Thursday, July 20, 2017

What A View

This morning I stumbled across photos we'd taken last summer during some pretty incredible exploring down in Southern Oregon. Those layers of mountains just went on for days! Atmospheric perspective (how things farther away appear lighter, bluer, and less detailed) has always been one of my favorite things outdoors! I remembering explaining it to my husband when I was trying to paint something early in our marriage. He had seen it's affects plenty of times but had never really thought about how it actually looks bluer farther away. It blew his mind! Art student perk I guess! 😜  It just makes those grand mountaintop vistas so incredibly cool!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Calm

We went on a little family walk around Cheadle Lake (in our small town) the other Sunday. The lake is looking unfortunately yucky this time of year and the bugs were out in number but the girls had a blast riding their little scooters along the path. And amusingly, we discovered that our dog is terrified of duck feathers. 😜  I think he just had no clue what to make of the smell? 
I did this quick sketch this morning remembering that although it wasn't a perfectly beautiful view, it was calm and relaxed and we were together. And that counts for something!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Bold and The Beautiful

Tried something a little different here. I usually leave those white lines between my different color-shapes and had been wondering what it would look like if I filled them in with marker instead of just outlining with my thin-tipped pen. It's definitely bold, and very graphic. It wouldn't be the best choice for every picture but I do like it. New possibilities!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Sand Beneath My Feet

I'm so glad we live in a place that's near the beach again (Instead of all land-locked in the northern Midwest). I have such wonderfully nostalgic memories of quick trips to the coast with cousins growing up. We'd run up over that little hill and were there! Sandcastle-making, burying feet, s'mores-making, kite-flying and shell-hunting galore! Such great times.

Friday, July 7, 2017

As the Sun Goes Down

And after those lazy afternoons, who doesn't love a good sunset? I especially love it when subtle rays shine through holes in the clouds. Kinda went for the idea of that here, but in a much more stylized manner. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Slow Afternoon

I love lazy summer afternoons with a few clouds slowly drifting by. Or at least I like the idea of lazy summer afternoons. They sound very nice. I went for that feel with this quick sketch, while playing around a bit with lines with my pen. The grass at the bottom looks like it's a heartbeat. Ha. Not quite my intent. :)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Lady Liberty

Happy 4th!
Today I'm grateful for the many freedoms I enjoy, and for those who made it possible at great sacrifice. I'm grateful for the tremendous blessings God has given me, especially the family with which I get to enjoy them all. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Blue for Hawaii

Some days when I didn't manage to get up and do a quick sketch before the daily crazies started happening, I'll just take an old one and "enhance" it. You know, add lines, outlines, or whatever to make it go from being bleh to uh huh. 😜  I usually only do that to sketches that were just bleh, or were obviously begging for some help. I can't decide on this one! I actually painted this on the wonderful Hawaiian sand back in December. I can almost smell the sweet, not really. But I wish I could! Already the sketch is kinda cool, or do I just think that because of the memories? And would black lines make it cooler? Hmm...

Friday, June 30, 2017

Not Big Enough for the Two of Us

Since that went well the other day, I grabbed another old photo that was lying around. This one though I already had plans to paint bigger - in my series of 16x20 aquabord panels. So this was basically just a warm-up to see how it would go. I'll probably bring the horizon line either up or down as it's pretty squarely in the middle right now. It's just so hard to decide which! I love having plenty of sky to work with, but the reflection is a huge part of what makes this interesting... Sky or reflection? Which should be the star?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dusting Off Old Inspiration

I have a large, holey plastic bag overflowing with old photos that I occasionally flip through for inspiration (I have an even larger number of unprinted photos on the computer that supposedly I'll someday get around to painting). So I pulled one out at random and went for it. The photo shows so little detail that I've never been sure if I could pull it off, which makes it perfect for a simple, small-scale sketch. The design made by the strong contrasts have always called to me. I left the birds out this time as that would have kept me from painting quickly. Kinda love it. Might have to get brave and try it big! What do you think though? Birds or no birds?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Second Chances

My new thing - I really enjoy cutting up unsuccessful old paintings to put back together in a new way. Having virtually no experience with it though, I can lose myself in it for hours. And my carpel tunnel doesn't really love me cutting for long. So I'm not sure how often I'll get to do them, but it's fun to try something totally different sometimes, with no pressure. 
This was an old, huge landscape with a cool sky that had gotten too muddy and dark in the middle. Can't really go back from that with watercolor! I ended up gluing these down on some black cardstock for a more stained glass look, but now wish I'd painted a dark background instead to keep the watercolor variation look. A good idea for next time!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

They're back!

And yellow fields with a white fence! I know, I'm really shaking things up. Ha! But there is something to playing with the same idea and trying it again and again to see what comes out. Which is my way of saying, I'm not stopping yet! The yellow fields will be back.

Monday, June 26, 2017

"It looks like Monette, but it's Moneigh"

Ha! Cracked me up so much when my 6 year-old son explained that to my 5 year-old daughter (who's just starting to read) without any prompting. Makes me so proud 😜  You know their mom is an artist when...
But I've been wanting to play around painting people more, in fact, I am considering filling a whole sketchbook with artists I admire. This was my first attempt to see if it's feasible - the man in the yellow hat and a sunburnt face. Ha. I love the blue outline! And "the whole thing, it just works." Or at least was super fun! I think I'm going to need more gouache. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Do You Wanna Go Straight to Hawaii?

My watercolor journal is made of this really awesome handmade paper that has dreamy, ruffly edges. However while the paper is devilishly handsome, it is...less than ideal to paint on. You can't go over anything more than a few times or layers of paper start to come off. And there's absolutely no scrubbing anything off or changing the paint's mind if it's decided to slowly bleed into somewhere else. So quick landscapes are challenging. I had done this very unsatisfying sketch when I was on the extremely satisfying beaches of Hawaii in December. But inspired by some artists I see combining watercolor and ink, I thought I'd give it a try and it saved the sketch! The black lines made it go from being all blurry and wishy-washy to sharp and flowy. Can I pleeeeeease go back to Hawaii now that I know how to sketch it better while lying on the warm sand, eating fresh tropical fruit, in between snorkeling swims? Sigh.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

With a little Help from my Friends

Again I just dropped some paint on a page, let it dry and took it with me to doodle on later. After I'd made all the suns and was just getting started on the lines and dots of the background, one daughter became dreadfully bored while another one desperately needed me. So I broke my "mommy's sketchbook is only for mommy" rule and let the 10 year-old fill in the rest with her friend while I comforted the 3 year-old. So we'll call today's sketch a collaboration. A silly, playful little thing for no other purpose than to be creative.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Our Ability to Accessorize

(I am sorry about the bad photo! I took it quickly as we were running out the door so I could make sure and get this post done. My apologies.)
For this one I knew we were going to be out-and-about so I ran upstairs and dropped some paint drops on the page giving it time to dry while I got dressed and ate breakfast. Then later while I sat waiting for my kids, I ... embellished! Our accessorized! After all, "The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." Says the girl who doesn't wear make-up, bracelets, or heels. Ha.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Kooky Little Bird

Hahaha. Sometime you just can't be serious you know? I was sitting there at a soccer game, cutting up a failed watercolor paper to make a beautiful collage, and instead, I made this guy. I kept trying to rearrange it but he kept winning in my head. So I gave in. He makes me smile. And that's gotta count for something.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Between the lines

I was really excited to give this one a go - inspired by a painting my daughter had done in a class I taught on Emily Carr. If you haven't heard of Emily Carr, please look her up! Here or here or here or here will do. Not being Canadian, I hadn't heard of her until recently. She makes me kinda wish I was Canadian. And born 100 years ago so we could've been painting friends. But I digress. I'm going to have to do more of these wavy line drawing for sure. Possibly a watercolor painting where I mask out the white lines. I actually intended to have the white lines go through everything but forgot when I got going on the trees. Oops! It's hard to keep track of things like that when you're having fun!

Friday, June 16, 2017

And it was all yellow

Yellow fields again! I just can't help it. My littles get just as excited when they see fields full of flowers. The youngest points out every single one she sees, and every cow, and every sheep, and every elephant. Otherwise known as horses. 🐴  = 🐘 = πŸ˜‚

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The hills are alive...with paint.

I might've been procrastinating a commission here...which is really nothing new. It's sometimes really hard to muster up the inspiration to paint a commission! Especially when it's something I would've never chosen to paint on my own! So I did a quick sketch in my watercolor journal first of what I see driving through the countryside near my home daily. I love, love, love the valley we live in. The blue mountains, the green trees and the yellow fields make me want to pull over and paint right there every time I'm in the car. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Waste not, Want not

It can be super frustrating when all I want to do is paint, but I've got other things that need my time and attention. So as to not resent those things (which are most often my lovely children) I've started filling sketchbooks again! I'm trying to always have one with me - at parks, libraries, violin lessons, etc. Then no time need be wasted! And instead of putting pressure on myself to create "masterpieces" that somebody will want to buy, I'm just playing. It's kinda liberating. 
So today while my kiddos played on a playground near our home, I took out my new-favorite watercolor markers and doodled a tree. Would've done more but one of my "things" forgot she wasn't wearing a diaper 😳 πŸ’© πŸ˜–
*In my studio I'm working on a a large commission. Check it out @alishabwhitmanart on Instagram!

Friday, May 19, 2017


After a fair amount of struggle, I finished my newest commission! It's for a dear friend who's going to surprise her husband with it - can't wait to hear how he likes it!
But I don't mean to go and pretend I've been here all along. Obviously, I disappeared a bit from the blogging world. Again. The problem is Blogger became a pain in the you-know-what to use on my phone. Nearly every time I got halfway through writing a post, it just closed the app! Anyone else have that problem? It got so frustrating and frankly, if I can't post through my phone, the chances of me posting at all go way down. So I decided to give Instagram a chance since it's become such a big thing in the art world. It is so much easier, quicker, and currently more rewarding for me to do! I post progress shots, studio glimpses, inspiration sources, and finished paintings pretty much daily. With the limited time I have, it's definitely working best. And is the most fun! So while I do hope to return to blogging when I figure out how to solve the phone problem and magically make more time in my day, for now, if you want to follow what I'm up to with my art, please check me out on Instagram @alishabwhitmanart. Thanks!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Making Progress

See? Filling in the blank space makes it look so much closer to done!
Although my logical side understood that I was just getting started. And needed to do as much as possible while that blue was still wet on my palette so I could make it lighter and darker as needed. 
Wow. There was a whole lot of empty space to fill with squiggly reflections! But that is what drew me to the photo. The painting is much more realistic than I like to do but the reflections. They're real of course but it's like they're a stylized version of reality. I love how they move. I love the shapes. It feels like what I try to do with my trees. It's abstraction in real life. And it's mesmerizing. So much so that focusing on it so I can paint it for hours made my eyes go a bit buggy :)

Why not now?

So quite awhile ago I finally splurged and bought some Golden Fluid Acrylics. I have been dying to try them since I first heard of the possibility of painting like watercolors with the permanence of acrylics. It would mean getting to paint on canvas and not needing glass to frame. But when I bought them, something came up and I didn't get around to trying them. And then I got a little intimidated by them and felt like I didn't have the time to figure them out. Ha. Kinda ridiculous, eh? There were times when that was true like when I was up against a competition deadline or working on commissions, but basically it was a fear of trying something different and being bad at it. I get so little time to paint that I feel a lot of pressure to make every second count but the thing is, some of those seconds need to be used for learning and experimenting. So I spent a night sifting through photos until I was finally inspired by this one, and decided to give it a go with those unopened fluid acrylics. I maybe should've picked an easier picture to start on or a smaller canvas or something, but the reflections in the photo just were so exciting! Reflections always mesmerize me. It's like they're already paintings, but ones that are constantly moving and if you blink, you might miss the best one yet. 
So it's been sadly very slow going. Even the drawing took forever and after each painting session I've been a little discouraged to see how little progress has been made.
I mean, I worked so hard and long between these two! And you can hardly tell.
I was actually done for the night after that last photo, but when I looked at how little it seemed like I'd done, I picked my brush back up and filled in one more color so there seemed to be a little more to show for my time. 
All that blank canvas is the problem. Filling it in (even if it's just a preliminary layer that'll get painted over time and again) always makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere. So that's my goal for tomorrow! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Time-lapse video

So I painted this for the festival sometime during the summer, but then totally forgot I guess that I'd taken a video of the process. I don't get enough sleep to remember details! Ha. But we found it and my husband fixed it up for me and here it is! A friend of ours bought it at the festival, so it had a happy ending too, which is always nice :)
*I think the video got turned off because my phone tried to warn me that it was running out of battery. Lame. And really unfortunate timing because the best part of my time-lapse videos are when I do a large wet-into-wet area. Come to think of it, it's one of my favorite parts in real time as well! Only watercolor works magic like that. It's why we're friends.