Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Watercolor workshop

This last weekend I had the opportunity to teach a workshop to the Watercolor Society of Grand Forks, ND. They were the most experienced group I've ever taught, which was intimidating at first, but turned out to be lots of fun! It was two days long, and on the first days we did florals. We all did the same lily in the morning and a floral of their choice in the afternoon. My demo mostly showed how I paint my flowers wet-into-wet but just wetting a petal at a time and dropping in lots of bold, strong color. I add layers where needed, but try to get the strength of color in all at once so that I don't end up covering up the cool effects that the paint makes on it's own. Love letting watercolor be watercolor!
The second day we painted a landscape and then spent the remaining time touching up the three paintings we'd started. In my demo on landscapes I showed how I try to paint shapes that are similar value areas. Something that a lot of my students commented on was the small white line I often leave between my areas to keep them from bleeding together when I don't want to wait for them to dry fully. One student mentioned how this could be useful in plein air painting. I hadn't thought of that! Glad she found a use for a technique I use. Here's the demo I did that day:
Overall it was a great experience that forced me outside my comfort zone and helped me learn more how to explain what I'm doing and why, which made me think about both in the first place!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Commission complete!

Commissions are such a mixed bag of emotions! It's great knowing that there is a paycheck at the end and it's fantastic knowing there's somebody who's going to love the painting but it's so worrisome that that very person who it's intended for, won't. Especially in this case. A friend asked me to paint a very conceptual painting for her with birds representing her living kids and hollow birds representing the ones she miscarried. So clearly it means a lot to her. And she had an image in her head. Wanting it to be predominantly black and white, with a tree, but not too cold. The first birds I drew for her in a preliminary sketch looked kinda ... evil. Back to the drawing board. Literally. And I was afraid of the tree looking dead or barren. But the tree turned out to be the easiest part because I've painted plenty of trees. Birds, not so much. And I wanted to give each one it's own flair, representing the different personalities of her kids. I'm finally happy with it, although I cannot for the life of me get a good picture. Hope she likes it too.
Here are some details that actually show some of the variation I can't get the camera to pick up further out: 

Cross your fingers!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Summer Art Camps 2015

Can't wait to have fun with all the new projects we'll be doing this year. So excited! I love sharing what I love with kids!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Frozen Solid

I think she's done! I've wrestled with the trees a bit. Then I went and lightened the sky so that the horizon stood out more and so that you could better see the holes in the trees that the little birdies can fly through. Another artist told me once that you have to make sure and leave holes in your trees for the little birdies to fly through and I always think of it now when I can see sky through the branches! But it sure does help them look more real and less Charlie Brown Christmas tree-esque. My biggest complaint is probably how the cloud trails direct your eye to the upper right corner. Do they make it go right off the page? Or is it a nice mirror of the tree line?
By the way, this was at a rest stop/viewing point in South Dakota. First time I'd seen a whole lake frozen over!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Frozen Solitude

I love looking out on lakes that are completely frozen over. The subtle patterns on the ice are so dreamlike. Hard to portray though, especially from a distance. I really wasn't sure what to do with the sky since the photo was rather blah. I like the wispy feel of it, although the composition is bugging me. Particularly the two dark purple, partial shape-shadows that both disappear equally off the left side. In the photo the sky is quite light with such slight variations in the wintery, overcast sky. As I've tried to release myself from the need to portray things exactly as they are, I always feel this tug between creativity and reality. Like they're an angel and a devil on my shoulder. One says it'll look better if I do this while the other says, but the photo says it's supposed to be that way. So hard to know which to follow sometimes. And who will win. 
To make matters worse, I'm still not sure if I am creative enough to come up with something that will truly improve what was already there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Lonely Stand

I like the horse more this after a night's sleep. Yay for sleep! Then I went and got a little carried away with the grassy foreground. It's just so hard not to - I get lost in the different shades blowing around and the movement...I don't know how to portray it without the detail yet. So I might've lost the style I was going for a bit but I do think it still works. It's that bottom triangle area that might cause me to lose some sleep. I don't think it works and I'm not entirely sure what to do about it. I'm tempted to make it the side of a river but I feel like that would mess with the uphill slant of the terrain. Maybe just add more stray grass or brownify the dirt a bit. Not sure...

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Hills are Alive

New painting...what's it's name...not really sure...hmmm...
It started out rather quickly once I was finally able to pick a picture to work from and rearrange the composition a bit in hopes that the tree and horse would balance the landscape. I like the sketchy feel of the grass, the sky and the light on the tree. The foreground clearly needs a bit of work. Like I'm not totally sure what to do... In the picture that's the gravely side of the road. Less picturesque than I'd like it to.
And then I spent the whole evening painting the horse. She kinda looks to me like she wants to catch a ride. And like she got her knees dirty. Is she too splotchy?
And what to call the painting...