Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 12 of 2012

This has kind of become a tradition for my blog. Every year I post the paintings that rank among my favorites. Some for technical reasons, others for an emotional attachment I have to them. This year has been so good to me. It's my first full year as a 'daily painter' and I have been so blessed with some wonderful opportunities (becoming a part of the Daily Painters gallery one of the highlights), new friendships (*waves* hello new friends!), deepening older friendships (*sugary squeezy hugs* for all of you), and a whole lot of blissful painting time and lessons learned.
Learning how to use oil paints has also been a highlight for me this year (thank you for that wonderful shipment my dear friend Sandra!) and I plan to spend more time in the new year learning to paint with them. And of course lots more watercolors and some colored pencil drawings too. 2012 has been a great year, and I know that 2013 will be even better for all of us!   Huzzah and cheers for all that's in store!
And now in no particular order, some of my very favorite paintings and drawings from this year:
'Aqueous' 6 x 6 in watercolor on paper
Because glass, water, and colorful shadows are FUN to paint!

'All Things New' 5 x 7 in watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord 
$100 plus $7 US shipping

Because this is a portrait of my nephew, and my first successful portrait on aquaboard. His eyes were my favorite part.
'Acceptance' 6 x 6 in. watercolor on paper
Because her expression speaks to my soul.

'Aurora Borealis' 6 x 6 in oil on panel
$100 plus $7 US shipping

Because this one reminds me of my old dog I used to have. Rest in peace Kiana. :) 

'Faith, Trust, Pixie Dust' 6 x 7 in colored pencil on paper
Because I think I caught something magical in her eyes.

'She Stood In The Storm' 7 x 9 in watercolor on paper
Because I painted what I could not say.

'Hidden In Plain Sight' 5 x 7 in watercolor on paper

Because I could paint myself for the first time without cringing in shame. 

'Isabelle' 9 x 12 in graphite on paper
Not for sale - my collection
Because I drew mostly from my imagination a favorite character from a favorite book.

'Princess' 6 x 6 in oil on panel
Because it reminds me of the joy of being a parent.

'Alive' 7 x 9 in. watercolor on paper
Because I feel like with this painting I'm an equestrian artist the twelve year old Crystal would be proud of.

'Twilight' 6 x 6 in watercolor on paper
Because I love this horse and her owner has become a dear friend, through my art.

'Whispers and Trust'  6 x 6 in watercolor on paper
Because of love. :)
Happy New Year everyone!!!!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Skylight - SOLD

'Skylight'  SOLD
colored pencil on bristol smooth paper
ACEO size, 2.5" x 3.5"

I think this mini size of ACEO's (Art Cards, Editions, and Originals) was a perfect fit for my desire to draw something detailed and reflective yesterday. I LOVE detail, but sometimes, find it tedious if it's on a large scale. So this tiny size, for my slightly frazzled, post holiday, pre-middle child's birthday (my son's birthday is December 30) filled my need for detail work and my lack of time. :) Win, win right?

I love horse's eyes. And the way the sunlight caught this horse's eye, and the landscape surrounding it was very captivating to me.

Happy New Year everyone!! Huzzah for all the awesomeness in store for all of us next year!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

By Moonlight, Andalusian horse, and the best gift I've ever received

'By Moonlight'
8" x 10" oil on gesso board
$100 plus $10 US shipping, or $15 International

 “Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars.”
― J.R.R. Tolkein    
When I started painting this horse I knew that I wanted him to look as though he was running by moonlight. I love the imagery of a white horse running through a dark field at night. Probably one of my leftover imaginings from when I was a horse crazy little girl.
After I had painted this I went to look for a quote about the moon, or moonlight and there were a lot of great ones to choose from. But when I saw this one I knew this was it. Because it's Tolkein, of course, and because this horse reminds me of Shadowfax. I thought it was fitting. :)  Reference photo by Seed of Beauty on deviantART, thank you!
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! We had a great one and spent the day playing with new toys and games and eating too much Christmas candy (or maybe that was just me, tee hee).
And before I go I have to show you this amazing gift my husband and boys made me.

Brodie had the boys draw the first initial of their name and then carve it into some jeweler's wax, then he sent it to a jeweler to have it cast in silver. I had seen something similar online a few months ago, where the mother had a piece of jewelry that was her child's actual handwriting, and told him how much I loved that idea.

It is priceless to me. I couldn't stop sobbing when I saw what it was. I will cherish it always.

I seem to always have two conflicting feelings about motherhood, mostly I feel joy that I get to be a part of these sweet little people's life and watch all the new stuff they do, applaud their accomplishments, and watch them grow day by day. But there's also a feeling of mourning the stages they've left behind. No more babies to rock into the night. No more toddling fingers reaching for mine. So, to receive a gift like this, that captures them exactly, right now, means more to me than anything.

I love it. I love my family. I thank God for them every day.

Just wanted to share that with you. :)

Enjoy your day everyone, and stay safe in all this snow (for those of you who are getting it)!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

'Prince of Peace'
7" x 9"
not for sale
Wishing all of you, my dear friends, a very Merry Christmas! I hope you all are well and safe and that you have a happy holiday. Thank you very much to every single person who reads this blog, whether you're an old friend, or a new one, thank you for taking the time to let my art and words be a part of your life. Merry Christmas!
O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night
Of the dear Savior's birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appear'd and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine when Christ was born

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wind Chill - SOLD

'Wind Chill'  SOLD
8" x 10" oil on gesso board
$100 plus $10 US shipping or $15 International
Still posting some of the oil paintings I finished last month. This one is my last one I think.

In November our family went to a book launch for one of my son's favorite authors (Brandon Mull, author of the Fablehaven series, and Utah native). It was outside at a beautiful park and it was evening, so gorgeous sunlight was everywhere! And wind! Which means billowing sunstruck hair and rosy cheeks!I got some pretty cool photos that I'm going to be painting from. This is one of them. I love those bits of orange from the setting sun in her hair and face.

There was also a marshmallow war going on at this book launch. There were hundreds of kids throwing marshmallows at each other as if their lives depended on it. I was pelted by about a million of them. Which actually, kind of hurts after a while. Especially if said marshmallow is stale.
But Christmas is almost here guys!! I'm so excited. Even if my life feels like this: "First we'll make snow angels for two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse Cookie-dough as fast as we can. . ." Busy, busy, busy! But such good times, I wouldn't trade it for anything. :)
PS If you're looking for last minute gifts December 20 is the absolute, last day that I can ship anything out in the US and still arrive in time for Christmas. Take a look around my etsy shop if you need some ideas. :)  

The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Huzzah!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Cherished - SOLD

'Cherished' SOLD

6" x 6" oil on panel
$65 plus $10 US shipping or $15 International

All the news stories rolling in about the horrible tragedy that happened in Connecticut have made me cherish the life and health of my sweet boys even more. I can't imagine the pain those families must be feeling. They've been in my prayers and thoughts so often this weekend. And made me appreciate the blessings of piles of laundry and arguing brothers because it means my children are still here, alive and whole. 
This is one of the oil paintings I finished a while back, and it was one that I really, really liked. Although photographing it was a pain in the patella, I still think this isn't a real accurate match, but it's the best I can do. I loved the innocence in this sweet baby's face and the way she nestled in so close to her parent's shoulder.
I'm writing this post while still wearing my fluffy Rudolph pajama pants while looking at the glow of the Christmas tree. It's so peaceful. :)
I haven't been doing much painting lately with the hurry to finish up Christmas stuff (namely my tradition of making something handmade for my boys each year, and shipping out paintings, for which I am so thankful to my wonderful buyers!), which means I also have been slow to reply to emails and comments. But I will as soon as I can! I'm sure you all are feeling the crunch too. :) I hope you all have a great week! Huzzah for being alive one more day!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Rolling Thunder - Lusitano horse

'Rolling Thunder' - Lusitano horse
9" x 12" graphite on paper
$45 plus $7 US shipping, $15 International

 'My horse's feet are as swift as rolling thunder
He carries me away from all my fears
And when the world threatens to fall asunder
His mane is there to wipe away my tears.'
~Bonnie Lewis

Reference photo by seed of beauty on deviantart, thank you!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Detonate - Arabian horse SOLD

'Detonate'  SOLD
6" x 6" watercolor on paper
$65 plus $10 US shipping, $15 International

Reference photo by Chunga-stock on deviantart, thank you!

The power this horse had was so compelling to me. I wanted to crop in close on his action to make it seem like he was ready to explode out of the frame, that's why I decided on the 6 x 6 size. Hopefully that's the message that comes across. :)

I hesitate to say that I'm working on a series of horses, because that's usually when I feel like moving on to something else, but just so you know that might be what I'm doing. Something like a series, but let's not technically call it a series okay? :)

And here is a photo of the beautiful ACEO that my dear friend Carol sent me. I won it from her blog and I love it so much. It reminds me of my mom who loves to garden and grows the best tomatoes
I've ever tasted.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Around the Corner

'Around the Corner'
5" x 7" watercolor on aquaboard (will not require framing behind glass)
$65 plus $7 shipping

Earlier this year me and my son (who's crazy about dogs) went to a dog show. His favorite part was the agility course and my favorite part was the cute fluffy dogs! I found this one spot behind the scenes where I could take photos without being noticed (or being in the way) and that's where I saw this lovely Golden Retriever girl.

She was getting all gussied up to go into the ring but she kept her gentle eyes on me the whole time I was there. And I wasn't exactly close to her either! I was using my long lens so I was pretty far away, but still she watched me. I wonder what she was thinking.

In other news, last Friday was my oldest son's birthday, he turned eleven years old. Happy Elevensies my sweet boy!

Birthday hugs :)

His requested birthday pie (apple of course), that's a lot of candles! I didn't keep track I just stuck a bunch on there to light that baby up! :)

We're full on in Christmas preparation mode around here. Brodie went out and bought some small trees for each of the boy's bedrooms and tonight Grandma is coming over to help decorate. So naturally I had to make a delicious and sugary treat to go along with the festivities. :)

I'd share but. . . well it's kind of hard to do that through a computer screen. But trust me it's delicious!! Have a great week all.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Aurora Borealis

'Aurora Borealis'
6" x 6" oil on panel
$100 plus $10US shipping, $15 International

This is one of the oil paintings I did a few weeks ago. And it was my personal favorite. I painted it on a bright pink ground, and then added some yellows and oranges under her chin to make it look like she was glowing. Like the Northern Lights. 
I used to have a dog who looked just like this when I was younger. She was such a sweetheart. On cold winter nights she would raise her muzzle and howl and it always gave me the chills, not because it was scary, but because it was so beautiful. :)

Reference photo by Irene Shubi, thank you!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let It Snow - SOLD

'Let It Snow' SOLD
6" x 6" watercolor on paper
$65 plus $7 US shipping or $15 International

Last winter my youngest son was playing with some of his toys and books (suspiciously very quietly) when he suddenly came to get me to see what he had built. On the floor was a long line of books placed end to end, covering the entire room. And on each book was a little toy.

He was SO proud of what he had done. I took a bunch of photos of him and his book 'train' and then I saw this little pig with wheels sitting on top of one of his favorite Toot and Puddle books. The light was so pretty, and I thought it was an awfully cute coincidence that the two illustrated pigs just so happened to be looking up at the little toy.

It needed to be painted. So I owe the composition here to littlest Cook. :)  

Monday, December 3, 2012

2013 Wall Calendar Available - SOLD OUT

Crystal Cook Art 2013 Wall Calendar  SOLD OUT
$20 each, plus $5 US shipping, $15 International

I put together a calendar from some of  my favorite paintings from this year and here they are available for anyone who wants one. :) I only have a few so if you want one click on that shiny buy now button and I'll send one out to you.

They really turned out nice I think. 

 This is not a very good picture but you get the idea. :) 

Here's a list of the paintings included (along with a link to that blog post) if you're curious:
January - Icy Eyes
February - Twilight
March - Acceptance
April - Moose Man
May - Alive
June - Inquisitive
July - Lunette
August - Aqueous
September - Thoughtful
October - Always
November - No Words Required
December - Prince of Peace

Thanks for taking a look everybody! I hope you're all off to a great week. :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Without Wings, Andalusian horse drawing SOLD

'Without Wings' SOLD
5" x 10" graphite on paper
 'Horse thou art truly a creature without equal, for thou fliest without wings, and conquerest without sword.'
It's been too long since I did a more detailed drawing. I forgot how much I enjoyed that. I had this quote on a poster of a beautiful horse painting by equine artist Kim McElroy when I was a girl. I loved it so much and it's one of the things that made me want to be an artist when I grew up. I think I still have it somewhere. I need to go find it and look at it again. :) Have a great weekend all! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by.
Reference photo by venomxbaby on DeviantArt, thank you!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Silent Night SOLD, and why I paint in oils sometimes

'Silent Night' SOLD
5" x 7" watercolor on paper
Reference photo by Elizabeth Ward Sescilla, thank you! 

I wanted to do a Madonna and child type of painting this Christmas, using horses running through the snow, and this is it. I realize this would have to be a very late (or early) foal to be this age and running through the snow, but. . . I thought it was such a lovely, peaceful image that I decided to exercise my artistic license. ;) 

 Here's a pic of the painting in progress. :)

We're knee deep in Christmas preparations around here and I'm so excited!! I love Christmas. I love seeing the magic of this season through my kid's eyes. It's one of the best things ever. 

The boys and I have been making some Christmas crafts including these Santas above. This is what happens when you have all boys. You get one normal, jolly Santa, and then. . . his evil twin brother. Don't ask me, because I don't know how they came up with that idea. 

And Katherine asked if I'd post a pic of our decorated Christmas tree so here it is. :) Most of our ornaments are homemade and all of them are very sentimental and I love it that way. It's not a fancy tree, but our kids think it's magical, and they are in charge of decorating it themselves. Brodie and I just hand out the ornaments.

I also wanted to give a quick shout out to my dear friend Carol Blackburn, who sent me the most lovely little ACEO that I adore. Thank you so much my friend, I treasure it so much! I'll post a pic of it in my next post so you guys can see it. :)

And now, to of why I wanted to paint with oils. I've gotten a little bit of feedback that people are sort of disappointed that I haven't been painting in watercolors so I wanted to let you all know that I will never give up on watercolors. They are a part of my soul and I LOVE painting with them. I suspect that is where I will always feel most at home, but sometimes I just need to try something new. 

I was starting to dread every time I sat down to paint with my watercolors. I don't know why, I think I was just feeling a little bit burned out. I wasn't excited to paint anymore. And I HATE feeling like that. Art is what heals my soul, you know that quote that says art washes away the dust of every day life? That is exactly how I feel. I'd be lost if I couldn't paint every day. Any time I go a few days without painting I start to feel like I'm not myself, I feel restless and anxious. But as soon as I pick up a brush or a pencil I feel whole again. 

So whenever I start to feel burned out I get a little scared. Because painting is something I HAVE to do, and I have to enjoy it. That sounds a little selfish doesn't it? But it's the truth. Also I have just felt drawn to oil paintings lately, they're what I look for in art magazines, what I search out when browsing online. I try to dissect them in my head, mix the colors and visualize how the artist laid down the brushstrokes.

And that's when I started to feel excited about painting again. I LOVE the rich, buttery colors of oils, the visible expressive brushstrokes, and the simplification of details, and I really, really love how quick they are. I want to be an expressive painter, and while I don't think it's always important to paint quickly, right now when painting time is so scarce that's really important to me. 

So that's it in a nutshell of why I like painting in oils. I will still mostly be painting with watercolors, but sometimes I may go on an oil painting binge again, because it's what I have to do to feed my creativity. Does anyone else ever feel like that? I'd love to hear your story too. 

Thanks for reading this epic post. Huzzah my fellow rock stars!! :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Puppy Kisses

'Puppy Kisses'
6" x 6"

A new addition to my Smitten series. And one that I really like. Even though these are Malamutes, they remind me of my dog I had when I was younger. She was a Siberian Husky and she was such a sweet heart. Totally crazy. But a sweetheart. :)
I finished my last oil painting that I plan to paint for a while today (not this one, I'm a little ahead, how weird is that??). So with my next post I plan to talk about why I switched to oils. Because I've been asked a little bit, and because I think I need to put it in to words for myself too.
Tonight we are decorating our Christmas tree, and the little ones are about to burst with excitement. Can you tell?

reference photo by Kelly Bailey, thank you!

Friday, November 23, 2012

No Sunshine SOLD

'No Sunshine'  SOLD
6" x 6" oil on panel

I have been on a mission to paint an oil portrait that I really like. And this time I finally did. I think that's why I've been sticking with the oils so long this time. I felt like I just HAD to paint a portrait that felt like me you know? So. I'm happy with this one. And that's all I have to say. :) 

I'm recovering from a turkey coma today and hanging out with my family. And I'm off to see the Nutcracker tonight with my mom, sister, and nieces!! I'm so excited. I've been wanting to see it for years. 

I love the Christmas season. :)

Hugs to you and yours,

 reference photo by the awesome Steve Evans, thank you! 
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