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Eared Grebe

22 May

Today I painted a picture of my friend the little eared grebe. You can see his photo on the last post. Here he is in watercolor, hot pressed paper, 6″ x 4.”

Eared Grebe

Three Aspens

21 May

I painted today in my yard! Hooray! It was supposed to rain, but it was breezy and kind of sunny once in a while. Chilly, though.  Anyway, my first plein air of the season, used my new “French” easel (made in China) and had to keep yelling at the dogs because they wanted to eat our little visiting Eared Grebe. Here he is:

Eared Grebe

I started to try to draw him, but he noticed me looking at him and wouldn’t come close. Or maybe it wasn’t me; maybe it was the dogs. He’s been here for more than a week now. The pond is very small, but he’s a very small grebe, so maybe he’ll stay a while. He must have gotten separated from his group. The bird book says they travel in huge flocks and fly as little as possible except for their migrations. He’s so cute and fluffy. I want to cuddle him, and so does my daughter, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Since my little buddy declined to pose for me, I decided to paint trees. Trees are good, reliable models and they never complain or even need a break. So, here’s what I painted today:

Three Aspens

It’s watercolor, 9 x 12″ rough pressed paper. I have recently been tempted by beautiful oil paintings and oil painting books, but I don’t have any oil paints. I have lots of acrylics and acrylic retarder medium, so maybe I’ll try something with that one day soon.

First Watercolor Portrait

14 May

I’ve been taking a watercolor class (as I think I probably mentioned in my last post). Here’s a portrait I just completed of my daughter. There are always things one would change, but I’m pretty happy with it. The saddest thing about it is she’s all grown up. (sob)

Cheri

Sylvan Lake Watercolor Paintings

5 May

Sylvan Lake is a beauty spot in the central Black Hills of SD, and one of my favorite places (not that I’ve seen anything like all my potentially favorite places!) For more images of Sylvan Lake and more beautiful Western South Dakota scenery, you can visit my Journey Into the Black Hills blog. How’s that for a shameless plug?

That said, I’ve been taking a watercolor class for the last several months along with my daughter and now, my mother as well. It’s kind of a cool class in that we do pretty much what we want and the instructor wanders around, asks and answers questions, and gives tips and advice where needed. Here are a couple of paintings I’ve recently completed:

Sylvan Lake Dam, Lakeside View

This one is about 13 x 22, on Canson cold press watercolor paper from a photo I took last spring (2010) I’ve been wanting to paint this photo ever since, and have only just now gotten around to it. Yet another good reason to take a class; to make myself do the things I want to do.

Sylvan Lake Overflowing

This painting is smaller; about 8″ x 13″; again, on Canson cold press watercolor paper. From another photo taken on the same day as the one above. I really enjoyed making these paintings. Perhaps I’ll do more soon. I certainly have enough pictures on the computer to keep me busy, even if I never painted any other place. 😉

Owl Artist Trading Cards

9 Mar

Here are some cards I finished a couple of days ago for an ATC swap. They’re all watercolor with ink details.

To display the full-sized picture, just click on the image you’d like to see.

Thanks for stopping by!

Watercolor Doodles

7 Mar

Did you ever sit in class and doodle drawings around some flaw or pencil mark in your notebook? I did. It’s surprising what can grow out of a pencil smudge when the teacher is lecturing on some fascinating aspect of the migration of the Huns or whatnot. This post is about taking the pencil smudge doodle to another level.

Spring Bouquet

This little 5″ x 7″ painting began as a bit of fun with some new painting tools. I found water brushes for cheap at Dick Blick and ordered several sets of three. In the past I’ve only used a water brush to apply water to watercolor pencils or to paint outdoors (to keep from having to dip in water all the time). They tend to be expensive, so I didn’t want to buy a handful. These aren’t as good as the expensive ones, but they don’t cost $10 each, either. I squeezed a bit of watercolor paint into the water chamber (tough to do without making a mess!) and then squirted water in to not-quite-fill. Shake well until the paint is dissolved and see if the color is strong enough. You can always add more.

Anyway . . . I took my Strathmore 140 lb cold press paper and sprayed it down with clean water. I stuck it to a piece of plate glass, but any non-porous surface will work and a non breakable one would be a better idea. It’s just that glass was what I had. Sticking the paper down to the glass keeps it from buckling and you don’t have to stretch it. Brush more water over it if necessary using a wide brush — or just spread the water you do have around. There shouldn’t be any standing water, but it does need to be quite wet.

Using the water brush (or just a regular brush), drop paint here and there on the paper. It’s fun to watch the colors mix. I used lemon yellow, quinacridone rose, cadmium red medium, ultramarine blue and cerulean blue, plus hooker’s green from my pallet with a little red mixed in to dull it down. I wasn’t trying to paint flowers necessarily, at least at first, but it began to look like flowers, so then I started adding lemon yellow centers to some of them. Lemon yellow and most yellows are heavy paints and will tend to push other watercolor pigments out of the way when you drop them onto wet paper. The leaves and stems I put in last as more of an afterthought than a plan.

After the whole thing had dried a little bit, I decided it needed more color in the background, so I added the blue all around. You can’t let the paper dry on the glass or it might stick, so I peeled it off and laid it on an old acrylic painting that didn’t work out. Since I liked the way the paint looked at this point and didn’t want it to spread any more, I dried it with the hair dryer.

Now comes the fun part — well, the other fun part. I used a Faber-Castell super-fine point pen. These are waterproof when dry, which can be handy, especially if you want to take off or move some of the watercolor later on, but of course you can use any fine-point pen. From here, you simply start doodling. See a blotch that looks like a chrysanthemum? Go for it! It doesn’t have to be flowers, but I’ve been longing for flowers and not snow, so it’s not surprising that’s what I saw. The ink drawing brings order out of what was just a pretty bit of chaos, and you can do this part while watching a movie or even conversing with the family. It doesn’t take a lot of concentration and it’s non-messy!

Since you’ll have to peel the paper off the glass before it’s dry, it will curl a bit. I unbent it gently by curving the opposite direction and then when I was finished with the ink work, stacked a pile of books on it overnight. Voila`! A nice, flat painting. I hope you’ll give this a try — lots of fun and no particular talent required. If you can doodle, this is the project for you.

One Quote; Two Collages

21 Feb

I’ve always loved this CS Lewis quote:

Indeed when we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the gospels it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not to strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy has been offered us like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot understand what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

So I decided a couple of days ago that I’d like to create a collage to showcase this particular quotation. It turned out that the first text I printed off was too large for me to use as I had intended, so I reprinted it. Later someone suggested a circular arrangement for the text, so I decided to make a second collage with the larger text. I’m not sure which I like better; they’re very different from one another. Here they are — what do you think?

Shadow Land

Far Too Easily Pleased

House ATC Swap (Part 2)

15 Feb

And here are the rest of my artist trading cards in the theme of “houses.” I sent them off today, and they are on their merry way. (sorry)  😉

House ATC Swap (Part 1)

11 Feb

Have you heard of Artist Trading Cards (ATCs)? I thought they sounded so silly until I actually made one, then I was in love. ATCs can be any medium, any style, any anything at all. They’re 3.5″ x 2.5″ cards of any material; miniature art works intended for trading with other artists. The first one I ever did was a requested donation for a plein air event I participated in, and it was so much fun I went right out and bought myself a pack of Strathmore watercolor cards. You can get the cards in all sorts of papers, canvas, etc., but you can also easily cut your own and have an even wider selection.

Here are a couple I just made for a “swap” at another website. The theme for the swap is “houses,” or I would never have thought to do a house. But I figured it would stretch me, and these houses were so much fun to do. I have two more, but I haven’t scanned them yet and one is still a little tacky, so I’ll post them later.

Neighbors


This one is ink and watercolor wash done using Inktense watercolor pencils. There are also a few touches with a white gel pen. I wish I was here, but the next picture looks more like where I am right now. 😦 I am ready for springtime and little birds and rain and stuff!

Christmas Snow


And this one I started by painting on some left-over acrylic paint from a project on which I didn’t use it all. Hated to waste it, you know. The trees and other details are Faber Castelle Pitt Artist Pens (the gray set of brush pens and a black super-fine).

I didn’t know it was going to be snowing until I decided to try a thin gesso wash over everything. That was also when some funny scratches suggested the roof lines of the barn-style house. 😉 Lots of fun to paint.

If you haven’t done already, go cut something up and make yourself a couple of these amazingly fun little gems. You’ll be so glad you did!

Strathmore Journaling Class

29 Jan

Though I haven’t been posting here in quite a while, I have been doing art. It seems like when I’m on an internet “phase” I really don’t get as much art done. Anyway, I want to share some of it with anyone who cares to have a peek, so here goes:

 

Spread Your Wings

This is a project for an on-line art journaling class I’ve been participating in over at Strathmore Artist Studios. You can sign up for these classes too if you like. They’re free, and are being offered to promote the Strathmore Visual Artist Journals, a new product of theirs. They come in several different kinds of paper (I chose the 140lb watercolor paper ones in 9 x 12″ size), and are beautifully spiral bound with quite a lovely cover. It’s very nice not having the typical sewn or perfect bound book format although the spiral binding makes a break between the pages you might not like if you’re doing a two-page spread. It’s worth it to me not to have the pages sticking together and coming unbound at the juncture between them, and the paper is so nice and stiff.

As you can see, I blurred the writing because it’s all personal and stuff. This is a picture of my daughter that I took of her a couple of years ago in her Halloween get-up. I painted it in acrylics, then made a copy for this journal page and cut it out, then went over it with oil pastel. Because it is cold in my art room, I heated it up as I was going with my little hair dryer and found that this seems to have hardened the pastel and made it possible to work over it with some colored pencil and other media. I sealed it all with acrylic matte varnish, which you aren’t supposed to be able to do over oil, but it worked well. Maybe because of the hair dryer? Anyway, I am now in love with my Sennelier oil pastels and intend to buy a portrait set.

 

River of Life

Another journal page for the same class. We were really only supposed to be working on one page, but I kept thinking that my choices weren’t working for the tutorial, so I ended up with a total of four pages for the four weeks. Really, you needed a figure of a person (like the one of my daughter) to make it work, only more of a pastel thing than any of the pages I ended up with.

We started by photocopying some of our old artwork either in color or in black and white. This one was in color; the one of my daughter was black and white. Then we arranged it on a journal page with some torn strips in the background and glued under and over everything with matte medium. Some people used Mod Podge, but they later complained that the next step (using oil pastels) didn’t want to go down, so I’m glad I chose to use the matte medium (though I expected either to work).

The next step was to add some shadows with charcoal pencil to indicate a light source and give the collage some visual depth.  After this, we added color and more shading with oil pastels. The oil is important because it was to act as a resist for paint in the next step. So I suppose crayons or wax-based colored pencils would also work at least to some extent.

 

Day of the Lord

After adding the resist, we covered the whole thing with diluted gesso. I ended up diluting it by putting a big puddle of water on my palette, dipping my brush in the gesso, and then mixing it in. Otherwise it was too thick. The resist wasn’t as successful as I had expected, and I had to wipe quite a lot of the gesso off with a damp paper towel. In the end, it made for quite a nice effect, though.

Next step was to go back over everything with oil pastel, graphite and charcoal and brighten it back up. I didn’t find that the charcoal or graphite worked real well, though. Too messy for me. I ended up using black Faber Castell Pit Artist pens (waterproof after drying) and Derwint Inktense Pencils (water soluble but permanent when it has dried) to punch it back up.

This scan doesn’t do the colors justice. It looks a little washed out here, and I tried to fix it up in my image editing program but I suppose I should just have photographed it to begin with. Anyway, you get the idea. 😉

Puppy Under the Mushrooms

This one is actually the first page I worked on. Instead of copying the cloudy background strips I tore up an actual watercolor painting — a practice one with only sky — and pasted it down with YES! paste. I used this instead of matte medium for this whole picture, and it worked quite well, but I didn’t paint over the top of the papers. I did, however, make liberal use of a workable fixative both for the inkjet prints and the watercolor strips in all of these journal pages. I found that the red inkjet colors tended to move a little bit when I painted over them with the acrylic matte medium.

I think I have a previous post of the puppy (our new little lab/golden mix who is now significantly bigger) and the mushrooms. They’re both ATCs reproduced quite a lot larger than the originals. I printed them out on plain computer printing paper and it was a little lightweight for this project, especially pasted over strips of 140lb watercolor paper. I would probably use 80lb card at least if I were doing this again, but it worked okay.

In the next step we were supposed to add some stenciling and little details. I took some diluted acrylic paint and added in the rectangles. I punched up the shadows again, this time with gray pit pens, brush tip. I also added shadows to the rectangles. For the dots on the mushrooms and around the fairy, I used paint pens — Hobby Lobby’s store brand for around $3 each — cheap for buying them in an actual store as opposed to on-line, which is what I usually do.

I enjoyed the class, and I think you can still sign up for it if you’re interested. It’s finished, but you should still be able to access the videos. It will be better seeing all the videos at once anyhow. That way you’ll be better able to make choices as to which of your previously created artwork you’d like to use for this particular technique. There are two more similar workshops scheduled for the next several months and they’ve been very popular. Maybe I’ll see you there!