We have been busy emptying my creative space (aka sewing room, painting studio). The new floor is in and looks great. So easy to keep clean. Next up, new quarter-round molding to the baseboards and touch-up painting.
Meanwhile, because everything had to be taken out of the room, I am finishing up long-neglected projects.
These two yellow bags were full of quilting projects. So far, I have made a set of four placemats and three matching potholders. Three more sets of potholders and some coasters for wine bottles with matching gift bags. AND, (drumroll, please) a quilt and pillow for my grandson, August. I am in the last stages of another quilt and busy applique-ing chickens to yet another one.
Dragon Teeth Quilt Chinese Lantern Quilt
Getting these things out of the way makes me feel productive. So, while I am not painting, I am still having a busy creative period.
Just thought I would update this poor old blog as I have been very neglectful of it lately.
This is my first big (as in 16x20) oil portrait. This is my son and all but one of his children. I liked the composition of the original photograph which was very dark and out of focus. The subject has quite a bit of emotional content for me as my son adores his children and after two tours in Iraq and other overseas assignments, he is finally out of the service and enjoying his family.
I am working slowly on this which is once again a learn-as-you-go project. Just blocking in some colors - that blue bloppy stuff in the left corner will be going away.
So, besides making a doll house and all the parts to that little world, I am still engaged in painting, but just not everyday, for now.
I haven't posted anything here in quite a few days and that is because we are remodeling my "playroom." Sometimes it is a sewing room and sometimes it is a painting space, but it is always an art space. (Studio sounds so presumptuous, coming from me, anyway.) It is my creative haven, although to be honest, cleaning out the closet and organizing all my stuff is more than a bit scary.
My first thought is that I am really quite insane. There is so much stuff. Finished stuff I don't like, unfinished stuff I was either bored with or disappointed by, and wishful thinking stuff. Oh, and of course a lot of "what was I thinking?" stuff. I have plenty of that, too.
But, these are my outlet. My creative force. I am struck by the variety of color and texture and whimsey and delightful madness of it all. That is a good description of my personality, too.
This post isn't about art work. Not exactly. It is however about another facet of creative expression.
In sorting through the scary closet I found a doll's house I started over a decade ago. So, I am finishing it. An idea finally came to me about how it should look. For awhile, I will put the brakes on one form of creative expression and pull out all the stops on another, long neglected but not forgotten one. I once made a really cute but really rickety doll's house for my children, but really for myself. I loved minatures and experimented with various scales. 1"= 1' scale was perfect and fairly easy to do. I always wanted to explore 1/2 scale (1/2"= 1' ) and 1/4 scale (namely, really tiny), and made a few projects.
Now with grandbaby number seven on the way, I can't think of a better time to finish Grandma's Dollhouse. When I took it down from the closet shelf, it looked like it wanted to become a half-timbered, thatched-roofed, country cottage. I'm not going for authenticity here, just something evocative of that look, something really cute, and (this time) very sturdy. Something for little kids to be enchanted by. I plan to put it on a plywood disk on rolling wheels and include some landscaping. There will be some electrical -- candles, the fireplace, and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Here are the Stage One construction pictures. The pinkish tint is the spackling compound that dries white. I love this stuff. It's like frosting a very big cake and very forgiving.
As for the art room, we are getting a new industrial-strength floor, new lighting, and a remodeled closet. This was unexpected and planned by my husband as something he says he has wanted to do for me for a long time. I just love that -- he is so sweet.
I'm just wondering how long it will take me to make the closet "scary" again!
These are experiments in watercolor landscape, just for fun. They aren't "fun" for me, usually, so I thought I would try a few while taking a break from the last ten of my still life 30 project. (No, not forgotten, just needed a palette cleanser. Pun intended.)
Below are two WIP's (works-in-process) from reference photographs in Zoltan Szabo's great book, Color-by-Color Guide to Watercolor. The one just above is also from a reference in that book, but I liked the unusual sky color in the photo and used that instead of the demonstration which was dramatically different.
I use this book often for reference in color mixing, glazing, and combinations. My version is stuffed with little odd pieces of watercolor paper with my own favorite combinations and especially transparencies.
I like where this is going, but I am not really sure where that is. I seem to have too many shadows going in odd directions. But then, rocks under snow (that's what's supposed to be) look like that. Tin Shack
I have too much detail on the far logs and they are too dark in comparison to the foreground log. I like the warm versus cool shadows in this, though.
While neither of these is actually finished and might never be, they are part of the great big pile 'o stuff and I thought I would post them just for fun. I am working on two much larger, more detailed projects than I have ever done and haven't decided if I would post a WIP in parts for them. So, while I am deciding, I thought I would update my blog.
I mentioned that landscapes are my least-confident subjects. Here is another one -- florals. I never like mine, over-work them, and then really don't like them. Here are the latest efforts.
I don't know why I have such a problem. I love flowers. I grow lots of them and photograph them endlessly. But, I am posting these here to gain some insight into why I have such a problem painting them. The only idea that comes to mind just now is that I make them too complicated. That rings true, because I do it with lots of other things, too.
Poppies, I Think
Is thatSupposed to be a Lily?
This last one was for a Weekly Photo Challenge at Artist's Network and done from an incredibly beautiful photograph posted there. I actually like this one, some what. So, if I keep exploring, I may end up enjoying the process.
Back home and getting back into my painting routine, I once again joined in the Weekly Photo Challenge at Artists Network. I know this is a blatant commerical for them, but that was not my intention, other than to say for many would-be artists, these little challenges are great for broading our scope of interest, trying new things, and as I am so fond of saying: finding yet another way to not to do stuff.
I was all full of great and amibitious plans to complete my still life challenge. I was going to photograph all kinds of mundane stuff, paint it in a moody style, and call the series "Extended Stay." Yep, I was.
Instead, I fought with some cheap watercolor paper and did exercises from Watercolor and American Artist magazines and a painting book we bought to keep me occupied for the week while my spouse toiled away.
This was fun and loosened me up quite a bit. So, I thought I would do something similar for a project I have been procrastinating about. Now comes the dilemma. While there is much I want to re-work when I do this next one on bigger and better paper, I really like the colors that appeared in the washes under the figures. I really, really like them and now am procrastinating about the formal version because of a bad case of "what if''s." Such as, what if I can't get those cool looking shadow colors and water patterns; what if I mess up the faces (again). See what I mean? Fear, fear, fear -- of the darndest things. It's just a painting. Lighten up.
Everyone has a case of this from time to time, but I found it perfectly ironic to be practicing loosening-up exercises and tightening up with apprehensions simultaneously. Ever been there? Are you there now? It's my biggest battle, how about you?
Oh, those photographs I was going to take? Here is the best of the batch. Seems there is a large population of cranes roosting in some of the very tall evergreens planted in a nearby business park. I love this image, particularly, with the moon caught in the branches. It would make a lovely, quietly mysterious painting, don't you think?
I'm already thinking I could really mess this up, trying to get the reflection on those feathers just right!
I am not a landscape person. But, I wanted to play with the oil pastels after doing the portrait below, so I just started scribbling around on a pretty piece of Canson pastel paper. I didn't know a little forest would appear. Though this is really just an exercise, but I feel compelled to put ornaments on the trees and print it up for Christmas cards. I guess if I can draw Christmas candy in July, I can do Christmas trees as well.
Silence, 8x10 oil pastel on mi teintes paper.
Despite the overwhelming desire to mess these next two up, I am (for once) leaving them alone. That may be the key to why I like portraits and still life subjects so much better -- lots of little details to color.
5x7 watercolor. This one makes me want to make salsa, if I can find some tomatoes. Number 17 in my Summer Still Life 30. I liked the yellow light and softer look to this one.
Number 18, Farm Fresh Onions, 5x7. I liked this image from our farmer's market for its whites, lights, and all those angles. Tried a sketch of it and then colored it in with watercolor and colored pencil.
Sweet Mama, oil pastel on mi teintes pastel paper, bisque. My daughter, Shelley, and her daughter, Regan. This is my first oil pastel portrait and, as with any new medium, I learned a lot of ways not to do it. It amazes me still that I just don't like landscapes, but really enjoy doing people. Little Regan was ready for a nap here. So, this is essentially another entry into my "grandma's brag book" of portraits of my grandchildren.
Still life challenge now more than half completed. Depression Glass Still Life. 10x10, colored pencil. Now, it may appear that the etching on the glass sort of danced right off the plate. It did. I'm keeping it that way, because I like it. In person, these lemons don't look quite so pinkish. This is a distortion from the photography that I can't seem to eliminate. However, the shading on the lower right and upper left are accurate and I liked those parts, too.
Radishes, 5x7, watercolor
I liked the chocolate-y muddy water these were soaking in. The idea is to play fast and loose with these as I tend to get bogged down and mud up the whole danged thing.
Lettuce, 5x7, watercolor
I really liked these lettuces. They were displayed on an old bookcase that looked like mahogany. If the same vendor is there again this week with that prize, I might buy it. It was very pretty, and obviously much abused. Then again, it might be a beloved family heirloom that does duty as a workhorse.
This one counts. It is for another weekly photo challenge all media project from Artist's Network, but it counts anyway. I liked doing this one because it was fast, loose, and cute. Lesson learned: stay loose, you won't pull as much hair out! This lesson is heard loud and clear as I have been working on a painting than ran away with me and became a muddy mess. Dontcha hate it when that happens? Resisting the urge to "fix" this where it is "messy" is difficult, but not impossible.
This is my first real series of paintings, small or otherwise. In this case, they are all 5x7, Arches 300 lb. cold press watercolors and colored pencil.
I have six planned and here are the first two.
Guitars, 5x7, watercolor
Baskets, 5x7, watercolor
The paintings are all based on photographs taken at our local Oceanside Farmer's Market . There are actually two markets on Thursdays -- the morning event and the Sunset Market from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and I know of no reason why I haven't been. Might get some pretty nice evening pictures there, too, come to think of it.
Oceanside still has that little beachtown feel to it, despite the fact that it's more of a city these days. These baskets are actually hanging not in a market booth, but a Johnny Manana's, just down the street. Johnny Manana's is THE place to go for burritos and beer for breakfast. Now, that might not sound much like breakfast to some of you, but you surfers and beach bunnies know what I'm talkin' about. Afterall, there isn't much difference between brunch and mimosas, or Bloody Marys, or screwdrivers, for that matter, than burritos and beer. Except, maybe, price and ambiance. I'll take cheap beach, any day!
This is summer, and summer is baseball season, so my title up there isn't really so odd considering I just completed number 10 of my self-challenge of 30 still lifes for this summer. I figure that is like making it to first base, second 10 would be second base, et cetera.
Breakfast Bowl, 10x13, colored pencil on Mi Teintes steel gray paper.
Where does all the Christmas paraphernalia go for the summer? Answer: the back of the pantry. Found this jar of leftover hard candies in our pantry while scouting interesting things for my still life challenge. I liked the out-of-context feel of it and the forgotten little sweeties, just sitting there, seemed sort of hopeful, in a way.
Over at artistsnetwork.com , in the forums, a weekly challenge was initiated recently (like this week). The challenge is open to all media interpretations. Here is a LINK to the challenge forum. Challenges are a fun way to get the gears rolling and for trying something different.
Here is my daily painting/challenge entry. Oil on gessoed panel. 11x14. Fun to do and definitely challenging.
Still Life No. 4 in my summer challenge to do 30 still lifes over the summer. Title: "I'm Worried About Violet", oil on masonite, 8"x10". I am not sure I like the masonite ground, still getting used to it. But, this is quite a departure for me, all that purple! The carnival glass, barely visible on the left, was fun to do, though, and just might be included in some more of these.
Seascape, from a central coast vacation photograph. However, the piece doesn't resemble it much. Not exactly a "daily painting", which is my ultimate goal, but most of the work, other than the background, was done today.
While I started work on another still life for my "30" series, I thought I would remember to add my sketchbook additions in keeping with my originally stated premise of posting just about everything.
Sheep, soft pastel, is a continuation of attempting to work with my limited palette soft pastels I bought by mistake. I had fun getting messy making the sky and the clouds, but pastels are just not my thing. So, I will collect other artist's work, because I love the look of pastel landscapes and florals.
Tomato, colored pencil. Colored pencils are still my favorite color medium.
Two graphite sketches from our "secret garden" on the mostly unseen side of our house.
Hydrangea in the shade and a mimosa branch, shortly after the "Butcher of Barcelona" (me, with garden trimmers) got after it.