Monday, March 13, 2017

The Sunny Spot, and a balancing act

'The Sunny Spot'
6 x 6 inches
oil on panel

So much of our every day life is just trying to keep everything in balance. Don't you think? Balance with work, family, hobbies, kids activities, school work, church work, yard work, house work. It's so tough to keep it all together. And I don't think any of us really do. Some do it better sure, but no one has it all together, as much as they want us to believe they do through social media posts.

The last few weeks my family has been really sick. My dad had surgery. And my sweet old dog, Chauncy is nearing the end of his life, and so we have to decide when to make that hardest decision that will separate him from us forever.

So my mind. . . it's been everywhere. My heart has felt so heavy. I'm not trying to sound like my life is terrible, because it's not. I feel so blessed to have the life I do. Loved ones that care about me, a warm comfortable home, and plenty of food to eat. But still. . . it's been tough, and I'd be lying if I said otherwise.

During this time of stress and sadness I've let a lot slip. But I've maintained as much as possible two things that help me feel balanced even in stressful situations.

Fitness. And Art.

I think we all have those things that clear our mind and rejuvenate us to tackle the day. And even if it seems selfish to take time to do them, we HAVE to. Otherwise there is nothing left of us to offer anyone else.

At the end of a long week of being a caretaker to many sick people and a dog I finally entered my studio. Turned on the lamp. Laid my brushes out carefully. And I painted. It lasted about 15 minutes. But it felt so good and restored something in my soul I had felt was missing that long week.

Art is so much more than just paint on paper. It is so much more than a profession. It is a balm to my soul. And I think that too often we forget that as we chase after professional goals and personal ones too. It was a good reminder to me. Hopefully it was to you too. When was the last time you got to do what rejuvenates you when you really, really needed it? I'd love to know.


Watching: The Walking Dead
Listening to: Nirvana
Reading: Lizzy and Jane by Katherine Reay
Drinking: water
Snacking on: protein bars (G2G are my fave)

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Like a Rusty Faucet

Gypsy Liberty
3.5 x 9.5 inches
watercolor on paper

I've always been the type of person to dive headfirst into whatever it is I'm passionate about at that moment. it consumes me and it's all I think about. I live it, breathe it, dream it. If I'm awake I'm either practicing my passion, or I'm thinking about when I next get to practice. 

But inevitably, that ends in a burn out. Well. . . most of the time. 

And then it's weeks or months on end before I pick up that passion again. And at first it's a little like an old faucet that hasn't been used for a while. It sticks, doesn't open right, and then after smacking the stupid faucet with some type of tool (a wrench maybe) it starts to trickle a little water.  Then the next time you try to use that faucet it's just a little easier to open. Doesn't take as much. . . abuse to get it to start flowing, even if it is still just a trickle. 

Slowly, if you're patient, and you don't give up, and you use that faucet every day, it flows effortlessly. Like it used to when it was brand new. Like it was made to. 

That's how I feel about painting right now. 

For a long time I let my skills get rusty. But with practice I'm back at home again. And back in the flow. 

It's a great place to be. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Luminous Berries and Art Life Updates

Luminous Berry
5 x 5 watercolor on paper

For the last several months painting has constantly been on my mind. I dream up ideas for future paintings, my hands itch to hold a brush, and I try to figure out how to get 26 hours out of each day, or require less than 5 hours of sleep at night, so I can get more painting time.

Since the new year came and the holidays are gone for another year (YASSS) I made a promise to myself that I would paint every day. If only for 15 minutes. Well. . . . I haven't kept that promise. Some days I just can't make it to paint. Which IS frustrating. BUT on the positive side I have painted more this month than I did the last six months combined. So I think I'm onto something here.

This painting is the first watercolor daily painting (never mind that it took me about 6 days to finish instead of 1) I've finished in. . . 3 years I think. And I have found a lot of satisfaction in that.

I'm excited to keep on painting, I have SO many ideas sketched out! We'll see how well I do at keeping this blog updated too.

Thanks for following along with my artwork!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bitten by the Painting Bug

6 x 6 oil on gessobord
click here to purchase

I miss painting.

I miss blogging.

Lately all I've wanted is to just paint my heart out. But time has not been my friend lately. 2017 is the year I change that.

How are you all? Does anyone still blog? Leave me a comment if you do and I'll come visit you too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Portrait Commissions and Sketchbooks

This year I've been kept pretty busy with some beautiful child portrait commissions to paint. This sweet girl above, Sadie, was finished a few weeks ago, and I have a little boy currently on my easel that is nearly finished as well. I feel so honored that these parents trusted me to capture their child and I hope I'm doing each one justice.

There hasn't been any time for personal paintings, but after this last commission is finished I'll be taking a break from custom work to paint some ideas I've had floating in my head for a while. I've had an idea of paintings of my boys I want to do that I'm considering using to get back into the juried show game, but we'll see how they turn out first ha! I haven't entered a painting in a competition for a long time, but I think this might be just the thing to help me push myself out of my comfort zone and level up my skills. Well. . . that's the hope anyways.

I have however been doing plenty of sketching as time allows. This is so crucial to my own satisfaction as an artist, and for personal growth. Even if I don't have time to paint on a certain day if I can squeeze in a sketch I feel like I'm still growing my skills, developing my career as an artist and that to me, is pretty priceless. Here are some of my recent faves:

I really miss blogging, but it seems to take so much time. I'm posting much more regularly on instagram if you'd like to follow me over there!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gypsy Whimsy

Gypsy Whimsy
5.5" x 8.5" 
colored pencil on toned paper

I'll just save all that HOLY COW IT'S BEEN SO LONG SINCE I LAST POSTED blah blah blah and jump straight to the point. :)

I'm still drawing. A lot. It will always be something I have to do. I just love it so much. 

And I've been finding a lot of satisfaction, and joy, in drawing more whimsically. . . More illustrative I guess. I no longer am a slave to a photo reference and I LOVE that. While part of me still sometimes misses getting lost in realism, for now I'm very happy to be drawing this way. 

Thanks for sticking with me for so long CCA fans. I sure appreciate your support.I still have this omnipresent itch to get those watercolors out. . . But just haven't made myself do it yet. But one day soon I will!

Listening to: AWOLNATION
Reading: The Ruby Circle
Watching: New Girl
Snacking on: egg whites and chicken breasts (I'm on a diet BLERGH)
Drinking: Ice water (see the BLERGH diet above^^)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Paisley Illustration 30/30 #3

Paisley Pony Illustration
9 x 12
copic marker on illustration board
Lagging behind pretty bad on this 30/30 challenge. :) I knew it would be tough to fit a painting in every day since I'm pretty much working full time now, and honestly accepting the challenge was mostly just a shove to get me to paint again. And for that alone it's been  a success.
I did make a start on a larger watercolor portrait of my son the other day, but it's not really at a showing stage yet. (in other words, it's a bit scary right now. Ha!)
This is an illustration I did for a client, a new whimsical style I don't think I've shared with you guys before. It's a lot of fun and I love working this way.
Watching: Master Chef
Reading: Alla Prima
Listening to: the dog snore
Snacking on: Peppermint Patties
Drinking: dirty diet coke

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Retirement 30/3 #2

6 x 6 inches, oil on gessobord
Painting #2 for the 30/30 challenge.  I took this photo  few years ago one morning after I had dropped my kids off at school. This old horse, evident by the grey on her muzzle and her deep sway back, stood grazing in a field, with the sun just rising over the mountains behind her.

The rim lighting on her was so gorgeous, but what struck me the most was a feeling of deep sympathy for her. She looked in good health for being so old, she looked to have a good life, but you could see that she wasn't going to be in this world for long. It's something I can't quite put into words, but it really moved me and I've wanted to paint her ever since.

Still trying to get back in the painting groove. :)

Watching: Sleepy Hollow
Reading: Alla Prima II
Listening to: The Dead Weather
Snacking on: lemon raspberry scone (YUM)
Drinking: chocolate milk 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Snow Hat 30/30 #1

"Snow Hat"
6 x 6 oil on gessobord
This painting is a series of firsts for me.
The first painting in my new house. (YAY!)
The first painting this year.
The first painting for the 30 in 30 challenge hosted by Leslie Saeta.
And probably some more that I just can't think of right now.
This is from a photo of my oldest son (who is 12 now) when he was just 2 years old wearing a big ol' snow hat.
Starting this painting after nearly a year off was full of surprises for me. The main one was that I hadn't forgotten as much as I thought I had. It didn't take me very long to get back in the groove of painting. Which was a welcome relief. In a way, being back at the easel felt a little like coming home.
But it was different as well. After spending so much time making stylized, cute animals (Tumble Creatures), I've developed a new way of seeing. A sort of shorthand, which was really, really cool. I no longer feel like a slave to a reference photo, which always bothered me a lot before.
I'm really excited, and so thankful to Leslie for having this challenge (and that no one else from Utah had signed up, which is what prompted me to sign up in the first place.) I know I won't be doing a painting every day for this challenge, I still have a lot of other art obligations I'm already committed to. But I'm happy to be back painting again, for me this time. <3 p="">
How have you all been??? I've missed you all so much. :)
Reading: The Search for WondLA by Tony Diterlizzi
Watching: Top Chef
Listening to: One Republic
Snacking on: Granola bars
Drinking: water (boring I know. ;)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Crash and Burn - and finished portrait

'Her Soul' 
16 x 16 inches 
oil on gessobord
SOLD - private commission
Hello? Anyone still out there??? I'm back. .. for now. :) 
The last half of this year has truly been a whirlwind for me and my family. With the majority of it spent prepping our old house for sale, showing said house to prospective buyers (ARGH), selling house, packing and moving out of house, moving into a rental condo for 2.5 weeks waiting for our new house to be ready, moving out of rental condo, moving into new house. 

Oh and all the hustle and bustle that just comes with raising a young family. :) 
And right in the middle of this I decided to start a new little side business for my little clay animal figurines that sort of took over my life. In a good way. :) I've been busier than I ever thought I would be, selling out of my little creatures faster than I can sculpt them. Here's my Facebook page if you want to take a peek: 

It's been an incredible blessing to be able to make a living from your creativity. While I've done really well with selling paintings and commissions it hasn't always been exactly reliable. There have been dry spells that stretched for a very long time, and a lot of the time lately when I was painting I felt like I was up against a wall. Painting because I had to not because I loved to and I just had had enough. I needed a break.
And while sculpting is not painting, it still rings all those creative bells that painting does, in fact. . . I think it does it a little better. Because these creatures are more imaginative, more whimsical. It's been a dream of mine for a long time to be a children's book illustrator but I really struggled to come up with unique and cute characters. Now I think I finally have, just in the form of clay.

I really had lost the love I had for painting. I dreaded it more and more. What used to be a joyful feeling of opening up a box of paint and holding a brush had started to feel like the worst form of torture imaginable. Finishing up these last few commissions took all my strength of will. I pushed through them and was very happy with how they turned out. But now I'm closing down painting commissions. I'll let you guys know when and if I open them up again. 

It's been just over a month since we moved into our new house and we are starting to feel settled. It's starting to feel like home. There's still lots to unpack, paintings to hang, photos to display, but it's starting to feel like home. :) 

Lately I have really wanted to paint again. I am starting to miss it more and more, and I know when that happens it's time to break out the brushes again. But this time I will be a little more slow to post them, and it will be a little more irregular. I don't ever want to feel that burned out again. 

I promised myself that this time I will only paint when I really, really want to. :) 

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season! Merry Christmas to all of you. 

Hugs and cupcakes,

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Oil portrait work in progress

 16 x 16 inch oil portrait commission
In progress

Still working on commissions, but I thought I'd show a pic of this one in progress. Nearly done (well. . . the hardest part is anyways). 

And here's a little Last Unicorn doodle I did while drawing with my son the other day. :) 

Hope you all are doing well!! 

We've sold our house and will hopefully be all settled in to our new place by the first part of November. Then life can get back to normal, lol. It's been a crazy last few months!

Reading: Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan
Listening to: The Monstrumologist (audio book) by Rick Yancey
Watching: Supernatural
Snacking on: buffalo spiced Wheat thins

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So Studious

'So Studious' 
16 x 20 inches
oil on gessoboard
private commission

Finished up painting number 2 in my commission series of portraits. I am really happy with his face. I think I captured something special there. But I'm not sure what. . . What does that say about me you think? ;)
I miss daily painting, but still have found it difficult to get much painting done lately. So far, my weekly goal to post once a week has not come to pass. And. . . I'm okay with that. For nearly 4 years I have been diligently posting and painting, mostly to fill this blog. And I feel like it's okay, more than okay, to slow down now. 

Maybe I should have done so sooner. There are more important things in life after all than paint and brushes. I worry that sometimes I get too caught up in the day to day 'have to's that I lose sight of the big picture. 

My children. Growing before my eyes. My littlest is in kindergarten now and it was just a few weeks ago that he clung to me and didn't want me to leave him when I dropped him off in the morning. Now he runs off with a wave and a 'bye mom!' shouted over his shoulder. 

But that's the way it's supposed to be. I'm glad that he's happy and secure enough to know that I'll come back for him. 

But still. The shift from being the center of his little world, to not so much anymore is hard. But I know that this too will pass, and soon I'll be okay with it. After all, I know he'll always be my little boy, my best friend. He whispers it to me every day when we hug goodbye. :) 

I'll post when I can again, but not sure when that will be. Hope all is well with you good blog friends. Sending hugs and cupcakes your way. 

Mood: Contemplative
Listening to: Hurricane Bells
Reading: The Monstrumologist
Watching: World War Z
Snacking on: chips and my mom's homemade salsa
Drinking: ice water

Friday, September 6, 2013

Smooth and Supple

'Smooth and Supple' 
5 x 7 inches oil on panel
$100 plus $7 US shipping/$15 International

Hello??? Anyone still out there?? It's me Crystal. You know, that crazy, geeked out girl who used to paint a lot? :D 

Yes, I've been gone a while haven't I? Weird. Life has been crazy hectic lately, we just put our house up for sale so the last few months has been a blur of packing and cleaning, organizing, and everything else that needs to be done to get your house ready for perfect strangers to walk through it and go into a crazy amount of debt to buy it. ;) 

I also have been busy with commission work, that's taken all my focus away from daily painting. But I am going to try, really hard, to try to post a new painting or drawing once a week. I feel like that's all I can manage right now, but I recognize that I NEED to do something. Or at least. . . a work in progress post once a week so you guys don't completely forget about me. :) 

This horse could count for 'J' in my alphabet series had I not cropped out his legs and body. Because he's actually jumping in the air. 

I also have broken quite a few compositional rules with this one. But I don't care. I LOVE this painting. And breaking rules is sort of a job requirement for artists. We're rebels at heart. ;) See you next week everybody! Thanks to all of you for checking in with me! Hugs to all of you, and virtual cupcakes too. 

Listening to: Pinback
Reading: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Watching: Revolution
Snacking on: Chips and salssa
Drinking: Dirty Diet Coke's as often as I can get them (the best thing ever and totally bad for you but well. . . see above about rebels and such)

Reference photo by Deidre T on deviantART, thank you! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


12 x 16 inches, oil on gessobord
First of all let me just say that 12 x 16 inches is MUCH larger than 5 x 7. Yes, I realize that many of you are saying in your very best Severus Snape/Alan Rickman voice: "OB-viously." 

I knew that, but, knowing and applying one's knowledge are two vastly different things. Her face alone took me several days to paint, and I must say that I'm very happy with how she turned out. 
Painting so many small paintings, I've gotten used to painting a face in one sitting. That took me by surprise with this painting at first, but it was also very good for me I think. For all the benefits of daily painting (of which there are many) there is also something (or many things, whatever) to be said for slowing down and taking your time with a painting. 

This is the first in a series of portraits I've been commissioned to paint as part of a corporate installation. Also, this one is the smallest size. O-o. 
This will require epic amounts of cookie dough and Supernatural episodes. I'm totally up for this challenge. :) 
Listening to: Grinnin in Your Face by ZZ Ward
Reading: Nothing :(. Ain't nobody got time for that (right now anyways. Life is hectic these days). 
Snacking on: honey mustard pretzels
Watching: Alphas
Drinking: diet coke

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