Monday, November 29, 2010

Perspective (revisited)

First Touch
5 x 7 watercolor

Most of you who follow my blog know that I write as well as paint, and yesterday I finally did something that I've been dreaming about doing my whole life. I finished my novel. I've started about twenty and I have one other novel that's nearly finished, but this one is the first fully completed book that I've ever written.

I was ecstatic. I felt completely triumphant that I set a goal and then saw it through to the end. It was a good feeling.

And then, about an hour later, I received a phone call telling me that a friend of mine had been killed in a car accident.

Suddenly, things like novel writing and art making seemed of such little importance.

I looked around my house, still in shock that she was actually gone, and saw my family all safe and healthy in my home within arms reach of a hug, or kiss, or a whispered 'I love you.'

And I gained some perspective. A new realization that life is precious and we have no guarantees that the people we love will be around for us to tell them, or show them how we feel one more time.

It's so easy to go through life thinking it will never change, that the people we love will always be around. 

But that isn't true, things always change.

Since last night, I've been hugging my family closer to me, trying to imprint in my brain everything I never want to forget about them, trying to live without regrets. Letting them know that they are my life, showing them that I am so thankful that they are mine, and that they are still here.

Timeless Remedy
10 x 14 watercolor

"We often take for granted the very people who most deserve our gratitude. Let us not wait until it is too late for us to express that gratitude. . . The loss of loved ones almost inevitably brings some regrets to our hearts. Let's minimize such feelings as much as humanly possible by frequently expressing our love and gratitude to them. We never know how soon it will be too late."

Thomas S. Monson

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sketchbook Friday

tiger study
graphite on bristol 8 x 10

I know, it's not a landscape. But I needed to sketch something and this guy taking a swim looked like the perfect subject to me. I've got some thinking and planning to do with my landscape still.

I kept things looser with this drawing. I wanted to be quick and expressive with my pencil marks. Overall I'm pleased with it, although getting those stripes placed correctly was a bit tricky.

Here's something I've learned about drawing that I wished I'd done more of when I first started. Make your marks boldly and confidently. It doesn't matter if you're a little bit off with the placement, chances are that it will 'read' with more power and impact if you don't go lightly.

Happy weekend everyone. :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday and Small Things To Be Thankful for

watercolor work in progress
15 x 20

Remember a few posts ago when I told the story of my two year old who ate my still life set up? Well this is what I've decided to paint instead of plain old apples. There's a story here which hopefully will be more apparent when this painting's finished. You'll have to wait and see. :)

And my 'what to paint next' poll is over and do you see what I have to paint now? A landscape. This should be interesting. I've never felt particularly drawn to landscapes and since I'm a bit of a detail type person this will be a challenge for me. I'm trying to think of what kind of landscape it should be. Probably something with snow, because it's winter here in Utah.

Now, on to Small Things To Be Thankful For:

1. My kids are out of school for Thanksgiving break and thus today I will not be a taxi driver all day long. This makes me happy as I have recently discovered that a very large portion of my day is spent in my car ferrying kids to and fro all their different activities. I love my car and all, but we need a little bit of a break.

2. My husband is not making his famous creme brulee for Thanksgiving this year. This of course was initially on my list of Things To Cry About (remember how I'm a bit of a list junkie?), but I've decided to look on the bright side. So, no sinfully, seductive, delicious creme brulee but also no 5,000+ calorie desert. My skinny jeans say thank you.

3. There are people out there (ahem. . . that would be you reading this :) who like what I paint and are kind enough to take the time to tell me so. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart. :)

4. We had a severe snow storm (so the weather people say) last night and now my kids are out building The World's Best Snow Fort. Complete with stairs, a second floor, and turrets I believe. At least that's what the blueprint they made said.

5. My husband telling me I'm beautiful. I never get tired of hearing that. All you husband's out there, consider this information I've just given you your secret weapon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

Your turn. What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daily Bread

'Daily Bread'
15 x 20 watercolor - finished!

"Our task is to become our best selves. One of God's greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final."  - Thomas S. Monson

This painting was a combination of joy and frustration. Joy because it was a portrait of a good friend, and there was some STUNNING light at work here. Frustration because it was a portrait of a good friend and I wanted it to be the best I could paint. I tend to stress myself out about that, needlessly I guess, but so be it. And really are we ever satisfied with the current painting on our easel? Probably not. But that's what makes us strive right?

I can say that I'm happy with where this painting is now, although I think I may be revisiting this theme again. Only because I have learned so much from this painting that next time I'll know what I would like to do differently.

I thought I'd talk a little bit about my process for anyone who was interested. If you have any questions you'd like to ask feel free.

work in progress - stage two

work in progress stage one 

 Stage one: The beginning washes are used to establish facial proportions and lay the foundation for the rest of the painting. I like to start my paintings by using the lightest value of a color in the darkest areas. I paint the darkest areas first, but with the lightest possible value. This makes what I like to call a road map. It makes for a much more enjoyable painting experience if you know right at the beginning that you have an accurate 'road map' to follow. At this point I'm painting more by feel than anything else, color selection is largely based on warm and cool areas, not too much consideration is given to the actual shade. 

Stage two: Now the fun begins. Once I know the painting is accurate I start to use more vibrant colors, focusing mostly on yellows and pinks. I'm careful with each layer of color, only laying it down and letting it blend. I don't go back in and guide it anywhere, I lay it down and then I leave it alone. This lets me build up color and form gradually and gives me a fresh look without as much of a risk of overworking it.

Stage three: Finish work. From here on out I'm much more conscious of how this painting looks as a whole. Does it flow? Is there an obvious center of interest? Where do I need stronger values or softer edges? This stage usually takes the longest amount of time because I step back so frequently to look at it and see what needs to be improved. More time looking, less time painting.

And I see that in my poll for what I should paint next the landscape and the faery girl are neck and neck! I just knew you guys would make me do a landscape. Jeez, why'd I have to put that up there? ;)

And, Kim I believe I will do an architectural something or other, you have intrigued me. :) Great suggestion.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sketchbook Tuesday

Yellow Lab sketch
graphite on bristol

I'm starting to feel a little restless with my artwork again. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I have too many halfway finished projects. Maybe I just need a change of pace, some new subject matter, different color combos, different medium.

So, I'm asking for your help. On the side of my blog there is a poll asking which subject you'd like to see me paint or draw next. Go ahead and vote and tell me what you'd like to see, it's all up to you. Or at least, those four or five choices are.

Of course, if you'd like to see something different, feel free to leave your suggestion in the comments. I'd love to hear it! Thanks guys. :)

And here's a great little quote that lifts me up on those days when I'm just feeling blah.

"To grow as an artist, to go past your present limits, you have to take chances that aren't always productive. But with every chance you take, you learn something whether you succeed or fail. If you play it safe you learn nothing but fear of the unknown."

Arne Westerman (Grand master awesome in the awesome artist club. And yes, I did just invent that club. Pretty sweet huh?)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Left Behind

"Left Behind"
5 x 7 watercolor

I'm the youngest in my family and I seriously hero worshipped my older sister. Wherever she went, I wanted to go too. I felt like I deserved to go, I mean why wouldn't she want her cute and never annoying little sister around her ALL. THE. TIME?

I still don't get it.

She was pretty good about letting me come with her almost all the time. Except for those times when she had dates or dances. Then I had to stay home. :( Come on, you didn't want your little sister to go on your dates with you either?  That's just shocking.

I imagine I looked a little like this horse when I had to stay home. Except for a fence, it would have been my face pressed to the window.

I watched this horse get left behind for some reason (maybe she was sick, or not strong enough to go on long mountain treks with the others) all summer long. And every time she would wait at the fence, leaning into it and craning her neck to try and get a glimpse of her friends.

It was really touching to see her devotion and it reaffirmed to me that in some ways we're not all that different from animals. We all just want to be with the people (or in this case, horses) we love.

On a little bit lighter note, a few days ago I heard from a blog reader, Jake, who thought he had a better idea for the title of a recent piece I posted.

I'm always open to suggestions and honestly, I kind of titled this painting in a moment of desperation. I was in an EXTREME hurry and called it the first thing that came to mind.

But I think I like Jake's title better. So, I'm rechristening "Radiance" to. . .

"A Rather Blustery Day"

Thanks for the great title Jake!

I'll see you guys later, have a great next couple of days!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Of horses, haircuts, penguins and lemurs

8 x 10 watercolor

A very early equine portrait, I think this was actually one of my first. But I still really like parts of this painting, especially the colors. They're very clean and true and I remember really striving for that. Isn't it fun (usually) to look back at your early works and see that it wasn't as bad as you thought it was?

Which brings me to Motivational Monday: 

I caved. *


I put it off long enough.

One too many kind-hearted, good-intentioned, but-rather-misguided grandmotherly types told me how darling my little girl is.

That's right, LITTLE GIRL.

So, you see that clearly I had no other choice. *hangs head*

And so. . . I present to you. . . Samson's almost demise

There may have been some dissension in the ranks. A haircut was seriously going to cramp his style.

However, I don't think it's entirely because of the haircut. It may have something to do with those creepy little penguins on that smock.

See? No more penguins, no more tears.

Apparently the loss of his hair has not completely affected his charm (unlike poor Samson). He was still able to score that awesome sucker.  

Motivational Monday Tip Of The Day: It won't be as bad as you think it will be. Send in that prospectus for that major art competition, talk to the gallery owner about hosting your show, be brave, go forth and conquer! Huzzah!

And if you fail this time, try again. A few tears never hurt anybody.

Penguins on the other hand. . .  Well, I have no guarantees with penguins.

Cute and cuddly boys, cute and cuddly.

Lemurs, however, are entirely trustworthy.

 But that's a post for another day. 

*The post in which I finally cut my two year olds hair, to my utter dismay.

Friday, November 5, 2010


pastel on toned paper 11 x 14

I did this piece today just for you. So I hope you like it. :)

I had nothing to post since I'm working on two large paintings that have a lot of detail and they are taking me FOR-E-VER. And I'm still trying to get the colored pencil piece from this post finished and it's slow going too.

But it's good. I don't mean to say that slow is bad. It's therapeutic and meditative and all that. Except for impatient people like me. I have to tell myself every time I put brush to paper "DON'T rush this!" 

That has been one of the most important things for me to learn with the way I like to paint. I don't have to paint fast. There's no hurry. I like to have glowing color and accurate facial features. And for me to do that I have to take my time. It's fine. I've come to grips with this reality. Mostly. :)

I had a few questions from the previous post that I did not get to answer (life is hectic! But what else is new?) I read all of your comments and they really mean a lot to me. Thanks for taking the time to tell me what you think! You guys rock in an all out glorious way.

These are the questions that I can remember. If I forgot yours ask me again okay? I'm having a blonde day.

Where've you been? Here! I promise. Just busy. I'm glad you guys missed me though. And I mean that in a good way. Also in addition to my painting, mommy, wife, and church jobs I've decided to do NaNoWriMo.

What the heck is NaNoWriMo you ask? It's National Novel Writing Month. The idea is you write an entire novel, start to finish, 50,000 words (which ends up being a book about the size of 'The Great Gatsby') in 30 days.

Yes, I agree with you.

I am crazy.

But, it's a lot of fun and I'm totally in love with my story so far. There's a little widget on the side of my blog that shows my progress to the 50,000 word deadline. You can cheer me on if you want! I love cheerleaders!

Do you prefer bristol to regular cartridge paper? Yes, I do. Most of the time. Bristol is very smooth and is great for drawings with lots of detail. I really love it for colored pencil pieces. But it's not so great for work where you want texture and lots of nice line work. At least in my opinion. So when I use charcoal or pastel I don't use bristol. I like a paper that has some tooth or a really great sanded surface.

And, last but not least, tonight is the opening reception for the Carriage House Gallery Holiday Invitational Exhibit. It runs from tonight until December 30. And there are two artist receptions. One is tonight from 6 - 9 and the other one is December 3 from 6 - 9.

If you feel like taking in some art in Ogden stop by and see me! It'll be fun.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sketchbook Wednesday

graphite on bristol

     My sketchbook posts are mostly just for practice and my own enjoyment. The photo references I use sometimes come from magazines and books for no other reason than I was drawn to that particular image. This sketch comes from the cover of a horse magazine I got when I was about twelve. Yes I have kept it for seventeen years.  At least the cover, I ripped it off and stuck it in a folder to use as a reference one day. And today is that day.

     The appeal for me here is the horse's face. It's beautiful and I like beautiful things. :) I love the delicate curves in her jaw and her big dark eyes. And maybe part of the appeal comes from the fact that horses were a huge part of my life when I was twelve and I'm feeling a little bit nostalgic about this photo, and the memories it triggers for me of all the hours I spent pouring over every single bit of horse related knowledge I could find.

     *sigh* Life was a lot more simple back then.

     But now I'm curious about the rest of you. What was your childhood passion? And do you use that in any of your art today?

     Books and horses. Those were mine. Put them together and I was in heaven. For real. :)

     See you guys later. I hope you're all having a fantastic day and staying out of your kids Halloween candy stash. I am proud to say that this year I have. But only because I bought my own stash the day before Halloween. Mwahaha!!
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