Sunday, June 28, 2009

Frogs, Frogs, Frogs

My trusty #2 squirrel quill for those who aren't familiar with this type of brush, which I used for my painted frogs

These are my w/c sketches done with the quill. I numbered them in the order painted.

This one's got the look of desire...a desire for lunch!

He's got the look of love

The bullfrog

I've had frogs on the brain for days now. My oldest son requested I paint a few for him and I realized I've only painted one. Nothing makes me think 'frog' more than the good old bullfrog. To me, they're as American as apple pie only not as tasty. I went looking online and was amazed at how many websites there are devoted entirely to frogs and the people that love them!

I did a few pencil sketches trying to come up with a concept, theme....whatever. My first thought was to put a frog on the Moon. Afterall, I put cats on the Moon. Why not frogs? I shot that idea down and decided to try a few other ideas which I've posted above.

Today I was admiring Lian Quan Zhen's work(I have the link on my blog list)and decided to try my hand at a more loose, sumi e-style approach. I worked with my #2 squirrel quill brush which was a little large for the job but I think as I went along I began to improve. I've got another concept in mind now but I'm waiting for the gesso to dry so it will be a few days before I'll be posting my results if (big IF)I'm successful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Japanese Irises~Completed


I've been fiddlin' around with this one waaaaay too long to be objective anymore so I'm calling it done, at least for now. I've included a long shot(some tape is showing...sorry, camera distortion), a closeup and the piece framed with the mat & frame that I intend to use. I did a lot of fine tuning, both with color and cleaning up rough edges. That's another thing I like about working on gesso. I used masking fluid on the irises and I can never get a nice sharp tip or corner with that stuff. I used a very sharp exacto knife to gently scrape away the surface paint(be very, very careful if you try this) and managed to get perfect points on those little top petals.
My oldest son has requested that I paint some frogs for him so that will probably be my next mission. Ribbit!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Who Can Understand Cats?

Cute but not my idea of a house pet.
He knows it's there. He brought it in! Does he care? No!

Because I sure can't! Today while I was working on a painting, Digby, my male cat brought me a little 'present'. A chipmunk...alive! He proceeded to turn it loose in the house and shortly afterwards, casually sauntered back outside. }:-( There was a day when my cats brought me presents but none were alive and kicking when they arrived. If any unfortunate critter happened to get in the house it would've been bedlam. They'd have been in hot pursuit, scrambling under and over things, knocking over furniture and plants with the chase ending in bloodshed. I think they're getting old, or lazy...or both. Or maybe Digby thought I needed a new pet? Who knows.........

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Japanese Iris WIP~Watercolor on Gesso

This is what I've been working on for the last few days. It's on a half sheet(almost)of Fabriano Uno 140# CP w/c paper coated with Liquitex gesso. I'm using DS pyrrol red, quin. gold and DS perylene green. The reds are a little brighter IRL than in the image above. I did my best to correct the color in my photo editor. I plan to leave the irises white but will add some detail to them eventually. I'm still sorting out the greens on this one. The greenery looks great when wet but when dry it looks flat to me. Dare I even consider varnishing this one? I don't even know what product to use and on a gessoed surface...well, I may be courting disaster.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Continuing to Experiment

This is my outlined iris. I kinda like the way this looks and would love to try other colors of ink in this way as well.
This is an example of some textures I've been playing with. I dropped white India ink into a wet wash, then sprinkled shavings from a purple watercolor pencil into the mix.

That's right...I'm still playing around. The images above are just a sample of the things I've been trying out. Some worked, some didn't. Have you ever thought, "I wonder what would happen if I did(or didn't)do this, or added that or just dribbled on some ink and swirled it around in a sea of wet watercolor." I love the idea of breaking the 'rules' in my artwork and I'm searching for something unique. Who wrote the so-called rules anyway? And who enforces those rules? I'm not looking to do something different just for the sake of being different and some rules are necessary because they just work...period. Instead I'm trying to find my own voice in my own artwork.

Right now one of the areas I'm exploring is watercolor texture, primarily for background work. At one point in my artistic journey I absolutely dreaded backgrounds. I focused all my attention on my subject, then wondered what the heck to do to fill the rest of the paper. Why not make the background just as interesting as the subject while at the same time making sure they both relate to one another?

Another idea that captured my interest was an article in the June 2009 issue of Watercolor Magic featuring the work of Jonathan Frank. Mr. Frank outlines (yes, you read it right...outlines)areas of his paintings with a Kohinoor Rapidograph pen filled with various colors of India ink. Talk about breaking rules and his work is nothing short of amazing! I gave this a go on a hastily painted bearded iris. All I had handy at the time was a Micron 03 pen with black ink but I liked the effect.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lily-of-the-Valley on Gessoed Paper

I guess this one IS done. I just sold it!

I wanted to try gesso on watercolor paper for the simple reasons that I have more paper than mountboard, I have more options regarding size and if I happen to create a painting I'm truly satisfied with, it'll be easier to frame.

This particular painting may still be a work in progress. I haven't decided yet. However, I did discover a few things while working on gesso.

1. Artists tape coated with gesso will still release easily.

2. Masking fluid can be used on gesso.

3. Two coats of Krylon fixative will reduce the lifting problem.

This painting is done on Arches 140# HP watercolor paper coated with Liquitex gesso. I had no subject in mind when I applied the gesso and have decided I really should decide on a subject and composition beforehand.

Friday, June 05, 2009

I'm A Cat And I'll Sleep Anywhere I Want To

All tired out from ticklin' the ivorys
They're putting really cool prizes in cereal these days!


It's been one of those days

My youngest son's girlfriend, Jamie sent me these via email and I just had to share.

Monday, June 01, 2009


I made a few changes. The catchlight on that little screw in the background was so distracting it drove me nuts. This is a reminder of why I'd love to paint in a more loose, expressive style. All those tiny, little niggling details can drive me craaazy.

I'm pretty proud of myself. I've been painting almost everyday which is new for me. On the downside, I've been producing nothing worth posting. Lots of experiments, lots of failures. Trying to loosen up when you're used to detail work is harder than I thought it would be but I don't plan to give up. It can get disheartening, though so I took time out to do a detailed piece. This one contains more detail than I usually include in my work. I must have needed a 'fix' worse than I thought!

These are quotes I've found to be inspirational from the book, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

"The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars."

"You learn how to make your work by making your work … art you care about -- and lots of it!"