Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Seeking Inspiration

Before I paint, I often spend time looking through the blogs and websites of watercolor artists from around the world. It helps me get inspired to get started painting. I love finding new artists that I admire. Here's a link to one that has left me breathless tonight by an artist named Deborah Haggman. I've never met her despite her being local, nor have I met most of the artists listed on my blog roll. Thank you for those who comment on mine despite not knowing me! I love seeing the beauty of yours and others' paintings and of being able to look through them with the click of a key. So not the same thing as seeing them in person, but wonderful for a night when I lack my own motivation!

Ah, Italia

So liking my Warsaw painting made me want to try to quickly paint a few more European architecture ones. My gallery is all out of my Italy paintings because they've all sold so it would be a good idea to replace them with a few as well. Funny how they're people's favorites when I feel they're not very unique or creative, nor the most fun to paint. So I am trying to challenge myself to put a little more me into it this time if possible, despite the fact that it's not even a pic that I took (It's a photo taken by my family last year when they went to Italy. ¡Cómo me encantaría ir a Italia para tomar mis propias fotos!). Funny how looking at the painting-in-progress on the computer next to the photo helps me see some things, like the imperfect perspective. But I do like the color I've added, and hope the composition is strong enough. I've gotta admit I'm a little scared of the domes, but what's the point in "challenging" myself if I stay in my comfort zone!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How do you say 'finished' in Polish?

Good weekend! I won an honorable mention ribbon at the Festival of the Arts for my Columbia Gorge painting, which, by the way, I repainted the water the night before finishing it somewhere around 2 AM. Good times. And then we framed it an hour before we brought it to the competition. That's how we work.
And I worked a bunch more on the Warsaw painting, inspired by all the art I saw at the Festival, and by a good night's sleep and a Saturday filled with free time to paint.
And I even finished it.Yeah! It went so much quicker this time!! I guess having a real plan does save time later. I did make some changes though. I think the best improvements are the new chairs, the separation between the trees and lamp posts, and the striped whatever-it's-called over the front door. What do you think? Do you agree it's better?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Back to Warsaw

Hopefully this isn't too boring, since it's basically a repeat, but here is the progress I've been making on the Warsaw street redo. My friend who commissioned it, really loved the smaller one, but decided she did want it a little bigger. It was actually really fun to see how much she loved it. She was so excited because she recognized the street and it brought back great memories for her. I had planned on just basically copying what I'd done the first time so that I didn't have to spend all the time thinking about how to make things work, but one of her favorite memories is about all the flowers that were everywhere, so I've been trying to add a bit more. Plus, being a whole lot bigger there was a lot more room. Hopefully I can finish it soon without the added detail causing too much trouble!

Friday, June 17, 2011

My sad, sad story

Okay so it wasn't anything serious. Pathetic would be a better word actually. Here goes. My husband was out of town this week (which was sad enough by the way), and while he was gone I thought I'd surprise him. I never get to paint something for him because he's always here and would see it and so there'd be no surprise, but here I had a chance. I'd always wanted to paint the LDS temple we got married in nearly 7 years ago now, and it would make such a perfect Father's Day present! For some reason I really wanted to do it in acrylics - odd because I haven't painted with acrylics in like 10 years - on this nice, deep canvas I had conveniently gessoed like a month earlier. So I got really excited by my idea and got started. Here was the underglaze, or at least I think that's what you'd call it:
Then I did the sky and was really excited by it ( I would have posted it that night but I couldn't risk him seeing it):
Then I had only one more night to work. I was busy with the last day of school and swimming lessons and just taking care of the kids on my own so despite eyeing it longingly all day long, I didn't get around to it until they'd been asleep and I'd rested and recovered. Finally I got everything out and set up and ready to go ... and then discovered I was 100% out of white paint. I couldn't paint a temple without white paint!! And the kids were already asleep, and Aaron Brother's was closing in half an hour, and I couldn't leave them alone, and AAAHHH! I called a couple of neighbors and couldn't find anyone to come stay in my apartment while I ran to the store. I felt like such a spaz honestly. Finally one friend called me back and rushed over. I ran to the store, getting there right as they locked the doors. Sad. So I ran to Fred Meyer hoping they'd have something. They had one line of low-quality paints in all colors EXCEPT white. They were out. I waited at customer service just to find out that they didn't have any extras in the back. Knowing it would be fruitless but out of any other options I ran to Target, where they didn't have any paint. Crushed and defeated, I drove home. And seriously, I hit every red light there and back. So I sadly put everything away and cleaned the house. We ran to the store as soon as it opened in the morning and I was able to get some more done before he got home, but alas, there was not time to finish it. So here is the unfinished, ruined surprise that was almost so cool:
My wonderful husband still thinks it's cool. Now, at least I'll be able to finish it with a little less rush. It was sad though. I so seldom get to surprise him with anything, and I was so looking forward to it. Oh well. I'll post the picture when it's done. Thanks for reading along and sympathizing with me and my long rather dramatic telling of my disappointing night!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Just playin' around

I couldn't figure out what to paint tonight that inspired me enough to overcome the exhausted feeling that was trying to convince me to do nothing ... until I spent some time sketching. I don't do that often enough. Then (and I know this doesn't make a ton of sense), I liked the sketch, turned my board around and started to paint something I'd sketched the other night. Whatever works, right? And this is what I got done! It's from one of my favorite photos of all times of my nieces and daughters skipping down a row at the Tulip Festival. Sadly, when I penciled it in, I didn't center it correctly, leaving no room for my other daughter, who's supposed to be on the left. Shh, don't tell. But my goal tonight was to not worry about details and just paint the shapes made by the shadows. And to keep the colors from getting muddy, which sometimes happens in my shadows. To help me stay on goal, I sat far enough back from the computer screen that I couldn't really see any of the details in the girls. It worked! And it was fun! AND I even like it. Now that's really what I needed. The trick will be staying loose while adding just enough definition to suggest detail. Tomorrow. Anyone know that trick?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dreaming of the beach

We went home to Portland for the weekend since my brother, who lives in Utah, and my sister, who's moving to New York, were going to be in town for about 48 hours. It was a long trip with the kids but worth it, of course. While we watched a movie last night I did take the chance to paint a sketch in my notebook of the coast. We saw an amazingly inspiring sunset while we were at the beach a couple of weeks ago - I've always said God is the most incredible artist. We all are just trying to learn from Him.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


So I think it's done. Do you agree? I really like the lamp in the foreground. It was the last thing I added actually. I had considered putting the lamps in many times but I kept worrying about dividing the painting too sharply too close to the middle.  My husband likes the tables, because he feels it helps give an early morning feel, explaining why there wouldn't be people walking around. I changed the umbrellas to red when I decided they blended into the sidewalk too much and I think they help break up the foreground nicely, as do the shadows, which I also like, even after I fretted for a long time over getting their direction right. And I do like the cobblestone street. I hope it helps give the painting the "100 years ago" feel she wanted. So now I'll bring it to show her when we're down in Portland this weekend and find out if she likes it as is or if she'd prefer I make it bigger as I had planned. Oh and for fun, here's her photograph that I worked from:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good News!

 I got a little further on the painting, but not really any further on the foreground. Any suggestions? I'm not in love with the composition. How can I make it better? Then, needing something different I played around a bit:
So that was fun although not really more successful. At the very least it's certainly not finished. What does it need? However, despite my current frustrations, I got some REALLY good news today! I called the Lawrence Gallery, because I thought they had possibly sold this painting recently (it had been taken off of their website):
Imagine my surprise when I found out that it had sold ... as had these four as well!!! YAHOO!

The only disappointment is that we had forgotten to get a real picture of that last one. Bummer. I'm okay with it though, considering. I just have to remember next time. So glad to get good news!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A little progress

 So I did manage to get a little more work done today. It was barely getting anywhere until I reminded myself that this was actually supposed to be a study for the real, bigger version. So I just started going for it. Lightly painted the rest of the street in. And it felt good to make progress. I'm trying, although you wouldn't know it from looking at it, to get away from being so tight. I'd like to have the yellow building be the focus, and so in an effort to bring the attention there, have the rest of the buildings be loose. That way it will manage to be a little painterly, not just a replication from a photograph. However, I also have the problem of having to create a foreground. I really shouldn't have left so much blank space. In the photo there are cars and all sorts of stuff that my friend does not want in the painting. She doesn't want it to look like all modern, more 19th century-ish. I would honestly want the same thing if I were her. Just gotta figure out what to put there instead! But at least I got somewhere tonight. Although I could not compete with the far more productive side of the table:
Now that looks like fun!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Change of plans

After nearly two hours of face-painting the soft, miniature cheeks that don't hold still at the Elementary School Social, I'm pooped (the out-lining was a nightmare!). That will have to be the extent of my artistic endeavors for the day. On the up side, very rarely have my efforts made so many people so very happy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Commission!

Having a commission is such an ideal situation because it means there is actually a paycheck at the end of the painting! Here's what I got done tonight when I finally got going:
It's this charming street corner in Warsaw from a photo a friend took with commissioning a painting from me in mind. I'm really happy to do it for her, and I look forward to being done because if it's anything like my Venice ones, I'll be proud of the final product. But the meticulous detail, the straight lines, and the perspective are always tricky. I wish I could figure out how to loosen it up and still make it work. Either way, I've given myself a deadline of Father's Day weekend when I'll have the chance to give it to her. And then I can perhaps get around to painting my sister's wedding present before her first anniversary...

Check it out!

My sketch out the window in Gearhart worked perfect for this week's challenge to paint what you see out your window! I submitted my last cliff painting too under the critique me challenge. I'm not a member cause that costs money but I can submit stuff and get comments/critiques and possibly even theoretically sell stuff. And it's fun!