as well as other's such as Cathy Johnson, Leslie Fehling, Elizabeth Smith, and Susan Cornelis), I now realize that I want to channel much of my painting energy into sketchbooks more than stand-alone paintings. One of the issues I've had about painting is the growing stack of paintings on my closet shelf--somehow I'd much rather have a growing stack of completed sketchbooks, especially from my travels (but also from other elements of my life)! The idea of the sketchbook really attracts me now and gives me a better "place" to put my painting practice.

But I need to learn to draw better. I have a confession...I often work by tracing a print-to-size photograph onto my watercolor paper (using a lightbox) and painting from there. I'd usually rather paint than draw, mostly because I don't think I draw all that well. But can't I change that with practice, practice, practice? I believe so!

So when I read about Brenda Swenson's 75 Day Sketch Challenge, I figured, why not? I intended to practice painting in my sketchbooks anyway, why not rise to a more structured challenge? Well, it's not that structured. There are really only two rules: 1) Do a sketch every day for 75 consecutive days, and 2) Do these sketches in ink, not pencil. Brenda's experience doing this has shown her that such an endeavor has made a huge difference for her artwork. I believe I too can improve this way, and hopefully get more confident about my drawing!

So there is no better time than the present--here is a photo of my first sketch, of the back of my home, in my Pentalic Nature Sketch Journal, using a Pigma Micron pen, Niji waterbrush, and watercolor paints:

It's got issues, but not bad for my first! I plan to continue the practice (but I won't burden this blog with daily updates) and hope to get better!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again

I was amazed to discover I actually took one full year off from watercolor painting! It was a busy year, with lots of trips (including a month-long trip to Europe!) and painting just kinda got away from me. It happens. I returned to it because I wanted to paint a wedding card for some friends-I wanted something personal and not standard from a card shop. So I got out my Yupo paper and painted this from a photo from their engagement shoot. I love Yupo paper to paint on, how it's taught me to loose up my strokes, how the white of the paper really allows the color of the paint to come through, and the splotchy effects you can get by spritzing a bit of alcohol onto the wet paint. The card was a hit, and they really expressed their appreciation for this painting!

So with that bit of succes

s I felt motivated to get back into a regular painting practice. One of my "hangups" about painting is the issue to where to put all the paintings I do. I dislike having stacks and stacks of paintings laying around. I came up with a solution, though: practice painting in a small sketchbook! So while in Flagstaff recently I bought a Pentalic Nature Sketch book, and for my first painting in it I did a (sorta) plein air of the San Francisco Peaks (as seen from the window of my mother-in-law's hospital room). I first sketched the outlines in pencil, drew over them with a Pigma Micron pen, and added washes of color using the paints from my little Altoid palette (containing French Ultramarine, Hansa Yellow, Red Rose Deep, Carbazole Violet, Sap Green, Quinacridone Burnt Orange). I since have done a few more practice paintings in this sketchbook, mostly from photo references.

With my painting juices flowing, I did a couple more paintings on "real" paper:

The horse silhouette is a 5x7" on Arches 140 lb paper from a friend's photo taken of his wife working her horse with the last bit of light left in the day. I loved the color in the sky gradient and just had to paint it. I sent the painting off to them in the mail as a surprise. The second is a 5x7" on Yupo of a friends puppy mastiff, taken just after he graduated from obedience school. I will be giving this away as well when I see these friends next. Giving paintings away is another good way to keep the stack of old paintings from growing in the closet!