Wednesday, October 27, 2010


10 x 14 watercolor

A few months ago I watched my youngest son (above, at about eighteen months old) playing with his stuffed Elmo and Winnie the Pooh in a gorgeous shaft of sunlight streaming in through his bedroom window. 

So, of course I ran to grab my camera. As soon as he spotted me watching him he stopped playing and came to sit by me, bringing Elmo for me to play with (there's no way he was letting anyone, not even Mom, play with his Pooh bear).

I tried to get him to play by himself again, just for a minute, so I could get some pictures to paint from. And he did, but most of the photos came out looking forced. Like some mother was obviously trying to pose her cute kid. :)

Strange huh?

But there was one moment when I caught him sitting in the shadows watching me when I was adjusting my camera. His eyes full of curiosity, innocence and wonder. And I just happened to be quick enough to catch him with this expression.

I'm very happy with how this painting turned out. :)

Some days as a stay at home mom seem to be filled with nothing but endless chores and routine tasks. Some days are hard. But there are also days that are filled with incredible sweetness and beauty.

That's when I remember that far too soon there will be a day when I'm not asked to play Elmo and Winnie the Pooh. There will be a day when I'm not the center of one little boy's world. That's when I try to remember that today is not that day, so I can savor it while I can.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More work in progress and Motivational Monday

watercolor work in progress 15 x 20

The other day I was telling my husband that I didn't think this painting was going where I wanted it to and that I was thinking of starting over. Watercolor's tough in that if you want it to look really spectacular you need to get it right the first time, and I wasn't feeling it was 'right' in some areas.

Anyway, being the amazing and supportive husband that he is, he said, "You always do that (meaning, I don't feel satisfied with a painting and so I start over. . . It's true, I do that. It makes for a lot of paper wasting). Why don't you just work on a different area and then see what you think?"

So I did. And I like it more now. It's coming together. Sometimes I think I just forget that most paintings go through an awkward adolescent phase. They're just not that cute anymore and really, sometimes kind of annoying.

No offense adolescents, I was awkward and annoying once too. Okay. . . so I still am. :) But, I digress.

Moving on to my Motivational Tip Of The Day: Just keep working, it will get better. It might hurt a little (or a lot) and it might not always be fun, but it will get better.

For example:


P 90 X!

Last week I started doing this P90X workout. My husband has been doing it for a while and he challenged me to try it. I think he was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to do it. Or maybe he just thought it would be funny to see me limp around the house for the next five days. (And yes, he did indeed get to see that)

 I said of course I can do one measly hour of exercise. I mean pu-leaze, I ran a half marathon this year don't you know?! I can do this. No sweat. Bring it on.

Yeah. . . 

So, I did it. And the full hour too, but it was HARD! Like crazy hard. And just so you know, I'm not a wimp when it comes to working out, the more challenging the better for me. I love it. I know, that probably makes me a little neurotic. But, that's me.

My point is, that this workout was not like what I'd previously been doing (which was just running) at all. Not even close. And I'll admit that I was seriously feeling very wimpy when it came time to do about fifty different varieties of pushups, and I could barely make it through 10. Nevermind that the girl on the DVD is a little, tiny thing and whips out 30 (!!!) millitary style push ups right next to the men! Holy cow she was awesome.

It was painful (in a good way:) and it was kind of discouraging at times, but I know that I'll never be able to do 30 millitary style pushups unless I start out doing 10 girly ones now. I have to go through the pain and discouragement now to get to the good part later.

Endure. Persevere. Nevah, nevah, nevah give up.

It all pays off in the end.

So, you tell me. When was the last time you did something that was really hard, but paid big rewards in the end? Art related or not. :)

Friday, October 22, 2010


5 x 7 watercolor

      Yesterday I wanted to paint something that I could start and finish in one day, something that would have lots of color and light, and something that would be fun. A no stress painting.

      I think that a rose fit that description perfectly. I really enjoyed painting this, it was FUN. I liked that I was able to concentrate more on the abstract shapes of the flower, that I could let the paint flow and mingle a little more than I usually do and that I got to use all that pink! My favorite! :)

     And I'm really having fun with this smaller size. I'm thinking of giving this painting a day thing a try, at least a few times a week. You'll probably be seeing more of them from me. :) 

     I used this beautiful, warm pink color on this rose, but it had been on my palette for so long that I've forgotten what color it is! I now have to go through my tubes of paint and try and match it. D-oh! It's not one of the more common pink hues like permanent rose or rose madder, I think it was a Quinacridone color. At least I've narrowed it down a little right? And, I seriously LOVE those quinacridone colors. SO pretty.

      Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WIP Wednesday

work in progress 15 x 20 watercolor (detail)

     This is one of the first spiritual pieces of art that I've ever done. Some of my favorite artists paint Christian scenes and I've always wanted to do that. I never have because I always felt like I needed to hone my skills a little more. I wanted it to be the best that I could make it. So I guess you could say I was a little intimidated.

     This painting has been a really cool experience for me. I won't tell you the story behind it yet because it's not finished and this is just a small piece of it, and it would be spoilery if I told you right now. But maybe you have an idea of what it's about anyway, if you do I'd love to hear it. :) 

     I still need to deepen the color and adjust the values. I'm enjoying painting this, but it is taking me forever because I'm being very careful not to mess it up! Hopefully I won't. :) Until tomorrow friends!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sketchbook Monday

wolf pup sketch

     This sketch was kind of an experiment to see what kind of variety I could get with my marks. All that I used here was a 6B pencil (which used to be my favorite, but now I find a bit too soft) and a kneaded eraser, no finger smudging or tortillons or anything like that.

     While I was working on it I kept thinking that it wasn't turning out, I didn't think I liked it, and maybe I should just trash the whole thing. But I really hate to abandon a project so I just kept pushing through. When I was finished I put the sketch aside and didn't look at it for a while. So when I finally turned it over and saw it I was pleasantly surprised. I kinda liked it now.

     Isn't it funny how that works? Just a little time away from our work and we're able to see it in a different light. I always love to put a painting away at night and then look at it again in the morning, there's almost always something there that I didn't see the night before. Some part of the painting that I really like that I don't even remember doing. Does that happen to you too?

     And thanks for all the encouragement and tips about my oil painting question. :) You guys are awesome. But,I have decided not to try oils right now. I just really don't have the time to devote to learning a whole new medium. But, one day I will. Maybe when all my kids are in school.

     And, for those of you who suggested I do a painting of my half eaten apple still life, you will want to keep an eye on my upcoming works in progress because I have a piece I think you will love. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mysteries Everywhere

"Far Away"
10 x 14 watercolor
(forgive me for reposting this painting, it's one of my favorites)

      Do you ever wonder why you do what you do? Do you ever wonder if the painting you created, that one you poured your whole heart into, will make anyone else feel something that's a little bit like the way you felt when you painted it?

     I do. It's actually been on my mind a lot.

     Something that I ask myself over and over again is, why do I paint? I know I talk about this a lot, just bear with me. :) Sometimes I feel like I know why I paint, other times it's nothing that I can define, just a feeling I have that compels me day after day to pick up my brush and create something.

     And. . . sometimes I almost wish I didn't feel like that.

     Because it's not easy to balance your real life, your family, and all your other obligations with this strange beast of a creature that rises up in you and demands that you paint. That beast that only purrs quietly once you've fed it it's daily ration of creativity.

     When life gets hectic, and I absolutely can't squeeze in any time to paint I feel adrift. Lost. Almost like I've forgotten who I am. I feel disquiet in the hidden corners of my heart.

     The longer I paint the more I realize that I connect my identity with my art. And I've yet to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Because it makes any discouragement, rejection, or just plain indifference that much more difficult to bear. Because it feels like it's not just pointed at your art, but pointed at you.

     I read a blog post by Kate DiCamillo (one of my favorite writer's and the author of The Tale of Despereaux). It was the story of a little girl, Laura Ann, who saw an airplane in the sky and whooped and hollered and smacked Kate (who at the time was in the fourth grade) with her little green plastic purse in her excitement about that plane. 

     Kate looked in the sky, saw the plane, and failed to see what all the fuss was about. I think she even said, "So what?" 


     Years later, when Kate was an adult she happened to see a bald eagle flying in the sky. She stood there and marveled at that, amazed at her luck to see something so beautiful. Then another eagle joined the first. She said:

"I stood and looked and looked at them, amazed; and then I lowered my head and looked around. I thought about Laura Ann, because what I wanted to do was whack somebody on the arm with a shiny, green purse. I wanted to tell someone. I wanted somebody to marvel with me."

     I love that.  

    I guess I don't really want to wish those feelings away, that need that I have to paint. Even if it seems to make balancing my life that much harder, if not downright impossible at times.

    Because when I paint I want what Kate wanted when she saw those eagles. I want someone to marvel with me. 


Friday, October 8, 2010

New Work In Progress

watercolor work in progress 15 x 20

This is a portrait I'm painting of the local leader of my church. He is one of the best men I know, always inspires me to try a little harder, and a good friend. This stage is the beginning layers of washes that will form the foundation of the rest of the painting. Achieving a likeness is what I'm most concerned about right now.

I'm feeling a little harried lately. My blog schedule has been hit or miss, and I'm just generally feeling like I need to recharge. So, I figured I would try to lighten things up today and post three random facts happening in  my life right now. These may or may not be related to art, just so you know. :)

  1. The other day I decided I would try to paint a still life. This involved me setting up some apples on my dining room table where the light was pouring in from outside. I left my apples sitting there for a while and went to do some laundry, when I came back my two year old was sitting at the table taking a bite out of each apple. "Mmm," he said. *munch, munch, munch* "apple. . . good." This led me to the conclusion that I should probably not leave potential art references and my two year old unattended. Who knew that apples would hold such appeal? I mean sure, if it had been cookies. . . but apples?
  2. I won a gift certificate to an art supply store in a recent art competition and I am seriously considering spending it on oil painting supplies. I have never, ever painted with oils and am suddenly feeling inspired to give it a try. What do you think? Should I go for it?
  3. This week me and my two older boys have hung fake cobwebs, skeletons, spiders, ghosts and pumpkins all over our house to make it really 'haunted' looking. My eight year old keeps asking me when I'm going to let him buy fake blood, or other 'real, scary' decorations (like tombstones, zombies, or flesh eating rats). I can not convince him that it ain't gonna happen. Like ever. I know, I'm so mean right? ;)
So. . . what's new with you guys? :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And the WINNER is. . .

"Bright Eyes, And A Good Grip"

Having this contest was so much fun. It was awesome to get to know some new people and to see the effort that so many of you put in to help me get the word out. Thank you. :) And welcome new friends!

There were nearly 1,700 entries. Wow! That's a LOT of entries! Amazing. :) It would be impossible for me to pick a winner, so we did the only thing I could think of to make it fair.

 All of the names were entered into a random name generator equal to the amount of entries they had earned. So, if you entered the contest and followed my blog your name went in six times (the number of points you earn for following plus one for entering the contest). If you entered the contest and then earned thirty additional entries (for blogging about it, posting to Facebook, or any of the other options) your name went in thirty times.

My husband totaled all the entries and then we had my five year old son push the key that would pick the winner. I couldn't look. Oh, the suspense!

And so, the winner is. . .

Catie Dutton

Congratulations Catie! I'll be sending you an email soon and we'll talk about your portrait. :)

Now, before you guys go I want to talk about one more thing. Within the next couple of months I'm planning on having another contest and I'm thinking of having a different way to enter this time. Some ideas my husband and I had were: best photo, most inspiring story or something like that. And you, my blog followers, would get to vote on them. What do you think? Do you have any ideas?

Also, I had some requests for me to explain my commission process and some prices. I have a brief overview above. Just click on the tab that says "How to commission a portrait."

Thanks everybody! Have a great day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

A postponment, and Sketchbook Monday

charcoal on Canson Mi-tienes (the smooth side)

     I must ask you to forgive me. I don't have the winner ready to announce today. I'm sorry :( There were a LOT more entries than I thought there would be and, as I always do, I underestimated how long it would take to calculate all of them. But, I promise to have the winner by Wednesday. Unless some major calamity pops up in my life, like a hurricane, or the chicken pox.

     So, you'll have to put up with this sketch instead. Lately I've been looking at some articles in magazines about life drawing and I've been thinking about signing up for a class. But. . . um. . . that means I'd have to draw the undraped figure, and well. . . I just don't know if I want to do that. *this is me, BLUSHING*

     I may just stick to drawing my family members when they're unaware, and fully clothed of course. :)

     But I can say that I'm feeling extra-motivated to pick up my pencils even more and just draw. There's something SO satisfying about just plain old drawing. Don't you think? And, it's crucial to keeping your eye trained for any representational artist. But we all know that right? Yes, of course we do.

     Practice, practice, practice.

     That's my motivation to you today. Just keep practicing. All it can do is make you better. :)

      I'll see you guys on Wednesday for the big announcement! Wa-hoo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Jack and the Skeleton

"Jack and the Skeleton"
10 x 14 watercolor

     Well, it's finished! And on the first of October, very spooky connection don't you think? This was a really fun painting. I loved painting the bones on his costume, all that reflected light, it's one of my favorite things to paint.

     Did you know that October is National Art Month? Neither did I, but I think it's a very cool thing. I have another art exhibit opening tonight in Ogden, Utah at the Gallery at Ogden Blue Print. It's a statewide juried show in honor of National Art Month. It should be fun, I'll let you know how it goes. And maybe, if I'm having a good hair day, I'll take some pictures. :)

     And the contest is now officially over, all I have to do is tally up the entries and stick them in to choose a winner. I thought that would be the fairest way to do it, but if you earned any extra entries you'll have a greater chance to win. Good luck to you all! I hope to have it all finished this weekend so I can announce the winner on Monday. So, be sure to check back then.

     Have a great weekend everyone!

What I'm listening too: Waiting For The End, by Linkin Park 

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