Tuesday, August 30, 2011

To Catch A Heffalump

To Catch A Heffalump
10" x 14" watercolor
#4 in my Still Life Interruptus series

What is a Heffalump you ask?

 A Heffalump is a cute and cuddly elephant type creature that is often purple, pink, or blue and lives in the 100 acre wood, where it is mistakenly believed to generally wreck all kinds of havoc. But this could not be further from the truth!

Heffalumps are shy and gentle creatures who love to laugh and eat Rumpledoodles (Heffalump cookies).

They are not to be confused with Woozles, which are very sneaky, or Wockets, that are often kept in pockets.

Although this happy beast generally gets the blame for stealing Winnie The Pooh's honey it really is not guilty of such a crime.

Because you see, Heffalumps are not all that fond of honey at all.

In fact, if one were to try and capture a Heffalump, one might want to use orange slices.

There's a rumor going around that a certain purple Heffalump has a weakness for juicy orange slices. . .

And I may or may not have been witness to such a thing. :)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Safekeeping SOLD Daily Paintworks Challenge

Safekeeping SOLD
5" x 7" watercolor

This week's challenge at Daily Paintworks was the Superstition challenge. Now I'm not really much for superstitions, but I really wanted to paint this black kitten so this was a pretty good reason. :)

It makes me sad that almost all black cat superstitions are negative ones, so I looked for some positive ones and here are some that I found:

Many people believe that anyone who finds the one perfect, pure white hair in an all-black cat and plucks it out without being scratched, will find great wealth and good luck in love. (Good luck with that one)

In Britain wives of fishermen believed that their menfolk will return safely if a black cat is kept in the house.

In the south of France, black cats are referred to as 'magician cats', they are said to bring good luck to owners who feed them well and treat them with the respect they deserve.

And my personal favorite is this one: "In Egypt, it was once believed that the life-giving rays of the sun were kept in a cat's eyes for safekeeping."

Admittedly I am more of a dog person than a cat person, but seriously? Kittens are too cute not to paint. It can not be helped. Must. Paint. Kitten.

And a very special thanks to Jenny Martinez Photography for the reference photo of this very cute kitten.

See you next week everyone!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Showstopper - SOLD, and perceived failure

Showstopper sold
5" x 7" watercolor and gouache

This painting did not turn out the way I wanted it to. I painted the horse first, which I was pretty happy with, and then painted the background. This my friends, was not a very smart plan.

I often leave the background until the very end, especially when working on a portrait, because I don't want to risk dark colors flooding into the glowing skin tones I've worked so hard to achieve. But, alas, twas not a good idea in this case. 

Because I didn't plan how I wanted the background to look. I just kinda thought I would splash some colors in there, make it all fresh and nice looking, and voila! Instant beautiful background!

Yeah. . . didn't work out like that. The wash I laid down was lackluster and just the WRONG color. It looked like a horse from Hades. Seriously, it did.  

Which ticked me off because I was so happy with how I painted the horse.

So I thought about what, if anything, I could do to save the painting.

Then I remembered that I had seen watercolor artist Jean Pederson use gouache on some of her backgrounds to give them a chunky oil-type look (which, ahem, she does intentionally, not as a rescue effort).

So I thought to myself, what do I have to lose?

It was a scary thing to put down that opaque gouache and totally obliterate the transparent watercolor background, even as ugly as it was. But I told myself to be brave and just go for it.

And. . . Huzzah! I LOVED the results. The horse is purely watercolor, but the background is mostly gouache that I tinted with some watercolors. I think I'm going to be using this technique again, intentionally this time.

So, even though originally I thought I had failed, really I didn't. I just had to change the way I was looking at it. And that made all the difference. Sometimes when we think we fail, it's really us just not seeing the new opportunity that's opened up. A new chance to push ourselves in a way we wouldn't have otherwise. 

"If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again. " ~ Flavia Weedn

Anybody want to share a failure turned success story? I'd love to hear it. :)  

*Special thanks to Sarah Inskip of Dantona Stud, fellow horse enthusiast, artist, and awesome photographer, for letting me use her photo of this gorgeous horse. Thanks Sarah!  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pastelbord is a beautiful thing, new colored pencil work in progress

Untitiled colored pencil on pastelbord work in progress (detail)

Way back earlier this year when my computer got sick and had to be rushed to an electronic medic I took some time to experiment with my colored pencils.

I'd been hearing good things about using colored pencils on pastelbord (which is basically a sanded surface mounted on hard board), mainly that:

1. it's faster because of the sanded surface there is no need to layer color super lightly (which takes hours) 

2. colors appear brighter and more intense on pastelbord than on traditional paper 

3. there is a possibility of framing a piece painted* on pastelbord without glass.

Which meant of course that I had to rush to my local art supply store (Ogden Blue FTW!) and stock up. 

I came home SO excited I could hardly stand it! And as soon as I had some free time I laid out all my lovely pencils and got to work. 

And here's what I found: Numbers 1-2 were dead on.  

It was faster! Because the tooth of the sanded paper is able to hold much more color, much more quickly there is no need for laborious layer upon layer of colored pencil! Of course there is still some layering involved, but not nearly as much because the tooth of the surface fills up pretty quickly. Which means that you must be decisive and accurate about what colors you will layer early on.

So, basically I'm in love with colored pencil work on pastelbord. It is a beautiful thing. :)

Huzzah! See you next week everyone!

*colored pencil work, when done in a way that the entire surface is covered with pencil is often called 'painting' even though there is no paint or brushes involved.

P.S. I don't think I've taken the time lately to let all you guys know how much it means to me that you read my posts, look at my work, tell others about it, and say some very nice things to me and about me. Thank you, my friends, so much for your support and kindness, you rock in an all out glorious way. :))))

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beauty Inside SOLD

Beauty Inside SOLD
6" x 6" watercolor

Kiwi's are ugly little beasts aren't they? Well, at least on the outside. I wonder what in the world possessed the first person to slice that hairy brown *thing* up and take a peek?

 Hunger induced madness? Pending zombie apocalypse? Or just plain old curiosity?

I don't know, but I would have loved to have seen the look on their face when they saw the beauty trapped inside. Because they are beautiful once you slice them open.

Jewel bright and shining with all those lovely unorganized, yet sort of organized black seeds. And that gorgeous semi-transparency that lets sunlight flood in and just sparkle and glow.


Yessss, precioussss. The inside of a kiwi is very pretty indeed.

This is technically my first official still life*. And I rather like it. It was a lot of fun to do and I can see the value in painting subjects that I don't paint very often. It forced me to do some experimenting with color mixing and value.

And probably most important, it gave me a chance to really push myself and see how much drama and interest I could come up with when painting something other than a human face.

So, keep an eye out for future still lifes from me. I'm already thinking of what I should paint next. Ideas anyone? ;)

* I credit two artists for inspiring me with a desire to paint a still life. The first, Kim Rempel, for her lovely brushwork, exciting color combinations, simple-yet-striking composition, and her ability to turn something very ordinary into a thing of beauty. And the second, Carol Marine, for much of the same things that I admire about Kim's work. This painting was created in Carol's honor for her birthday at the Daily Paintworks Challenge.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pointed Conversation - SOLD

Pointed Conversation
5" x 7" watercolor

A few years ago I saw this massive Clydesdale at a horse show and just stopped and stared at her for a while. She was dozing while her owner and another person talked and gestured around her. I even saw a toddler in a trike zooming around her feet (!!!). She didn't move a muscle. Truly a gentle giant.

The horse person in me was drawn to her beauty, power, and kind disposition.

The artist in me was drawn to that fantastic sunlight and dramatic light and shadows. Huzzah! 

I've had this photo hanging around for about six years, just waiting for me to paint it. It's from an ancient film camera too. Sometimes I'd pull it out and look at it and want to paint it so much. But I was scared.  

It wasn't a really clear shot, and it was kind of dark. And I wanted to paint it BIG so that ginormous horse would have lots of presence and drama, but wasn't quite sure I'd be able to pull it off. 

Then last week I decided to give it a try as a small piece. I intended to just paint a study of the horse and leave the background white. But then I thought the figures made a nice story and added interest.

After the horse was painted I felt a flash of bravery (or possibly recklessness, depending on the outcome), so I splashed some bright colors around to make some background shapes for the barn and shadows. And really liked the result. :)

Now that I've done this small painting I think I have the courage to paint this baby BIG! Isn't it funny how sometimes fears that we have, usually of failure, have such a powerful effect on what we do or do not do?

Be gone fear!  

Be brave! Huzzah!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Devotion, Katie's story

6" x 6" watercolor

"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."

- Unknown

Since this seems to be the year of Trying Something New for me I've been searching for new subjects that inspire me as much (well, maybe not AS much, but close) as my children. And I've come to realize that something that will always inspire me is faces, whether they be, people, animal, or possibly reptilian (more on that later).

I found Katie, the English Setter above, at an animal adoption at our local Petsmart. Now, first of all I try to avoid these adoptions because I know I will see some sweet face that I will want to take home but won't be able to. And that will hurt my heart. Two Giant Schnauzers leave little room or time for any other pets. Also, my husband would not be happy with me if I brought home another furry family member. Not. Happy. At. All. 

But, I needed dog food so off I went, with my camera slung across my shoulder, hoping to find a little boa constrictor face to paint (that's right I said boa constrictor. What? I think they have kind of cute faces, they look nothing like Voldemort I swear).

The boa was hidden and not at all willing to model as my muse so I headed over to the dogs, steeling myself against all adorable canine wiles. Or so I thought.

That's when I saw Katie.

She was so calm, mellow, and sweet. I instantly fell in love with her. And she looked so sad, like her heart was broken. I don't know what circumstances brought her to the shelter, but I could not imagine how anyone could willingly let this sweet girl go. I watched her for a while, and saw the dogs next to her get taken out by new families. But none came for Katie. 

Eventually she did find a home, hopefully this time for the rest of her life. She deserves it, because a sweeter dog I have never met. A portion of the proceeds of the sale of this painting will be donated back to Katie's shelter, The Utah Animal Adoption Center, a no kill shelter for dogs, cats, and horses.

I think I'm going to be painting more puppy faces, because Katie was a joy to paint. And I'm still looking for that elusive boa constrictor. . . :)

Have a great week everyone!

Huzzah!!! (It's been a while since I said that, so I just had to.)

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