Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Monday, December 29, 2008

This Is How It Starts

This is how I develop a concept. I get an idea in my head and it rolls around until I finally put pencil/pen to paper(any paper I have handy)and start doodling. I have a basic vision of my subject matter. In this case, cats lapping up starry milk from the Milky Way. From observing my own cats I can create rough sketches of felines engaged in the appropriate activities to suit my concept.

Next, I need to do research. What does the Milky Way look like...really? During my online browsing I discovered that the Milky Way can appear as an incredible spiral or resemble an erupting volcano of cosmic vapors, very organic in shape. Good! This will give me the creative 'wiggle room' I will need. Now all that's needed is the Moon. Got to have the Moon! The next step will be to incorporate all these elements into a pleasing study worthy of painting. That will be the next challenge...........

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I want to wish all my friends & visitors a wonderful holiday and all the best for 2009.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

What Tarot Card Are You?

I found this test on Jeanette Jobson's blog and couldn't resist. I'm such a sucker for this type of thing. This was my result. Take it as you will. I'm no salesman, that's for sure. I know this from experience. And a smooth talker? Well, I tend to be great at putting my foot in my mouth a lot. I doubt that rates as a 'smooth talker'. I am a good haggler, though. Take the test yourself and see what card you are! I dare you. *heehee*

You are The Magician

Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, depending on dignity.

Eleoquent and charismatic both verbally and in writing,
you are clever, witty, inventive and persuasive.

The Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things so just by speaking them aloud. Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand and a medicine man - either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Berries and Birch

It's been a long time since I updated my blog. Summer has come and gone and winter is in full swing here in Michigan. It's made an early and vigorous arrival. We've seen snow almost every day and have experienced unusually cold temperatures for November/December.

I lost my muse this past summer. She took a hike but I feel the '*itch' returning at long last. I hope to have some new artwork to offer after the holidays. In the meantime, I saw this scene from my front window today and grabbed my camera to capture it. It was a battle between falling snowflakes, the gathering birds gobbling up berries and the 18° temps to get off a good shot. It's not the best photo but I loved the greys of the sky and the birch tree contrasted against the brilliant orangey red of the berries.

I haven't been entirely reticent in my artistic endeavors for the last several months. Sales at the gallery have been surprisingly good considering the poor economy. I also entered The Artist's Magazine All-Media Online Competition with 'The Cat That Swallowed The Moon'. This will be my first competition so we'll see how well that goes. Winners won't be announced until this coming March.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Miss Willmott's Ghost~Macros

I've been admiring Deborah Kirby's garden photos on her blog. Beautiful floral closeups, Deb! My little Miss Willmott is growing up and in bloom and I finally figured out how to shoot in super macro mode with my new Canon PowerShot S5IS. Today I managed to snap a few decent shots despite the windy conditions. I'm surprised how many visitors to my blog are Googling for Miss Willmott. She's a popular lady!
Be sure to click on the images to enlarge.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Study~The Cat, The Spider And The Moon

This study is in prep for my latest fantasy piece. I'm not sure what the final title will be. Maybe I'll just keep this one? The basic image has been in my head for years. I just added a cat. It occurred to me that this might explain how The Cat That Swallowed The Moon got up there in the first place! I think this will need some stars, which I seem to have forgotten about completely. Back to the drawing board...........

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Cat That Swallowed The Moon~ Is It Done Yet?

After my last post in April I fell into the worst 'funk' I've experienced in many years, not only regarding my creativity but life in general. I can't blame it on anything in particular. Possibly a build up of many small things that have happened recently. I lost all interest in pretty much everything and generally felt 'flat' for lack of a better term. After waiting for this to pass(which it usually does in a few days but this time it didn't) I tried everything in my arsenal to get myself back on track. I listened to music...everything from Enya to my old Led Zepplin tapes, I worked in my gardens, I paced the floor, hit the treadmill, baked myself a pan of brownies and ate them name it.

I finally forced myself to ready some artwork for the summer season at the gallery. I spoke with Rachel Krino at Northbound Graphics in Central Lake, Michigan and am in the process of having a couple of my Catitude cats made into reproduction prints. I framed Miss Willmott's Ghost which, IMO looks great in it's brushed silver frame. I'm also planning on printing more notecards using my Catitudes if my printer ink ever arrives from Dell. I think they shipped it from China this time.

The only thing left on my easel was this poor cat waiting patiently to be completed. I've added pastel and colored pencil to this, completed the tail and tweeked the background. I considered adding a Luna moth clinging to the tree truck above the cat but thought it would make the piece too rightside 'heavy'. The image is dark as it's a cloudy day here so the colors are off but I felt the need to post something new. I'd love any input on this one. C&C welcome!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I'm Hanging In A Museum. Surprise!

Jeanette Jobson found the craziest website somewhere online and posted a link on her blog. I just had to try it out. Ever wish you could have a piece of your artwork hanging in a museum? C'mon...I know you have. Well, now you can...sorta.
Go to Jeanette's blog(I have her on my blog roll), check her April 19th post and you too can be hanging in a museum. *grin*

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Twinrocker Paper Samples Received

I just received my samples from Twinrocker Handmade Paper. They sent 81 samples(!) in all, each approx. 3"x 5". I wanted to post a few of my favorites but it was so hard to choose. This is just a small sample of the gorgeous papers they offer. Some are decorative tissues, others more substantial, some very textured and others quite smooth. They even included some crinkled metallics. Where the samples were cut from the edge of the main sheet you can see a deep feathery deckle which I love.
The Cripple Creek, Willow Creek and Fifth Avenue samples have an almost flannel-like appearance. Heartland(which I didn't include in my post) is made with bits of corn husks added. It's very subtle and would work beautifully with watercolor. Even though the Midnight Bamboo would NOT work with watercolor this one blew me away. I love it!
p.s. my scans don't do these samples justice.

Monday, April 14, 2008

WIP~The Cat That Swallowed The Moon

I've been hard at work trying to make the vision I have in my head for this piece come to life on paper. Nevermind that I have no real reference(this is from my imagination...scary, huh?), I'm working on HP watercolor paper which I'm not used to working on with a brush and I'm going for effects that a digital artist could probably whip out in no time flat. Ok...enough excuses. Whether this one turns out the way I'd like it to or not I can always try again with knowledge gained.

Starting from left to right, the first image is my grisaille, done with DS Moonglow over a very light wash of D/R permanent yellow. I've applied frisket film over that and I'm preparing for my washes on the background. I drew a circle with an 'F' pencil to indicate where the Moon used to be and added a few drops of Misket fluid to mask out the stars.

The second and third images are successive washes done with DaVinci Indigo and D/R ultramarine violet. I'm shooting for that 'night sky in the forest' look. Before I applied my washes I drew in my fireflies and used Prismacolor colored pencils for the fly's 'fire' and to act as a 'resist' for the paint. I still had to carefully dab out my fireflies with a tissue after each wash. I also gently scrubbed out my ferns after each wash.

The last image is where I'm at now. I've started applying darker and darker washes to the tree and cat, indicating the cat fur, creating texture on the bark. etc. I've left the cat's tail for last for some reason. Maybe I will add some leaves tucked into the tail fur? Right now it's all fine tuning.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Twinrocker Handmade Paper

Recently Robin Neudorfer sent me a link to Twinrocker Handmade Paper. I've been interested in trying out different papers for ink and watercolor...particularily tinted papers. I like the look of certain ink and watercolor washes on antique-y(?) looking backgrounds. Twinrocker offers a variety of papers including watercolor paper and their prices are very reasonable. They also offer two different sample swatch sets for $15 and $30. I ordered the $30 set and can't wait to see what the possibilities are with these papers. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Miss Willmott's Ghost~Revised, Reshot & Reframed

~~~ SOLD~~~

I revised Miss Willmott. The hard edge/line that ran diagonally from a shadow line on the viewer's left, through the center of the flower and connected with the vein line on the bract on the right bothered me a lot. I softened that and broke the connection by carefully scrubbing it down. I also softened the bottom of the flower center to read better with the light source...hopefully. I recropped to 21"x 13 1/2" and reframed her in a wider frame. I reshot my photo outside. Yes, it's sunny and fairly warm here today! Consequently the colors are much more accurate.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Miss Willmott~First Trial

Still fiddling with the composition on this! I also used the Fabriano Uno 140# paper. IMO, it's lousy for glazing but I managed to get some interesting effects in the background. I was slapping on paint, spraying it down with water, rolling my board and letting it do it's thing. I had water and paint everywhere. Man, it was fun! After cropping, this wound up approx. 18" x 13 1/2" and I 'virtually' framed it with a white mat and frosted pewter frame. My palette was primarily Daniel Smith Moonglow and Phthalo green(I think I got a little FUB in there somewhere for good measure).

Any and all opinions are welcome on this one. The photo isn't the best(it's yellow-y) but it's cloudy today so it's the best I can do for now. When we get some sun I'll repost this.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I Was Just Looking for Fellow Cat Painters......

I was curious what other cat artists were creating as I love painting cats myself. Not literally paint cats, of course. In the process of searching online I ran across the funniest website called,
'Why Paint Cats'
Burton Silver and Heather Busch published the book, Why Paint Cats featuring photos of elaborately painted real live cats. Apparently when the book hit the stores the reaction was everything from admiration to outrage. During further investigation I discovered the entire thing was an enormous(and profitable)hoax perpetrated by the writers and some clever digital manipulation. Why paint cats indeed. *grin*

Snopes~Painted Cats
Why Paint Cats on Amazon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Miss Willmott Comp~Revised

I've been playing a lot with the composition on this one. I wasn't happy at all with my first attempt. I thought it looked like a 'mugshot'. Something you'd see on a botany website...informative but no excitement whatsoever. It didn't do this plant justice at all. I decided to try working from another perspective. Looking down at a slight angle, this plant in full bloom looks to me like lots of white fireworks going off all at once.

This sketch is nothing more than quick scribbles but I'm liking it much better than the last one.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Workin' The Kinks Out

Inspiration strikes when I least expect it sometimes. Yesterday morning I was shlumping on the sofa in my PJs with Digby, my one and only male cat snoozing beside me, watching Saturday morning TV(which leaves something to be desired)and wondering what my next art project would be. A commercial came on and as always the volume on the TV increased considerably.

Before I could hit 'mute' Digby woke, hopped off the sofa and took a big looooong stretch(workin' the kinks out, I call it). As I watched him I suddenly thought, " Wow! What's more 'cat' than that?!" With no time to snap a photo I had to try and commit that moment to memory. I grabbed my pencils and paper and started sketching. After several tries I wound up with this.(see above) I'd like to refine it a bit more before I paint this so I've been keeping paper and pencil handy at all times waiting for him to stretch again. So far that hasn't happened but I'll be ready when it does. Right now my sketch doesn't look too bad as is but I'm still workin' the kinks out..........

Friday, March 07, 2008

Know The Value Of Your Colors

This was something I had to learn when I started working with color and I'm still learning. What range of values can be achieved by each color? Color can be so deceiving. The actual value of a certain color at maximum strength may look pretty darn dark to the eye but put it into greyscale and the results may amaze you. For instance Cobalt Blue Deep looks like it could go fairly dark but at full strength it really can't. Aureolin yellow at full strength barely makes the midtone range, if at all.

Some artist's like to work 'highkey' and produce very successful results. In other words, they keep their work in the midtone to light range. I'm not one of those artists. I like to use a full range of values to pack a punch, make a painting *pop*, give it pazzazz, whatever you may call it. Highkey artists may use complimentary colors to add drama. I do both. I'm such a drama queen.

Above I've done a greyscale of my painted palette along with a full color palette. I've added a greyscale chart for comparison. The results may surprise you.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Signs of Spring

It seems this winter has been dragging on forever. We still have lots of snow and very cold temps. I found a photo I took last Spring of a cluster of white crocuses in my garden and decided to paint it in hopes it would give me that Spring feeling. I used the Uno paper and a few new (to me) techniques. Lots of wet into wet painting, mixing at lot of the colors on the paper instead of my palette, using paper towels and my fingers for texture, etc. I also tried out a few new colors...Warm Sepia and Neutral Tint. This painting is much looser than my usual style and I quite enjoyed it! I may redo this one and try other colors and go for something even more loose.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

CATITUDE 5~Surprise!(?)

This one has been a long time coming. I started over 4 times before getting anything I felt was decent enough to post. I'm still not satisfied with it.

I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't the new paper I'm using. The paint is just not behaving for me the way I'd like. I got a great 'going-out-of-stock' deal on Fabriano Uno paper...five full sheets for $10. Before ordering I did a little research on it and found information stating it was the same as Fabriano Artistico(which I love!) only they had changed the name. When it arrived I noticed the surface texture was quite different from the Artistico. It had a pressed linen-like texture and was a bit shiny. I also noticed it tends to buckle easily with heavy washes. Another thing...when glazing over dry washes the paint lifted. I'm going to order my favorite Fabriano Artistico and re-do this painting....again(!) and compare the results. I'll be painting this cat in my dreams.

Anyone who owns or even knows a cat also knows they don't like surprises. Neither do I. Especially if they aren't 'good' surprises.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Online Matting & Framing Services

I've noticed over time that a few of the visitors to my blog are Googling for matting and framing services which leads them to one of my older posts regarding this subject. In that post I refer to online or 'virtual' matting and framing. Unfortunately I never left a link to the site I use which has provided very good service to me...both in products, speed of delivery and their virtual matting/framing feature. I'd like to recommend
American Frame to anyone interested.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Miss Willmott~ Line Drawing & Color Study

I managed to complete a line sketch and have been working on creating a palette for this painting. I'd love to keep the colors on the cool side because I plan to put the completed painting in a silver metal frame. After experimenting with several colors I wound up using Phthalo green & Indigo on this thumbnail along with a little Cobalt Blue Deep and Ultramarine Violet to liven things up. Sorry for the sloppy looking thumbnail. It's approx. 4" X 6" and I just don't have the brush sizes for this small of a task. I was still able to get an idea of how this particular palette will work....or not.
*I think this needs more violet*

Although it really doesn't show in the photo I added some colored pencil to the background...Prismacolor's Black Grape, Ultramarine Blue and Cerulean Blue. I've always wanted to explore mixing other mediums with my watercolors. I'm sure I'll be doing much more of that in the future.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Painting Miss Willmott~Comp Study

I plan to paint Miss Willmott eventually. I hope to do her proud. I've been playing with a few comps and I like this one the best, so far. The movement appeals to me. It started as a rectangular format but I had too much 'dead space' in the lower left corner. I could've filled it with hazy background foliage but instead think I may try to create a border using artist's tape and let the lower right bract extend past that. I've even been toying with the idea of working some silver leaf into this one. It's just a thought for now. The main flower is pretty much dead center of the comp right now. I probably should shift it a bit one way or the other. Still playing.........

Eryngium Giganteum, Miss Willmott's Ghost

The name of this plant sounds like something from a horror movie and it does have a slightly ferocious look about it. Actually the common name comes out of the story of a gardener, Miss Willmott, secretly scattering Eryngium giganteum seeds around in gardens she visited. The plants would show up as if from nowhere with their ghostly flowers, thus the name Miss Willmott’s ghost. I first saw it in White Flower Farm's nursery catalogue many years ago and knew I had to have it. The cost was high for my budget but I was seduced by the photo. It was shown blooming with white liatris(gayfeather) and Stargazer lilies. What a combo! Grabbing my credit card I ordered one plant.

When it came it wasn't much to look at but I promptly planted it in my moon garden where I thought it would serve as a feature plant when it matured. There it languished for two years, doing nothing. I thought it had died. The third summer I was ill and couldn't get out to the garden to water as much as usual. All my flower beds looked pretty sad that year, dried out or drooping in the summer heat. And then it happened. Miss Willmott must have liked those conditions because she took off like a rocket, grew to about 3 feet tall and bloomed her head off. I managed to snap a photo of her with my old 35mm camera and I'm glad I did because after blooming she died but the old girl had put on quite a show before her demise.

A few years later I noticed these tiny little plants popping up all through the moongarden. I thought they were weeds but when I tried to pull them I found they had an extremely mean taproot that was almost impossible to dig up. I finally gave up and let them have the run of the place. I mentioned these strange plants on a garden forum and someone told me they sounded like little Miss Willmotts. I isolated a few to a holding bed and to my delight that's what they were! Last summer one made it far enough to maturity to actually produce a few blooms. Apparently Miss Willmott had left me a present.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Artist's Block

Brick walls can be built with artist's blocks. Did you know that? Well, I have been beating my head against this particular brick wall way too long. I've done three paintings that have hit the trash can since my last post. It was getting a little depressing. The more I forced myself to work through it, the worse it got. *ack* Finally I decided maybe I needed to head in a brand new direction for awhile in hopes I could come back with fresh eyes and renewed inspiration.

I was chatting last week with a friend and it got me thinking. Maybe it would be a good idea to really step out of my usual 'thing' and do something I've never done before....

#1 A self portrait

#2 Do it in charcoal, which I rarely work with.

#3 Work from life, which I never do. I always work from photos.

The results were mixed(it kinda looks like me)but it felt good to just be doing something. It turned out to be a real challenge. I was working without my specs(glasses)in low light. All I could see were just basic shapes, highlights and dark areas. When I finally called this one done I had added some 2B pencil, white charcoal and a little sanguine for a blush to make myself look a bit more healthy. Tada!