Friday, January 29, 2010

Watercolor paintings from the live model. Practice practice practice!

I was lucky enough to paint from the live model for two nights in a row.  Sometimes that is a great way to really start to see WHAT you are doing -  right and wrong!  I used watercolors both sessions on a very thick (200 lb) watercolor pad, which was new for me - up until now I have been using either Wallis paper or lighter watercolor pads.  The 200 lb paper hardly warps at all!

The first picture is about 25 minutes, very loose, not too much detail.  I was trying to keep in mind - work large and light, slowly add your darks and intense colors.  I did not sketch with pencil, just went right in with paint.

The second drawing, same viewpoint, is a bit tighter (maybe I was tense because we were listening to Obama's State of the Union address while we never know...) and I started with watercolor pencils, sketching the figure first, then adding washes of paint. I liked it until I started playing with her profile too much.  Unless the face is spot-on, it's very distracting.  I should have kept it a bit more mysterious.

The next evening I did draw one 20-minute pose with periwinkle charcoal pencil - this was a beautiful back view with lovely shadows.  The weight of the figure did not feel "right" until I established the position of her feet and their cast shadow on the carpet.

Next I painted for about 30 minutes, starting very soft and slowly building colors.  While I'm not thrilled with the final result, I did start to pay more attention to how the layers of color work together - a light wash of crimson lake over the cobalt blue made a gorgeous purple...vermillion over veridian made beautiful shadows on her torso.  I remember experimenting with paint way back in my first oil-painting class - mixing colors in a chart and layering different mixes on top of each other to see what happened.  I need to do that away from the model - just PRACTICE layering the colors.  It's not like working in pastel, where I know how the colors will work together.

Since that first painting felt a little tight, I just shifted my viewpoint a little and started another piece, this time trying to be more abstract, letting myself enjoy the paint rather than try to control everything.  I like it.  The photo is not great, the colors are a fresher and brighter in person. (this is not an invitation for you to come and see it in person...I'm just letting you know)

Finally for the last 20 minutes I moved toward the back of the model, quickly capturing the beautiful light and shadow on her back.  My whole approach was lighter and less tense...I didn't have much time, so I just went for it! I chopped off her head because it was - well - awful - but this part is not too bad!

Practice, practice practice :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What a rewarding birthday party! Collecting Dog and Cat Food instead of presents

My little boy, Jack, just turned 5 this month.  I'm still in shock that I actually have a 5 yr old...For the first time we decided to actually have a big party for Jack and his friends - up until now we had small gatherings of family and friends.  So this was a big deal. 

But I was having some reservations about throwing Jack a big party.  He's been having some behavior problems at school, and even though we've been watching his diet and encouraging better behavior, we still need to see some major improvements.  Also, he just got a WHOLE bunch of new stuff for Christmas.  I was thinking...if I invite all 16 kids in his class, all of our neighbors, and his many gifts does one 5 year old REALLY need?

But I still wanted him to have a party - to be the "king for the day" and hang out with his buddies from school.  So I made a deal with Jack - he gets to have a party, but instead of presents, everyone will be asked to bring Dog and Cat food that we can donate to the Cherokee County Humane Society.  (I had called the CCHS earlier and asked what was tops on their wish list...and before I could even finish asking, she said "food! people can't feed their pets right now!")

Well...I am REALLY impressed with how generous all of Jack's classmates, neighbors and cousins were! All together they donated almost 150 POUNDS of dog and cat food and treats!

Jack, Arianna and I delivered the food to the Humane Society today, and everyone on staff really made Jack feel special - lots of hi-fives and handshakes, thanking him for helping out the animals.  Jack and Ari even got to meet a couple dogs and cats!

And don't worry...Jack still got lots of great gifts from us, his grandparents, and some special friends.  He had a great party, his friends had lots of fun, and I hope they all know they helped a great cause!

PS...I'd love to hear from other moms and you find this idea to be a good way to help a needy cause, or is this a little too Joan Crawford from "Mommy Dearest"...(when Christina had to donate all her birthday gifts to the orphanage!)?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The progression of a painting.

As I mentioned in the last couple of posts...I've been working on a big project for the last couple of weeks.  One part of the project was to create a painting to compliment a piece I created several years ago, called "The Nest".  Same size, similar in color palette, but not too..."matchy".

So to get started I sat with my little girl at the kitchen table (see all of the pretty paintings she made while we worked?)

while I sketched some birds based on a bunch of photographs.

Then I started to paint.  The surface was actually several pieces joined together - like the orignal "Nest" painting, I wanted to have a variety of materials to work on - canvas, natural wood, primed boards, etc.  I also wanted the same shape - 24" x 48" - but a different division of space.

I moved the pieces around, trying different formations and color combinations.  At first I really liked the circular feel of the bowl with the eggs, but once I looked at it together with the original "Nest" - it seemed too dis-jointed - like each piece was it's own little painting, and not coming together as one big piece.

So I switched gears a little bit - looked for one larger image that could intersect several quadrants and pull everything together.  This wingspan felt powerful and magestic and incorporated all of the sections.

But there was a new problem - the curve of the tree on the left too closely mirrored the shape of the birds wings on the right - very repetitive, and boring.  So I painted that section over again.

Now we were getting somewhere.  The little silhouettes of white birds created a new sense of scale and pattern that didn't detract from the large set of wings.  The colors were working together, within the painting and as a compliment to "The Nest"

After a little more definition and adding more color to the black wings, I added the bird on the lower right from my sketchbook.  I needed an element in that corner to complete the big arc that was formed by the large black wings - something to bring the eye back into the painting.

This was an interesting experience for me, to re-visit a painting from several years ago, working with a limited time frame and different materials (acrylics vs. oils due to drying time).  I liked that I could re-work the piece over and over, building up a history to the surface.  If I had a chance to stare at it, live with it a little longer, I may have made a few minor changes.  But on the other hand, it was nice to not dwell on it for too long - make a decission, and stick with it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Latest commission project - Citrus Colored Nudes - coming to an end!

Whew! I have been a busy girl.  Painting painting painting! I just completed the ten female nudes in a beautiful palette of oranges, pinks and yellows.  The matting and framing is all done, too!

These drawings are all done with Watercolor on Wallis paper, 9" x 12", matted to 11.5" x 14.5". 
I love the warmth of the wood frames.

These six are also watercolor on Wallis paper, 12" x 18".   The inspiration for each piece came from a variety of sources - photos that I took of live models, drawings I did from the live model, sculpture, and photos of professional artist models (used with their kind permission!)

I also put together two large reproductions of my Bird paintings...these looked beautiful, too!

The lighting is a little on the cool side...but you get the idea :)

The bird prints are available in my Etsy shop, and I hope to run some test prints of the new nudes so that I may offer those, too, in my fine art print section!

One more painting to finish...I'm almost done! Can't wait to show you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm still here!

Don't fret...just working on a lot of new work - on a fast approaching deadline! I look forward to sharing new work with you soon :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Little Black Dress...drawings in Pastel and Watercolor

Well it's FREEZING here in GA and I was a little worried about our model for last week's drawing class - I don't even want to think about how she was going to pose in that cold studio!  Luckily she wore a sassy little black dress with fishnet stockings and super sexy high-heals...the outfit led to some great poses!

I will only post my two longest drawings, the first in watercolor, the second in pastel on black paper.  I love the watercolor, especially the legs and shoes - just enough information.  The pastel was from a low vantage point - I was sitting on the floor - so some of the proportions are a little off, and I'm mad at myself because I messed up her face at the very end! Oh the colors, so I got THAT going for me.  Which is nice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Gorgeous Collection on Etsy inspired by Handel's Messiah

There is a feature on Etsy called the "Treasury" where Etsy sellers can put together a collection of beautiful Etsy finds.  I just adore this one inspired by Handel's Messiah that included my Angel of Hope.

Thank you to Not Your Grandma's Vintage for this inspired beauty!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Can a simpler color palette lead to greater creativity? New drawings of the female nude in Citrus colors.

I was approached a few weeks back by a client looking for nude drawings in a specific color palette - namely citrus colors, such as oranges and hot pinks, with touches of Persimmon.  Over the Holiday, I hired one of my favorite models and put the call out to my fellow artists (come and draw!) so that I could work on a few new drawings in this specific color story.

One thing I noticed, was having that decision already made for me - "these colors are what I need" - allowed me a great deal of freedom while I worked.  I wasn't pondering which blue to use, do I reach for my favorite color (periwinkle!) again, do I add black...I just grabbed some pastels and a few watercolor pencils, and went to work!

The top two drawings are on Wallis paper, the bottom is on a pastel board (masonite primed for pastel).  I used only watercolor pencils on the top drawing, and the bottom two are a mix of pastel and watercolor.

Friday, January 1, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Goals for 2010

Wow! Twenty ten.  Can you believe it?!?! It's a big year...nice round numbers.  Seems like it should be monumental in many ways! A good year to have a few goals...

(numbering only for the sake of the list...none of these are more important than the others!)

1.  READ MORE.  I go thru phases where I devour 3 or 4 good books and then don't pick up a new one for six months! I have lists of "top ten books", "great all time fiction", etc. floating around my house.  This year - I will read as many of those books as I can! Books stay with me for so much longer than movies.  The characters become so much more real, I worry about them, think about them for days - even weeks in the case of "The Road" and "The Poisonwood Bible' (I highly recommend both of those).  Read more great books in 2010!

2.  Less time on the computer!  I am SO greatful that I have been able to build my business on-line and sell my artwork around the world.  I love the fact that I can keep up with friends and family via Facebook and that I have a network of fun and friendly Artists who I can count on for support on-line.  But, the time has come to focus my time spent on the computer.  Less time "chatting", more time doing what NEEDS to be done. 

3.  More Date Nights with Hubby!   DH and I are very lucky to be active, social people who have a lot to do during the week.  Drawing classes, excercise groups, our children's activities, neighborhood events.  But we need to make sure WE get to spend some quality time together.  It's not going to happen on it's own! We will have to make the time.

4.  Become an Active Member in some local artist groups.  There are many active artist groups in the Atlanta area, and I need to build my Artist network locally, get involved with demos and critique nights, participate in local events and shows. 

5.  Enter at least 10 National Juried Shows.  For artists, your resume cannot just consist of a tally of "how many sales I got" and "looka t all my positive feedback in my shop".  The "Art World" still looks at whether or not artists are producing new, relevant work, and whether or not you are showing that work.

6.  Create every day.  It doesn't have to be a masterpiece, it could even happen while I'm sitting at the kitchen table drawing with the kiddos.  In fact it could become our afternoon activity...our "drawing of the day".  Use it or lose it!

7.  Communicate with friends and family beyond the occassional text message or an OMG on their Facebook page.  PIck up the phone and have a REAL conversation, write letters with the kiddos to their cousins, etc. 

OK I know there's a few more things I want to do every work harder on my garden, give more money to charity, watch less TV, etc...but 7 is a pretty good number - not as ambitious as ten, but not too few.

I hope 2010 brings you laughter, love, and that you, too, reach your goals!