Saturday, December 30, 2006

Ellie #1

Making the leap from tight detail work to a much more 'loose' style has proven to be quite a journey for me. I've been particularily fascinated with the paintings of Jean Haines aka Aquarelle10 on WetCanvas. Her style is so removed from what I usually do that I felt challenged to give this a try. In July of this past year she did a wonderful tutorial in the Learning Zone on painting children and I've been studying it recently for this portrait. The subject is baby Ellie, my dear friend's first granddaughter experiencing her first Fall lying in the autumn leaves and obviously enjoying herself.

This painting is a dry run(a bit of a misleading statement as this style is done very wet) for the completed portrait. The paper I've used is not my favorite...a cheap store bought brand that loves to buckle the moment it gets wet and(I'm guessing here) is not good quality rag. It's good enough for trials and testing mixes, though. I did a quicky sketch without worrying too much about a likeness at this point.

One of the tricks to this style is selecting what's important and pertains to the subject and getting rid of unnecessary details. Cutting things down to the bare essentials, so to speak.

Secondly, keep washes light and very wet. I believe Jean uses the word 'whispery' a lot. After each wash has completely dried more washes can be added to build color and create contour and volume. She paints in suggestions of detail rather than actual D-E-T-A-I-L and isn't afraid of the dreaded backrun but instead uses them to her advantage. I call this style of painting controlled chaos but I'm sure Jean would disagree on the 'chaos' part. For me, it's still chaos but in a fun way.

Even though I wasn't really concerned with capturing a likeness at this point I was surprised how much this first attempt resembled my subject.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dazzling Dahlia Again

After posting my dahlia on WetCanvas and getting some sage advice from the skilled watercolorists there, I decided to tone the background down a few notches. It was competing too much with the flower. It still looks a bit bright in the image but is much more subtle IRL.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Ball and a Box

I'm getting into the Xmas mood finally. In tweaking my decorations last night I got the bright idea to take a couple framed botanicals I bought from a flea market and replace them with more Xmasy(?) themed paintings. I spent all of 15 minutes on each of these and had the time of my life. They'll be hanging in my diningroom for the Holidays.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Dazzling Dahlia

I finally completed the background on my dahlia and brought in some of the blues and greens on the petals. I'm not completely sure on the crop yet. This is one I'll have to stare at for a few days to see if I like it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Garden in Winter

Looks like it's going to be a snowy year in northern Michigan. This is only a three day accumulation. The weatherman says the snow will continue until next weekend. I snapped this shot during a short break in the flurries. I'd be willing to bet we'll be having a white Xmas this year!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sherlock & Watson

Yup...more felines but these belong to and live with my youngest son and his girlfriend. Just three months old they are the cutest little balls of fluff. Sherlock is in smokey black and Watson is sporting the taffy coat. Looks like they have put their heads together to solve The Case of the Catnap.

Dahlia wip

I found a great reference and did a crop so I could complete this as a macro. The paper is Fabriano 140# CP bright white paper. I'm using a very limited palette...Daler/Rowney Alizarin Crimson, Indian Yellow and a bit of Burnt Umber on the flower. I'll work out the BG when the flower is finished. Working up with various light washes seems to be helping. I've found I have more control of the paint and am using less water. In retrospect I realize I've been overwetting my paper and then not allowing enough time for it to dry to the right stage of dampness. Patience is not one of my virtues unfortunately.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Purple Orchid

This is a little something I whipped up after the cat fiasco. I tried to keep to a fairly limited palette...Perm. Rose, Mauve, Cobalt Blue Deep and Raw Umber. I threw in some Sap green for the leaves. I wasn't sure how to get the dark, dark BG so I deviated a bit w/Prussian blue and Burnt Sienna. I softened a few of the edges so the BG colors would flow in and blend with the COI.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Problem With Cats

They always want to help and love to get into the picture. That black blur you see is Raven, my studio assistant aka cat. When she's not drinking the paint water she's walking across my painting...even while it's still wet. Especially while it's still wet.

Fun With Dahlias

Taking the lead from Ann Pember I did a quick sketch from my imagination and just started putting down paint, mixing the colors on the paper. Boy is this fun! I remembered to keep changing the colors on each petal as I went along, making sure to rinse my brush in clean water before picking up new paint to keep the colors 'clean'. This is far from done and I'm not even sure I'll be completing this one. This is a new experience for me. I'm using large brushes, lots of water and absolutely no references. WooHoo!!!

Stage Three...ooops

I decided to try a technique I had seen on a video demo in my background. Above the center flower I put down a heavy wash of burnt sienna, sap green and perm. rose. Then I used the edge of a spoon to scrape out highlights. Note to self...don't try this again on 140# paper. At this point I'm not sure I can salvage this painting. The paper surface is a bit damaged from the scraping. I'm putting this one aside for now until I decide if I want to mess with it anymore or chalk it up to experience.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Next Stage

I'm finding myself doing a lot of correcting on this one. I've added a few of the darker values to get a handle on how well the lighter values are working. The background is basically from my imagination which for me, is a new concept. I'm taking a few cues from my photo ref but the rest is pure fiction. I want the focus on the main flower so I don't plan to sweat the background too much but still make it look right with the COI. I can see this isn't a good photo. Very drab looking. Days without sun makes image updates difficult.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Painting Begins

My good friend, Mary Woodul sent me a beautiful photo of a cactus flower. I'd love to do this flower justice with watercolor. I'm doing a few trial and error paintings, this one being my first attempt. I'm experimenting with colors while trying to keep the values accurate. I can see I have much more work to do.




I've made pans from my tube paints. This means I've filled each well with an entire tube and smoothed the top flat. Not only does this eliminate the problem of searching for tubes if I should run out of a color midway through painting but it's much easier to keep the paints moist. I don't paint everyday so this has been a real boon for me. I did leave one well empty just in case I need to add a color down the road.

Also something I'd never done before was to create a painted palette so I can see at a glance what each color will look like on the paper.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome to My Studio

This is where the 'magic' happens

Last year I finally broke down and created a studio for myself. Until then my art supplies were strewn all over the house...paper pads and paints covering my kitchen table, pencils, sharpeners and erasers in Gladware containers in my livingroom. In short...disorder and chaos. Finding what I needed took almost as long as the actual project at hand.

Now that the last bird(my youngest son, Casey) had flown the coop I had the spare room available. My first task was deciding what I REALLY needed to create a workable studio. I knew a suitable worktable was a must as was a floor lamp with a daylight bulb. I'm a bit of a night owl so the lamp was a great investment. Next came storage! I put up shelves and headed to the dollar store for containers, plastic drawer units, etc. I was in business! The best and one of the least expensive items I purchased was a Tablemate adjustable TV tray. of those 'can't live without' things you may have seen on your telly. $29.95 bought me a TV tray that adjusts in height with a top that also adjusts to several angles, perfect for an easel. There's a lip around the tray itself that easily holds a pad of paper or a 1/4" piece of plexiglass or foamcore. It's lightweight so I can slide or carry it wherever it's needed. Since my computer is in the same room as my studio I use my computer chair as my work chair. Voila!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

My Gardens

Who doesn't love sunflowers? Aglaya Daisies
My gardens 2006

Everything you see was planted by me including the grass. In the early years of gardening I managed to kill my entire lawn with an over application of fertilizer. What a mess!:(

I did want to mention that I'm also a mod on MichiganGardenClub. It's a great little site for the Michigan gardener started by Pat O'Neil. Hi Pat!

~ Garden Design ~

In my opinion garden design is an artform in itself. A gardener not only has to plan out color combinations and plant forms but take into account growing conditions, bloom times, hardiness goes on and on. I wonder if Wetcanvas would ever consider a garden design forum? Probably not. The time between updates would be months and possibly even years. oh was a thought.

A little more about me

I'm primarily a self taught artist. As far back as I can recall I've always loved to draw. I took three terms of art my freshman year at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City, Mi. Looking back and through no fault of my professors I learned absolutely nothing. 1969 was a wild year and I was easily caught up with the peace movement and all the turmoil of that period. After leaving college I enrolled in a trade school. Afterall, I DID need gainful employment! I met and married my husband in 1974 and had my first son later that year. My art fell by the wayside. It wasn't until I took a drawing class at a local art institute in 1995 that my interest in art was rekindled. Still I just dabbled, doing pet portraits for family and friends with my trusty HB pencil and an old pad of Beinfang drawing paper...for free. I chalked it up to 'practice'.

In 2004 I finally got myself a decent computer and shortly afterwards joined Gardenguides, an online gardening forum. My passion for gardening had started 10 years prior when I moved into my current residence. I had now found a whole world of gardeners to share my love of all things green, growing and blooming. I made many know who you are> Shinekeeper, Prettylady, BlueBelle, Sweetlebee, Flowers_Galore...just to name a few. These online friends knew I enjoyed drawing and encouraged me a great deal to keep persuing my art. I also met a woman on GG named Lisa who lead me to Wetcanvas. The rest is history. I was so inspired by all the incredible artists I saw on WC and dove into my art in a big way. It was like being a kid in a giant candy store! I tried my hand at pastels, colored pencil and learned so much from all the wonderful people on the Drawing and Sketching forum.

However, my first love has always been watercolor. I love the look of the medium...period. It's also a very challenging medium. At least it has been for me. I'm planning to persue this medium and try to conquer and eventually triumph! I'll be posting my trials, tribulations and in time, my successes on this blog. Stay tuned.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nature as Inspiration


I love nature...animals, plants, trees. They provide a neverending supply of inspiration for me. I chose this watercolor as my first work posted because of the vibrant colors and the fact it turned out so well! This was also my first experience using Daniel Smith's Greengold. What a color!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Just getting Started

Well, here I am with my very own blog. This is SO exciting! I'll be testing this out for awhile to see what my options are. I'm hoping I'll be having lots of visitors soon.

My goal in starting this blog is to have fun, show my artworks-in-progress, and showcase my completed successes. This should also propel me to work harder and more often on my art. I tend to wander off sometimes. I think that means I have a lazy streak?

Recently I've been influenced by Ann Pember, a wonderful watercolor artist I saw mentioned on WetCanvas, an online artist community that I've been a member of for a year and a half. I admire her use of the medium. Her colors are luminous and vibrant while still maintaining the integrity of the medium.