Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Breeze SOLD

'Breeze'  SOLD
5 x 7 inches oil on masonite panel

Back to oil painting last night. Don't know how long I'll stay here (I'm a fickle creature like that) since I still have my colored pencil piece to finish, and some watercolors too. But it feels right to me for now. 

Every time I take a break from oil painting I feel a little bit of fear at the idea of starting a new painting. Probably because they're still a step outside my comfort zone. So I thought I'd go with another monochromatic portrait. This time a sepia one. I thought it might enhance that dreamy expression this little girl seemed to have. 

None of my kids used pacifiers (not for lack of trying to persuade them to on my part!) or sucked their thumbs (or fingers??) so this little one with her two fingers in her mouth was very endearing to me. 

And here's a shot of what this painting looks like standing back a bit: 

That's something that I think gets lost when showing your art online (I guess that's a bit obvious though right?). What the painting looks like from a few feet back. And then you get to see my pretty glass bottles too. :) Got to paint those babies some day!

Reference photo by Jay Ryness, thank you!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Make the time to do what you love

Detail from new 5 x 7 colored pencil piece
on Ampersand Pastelbord

Worked on this the other day while waiting for my son at his guitar lesson. In the car. :) 

Some of you seem surprised that I draw in the car. I guess it is a little strange. I'm just weird like that. ;) And something that I can NOT stand is waiting with nothing to do. I hate it. I feel like that's such a time waster. And I feel like time is such a limited resource you know? Of course you do. We live in a busy world with hectic lives.

So I'm going to tell you guys how I do it. And why. First with the how:

I work small. I prefer working small. I don't know why I just do. I'm sure one day I'll get tired of working small, but right now I'm happy where I'm at. Working small, and with just pencils, makes it very easy to take on the go. Above is what I always take when I know I'm going to be sitting in the car for at least ten minutes. An envelope of photos I want to draw, a small box of colored pencils in the colors I think I'll use, a small sketchbook (mine's 6 x 6), and my 5 x 7 work in progress (protected in a clear bag). 

And here it is all stacked up. Not too big right? Since I'm usually bringing my four year old's bag of things to do too I stick it in there and we are good to go. And then while littlest Cook is busy playing his Leapster, I get to draw for a few minutes. Works like a charm. 
Now to the why? Because. . . well, see the pic below. :) 

Because I, we, need to make the time to do what we love.  And if that means drawing for ten minutes at a time in the car then so be it. :) Photo courtesy of namaste cafe.

So, how do you make time to do what you love?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sweet Baby Girl - sold

'Sweet Baby Girl' sold, private commission
8 x 10 inches watercolor on paper

And here's the finished painting. :) I fell in love with this little girl, she is so happy and smiley. There was such a variety of colors in her skin tones, reflecting from the little pool she's sitting in, which was very fun. And I've already heard from my client who is very happy with the painting. Which makes for a very happy artist. :))) 

I used three colors to paint her skin tones, permanent rose, cobalt blue, and hansa yellow light. That's all. You can do a lot with primary colors when painting skin. And my own personal opinion is that when you avoid using brown (like burnt umber) in skin tones the subject seems more alive. Even when I paint dark skin tones I never use brown. Although I do use burnt sienna, which is more of a rich orange and beautifully transparent, perfect for skin. I just didn't use it here.

Anyways. . . Babbled on enough I suppose. Thanks for taking a peek at my work and following along on the progress. :)

Huzzah for Monday being nearly over!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

In Flight - Andalusian Horse - SOLD

'In Flight - Andalusian horse' SOLD
6" x 8" graphite on bristol paper

A horse gallops with his lungs,
Perseveres with his heart,
And wins with his character.
- Tesio 

Why yes I was waiting in the car yesterday for my boys. Why do you ask?? Getting lots of drawing time in and it's awesome. :) Also my Kindle is now full of games to keep littlest Cook occupied while in the car so he's not bored either. Good times. 

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

P.S. this is the very same Andalusian stallion from my previous drawing 'Without Wings'
Reference photo by venomxbaby on deviantART, thank you!  

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sweet Baby Girl Portrait Commission WIP

Sweet Baby Girl, work in progress
8 x 10 inches, watercolor 
This week I've been working on a new portrait commission of this absolutely darling little girl. I'm going to show a few pics of the painting in progress just in case you guys are curious. The above shot is where I'm at right now (that blank line to the left of her is water from a sprinkler, haven't started that yet).

My client said that she really loved my use of vivid color so I'm trying to keep that in mind as I layer the skin tones (no I haven't found a way around that layering yet. Argh). Painting a baby's skin is a very delicate process, you have to be quick and sure about what colors to use and where to use them. The less you layer on a baby the better. Her face is basically done at this point, we'll see if I need to add anything once I finish the background and her body. 

This has been one of the funnest commission's I've ever had. I mean just look at that smile? Don't you just love her? :)

Here are a few earlier pics in progress too: 

the preliminary drawing

A close up of her face, in progress 

It's been a while since I've posted a watercolor WIP so if you guys have any questions ask away and I'll try my best to answer them in the questions. :) 

Listening to: ZZ Ward, Put The Gun Down
Reading: Indigo Spell, by Rachelle Mead
Watching: you guessed it, Supernatural :)
Snacking on: apple slices and peanut butter

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


5 x 7 inch watercolor on paper
$65 plus $8 US shipping, or $20 International 

I can't ever get my own dogs to model for me. The minute I get down to take a photo of them is the minute they think I've just invited them to climb into my lap. This is my niece's dog, a cute Chihuahua named Chica. She is a great little model because she's always watching my niece, not me. :) I caught her mid slurp a few summer's ago and have been wanting to paint it ever since. 

In other news, my blog post I wrote at the end of last month about what I've learned from 30 paintings in 30 days is now included in this free Art Byte at Daily Paintworks that is all about artist's blocks and how to get past them. Carol Marine, Liz Wiltzen, Brenda Ferguson, and Cathleen Rehfield also wrote about it. You can check it out right here: Collective Insight on Blocks. It is full of awesomeness. 

And last of all my computer is giving me fits again so I've not been able to comment or respond to comments hardly at all. :( I still love you guys and will be around when I can. Hope you all are having a fantastic day! 

And now I shall leave you with this most geeky photo of me posing for my article about artist blocks: 

Until tomorrow! Huzzah for computer's getting fixed speedily and for friendly artist's helping each other!!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hoot Hoot

'Hoot Hoot' 
5 x 7 inches watercolor on paper
$65 plus $8 US shipping, or $20 International 

Clearly my creative well for owl titles has run dry. I know I paint owls a lot, but I'm really fascinated with the colors in their feathers (like this guy's white, but not white chest) and their intelligent expressions. 

And I have had an idea for an owl/figure painting (not like an owl human hybrid, which would be terrifying, but like a figure AND and owl together) that I've wanted to do for a while just haven't got to yet. 

I got a little excited about all the colors I put into this one. I think it may be because this is my first watercolor since I painted with oils for a while. I was enjoying the flow. 


Monday, February 18, 2013

Undecided SOLD - Southeast Asian girl drawing

'Undecided'  SOLD
6" x 6" sepia colored pencil on paper

My kids are back in a bunch of lessons (guitar, Tae Kwon Do, Spanish reading) after taking a break during the holidays so I have quite a lot of time to draw while waiting in the car for them. :) Which is where I did most of this drawing. 

What I loved most, and hoped to capture, was her very concerned expression, especially the little wrinkles in her smooth, youthful forehead. Like she was trying to make a very hard decision. I'm also experimenting a little bit with a slight exaggeration of the facial features with my drawings/sketches. I am trying to emphasize those things that stand out the most to me, what makes me want to draw this person in the first place. I think it worked out well here. :) 

Until tomorrow friends! Huzzah for Mondays!!  

Reference photo by Gustavo Jeronimo, thank you! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Best Pals - SOLD

'Best Pals'  sold 
5" x 7" 
colored pencil on Ampersand Pastelbord

Finally finished. :) Usually when I have a painting that takes me a long time to complete I end up feeling frustrated, and I lose interest. But not this time. This drawing was a joy from beginning to end. A few bumps in the road that caused me a bit of a headache, but overall a complete joy. I really love how it turned out. 

I have a bunch of photos of my son playing with his toys that I think I'll start working on too. All in this beautiful light. I'm excited. 

Technique note: This drawing ate up a LOT of my colored pencils. The sanded surface of the pastelbord is very abrasive and hard on the pencils, I wore probably five of them down to little nubs by the time this was finished. 

But on the positive side, this surface doesn't require much layering. It is a very direct process, which was a sanity saver for me. I have come to realize that I am getting bored with layering paint, I'm an impatient person. ;) I will have to see if I can adapt my watercolor process to get the results I want but avoid all the layering (glazing of color) I typically do.

Have a great weekend everyone. :) See you Monday!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Making Progress

work in progress 
5 x 7 inch colored pencil on Ampersand Pastelbord

Slow but steady wins the race right? That shirt took me for dang ever. And his face caused me much angst. I think because of the angle of his head, and his features are tiny. Super hard. But I love how it's looking so far. Also, Tigger has been the funnest thing to draw yet. So much color!
In other news, have you guys seen the new cover art for the Harry Potter books?! So much awesomeness. I loved the originals, but I love these too.

New Harry Potter Cover Art Unveiled 

Must. Have. Them.

My husband will be so glad he just cleared out some of our bookcases, so I can replace those empty spaces with these new lovelies.  ;)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Meet Cute

'Meet Cute' 
5" x 7" oil on panel
$65 plus $8 US shipping, or $20 International 

Reference photo by Julia Ballarin, thank you! 
One of my favorite movies is 'The Holiday' with Jude Law and Kate Winslet. I love that little old man Kate's character meets who used to make old time Hollywood movies. That's where I first heard of the term 'meet cute.' I've been wanting to use it as a title for one of my Smitten paintings for a while so here it is. 

Meet cute: Scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better). Definition courtesy of urban dictionary. 

This is another oil painting that I did a while ago but forgot to post. I don't know why I do that. It's not like I have ten different places all over the house that I put these little paintings and wait for them to dry. I only have like four or five different places. ;)

In other news, I'm still working on the colored pencil piece. I'll post a pic of it tomorrow. I don't want to interrupt my rhythm I've got going with it so I'm only working on this one until it's done. So there may be several days of work in progress posts of this one little drawing. 

Until tomorrow friends! 
Listening to: The National (listen to my favorite song here, if you're curious :)
Reading: Wool by Hugh Howey
Watching: Supernatural
Snacking on: Dove chocolates

Monday, February 11, 2013

Do Or Do Not

 work in progress 
colored pencil on Ampersand Pastelbord
5" x 7" 

My colored pencils were calling my name the other day. So I hearkened to their siren call and whipped those babies out and started on this new little piece of my son playing. 

I'm hoping that I'm not jinxing myself by posting this WIP because all the other colored pencil pieces on pastelboard I've posted as WIP's remain unfinished. But this one is very close to my heart right now, especially since my little one has been sick lately, so I'm sure I'll finish it.  I will finish this and I can't wait to show you guys. :) 

Which brings me to this: 

Wondering about the picture above? That's one of my favorite necklaces that I wear all the time, especially when I'm feeling like I suck at just about everything. Just putting it on makes me feel better, it's my talisman against negativity, and it gives me courage. It empowers me with positive thinking and belief in myself. 

One of my least favorite phrases ever is this, "I can't." 

People ask me how I learned to paint, how I make the time. I tell them you could do it too, if you want it bad enough. And what do they say to me?

"I can't" 

People ask me about why I run, and what the furthest distance is I've gone. I tell them 13.2 miles but if my knees would allow it I'd run 26.2. I tell them you could do it too, if you want it bad enough. And what do they say to me?

"I can't"

People tell me that they want to start selling their work, and entering shows, but they don't know how, or they think they're not good enough, or it's just too hard. They say: 

"I can't" 

Want to know what I can't do?

I can't make a perfect pie crust. 
I can't ever, ever, ever, keep up with the laundry. 
I can't organize my closets and cupboards as well as my sister in law (love you Laura!!)
I can't drive on the freeway without music that's too loud and losing my temper at least once. 
I can't go a day without chocolate. 

I know what you're thinking. "But you just said that you hate the phrase 'I can't' yet here you are going on and on about all the stuff you can't do! Hypocrite!"

Now let me tell you about my 'I can't' list. 

Why can't I do those things? 

Because I don't want to badly enough. 

It is perfectly fine to say 'I can't do' something if you simply don't care all that much about doing it in the first place. 

My mom makes the Best Pie Crust In The Whole World. And I'd be willing to arm wrestle anybody over that title. I don't need to, or want to make pie crust as good as her. Not today anyway. As long as we have clean clothes to wear I'm okay with never keeping up with the laundry. I'd rather be painting, or playing with my kids. And the last three don't really need an explanation, it's enough for me to say I don't want to badly enough. 

Some things keep us from our heart's greatest desires. Some of those are things that are out of our control, like my problematic knees. But most of them come from within us. We put limitations on ourselves, we say we can't do something before we've even made the attempt. We don't want it badly enough, because wanting something that badly would force us to make changes in our lives and get us out of our comfort zones.

The next time you start to reach for something that is just beyond your grasp and seems too hard, too impossible, tell yourself this: 

Do or do not, there is no try. 

Making the attempt = doing. 

Do, make the attempt. Believe that you can. And you will, one day. 

Happy Motivational Monday everybody! :)

You can get one of these cool necklaces too, right here. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Wolfish Grin

'Wolfish Grin' 
5" x 7" oil on panel
$65 plus $8 US shipping, or $16 International  

Okay, so this isn't a wolf, but it is usually so hard for me to come up with a title for each painting that when this one popped into my head I thought it was perfect. :) 

This dog's eyes had so many colors in them, pale amber, fiery burnt sienna, and even some sky blue. So beautiful. I used to wait to paint the eyes until I had the skin tones (or in this case, fur tones) built up a bit, but now I dive right into the eyes first. I don't like wasting my time to see if I got the most important thing right. 

Here's a peek at this painting in progress too: 

I was up most of the night with my little boy, who has had a recent bout with asthma, watching cartoons while he had his breathing treatments. I'm always overwhelmed with gratitude that he is my son, my precious little boy, when this happens. So thankful to have him in my life. :)

Have a great weekend everyone. Stay warm! Huzzah!!

Reference photo by Steven Bowler, thank you! 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On My Terms

'On My Terms' 
5" x 7" oil on panel
$65 plus $8 US shipping, or $20 International

So my last painting was a mouse, today's is a cat. Any guesses about what tomorrow's will be? ;) I loved this close up view of this curious kitty because it made her eyes larger than life. And her markings are very unusual which I found very interesting. I love Siamese kitties. :) 

I had this painting finished but didn't post yesterday because I was on a field trip with my son. We had a lot of fun, cross country skiing (more on that in a minute), snowshoeing, and building some seriously cool ice caves. By the time I got home it was too dark to photograph so here it is today. I've been focusing on close ups of faces of all kinds with oils lately because I am driven to master this in my style. I was exactly the same when I started in watercolors. Obsessive much? 

I always volunteer to chaperone on field trips because my kids really like me to go (and I love that) and it's fun to see them interact with their friends and discover new things. This time I thought I'd just be watching over my son and his little group of friends I was assigned to. I did not think I'd be skiing (let me inform you that I have never in my life been skiing before, of any kind). So. . . I didn't really come prepared. No snow pants. And I wore my favorite suede boots. (Yes, major DUH on my part). 

But, trying to be a good sport, I strapped on my skis and gave it a whirl. I mean how hard could it be? We were on mostly flat land for goodness sake. Going straight in these little worn out trails from a million other skiers before us. Not downhill. I couldn't get into that much trouble. Or so I thought.

Everything was going well until we reached this hill that wasn't very steep but was very looooong. And then. . . I was an out of control woman on skis. I couldn't stop! Seriously. I was gaining speed ridiculously fast. The hill wasn't steep, but it was super slick and the next thing I know I'm on the ground, ski strapped feet up in the air. Snow melting into my non-snow pants (ie: jeans) covered bottom. 

Along comes an instructor (where were you 30 seconds ago hmmm?) saying "keep your knees to your skis!" (a direct quote from the video they had us watch about how to get up once you'd fallen) in an all too cheerful voice as he zooms past me. 

I get up. And try again. I fall. Again. I get up. I fall. This pattern repeats quite a lot over the next ten minutes. And I STILL haven't made it down that hill. I can't even see my little group of fifth grade charges anymore. They gone. Long gone.

I fall one last time. Ski instructor zooms past again, still so cheerfully calling out to me "Keep your knees to your skis!" I grumble under my breath that if he says that one more time I've got a much better place for my knee to go.   

This is when I admit defeat. I need to find my group of kids. So I take my skis off and decide to walk the rest of the way down the hill. Unfortunately this is where I lose my grip on one of my skis and off it goes zooming down the hill of its own accord, unencumbered by its not so graceful host. I take off after it, running, no sprinting, down that hill to catch my rogue ski, when suddenly it veers off into the wilderness. 

Naturally I decide to follow it. Pretty soon I'm not running anymore, but marching through deep, deep snow, sinking lower with each step. I look around and notice the trees sure are little in this part of the woods, only about two feet tall. I can even touch the tops of them. A red flag pops up in my head. I can't see the ski anymore and I really don't care at this point because I've just realized that these are not little trees, they are the bare tops of trees that are covered in tons of snow. 

Now I realize why I kept feeling like I was sinking. Because I was! I get the heck out of there faster than a shopper at midnight on Black Friday. The ski's on its own. It's every woman for herself. 

I survived and lived to paint another day. I found my kids, and I told the instructor that I lost a ski (he was ever so nice about this, which made me inwardly cringe about my earlier grumbling about where to put my knee) and the rest of the day was spent with a much lower stress level on my part, and a lot of snowball throwing on the kids part.

It was a good day. But I was never more happy to get into my nice warm house than I was last night. 

At least I won't have to do this again. At least. . . not for a few more years until my second grader is in fifth grade.


Reference photo by Tiffany Lauren, thank you! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Undetected Visitor

'Undetected Visitor' 
5" x 7" oil on panel
$65 plus $8 US shipping, or $20 International 
How about a little mouse for my woodland animal series? I have always loved mice. . . except when they come in my house uninvited. Pet mice are cute, but wild mice you find in your silverware drawer (SURPRISE!!) that make you scream like a banshee? Not so much. 

I chose this little guy to paint last night because I thought he would be quick. Famous last words right? He took me forever! Getting his eyes and twitchy nose right was bleeping difficult! But I really like how he turned out. Especially those touches of orange in his fur.

Listening to: The Black Keys
Reading: The Art of How To Train Your Dragon
Watching: Supernatural
Snacking on: Dove raspberry and dark chocolate swirl chocolates 

Reference photo by Riviera2008 on deviantArt, thank you! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wide Eyed Innocence

'Wide Eyed Innocence' 
5" x 7" oil on panel
$65 plus $7 US shipping, or $15 International

I loved this filly's coloring, and of course her blue eyes and long lashes. I really like setting light colored horses against a dark background, I think it creates a lot of drama, even to a static pose like this one. Her body is standing still, but her eyes look very active to me. I love her sweet face. :) 

In other news, I volunteered to help my son's class with an art project for a fundraising auction for their school. Our project is a watercolor painting based on a book (I chose Tolkein's LOTR and the quote "Moonlight drowns out all but the brightest stars"). So this week I'm going in to help them pour a wet midnight sky, surrounding a figure, in watercolors. It should be fun. :) I'm crossing my fingers that all goes well. I'll post a pic when the painting is done. :)

And I hope you all will too. ;)  Reference photo of her darling Gypsy Vanner filly Elexxa, with thanks, by Elizabeth Ward Sescilla

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bloom - SOLD

'Bloom' SOLD
6" x 6" graphite on paper

Sometimes I just really miss drawing when I spend so much time painting. Preparing a drawing for a painting is very different from doing a drawing to stand alone as a work of art. So the best thing to do is get out my pencils and sketchbook and go to town. I thought this girl from India had the most beautiful features I'd ever seen. I ended up exaggerating them a bit unintentionally because I loved them so much. :)

I have the hardest time photographing pencil work. It really makes me wish I had a scanner because while this is close to the original, it's really not as close as I would like

I don't plan on taking any time off now that the 30x30 challenge is done. I simply have to paint. And I have really enjoyed blogging more often. I'm shooting for Mon - Fri. Some days may just be works in progress since I would like to work on a large oil painting soon. I just have to get handsome hubby into the garage to cut up some more panels for me. :)

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Reference photo, with thanks, by Ryan Lobo
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