Saturday, October 29, 2011

Deserted Splendor

Finished! I had to finish it by today to submit it to this competition I wanted to enter, and just barely made it. Like finally finished painting, photographed it, burned the CD, and dropped it off at the post office 5 minutes before they closed. Haha! I win. Although that did mean I missed and (even worse!) made my wonderfully supportive, loving, fantastic husband miss pretty much the whole 2nd half of the University of Oregon's football game (and that was the only good half). Thanks love! But I finished it. Even after I ruined it last night. I'm not even kidding. I decided that to suggest the rocks above the cliff and below it, I should try splattering a variety of colors. And after convincing my other, more reasonable and conservative side to just go for it, I did ... and it stunk! It looked awful. Dreadful. Wretched. It ruined the whole darn thing. Didn't match the style AT ALL. I was bouncing all around, looking at it from all angles, trying to see a way in which it wasn't a disaster. There was none. So I tried to wash it off. And you could still totally see it. And then my eyes fell upon my old, hardly-used tube of white gouache (more opaque than watercolor). And I used it to save the painting. More than that even because combined with a couple of other colors, it created a much better, stronger sandy color that I am a big fan of. In fact, I think it makes for a stronger painting. How often does a bad, rash decision turn out so well?! Haha! I also made a few other, smarter changes like lightening the purple mountains and darkening or intensifying the trees so they stood out more instead of getting lost in the mountain. And I think it's fun, even if I did possibly overuse my new leaf green color (bright, light, yellow green). What do you think?
*This painting was done for this month's Virtual Paintout challenge (It should show up on the site soon). I've wanted to do it for months but have never got around to it. I finally did, with 2 whole days to spare in the month!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Progress Report

So I was feeling like I hadn't made much progress and then I went to blog and saw where I was last night, and suddenly I'm feeling much better about things. I like my purple mountains majesty. I just plopped those in there, not wanting a solid wall of trees. I thought it would be nicer to simplify, and air things out a bit. And to add mountains. Purple ones. And I like the spiky little plant just left of center. Not so happy about the whiter one that snuck right into dead center. What is it thinking committing that compositional faux pas? Dumb little plant. Other than that, the painting excites me. I looked at it longingly many times today when I had to do laundry instead. My little painting station shouldn't be so near the washer and dryer. It could explain why the laundry has been piling up so ridiculously. Let's just say I don't think it's a coincidence.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Being sick stinks

Hurrah for an awesome tree (in the middle)! If nothing else comes of it, I love that tree. And that kept me painting tonight even though I'm sicker than a dog. But I must give in now and go put myself to sleep because moms are not allowed to stay in bed sick in the morning.Which is very sad. But I'm thankful for my three little people who'll need me in the morning all the same. And for their sake, I now sleep and hopefully dream of how to make the rest of the painting as cool as that tree.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A new beginning

Getting started on a new, fun landscape. All I can really say so far is it's going to take awhile! I spend a lot of time staring at it trying to figure out how to paint distinct, understandable patches of colors instead of blending it all gradually and nicely and comfortably. Trying to let the details of reality go, and paint in this shape-driven style that I've been yearning to develop more. My favorite paintings of the last year were done this way, like my Lazy Afternoon in the Gorge. I get really, really excited about it. I just don't exactly know how to do it. Haha! The only answer is to keep plugging away though. And to spend less time staring and more time painting!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Background Check

Hmm ... is it done? I was planning on doing a dark, dramatic background, partially because it actually is dark in the photo and it sets it off really nicely. However, the real dark is shadow from another row of tulips that I eliminated from the painting for the sake of the composition. To keep it clean. So I started to feel worried that the dark background wouldn't fit, especially because it wouldn't make sense (how would the light be coming from behind if behind is black?) and I wanted it to stay light and airy. Not heavy. I kept pacing, trying to decide what to do, really wishing I had Photoshop and could've tried out a few different background colors without messing with the painting itself. Someday! Then I figured, hey, why not paint a light blue background and if I'm not happy with it, I can always add to it to make it as dark as I want. I added a little salt for interest in the blue (salt dropped on the wet areas makes those crazy little snowflake-type variations), which I think is nice. I like how fresh and happy it feels. I worry a little that the blue is too expected and thus, boring, but I don't know. Time to sleep on it. What do you think? Leave it as is?
Oh and here's the reference photo (As I mentioned, I changed a bit for the sake of a clean, interesting composition. Mother Nature is awesome, but often tends to clutter things a bit):

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A little perspective

So when I woke up today I had the goal of finishing this painting before I went to sleep tonight. But I couldn't get right to work because we had to start the day off cleaning since we'd had a really tough week and I'd let the house fall apart. Without going into details, we'd dealt with a lot of stress and then a big disappointment. But then this morning we heard that our friends lost their 2 month-old baby to SIDS today, and suddenly our trials seemed pretty small by comparison. My heart is breaking for them. I can't begin to imagine what they're going through. And so when I had to decide between going somewhere to do something fun as a family or painting, painting lost. I got a little bit done much later at night, but even then had a hard time focusing. I am so grateful for what really matters. I am so grateful for my 3 beautiful, healthy children and my loving husband. Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends tonight.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Dreaming of tulips

Sadly my class is over! Last night was the last class, and I can't believe how quickly it went. My head is full of ideas of projects I want to do next class and alas, it is over. But the ladies in my class were wonderful, and I really enjoyed getting to know them. They seemed to enjoy it and I enjoyed teaching it even more than I'd expected. It was seriously good for the self-esteem (I hadn't been sure I knew enough to share) as they were so complimentary and eager to glean tips and techniques. I hope to get to do it again! And here is where my tulips stand. I'm trying desperately hard to keep them as light and airy and soft as I can. Nobody wants a tulip so heavy it'd be hard to lift! I need them to appear as the sun is glowing right through their delicate petals. And the other challenge is, how much of the background to do, and how much to fade out, leaving the tulips to steal the show. I had this crazy urge last night to take a spray bottle to the painting, get everything nice and wet and let those green stems in particular just drip down and fill in the white space. Maybe I'll try that on a little practice sheet sometime. I'm rather unlikely to be that daring after all that work on the flowers, crazy late-night urges or not!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tulip demo

So last week's class was great except for some serious technology issues. Curses for relying on technology! I should know better, seriously. Computers have always hated me. It's possible they have to do with the wrong side of my brain. But that aside, we looked at a bunch of extremely inspiring floral paintings on websites or blogs that I frequent, penciled in our new challenge and I demoed how to get started. Clearly all I did was get started, as there is a whole lot of white space left. But I chose this fantastic photo with such amazing lighting. I love it when the sun glows through a red flower, in this case a tulip, and turns it fiery orange and brilliant yellow. It's eye candy. The real challenge is translating that glorious awesomeness to my paper! Gulp.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A rose by any other name ...

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. - Henri Matisse
I'm no Matisse, but I do think the darks and contrast in the red rose make it pleasantly dramatic. I wish there had been more veins to paint! Those really captured my imagination but alas, I had to hold back as putting them anywhere else would've made it look old and dried out. No good. So here it is finished and full of life! Ta dah! 

A rose is the visible result of an infinitude of complicated goings on in the bosom of the earth and in the air above, and similarly a work of art is the product of strange activities in the human mind. Clive Bell  
I always knew I was strange! Ha! Good thing I have art to let it out on! Otherwise it might spill out into other areas of my life :) Nobody comment on that please.
When I was finished with my rose, my hubby was still at work finishing up some things so I did a quick sketch of this lovely fella, not spending time worrying about composition or any of those other pesky problems. I don't really paint animals. Can't say I ever ever have in fact, so I wasn't ready to commit to an actual painting, but I wanted to play around and my poor, beautiful watercolor sketchbook has been rather lonely as of late. I did discover that it's paper has a major flaw. It doesn't allow you to scrub out areas to remove color. The paper partially rubs off with it. Bad news. Especially for the way I paint. Fortunately for the sketchbook, the outside and gorgeous-edged homemade paper might just be lovely enough to be forgiven for this serious flaw.
Only time can tell.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Super Close to Finished

So I should know better than to say that I'll finish something the next day. I did actually give it a shot and painted, so at least there's that. But it is not as done as I had planned on it being. Super close. Just a bit left on the leaves, and possibly adding a bit of depth to some of the background. For some reason it seems to lack a bit of umph, but that could be the late night talking. We'll see in the morning. Is it just me or do things always look a little better the next day? I almost wish I had cut it off above where the highest leaf hits the rose. It would basically make a square painting then. Do you think the composition is better that way? It does cut out a bit of the veins on that petal which would be a bummer because those are neat, even if they do possibly seem a bit out of place. See, I should just wait until the morning. We'll see what surfaces then.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Red Rose Continued

Yesterday I got a bunch more done on the red rose I had started as a demo. I fully expected to be able to finish it last night but then we took the kids on this monster bike ride and couldn't seem to move the rest of the night. And today it didn't happen either sadly. So my painting accomplishment of the night is just this quick blog post. At least it's something to motivate me to get back to work tomorrow and finish up this little beauty, reminding myself to not lose the light areas to all that deep, rich color I like so much. Especially because I need the lights and whites to make the deeps deeper and the richness richer. After a good night sleep - look at how good I'm being going to bed before 11 - I'll finish her up tomorrow!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Practicing to be Artists

 I used to draw a lot. I loved taking sketch books with me and being that quirky person that was sketching at a baseball game or orchestra concert or while lounging in the park. But probably due to my lack of free hands when I'm out and about, and my lack of time to pursue creative endeavors, I don't draw anymore unless it's a quick line drawing for a painting. But for some reason this morning, while it was just me and my second daughter hanging out, I decided to draw. Wasn't really feeling up to serious painting. My daughter grabbed a pencil too and her paints as well, and announced, "I gotta practice and practice because I want to be an artist when I grow up and I need lots of practice." I second that!
Both of these sketches are from old photos of my daughters. The first has since lost those pudgy cheeks that I adored, and the second would have a hard time getting that dress to cover the essentials, but I've kept those photos in my "people to paint" files because they make me smile. I sure feel out of practice, but I really enjoy sketching people.  It's relaxing. Feels like getting back to basics, to a comfortable old classroom or something.
I even got a little bolder for the second one and used a darker pencil (which I never pick up for my watercolors) ... at least for the dress. So they're not perfect but they were fun to do and we gotta keep practicing so we can be artists when we grow up!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Candy Corn Art

So I rarely get around to using creative energy on anything but my watercolors, but this weekend the girls and I decided to break out the hot glue gun and have some fun together. They're a little excited for Halloween, and have been begging to make decorations. I had seen this fantastic candy corn wreath on the cover of some magazine (don't even remember the name of it) awhile back and thought it looked absolutely delicious in every way. I couldn't really remember anything about it other than it was covered in candy corns and was adorable. To add a bit of drama we first wrapped ours in thick black ribbon, gluing and pinning it into our styrofoam wreath in the back. Then I managed the glue gun and the girls carefully placed their candy corns round and round and round, eating the broken ones of course.
When we finished it looked like it was still missing something so I added a bow to hang it from. And ta dah! I love it! So easy! So quick! So fun! Our door just looks happier, even if it does make me a little hungry.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2nd Class: Roses

So I figured I couldn't give a beginning watercolor class on painting flowers without doing roses, so here we are. These are my two demos. Everybody in the class picked one of two photos, from which I started these paintings. Because they really like to see what colors I use and how I specifically do what they're going to try to do, I went ahead and demoed both of them. Which is also nice because I never had to wait for anything to dry. There was always something to paint! As soon as class was over, we went out-of-town for the weekend, but now we're back, so back to work!