Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Can't ruin something you hate, right?

Over a year ago I painted these tulips (the blue was brighter in real life):
But I never liked them. The blue bugged me. It competed in intensity with everything else. If it had been scanned in black and white, there would hardly have been a difference at all. Plus, my favorite part was always the greenery and it just kinda blended in with the background. Made it a whole lot less interesting. I always wanted to change it but was certain that if I lightened it, if ruin it. So the only other option was dark. I wanted to make it dark dark at the bottom, but ideally it would've been nice if the bright blue could've stayed by the tulips. That failed so I had to go dark everywhere. I like it better although it does make the tulips look clunkier. Might have been a mistake but it's too late now!
Then I finally got back to my wild mustangs landscape. I really like where it wraps around the bottom. Not as sure about the dottiness in the middle. Looking forward to painting again tomorrow!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Where the Wild Mustangs Roam WIP

I think I'm off to a good start for once! I like the sky and think that this composition is going to lend itself more to keeping the foreground loose enough to match the style. I'll just have to keep reminding myself to not get carried away in the details. Also, is it just me or does anyone else crave chocolate while painting?

North Dakota Traffic Jam Finished!

So many bison behinds to paint! And so hard to give those huge, dark masses some definition so they don't just look like huge, dark masses. 
Wow. Ok, so the lighting on these two pictures is way different. I think this second one is closer to reality. But the main difference between them is I fixed the trees! I've redone them or at least their highlights at least half a dozen times. However, I think I might have overdone it on the details. I'm worried it all ends up a bit spotty. Do you think it's done?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

North Dakota traffic jam commencing

I like the addition of the bison. They just took so dang long! At first I made the one in front way too small. Had to add to his fro a bit. Still is probably a tad small. And who would think that it would take so dang long to paint a buffalo's behind? Hopefully I'll get an earlier start tomorrow (I had to plan my sons preschool class before I could start painting) and get the rest of the bison in there. Oh and I did lighten the sagebrush a bit but I'm going to have to do something about those blobs that are supposed to be trees. And possibly the shadows on the road. They look a bit too much like stiff kelp.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cluttered traffic jam WIP

Hard going tonight. Some of the shadows are good but I think I've overdone it and lost sight a bit of the blocks-of-color style I was going for. And you can't tell the trees from the brush. Have I lived in North Dakota so long that I've forgotten how to paint trees ;) 
Tomorrow I think I'll glaze over some areas to connect them more and add the bison. Then I'll see about fixing those poor trees.

Monday, March 23, 2015

North Dakota Traffic Jam WIP

I love painting with watercolors. Historically it's such an under-appreciated medium - never being taken as seriously as oil and acrylic. Today it still sells for less, although that is partially because modern tastes prefer to not have glass separating them from their artwork. And I get that. Unless you get the super-expensive, high-quality museum glass, there are annoying glares and reflections with glass. But watercolor is so much lighter. It's got soul. And it is so much more fun to paint with! That said, ever year or so I decide I should try to get back into acrylics and buy some canvases on sale and then forget that I did that and so a year later, I buy some more. I have a collection! Since I'm going to have to frame 10+ paintings, which includes mats, glass, and frames when it comes to watercolors, I was trying to figure out a way to save a little money. Long story short (too late), using up some of those canvases that don't even need to be framed would do the trick. If only I knew how to paint with acrylics...
And yet, I am just that ambitious, cheap, and overly-confident that I'll give it a try despite being on a tight deadline. Not the smartest move when I don't have any time for flops but here goes! This is what I've got so far:

Day 1: The Sky
Day 2: The Background
Day 3: Filling in
It's a scene from the North Dakota Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which is basically down the road from us. My 3-year old daughter thinks it's "boodiful." My son just wants to know why there aren't any buffalo yet. I love my critique group!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pink Cascade

So I went with the dark background. Not 100% sure about it. I've never done a background so dark but I was hoping it would help the flower pop even more. The background scenery in the photo would've just distracted and I wanted this prima donna to be the star of the show. But it changed the feel a bit so I'm not sure if it worked. Hmmm...
I have a confession to make. I LOVE the movie Notting Hill. Now I know that probably sounds totally random but there's this scene where he's asking his friends if he made a good decision when he rejected the famous actress. And they all support him with fabulous lines like "Absolutely. All actresses are mad as snakes." I feel like I need my group of friends hanging out in an empty restaurant to tell me if I've made a good decision or if I messed up finishing this one. My husband's snoring on the couch though so instead I'm just quoting the lines to a marginally relevant movie to myself when I really should be sleeping. I guess I'll have to wait until morning. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pretty, Pretty Pink

1st night:
I nearly stopped after the first four petals I hated it so much. I don't know how to work with pink having never really don't so before. I love oranges, reds, and yellows but pink kinda isn't me. Maybe it's because I have four daughters running around in pink tutus and tiaras everyday, but it just doesn't seem serious somehow. So I had no clue how to do shadows and depth with this new pink tube of paint. Intimidating. 
2nd night:
After glancing at it throughout the next day, I decided it wasn't so bad after all. I liked the cascade of colors, how they kinda drip into the next layer. Only problem was I didn't get around to painting until nearly 10 PM so I had to stop after less than an hour because I'm trying really hard to be better about getting enough sleep. However, then I lay in bed thinking because I'd left just as I really got going. Boo.
3rd night:
I couldn't make the same mistake so I kept pushing through way past when I should've gone to bed. And I really should've gone to bed. Not only am I exhausted, this was crazy difficult to paint! I'd been scared of the middle. There's so much tiny detail in there, and it's so different than the rest, and it's where the eye is going to go! And there's so much less color there yet there needs to be definition. I went back to hating it again. Reminded me of a student I had once that said her paintings go through like 10 different stages of ugly before she's done. Ha! This was a serious struggle. I was certain I was ruining it. There's more defining to do, while still walking that ever-constant battle of balance to not over-work it. My plan all along is just to have a deep, dark purplish background. I think that's still what I'll do. I wasn't sure if I was going to leave the white lines between the petals - I often blur those out but I think it adds to the stylistic feel. My husband really loves it. One more night of painting and it should be done. Fingers crossed that I don't ruin it! ;)

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I had to finally just stand up and tell myself I was done. It's so hard to know when to stop! So I taped it to the family room wall and spent the rest of the day staring at it while I went about doing everything else. After a few hours, I had decided on two things that needed fixing - the top of the stem needed to be lighter so that it didn't get lost into the deep dark shadow next to it, and the blurry edge of a flower in the bottom left needed to be orange instead of white. I was hoping that second change would help balance the painting better. I'm still not positive that I didn't totally butcher some composition rule by putting that cut-off section in the painting, but I do think it's much better now. Despite being a more exciting color, I think it demands less attention and sends your eye back over to the real star of the show. Hope you agree!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

More progress

I thought the red flower was difficult but turns out the white one is so much worse! Seriously, there is so little color in it. How on earth am I suppose to give it depth or anything? Oi. And then what to do with the background? I decided to let watercolor do what watercolor does best and blur the background, leaving the focus on the flowers. It's interesting but not distracting I hope? I'm not sure. There's a lot going on. Too much? But I do like the contrast in colors at the very least. However, I do hate the little blurry edge of another flower in the bottom left. It's so bad. I thought it would help balance but it just looks sloppy. And the white flower's stem ... I don't know. Time to sleep on it and see what I can do tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


It's coming. Slowly. I was determined to get color in all around the flower so I had to throw some in quickly. The middle is the real problem - it's darn tricky. There's so much detail but I'm trying to keep it from getting too tight. Delicate balance. I'm a bit too obsessive for my own good when it comes to detail. I have to work hard to hold myself back from overworking it. Luckily it's time for bed so I had to stop!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Kinda blurry

Sometimes it's really hard to start a new painting. You go from the finishing touches of a nearly complete painting to a totally blank canvas. It's hard to jump back to square one. Like when you finish a book you had really got into, and find it hard to crack the cover on the next one. So I tend to drag my feet a bit and obsess a bit more when picking out which image I'll go with next. Like somehow there's a wrong choice. Or that I have to pick the absolute best photograph I have or I'll be doomed to fail before I even begin. Ha! I have issues. Anyway, last night after sorting through images and stressing about sizes and whatever else I could think of, I got this far on the painting:
I sat down to draw it, drew 4 big circles and started painting. I didn't have the patience to draw it. Kinda crazy, eh? If I don't have the patience to draw it, what makes me think I'll be able to paint it? Or should? 
But tonight I got started a little bit earlier and made some good progress. I am painting from a slightly blurry picture though, which I told my husband would make my eyes go a little crazy by the end, and I was right! Trying to add depth and see all those layers started to play tricks on me. So my brain is a bit cock-eyed but I think it's going decently.
Looking forward to painting again tomorrow!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Peaches and Cream

This color rose just makes me think of peaches and cream for some reason. Yummmm. Now I'm hungry. But that aside, I'm finally painting again! I got a pretty exciting phone call this week. I was chosen by the mayor of Grand Forks, North Dakota to be their next Mayor's Choice artist. Here's a link to the program. I'm super excited! And I have about a month to get as many paintings done as I can. So here goes. I finished this old one tonight that I had started years ago. Thought it was about time I got around to it. What do you think? Is it done? I'm not sure yet, so it's taped to the wall for me to scrutinize for the next few days.