Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WIP~Last Sepia Cat...

...for now anyway. This is as far as I got today on the final painting. I threw my neck out so I made a visit to my chiropractor and I'm taking it easy until tomorrow. I decided to create a small series of 3 cats. I'm not sure what to title the first or just leave it as 'The Sepia Cat'. I think I will change 'Bored' to 'Pensive' or 'Lost in Thought' and I'm not sure what I will call this one. I don't want to title it 'Sleeping Cat'. Too obvious. These are fairly small paintings. The Sepia Cat is barely ACEO size, the others are larger but not that much. I'll be taking high resolution photos of all three, uploading them to my Imagekind gallery and purchase medium size (approx. 16" x 8 1/2") prints which I will then mat myself for sale at the gallery. Until I know if these will sell or not I'm not paying to have them professionally scanned and printed. This should save me a lot of time, money and hassle and Imagekind's prints are very high quality.

Speaking of Imagekind, they are not in my good graces right now. I had already uploaded the first cat to their site and ordered 2 prints this past Saturday. Sunday I received an email notification that they were offering free shipping w/promo code over the weekend. I couldn't reach them by phone so I emailed them to let them know what happened and hopefully get the shipping charges knocked off my order. A rep. was quick to reply, informing me that because my order was less than $30 there was nothing they could do. (Btw, there was no minimum order listed on their promo to qualify for free shipping). Also since the late arrival of the notification was not my fault I felt it would be good business to at least give me a credit on my next order in the amount of the current shipping charges and I sent an email to this affect. So far, I've gotten no reply. }:(

Note: I just received a reply from Jill, the rep. from Imagekind. Apparently there was a $30 minimum order required for free shipping. She did say she asked her manager if they could give me a credit but the answer was 'no'.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I'm not bored but this cat sure looks bored. I liked my Sepia cat enough to try another. I did use a reference photo this time (courtesy of Yod Barro on Wetcanvas) and it shows, IMO. I think it's lacking the same spontaneity as the first painting because I focused on the photo too much. I love the reference photo but the cat's head is at a tricky angle so I needed guidance with the eye placement. However, once that was established I probably should've put the ref away. I used the same palette...DS Undersea green and warm sepia with white gouache added for the whiskers and the catchlight in the eye.

I tried two different closeup and one vertical and narrow with the subject at the very bottom. I think I like the second best. It's different.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Photographing Eggs

I like this composition the best so far. Love the subtle orangey reflection on the green egg shell and the angle of the shadow from the carton.

Is not as easy as I thought it would be. I have six lovely eggs from a friend's hens. The reddish brown eggs are from her Isa Brown hen, the green are from one of her Araucanas. Sunlight has been at a premium here lately and when it peeks out it doesn't stay long so it's a rush to shoot in good lighting. Since I had the eggs in the frig they immediately began to 'sweat' once they hit warm air and eggs tend to roll around a lot! No hiding a piece of masking tape under them to hold in place either as the surface of the shells was too wet. Once they came to room temperature I had lost any hope of decent light but I did get a few shots w/o all the condensation on the shells.

Say Cheese!

I've never done this on my blog before but this cheese is soooo good I couldn't help myself. I'm hooked on this stuff. I hope Heini's doesn't mind that I knicked their photo but'll promote their product. It's called Heini's Vidalia Onion cracker cheese. This cheese is to die for on Roasted Garlic Triscuits. Add red grapes and you have the best lunch ever on a hot, muggy summer day. Heini's is a company that uses Amish milk for their products. No growth hormones, purchased from small (5-6 cow) dairy farms....very healthy and 'green'. My local Spartan store sells it for less than the price on the website so Heini's must sell in bulk to grocery chains. If you're a cheese lover request it at your local grocery store now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Chicken

Done on the last piece of scrap paper with the last of the leftover paint...mostly quin violet, Undersea green and warm sepia with some gouache added for the white feathers. Forgive the blue and green blobs at the bottom. They were already there when I started. I hate to waste anything, especially if I can use the materials for practice. I've got some eggs from this very chicken in my frig which I intend to photograph and paint so for me the age old question, "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?", has been answered.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Sepia Cat

I can't seem to stop playing in the paint lately! I've been using up leftover paint and bits and pieces of w/c paper lying around. This is another of my attempts to paint a cat without benefit of a prior pencil sketch or reference. I did rough in the right eye(viewer's right) but the rest is all done freehand. I mixed up some warm sepia with DS Undersea green and just winged it. I ran out of room on the paper so sadly this poor cat has no ears. I recently ordered some gouache and a fine line Sumi drawing brush from DS. I love this brush! The gouache came in handy for the whiskers, too.


I'm calling this 'Sunset on Pluto'. I don't know if Pluto even has a sun much less a sunset but that's what popped into my head when this was dry.

Love the little tendrils the paint forms working wet into damp. Nick Simmons calls them dendrites(sp?).

Here I didn't wait for the dried perm yellow to fully reconstitute before pouring. After the painting was dry I brushed away the tiny 'chunks' of paint to reveal what I thought looked like a field of yellow daisies.

Even though watercolor has the ability to be reactivated on the palette after drying , some colors like cerulean blue like to remain in nugget form no matter how much water you add so I left them on the paper. I liked the look! I think I also see the ubiquitous cat hair that seems to show up in all my paintings.

One of my favorite tricks to create texture involves spraying a fine mist of water over (not directly on) damp paint. This creates tiny blooms that add a neat effect. I'm not sure if it's visible in this image, tho. The purple you see is Dioxazine Purple fluid acrylic by Da Vinci. I applied it straight from the bottle onto wet paper. After it was dry I dripped on some cerulean blue watercolor, fully reconstituted. Applied onto the dry fluid acrylic, it retained it's vibrancy and it's semi-opaque qualities created a really cool passage in the painting.

Here fluid acrylic is interacting with straight watercolor, wet into damp. It's fun to play with your paint and you can learn a great deal in the process.

When you mention watercolor I doubt most people immediately think 'texture'. Sure, you can take a brush and recreate texture...the textures found in nature, in man made objects, etc. What I find intriguing is the exciting and often times unexpected textures that simply happen when working with watercolor. I'm also discovering that those same wildly interesting textures can be achieved with fluid acrylics used as watercolors.

I had some yogurt cups on the shelf in my studio that contained long dried watercolor from a pour I had done last year. I almost threw them out as there was nothing but a thin crust of dry paint left in them. Then I thought ...well, I'll try to reconstitute them and see what happens. When I think texture in watercolor I think of Ann Blockley's book, Watercolour Textures . I've referred to this book on my blog more than once. Her beautifully textured backgrounds in the book make her subjects almost incidential....almost. Somehow she manages to balance the subject matter and the background so the subject is not lost but rather enhanced by it. Anyhoo, I'm posting my results with the dried paint. No subject, just lots of pouring to see what happens.

Side note: Speaking of backgrounds...I received my August issue of Watercolor Artist yesterday. On the cover is a beautiful painting of bearded irises by Heidi Lang Parrinello. The actual painting is large...60" x 40", the attention to detail and skill involved in painting these irises is undeniable and must be stunning to see IRL but I have one problem with it...the background. I can only assume the problem lies with the crop for the cover but the over abundance of colorful and amorphous shapes in her background is extremely distracting and not only is it distracting but also looks so contrived. I suspect she did one heck of a lot of lifting to achieve that effect, too. I enjoyed looking through her portfolio on her website. She does seem to like busy backgrounds.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Midnight in the Moon Garden I

Moon gardens have fascinated me since I first became aware of them. Probably because I tend to be nocturnal. They are basically a color themed garden, employing both white/light colored blooming and foliage plants that seem to 'glow' when lit by moonlight. In my experience these gardens are both dramatic and ethereal, especially during a full Moon. I worked the second shift at my prior job and in the summer I looked forward to coming home to a garden I could enjoy late at night when it was cool and quiet.

This was my attempt to capture the unique beauty of these gardens. I saturated both sides of Fabriano #140 HP paper, poured on DV indigo fluid acrylic straight from the bottle along with Prussian and cerulean blue watercolor and tipped my paper in different directions to allow the paints to mingle. Before the fluid acrylic could dry I lifted out the petals of a few blooms with an oval brush, then added more detail with soft pastel. I like how the blooms seem to float which is exactly how they appear in the garden at night. The stems are 'lost' in the darkness and all the white blooms seem to hover in mid-air.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Landscape w/small rant

I'm calling this Twilight Time. It started out as nothing more than a way to use up excess paint on my palette and turned into a landscape in the process. I'm fighting the urge to criticize it to death and instead just let it be what it is.

Landscapes are not my forte but I've hit a point in my journey as an artist where I'm not satisfied with my work anymore (it's happened before, btw) so I need to stretch. I'm not saying I don't like my past work but I've reached a point where I'd like to take it to a new level. What level remains to be seen. Maybe I'm a victim of the caprice of my own moods which has lead to this recent dissatisfaction but irregardless, it's a chance to grow and explore with paint and paper.

I reached one goal last year which was to 'loosen up'. Now I want to become more expressive. I want my emotions to enter the picture (no pun intended) and not strive to simply recreate the emotions of my subjects. What better vehicle to convey my own emotions/moods than landscapes? I read a thread on Wetcanvas yesterday, started by a member that was in the process of taking a workshop from Alvaro Castagnet . This quote (the member quoting Castagnet) caught my eye:

"What makes a painting? A painting is a vision. Don't copy the subject. Representational artists run a huge risk of becoming illustrators. Illustration is not art. As artists, we have to capture something beyond that. We all can fall into the illustration trap, and the more we know, the harder it gets to stay out of that. We are constantly battling craft vs. art. Craft is illustration. A painting should reflect your spirit. Art is spiritual and there are no rules. Illustration is second hand art. If you are too literal, there is no enjoyment in the painting.

If you think using your intellect is the answer in painting, you're wrong. Painting is intuitive. It cannot be learned mechanically. Painting is about capturing the intrinsic side of life, with it's mood and feeling. There are no shortcuts and no formula. Painting is based on insight and perception, not logic. If the painting lacks ambience, it is worthless. The mood is the only creative side of representational art. The painting has to have magic to it. Search for the surprising element of the day. Paintings shouldn't be "pleasant" or "pretty"; they have to have GUTS. If we try to just copy nature and be illustrators, nature will beat us every time. We need to look deeper than that."

For the record, I don't agree with everything Castagnet had to say but some of his views did ring a personal bell with me. I thought by loosening up my style I would automatically become more expressive but that didn't seem to be the case. Even though I've changed my way of applying paint, I don't get a sense of heart and soul in my work. OMG, I think I'm going all artsy fartsy! I'm not giving up my cats, especially Crabby Cat, no matter how far afield I may wander.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just Sketching

I'm on the hunt for inspiration at the moment. Although we are getting some much needed rain, these grey days are taking the wind out of my sails. I did find the cutest photo of two cats snuggling together on Paint My Photo, posted by Kathleen and I decided to use it for a sketch. Lately I've been using tracing paper in place of drawing paper just in case I like the sketch enough to pursue it further and decide to transfer it to working paper. Tracing paper is cheaper than good drawing paper, it can be drawn on easily enough and holds up to erasing remarkably well plus there's no need to trace my drawing, then turn around and transfer it to my working paper. It saves a step.

The challenge here was to fix an area of the larger cat's face where it meets the head of the kitten. In the photo the eye closest to the viewer is kind of smooshed and distorted so it needed some tweaking. Once again, I'm posting this mostly for my own benefit to see if my changes 'read' correctly.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lily-of-the-Valley Commission~watercolor on gesso

I've finally completed this commission and will send it on to it's new home soon. I spent most of my time battling the effects of humidity. I've found nothing behaves normally when the dewpoint is way up. The gesso fought me because it refused to get to the 'sticky' stage where all the neat textures appear and my paper buckled repeatedly. Nothing that couldn't be dealt with, tho. My customer is happy and that's what counts.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Syd 2

My work area is currently covered in work that has buckled because of the unusually high humidity we've been experiencing. Everything is weighted down under glass and books to keep it flat until this weather passes so I decided to add a background to my Sydney Revisited painting while I wait. Of course once my brush was wet I felt the need to tweak Syd, something I don't recommend when doing a loose style watercolor painting. I don't think I did too much damage but some of the spontaneity was lost. My mantra for loose style paintings: "get in, get out and don't go back unless you absolutely have to".

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Art vs Oil Spill: Artful Products at Zazzle for Save the Gulf-Wild Life Rescue

Paul Jackson has offered artists a way to do something about the Gulf of Mexico. He has set up a Zazzle store where you can buy products with the proceeds going to the Wildlife rescue. Here's a link to the online store, there are 18 new products in just the first day, so please take a look. Zazzle store link

This online Zazzle store features a collection of artwork donated by artists around the world specifically to benefit wildlife rescue operations along the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster. Proceeds from your purchase will benefit an organization that is all volunteer and they will use the funds where they can do the most good. The name of the organization is Wildlife @Rehabilitation & Nature Preservation Society, Inc. or WRANPS. TIN is 64-0701440. They were formed in 1983 and are a 501(c)3. Their info can be verified on Guidestar, the official website that monitors US Non-Profits. They are also registered with the Secretary of State of MS as a Charity. Their address is P O Box 209; Long Beach, MS 39560. Please feel free to donate to them directly! Make checks payable to Wildlife Rehabilitation & Nature Preservation Society, Inc. or WRANPS. P O Box 209; Long Beach, MS 39560. (in the note/subject line of your check, please include "art vs oil spill") Attn: Jan Dubuisson Thank you for all that you can do to help!!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Lily-of-the-Valley~Revisited 1

I had planned to redo my painting, Lily-of-the-Valley and as luck would have it someone contacted me recently to do another version as a commission so I've been playing around with the theme. This is not the final but I liked the antique look well enough to post it. It reminds me of an old botanical. This is also on gessoed paper.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Sydney Revisited

I'm currently working on a commission on gessoed paper. The humidity level here has been unusually high lately and the gesso seems like it's taking forever to dry. It's like waiting for grass to grow.}:( In the meantime I felt the need to paint something so I used another of Kali's photos to paint Sydney, this time strickly pastel. This painting came together very fast and I found a new favorite color...DS Perylene Violet. So far I haven't met a Perylene I didn't like. It's possible to get a full range of values from them and they are great mixers as well.

p.s. I think Syd needs a background of some sort. Maybe just a few splatters.......

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


As it happened, this turned into more of a pastel piece with a watercolor underpainting than a watercolor with a bit of pastel. I'm glad I was working on HP paper and was pleased it took the pastel so well. The background color was decided for me when my masking fluid decided to stain my paper. }:( I've never seen it do that before. Ummmm....anyway, I've sent an image to my niece for her approval. I'd love to paint Sydney again, this time with just watercolor and probably not in this particular pose.