Monday, December 31, 2007

Update~My New Camera!

Well, it turns out that the bug I caught got into just about everything on my computer. My son had to dump and reload the entire system so I now have a brand new computer...sorta. I've spent the last fews days re-downloading my photo editors, Java, etc. We did manage to save my pictures and documents. *phew* I now have much better security which I WILL update & use faithfully. That's my New Years resolution for 2008, 2009, etc.

For Christmas I had asked for a tripod. My thinking? I plan to photograph and copy my artwork onto a disc. I'll then have my prints made from the disc so I can mat and frame the originals without wondering if I've had enough printed beforehand. I already had a little Kodak Easyshare CX6445 which has been very good to me. I've had the best luck photographing rather than scanning my work. The images just seem to be better. I did get my tripod along with a brand new Canon Powershot S5 IS from my boys and WOWZERS! According to the manuals(of which there are several) this thing can do everything but the dishes. I'm still studying and playing with my new toy so it'll be a little while before I'll be posting any shots.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

'Tis The Season

Sorry for the lack of recent updates on my blog. I caught a 'bug' online and even though I managed to remove the infection I was left with some glitches. It takes a month of Sundays for my homepage to load these days. It was a small miracle two nights ago my computer didn't wind up in a snow bank. *cuss* Help is on the way from my oldest son but he works long hours and is hard to corral. With any luck things will be back to normal before Christmas and I can upload some new work.

P.S. I can't take credit for the image on this post although I wish I could. I love it! Be sure to click on the Christmas cat to see him twinkle.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Creating From Imagination

Still working out the background details and lighting on this one. It's been slow going. I tweak and look, tweak and look. Gradually this is coming along to my satisfaction. I may leave this and just look at it for weeks, especially in different light. Many times there's an *Ah Ha!* moment and I'll notice something that was missing or needs adjusting.

Right now I'm working with charcoal and soft pastel on tracing paper. Why tracing paper? It's cheap, it works well with several mediums, erases well and I can put different colored papers behind it to get different effects.

I'm keeping the background fairly simple to keep the focus on my main subject...the cat. I've 'suggested' a few ferns, added the trunk of a tree for the cat to lean against and maybe a few fireflies will get in there somewhere. I want this one to be all about the cat and the lighting. Of course the moon or lack thereof is important also. I've decided to create a hole in the sky where the moon had been with a dark night sky and a few stars peeking through. I've abandoned my references completely now and I'm moving on, using only my imagination. I have the concept in my head. Now the challenge is to get it on paper.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Getting Creative to Create

I was browsing Flickr for interesting cat photos when I stumbled onto Peek-Peek. I fell in love with this kitty immediately! He's a chubby Persian belonging to Bokeh. One pose caught my attention because I've had an idea in my head for a painting called 'The Cat That Swallowed The Moon'. I contacted Bokeh who graciously agreed to let me use her photo. Now the fun began.

I had the vision in my head but I knew I needed lighting references to bring this idea to life. Necessity truly is the mother of invention. Grabbing my Crayola Teddy Bear and an old frosted globe light diffuser I set up a mockup still life. I nestled the teddy bear into my rocking chair, set the globe in it's lap and stuck a mini flashlight into the globe to create the 'moonglow'. I duct taped the bear's paws to the globe and set a potted plant arrangement next to my 'still life' and let the light fall where it may. I played in Irfanview to pinpoint where the majority of the light/shadow fell on my subjects.

There's still background details to work out so this project is still in the sketch phase. It'll be awhile until I'm satisfied enough to start painting. If all goes well it should be a fun new cat to add to my series. Thanks again, Bokeh and Peek-Peek!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mission Accomplished!

~~~This was my solution for Caterwauling. Since the format was square(and I didn't want a little square image in the middle of a white rectangle) I used an image that I'd framed online. I cropped it to fit the notecard. It looks a little lopsided here but it's really not. ~~~
Yes...mission accomplished. At least for now. The mission? To create simple notecards from my Catitude series. My Kodak Easyshare printing program experienced a glitch so I was forced to abandon it as an option. *cuss* I spent the entire past week researching other editing programs, trying free downloads and even giving Microsoft Publisher a test drive. Yup, Microsoft actually offers test drives for several of their editing programs. A test drive means you don't have to download a darn thing. I'm not entirely sure how it works but it gives the user a chance to see the program and sample the capabilites/features it offers.

Using a thirty day free trial of Photoshop Elements I managed to print out fifteen cards...five cards each using three of my Catitude cats...Gingerbruiser, Caterwauling and Undercover Kitty. For some reason Nosey Rosie defied printing. Even with a lot of fiddling with lighting, sharpness and color correction what was on my screen would not translate to the printed card. I haven't given up, though. I just need a break. *sigh*

After trying the programs I'll most likely go with Publisher. It's more straight forward and easier for me to understand. The cost is roughly the same as Elements.

I ordered the card bags from Clearbags. Since I planned to sell the cards singly with an envelope I chose bag size #B45. This size will hold one notecard and one 4 3/8" X 5 3/4" invitation envelope.

As luck would have it when I delivered my notecards to the gallery I ran into another artist who also runs a printing service nearby called Northbound Publications & Graphics. They do giclees, rack cards, etc. She gave me her business card and we spent some time going over prices and just chatting. I've been considering switching to giclees rather than having my prints made at Office Max so I felt this was one of those happy coincidences that life sometimes throws our way.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I've Been Tagged!

Here goes..........

1. I was born on Friday the 13th. The only time I remember the #13 being unusually lucky for me (other than being the date I was born)I was at a local carnival and played the fortune wheel. I even think I was 13 years old at the time. I played #13 four times in a row and it came up all four times. The guy running the wheel was visibly upset by this and all I got for my lucky streak was a small stuffed animal and the bum's rush.

2. I'm adopted.

3. When I was 20 three of my friends and I got together enough money to fly to Scotland for three weeks and backpack the countryside. We spent one night on the shores of Loch Ness looking for Nessie. He/she never made an appearance.

4. My dentist when I was a preteen was a local character named Doc Hoffman. He told me I had a bite like Ford gears. Looking back I take that as a compliment. He always drove antique Ford cars.

5. When I was about 12 I entered my first art contest. The participants had to produce a poster depicting the evils of littering. It was called The Litterbug Contest. I won! My first and only art award to date. I got my picture in the local paper and a free soda at Joe William's Cigar store. The Cigar Store had a soda fountain in case you're wondering.

6. I've been known to stay in PJ's for days without ever getting dressed.

7. I absolutely HATE going out shopping...for anything! God bless the internet.

Here's my list of tag-ies:


Celeste Vaught

Lisa Ober


Ron Morrison

Tracey Costescu

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Note Cards

I've been working on a new project the last week or so. I'd like to produce a line of note cards using my Catitude series. Note cards seem to sell well at the gallery and many of the artists are taking advantage of this fact. I've never produced a card of any kind before and mentioned this to my good friend and fellow artist, Robin Neudorfer. She suggested I contact Diane Wright, a wonderful graphite artist and a very gracious woman who recently started a printing service on her website. Diane was an enormous help and gave me very useful guidence.

Diane made me realize I could probably print my own note cards at home for very little expense so I started to scan my photo editors for features that would be useful. Lo and behold my Kodak Easyshare program has a note card feature with many templates to choose from! Taking Diane's advice I purchased some nice 90# card stock and invitation envelopes at Office Max. I also splurged on a Fiskars 12" rotary cutter to make card cutting a breeze.

My next challenge was to create templates for the back of the cards. I wanted to show the name/number of the series, the title and of course my name/copyright mark. This I did using Irfanview, a free online photo editor I normally use for resizing my images. If anyone who reads this post would like to know more about Irfanview please let me know and I'll be glad to advise you. It has many useful features.

Now this all sounds easy...right? Not entirely. The card face has to be printed first, the card folded and then trimmed. Next the back must be printed. This can get tricky, especially with my printer. Running a folded card through a printer can cause paper jams(which it has)and the card can get hooked on something and the print can turn out cockeyed, etc. If I knew a better way I'd surely use it. I did perservere and got a few examples to show for it which I've posted above.

Now I'm considering text for the card face. I plan to leave some plain but would like to add text to others. Did I call myself clever? Well, apparently I'm not as clever as I thought. The text is still eluding me. I'll come up with something but I'm always open to suggestions. *hint hint*

Monday, October 01, 2007

CATITUDE 4~'Undercover Kitty'

I had to include this one in the series in part due to the nature of Gizmo, my youngest female cat. She's always been a bit high strung. Well, a LOT high strung actually. She also has overly large ears for her small face and huge 'headlamp' eyes. Little Mo' as we nicknamed her also is shy around strangers and typically hides under the covers on my bed when company comes. When I had workers come to redo my bathroom a few years ago Gizmo spent the entire five days undercover, coming out only to eat and use the litterbox. I know the workmen wondered what that lump was in my bed.

This one's for you, Little Mo'. Love ya!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Me in a Nutshell

Your Personality is Very Rare (INTP)

Your personality type is goofy, imaginative, relaxed, and brilliant.

Only about 4% of all people have your personality, including 2% of all women and 6% of all men
You are Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving.

i REALLY like the 'brilliant' part! HAHA!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

CATITUDE 3~'Nosey Rosie'

Meet Nosey Rosie. Cats are naturally curious creatures and Rosie is certainly no exception as you can see. I experimented with a circular mat on this one. I 'd love to hear some feedback/opinions regarding the circular mat. Does it work? Does it not? I'm curious.........

Sunday, August 19, 2007


This past June Raven, my beloved studio assistant was diagnosed with cancer. Early this morning she passed away quietly under the head of my bed. She was the first cat I ever fell in love with. She changed my entire attitude toward cats in general and talk about attitude? Trust me, this gal had it in spades.

She was always my faithful helper especially in the kitchen. She loved to watch me prepare food and she loved to eat. Her tastes ran the gamut from tacos to spaghetti and the list goes on. I could call her just by opening the refrigerator door. She knew that sound well and was always 'tuned' to it.

A funny story...When she was just a little kitten she scared me almost to death. It was nighttime and I couldn't find her anywhere. I was frantic! I looked everywhere in house but no Raven. Finally I tried to calm down and retrace my steps. They brought me to the refrigerator. Noooo..she couldn't be...she the frig. I thought she'd be traumatized by the experience but not her. She was busy working on a piece of Polish sausage and when I opened the door she looked at me like, "What do you want?" That was my gal.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

CATITUDE 2~'Gingerbruiser'

I finally completed all those miserable little leaves to a somewhat satisfactory conclusion. Not wanting them to be a feature per se I didn't want them to be too detailed. However my first attempts were not good. I fiddled until I have what I think is a nice balance.

So here's Gingerbruiser, the neighborhood bully on the lookout for his next victim.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Cat in Progress

This is the next installment in my Catitude series. This big fella is taking me longer than I anticipated. I paint a little, look at it, paint a little more, look at it..........still no where near done.

I'm finding I hate painting lotsa little leaves, too. Unfortunately there's many more to go.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

CATITUDE 1~'Caterwauling'

I had a LOT of fun painting this one. I found a photo reference of a cat in full 'yawn'. Also in this photo was a flower stem with it's bud in just the right position to suggest a microphone. The TV reality show 'American Idol' popped into my head immediately. And c'mon...anyone that's watched that show even once must have seen worse performances...right? Anyhoo...this poor cat's ears had been cropped off so I had to supply him with at least one and I replaced the flower bud with something that more resembled a real 'mic'..namely a prairie coneflower. Voila! A cat belting out a tune into his flower microphone. What could be better?

Friday, July 27, 2007

More Good News!


I received a call from the gallery yesterday. Vivi, one of the owners and a great advisor told me four more pieces sold and they only have three of my pieces left. Need more! I was almost speechless! And thrilled.

I have to give Northern Michigan Artists Market a great deal of credit for accepting my work in the first place and being such wonderful promoters. I couldn't be happier with how things are going and how comfortable they make me feel over there. I look forward to a long and enjoyable relationship with this gallery. And a profitable one, too. *big smile*

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jack Revisited

I did finally decide to add a bit of ink to this one. I cleaned up the edges, defined a leaf edge where my color values were too close and added some violet that was missing at the base of the flowers. I'm stopping now before I over-do it. I have a tendency to fiddle my work to death. One of the trickiest things about creating a piece of artwork is knowing when it's done.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jack in the Pulpit

preaches today
under the green trees
just over the way.
~Clara Smith
I lost the light before finishing this today. Hopefully I will be able to get a better photo tomorrow. I'm debating whether I want to add some ink to this one.

Jack in Progress

Having tried at least seven trial compositions with this subject (mainly where to place the stem and leaves) I realized I was stuck. Thankfully it's summertime so I decided to just go out and dig in the dirt for awhile. As luck would have it I sprained my toe so I finally decided to have a go at this. I chose my original comp minus the third flower sprouting from the center. I felt that including it would be too complicated to pull off and really unnecessary to the finished piece.

I also tried out a few new colors. Up to this point I've stuck with the three primaries. This time I chose Perylene Maroon(basically the color of a blood clot but a great mixer), Sap green and Daniel Smith's Greengold. I mixed Ultramarine violet and a dash of Indigo with the Perylene Maroon to cut the slightly gory look it has. It worked great for the 'hood' of the flowers. The Greengold is a very acidic color so I diluted it a great deal.

With these new colors I ran out of atomizer bottles so I ordered some Holbein atomizers from Blick. They spray a much coarser mist that I found hard to work with. They produced some neat looking mottled effects but not what I wanted for this application.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Timeout for Garden Talk

Sorry to be MIA...again. I've been gardening. 'Tis the season and around here it's short so I've gotta make the most of my time. I want to share my Black Currant Swirl hollyhocks with everyone. These beauties are real showstoppers.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jack in the Pulpit Thumbnail

I'm planning to paint Jack in the Pulpit next using my spray technique. The actual flowers are pretty simple but as usual the background will take some careful thought. Using my colored pencils I created a thumbnail of the plant on semi-transparent paper. Then I colored an underlay of a possible background and folded my thumbnail over it to get an idea what it will look like without drawing and redrawing the plant. I'll probably be doing a couple more before deciding what works best.

Just Received a Wonderful Email

Marty Scott, one of the owners of Northern Michigan Artists Market sent me a lovely email today. I've decided to share it on my blog:

Billie --I looked at your blog today and I loved the enthusiasm of you and your loyal followers. I put a link to it on my blog. Thanks for the link to the Artists Market site and for the kind words about the Market. I am looking forward to selling lots more of your work and working with you for a long time.-- Marty Scott

Monday, July 02, 2007

King of the Porch

I've had a reference photo for this cat a long time and finally decided to give it a try with watercolor. It seems lately cats have been lucky for a few artists so what better time than now to paint a cat! This one won't be going to market, though. I had some help from my faithful studio assistant, Raven the cat. She graciously added a few purple paw prints and some equally purple splots and drops here and there. *sigh* However, she DID inspire me to try stepping away from a realistic palette so I plan to attempt this cat again with a few Daniel Smith colors I've been dying to try out...Moonglow and Tiger's Eye Genuine. These may produce a very unusual but interesting cat. Anyway, I'll never know until I try.

This was also done on Arches hot pressed watercolor paper which I don't normally use for brush on paper techniques but I do love the smooth finished surface. I applied a very thick mixture of paint with a stiff short bristled brush to create all that thick calico fur. I feel it was successful.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Two Pieces Sold!

Hemingway's Cat~SOLD
I contacted the gallery today and two of my pieces sold. YES! The Buckeye Butterfly and a print of Hemingway's Cat have now gone to their new homes.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gallery Walk

The annual Petoskey Gallery Walk will be held June 21st, not the 23rd which I had previously thought. Eleven galleries will be participating and the walk will end with fabulous food and entertainment at Stafford's Perry Hotel. All the galleries will be donating artwork for a prize drawing.

Yesterday I took seven of my older pieces to Northern Michigan Artist's Market for a total of nine on display. I included a colored pencil piece, two watercolors, three graphite pieces and one print. When everything had been delivered and put into inventory I promptly went home and took a three hour nap. *huge sigh of relief* I had no idea I was stressing so much but apparently I was. I'm all better now.

While at the gallery I had a chance to chat with Martin Scott, one of the gallery owners. They're in the process of updating their website so buyers will be able to purchase their artist's work directly from the new site. As Martha would say, this could be a very good thing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Peacock Orchid Completed

I finally had enough time to bring this one home, so to speak. There's a few spots I may wind up tweaking a little but for the most part I'm pretty happy with it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Quick Update~Peacock Orchid

Center Completed
My Working Drawing

I finally started this peacock orchid. I'm posting an update on my progress so far. I think the worst is over...the center is completed! I keep telling myself I need to work in a much larger format. Cutting away all those tiny bits and pieces is a bit nerve wracking.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wonderful News!

Buckeye Butterfly~~SOLD

I know I've been MIA for quite awhile but things have been...well...things. Recently some of my artwork has been accepted by Northern Michigan Artist's Market of Petoskey, Michigan and I couldn't be happier! Today I delivered two framed pieces to the gallery so I'm officially 'being shown'. There's still a lot of work to do on my part, tho. The annual gallery walk starts June 23rd and I hope to have several more pieces completed and ready to submit to NMAM.

I'm doing my own mounting and framing. I found out I can cook up a mean batch of wheat paste now! This is a wonderful opportunity and it's certainly a learning experience for me.

I've submitted my sprayed daffodil and a buckeye butterfly done in colored pencil.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Peacock Orchid~Comp and Value studies

Quick color study with colored pencils.
Here are my two studies. I chose to try one with the foliage and one with the addition of a spent bloom. As this plant begins to flower the blooms start low with each new bloom being produced above the last as the plant continues to grow higher. One plant can produce as many as 10-12 blooms, one at a time as the one before it droops and dies. The spent blooms tend to arch downward gracefully in a bell shape. The foliage is thin, flat, strap shaped and stands almost straight up.

This is a photo I took in my garden last Fall when the orchids were blooming. It was a windy day so unfortunately the image is a little blurry.

I love peacock orchids. They're so architectural and their height and verticality makes them a stunning addition to the garden. The blooms remind me of an exotic duck coming in for a landing on a pond. Even though they aren't hardy in my zone 5 garden I buy more bulbs and plant them every year. They tend to bloom when all else is done and gone. I've chosen them as my next subject for a painting. Now I'm trying to decide on a composition that shows off their best qualities. I've done two studies both for comp and as a value study. I may do several more before deciding on one I like well enough to paint. My format will probably be approx. 11" X 14" and I want to showcase the bloom more than the height.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Matting and Framing

The right mat and frame can and should enhance a piece of artwork. On the flipside the wrong mat and frame can ruin that same piece of art. Taking the time to chose the correct matting and a good frame is well worth the time and effort.

I'll be matting and framing The Poppy for myself. This piece will hang in my home on a pale yellow wall. I've decided I want a square format for the finished hung piece. Since this painting isn't square(approx. 11" wide by 10 " high) the mat will have a 3" border on the bottom. The sides and top will have a 2" border creating the square. I know it may sound odd but it works. For the frame I've chosen two that are simple and contemporary with a matte black finish. I haven't decided how wide I want the actual frame so I've done a virtual frame up with two different width frames which I'm posting here. Then I can look at them both together for a few days and decided which one works best.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Poppy

This one tested my patience more than any other painting I've ever any style. If my paper had been larger I would've chosen to do this in a much larger format. Also after it was completed (I thought) and I had removed all the frisket I decided the center of the flower was not dark enough. The frisket didn't want to stick well the second time around. Even after repeated burnishings I still had some bleed under it. I had to resort to a few dabs of opaque white to correct the problem. This finally became a quest! I was going to complete this or die trying. It's not my best effort to date but it's certainly been a learning experience for me. This taught me I have the stick-to-it-enuffs to stay with a difficult project and secondly, to get it right the first time!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Virtually Framed

I just had fun matting and framing my last piece online. You gotta love the internet!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Daffodil wip

Here's the finished painting. I may decide to
do a little more tweaking or chalk this one
up to experience.

I've masked off the finished cup and
started working first on the background,
then on the foliage and the lowest petal.
I started with the cup first, then masked it off
before completing the rest.
The sketch. I wound up tweaking this a little as I went along.

I enjoyed Mehaffey's technique so much I thought I'd try it again on another subject. I've used the same reference for this daffodil with graphite and really loved the results. This was much more difficult than the waterlily and I'm not entirely sure I like the results. It's all part of the learning experience, though.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Waterlily continued

Almost forgot. These are the sprayers I used. They
spray a nice fine mist and worked like a charm.
And here is my waterlily completed. There's many
things I'd do differently next time but not bad for
a first try.

And more layers. It's starting to look like something!
Here's the first few layers of paint. I'm trying to
get a bounce of warm to cool going diagonally from opposite corners.

I've removed my frisket from the drawing and placed it on
my working paper. I burnished it down with a spray bottle.

Blogger is acting up today so I guess my waterlily posts will be in installments.