Saturday, March 31, 2012

He's Back! / Our Resident Chipmunk Returns

Jerry and I  had another "Signs of Spring" Surprise! We hadn't seen our chipmunk, Chippie, since the fall and feared the worst. He had become quite brazen with his food gathering expeditions.  Considering the cats and all the other critters that routinely patrol our property, it's a miracle he actually did survive last season. Jerry had built him a canopy over his hole by our deck so that it wouldn't get flooded out when it rained. He also reinforced it with P.V.C. pipe, so that the landscaping stones wouldn't keep tumbling in on him. The last we saw of Chippie was in November, but as of last week, he's back! He is just the cutest little thing and I'm afraid the cats think so too. He seems more cautious now, though. Maybe he had a close call and learned his lesson. Let's hope so, anyway!

"Chippie's Back!"
Signs of Spring #7 - $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Watercolor Painting with pen & ink
This piece ships with a foam core backing in an acetate sleeve
and is ready to fit into a standard frame.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Magical Crow ~ SOLD

I am feeling a little better today, although I'm still moving pretty darn slow. Jerry has been a doll and is taking care of the ranch while I recuperate from Sunday's mishap.  Since my chores are now minimal, I spent most of the day painting. I am 2/3 of the way through my color studies for Father O. and I am fairly satisfied with how they are turning out. That's a good thing. Perhaps I am starting to see some light at the end of my long commission tunnel.

I've been wanting to do a crow portrait as a part of my "Signs of Spring" series, so I also did this painting today. Our crows disappear over the winter. I don't know where they go. Crows don't migrate, but they sure don't stay around here. As soon as Spring rolls around, they all come back. We've got a dozen or so now and they really love to make a ruckus. I know some people don't like them because they eat other birds' eggs and offspring, but I like having them around, talking to me whenever I go outside.

"Magical Crow"
Signs of Spring #6 - $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Watercolor Painting with pen & ink
This piece ships with a foam core backing in an acetate sleeve
and is ready to fit into a standard frame.


Monday, March 26, 2012

A Challenging Commission and a Bum Knee

For the last month, I've been working on a commission for a Ukrainian Priest! It's an involved project and at times I'm wishing that I had never agreed to do it at all. The Father came to my studio in December, loved my Spirit Art and bought an original watercolor. At that time, we talked about his ideas for a commissioned piece. He said, no rush, he just wanted it by Easter. So I didn't think much about it in January and February. Then all of a sudden, we were half way through Lent!

Sketch #1

His idea is to portray the soul (my interpretation here) ascending, with an angel holding a flaming sword in battle with the grim reaper or death (his interpretation). It is going to be big  (20-24" to 24 x30"). He's been thinking about this painting for a very long time and has many ideas. In Sketch # 1, I was thinking very loose and symbolic. Mostly monotone on the angel and reaper with minimal detail. The soul is the star here so it would be in bright yellow, orange and golds with a touch of blue for the eye and soul center. We agreed that the emphasis would be on the soul. Father O. liked the soul very much but thought the figures looked too cartoonish. It was tough understanding him over the phone with his thick accent, but I wrote down all the changes he wanted. In the meantime, I recruited the assistance of my friend, Judy, who had sent Father O. to me from her church. Judy owns a large collection of my work and that is where he first saw my paintings.

Sketch #2
Here is a color rendition of my second submission with all the requested revisions. It was done on tracing paper, Zeroxed and then colored in with pencil to give him an idea of the colors I had in mind. 

Sketch #3

Via Judy, Father O. wanted more changes, which I executed in sketch #3. Changes included flipping the image and multiple alterations to the angel and reaper.

Sketch #4

This is the last sketch I am doing, although Father hasn't seen it yet. It is full size. I have decided to do 3 small painting studies (soul, angel, reaper) so I can figure this out before I go large. I've only been doing small paintings lately and am afraid I'm rusty at working big. A painting of this size, done in transparent watercolor, with all the components involved, takes methodical planning and confident execution.

When I'm working on an illustration like this, I often use tracing paper, then resize elements on my copier and play around with the placement and scale. These are working drawings. They aren't pretty and don't photograph well. I was reluctant to even show them at all, but had time to kill and  thought maybe someone would be interested in seeing the process here.

I am writing this post on my laptop. My knee is on ice, propped up with pillows on the blow-up bed in the studio. Yesterday, I stepped off of the second rung of a tall ladder thinking it was the last step. Twisted my knee, leg, hip and ankle. Yes, it's a doozy and the clock is ticking on this commission. It's another lesson learned the hard way. When am I going to start  paying attention to what I am doing? Sometimes I feel like such a klutz! Do you think it is in my genes? If so, there is a possibility I get it from my dad.

Stay safe and unlike me, pay attention to what you are doing. Comments, feedback and suggestions are always appreciated here, my friends, thanks!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bluebird Bliss

"When nature made the bluebird she wished to propitiate both the sky and the earth, so she gave him the color of the one on his back and the hue of the other on his breast."  ~ John Burroughs

We have a half a dozen bird houses up on the property and over the past week I have seen the bluebird couples courting. Another sure sign of Spring! Around here, they make their nests out of pine needles. The male impresses his sweetheart with his nest building skills, taking needles into various homes. Once she settles on a spot, he lets her take over. It's no different than with most human couples, where it's usually the female that takes charge of the home and its' interior furnishings. He can offer his opinion and feedback, but the final decision is almost always hers. In this painting, a smitten Ms. Bluebird is dazzled by Mr. Blue's nuptial gift and amorous overtures.

"Bluebird Bliss"
Signs of Spring #5 - $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Watercolor Painting
This piece ships with a foam core backing in an acetate sleeve
and is ready to fit into a standard frame. 

Today's painting was done using the same three primary colors that I used in my last painting, "Spring Mare". All colors were mixed by using only Red Rose Deep and Gamboge by DaVinci and Turquoise by Lucas. Limiting your palette like this insures a harmonious color scheme. Here you can see the primaries with their shadowed primaries. You can read my previous post's comments if you would like more technical information.

Thanks again for reading, friends. I'd love to hear from you! Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the beautiful (unseasonably warm here) Spring weather!

"My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather."  ~ Terri Guillemets

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Happy "official" FIRST DAY OF SPRING! 

"Spring has returned.The Earth is like a child that knows poems."  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
"Spring Mare"
Signs of Spring #4 - $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Watercolor Painting
This piece ships with a foam core backing in an acetate sleeve
and is ready to fit into a standard frame.

I wanted to give this pony another workout using the glazing technique.  Starting with an under-painting of spring colors, yellow, red and blue, I first wet the paper on both sides, like my usual wet-in-wet approach. The background wash was done at the same time as the first glaze of pastel colors on the horse, as illustrated in step one of my previous post. I let the paper dry and then followed the advise of my friend and accomplished watercolorist, Carmella Tuliszewski. You can read her very thoughtful and informative comment on my last post. I mixed my primary color's compliments into the base color, using only the original three colors, for the shadow areas and eliminated the neutral grey wash entirely. This was actually done in only two steps. It is much closer to my vision for the piece and I am considerably happier with today's results.

"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day." ~ W. Earl Hall

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Mare with Spring Colors Turns into Midnight Mare

I've been getting inspired by all the great artists and different techniques that people share here online. I decided to try a different technique today using glazing. This is totally different from my usual wet-in-wet direct approach. I decided to try to figure this out. I wanted to use an under-painting of spring colors for my "Signs of Spring" project this month.

Step 1

I admit that I am flying by the seat of my pants here. It started off OK with this somewhat random under painting of pastel colors in step one.

Step 2

In step two, I added some facial detailing and darker values using a neutral grey.  I think this is where I started to go wrong. Too dark too soon?

Step 3

In step 3, my background really got away from me. It is way darker than I had wanted. Then I started darkening the values of the horse more than planned. This didn't come out how I had envisioned, but I learned a lot today. Yes, I'm going to give it another go, Kathryn! As photographer, Mike Wallace said;  "You have to try to figure things out. You have to fail with a purpose."

Any critiques, suggestions, instructions or comments on this would be greatly appreciated, thank-you, friends!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My "Rabbit with Spring Colors" that I posted on March 6th,  just got accepted into the iStock collection, so I thought I'd add a companion piece today. I call this one "Bunny Buddies".
I went to A.C. Moore yesterday and purchased six new MICRON fine tip pens. I'm really impressed with their performance. They are much better than the old Rapidiograph pens we used to use in college!

Signs of Spring #3 - "Bunny Buddies"- $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Ink and Watercolor Painting
This piece ships with a foam core backing in an acetate sleeve
and is ready to fit into a standard frame.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

More Warm Weather and Longer Daylight Hours

As the days grow longer, more daylight is a major sign of Spring! While sleeping last night, we essentially skipped over the 2:00 am hour!  Shifting from 1:59 am to 3 am, our satellite powered clock changed to Daylight Saving Time completely unbeknown to us. I didn't even realize it had happened until I began working at my computer!  So if you haven't done so yet, be sure to set your clocks ahead one hour today. YAY !

The Magic of Spring -SOLD

My Daffodils are starting to bloom!

The wild turkeys are constantly on parade here now. The males have become somewhat of a nuisance. There is a lot of fighting and jockeying for position going on. The most annoying behavior however, is the frequent pecking at the chrome on our vehicles and at their reflections in our basement windows.

The toms are prime examples of raging testosterone and all the females seem quite impressed.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Easter Bunny - A Sure Sign of Spring

Signs of Spring #2 - Spring Rabbit - $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Ink and Watercolor Painting
This piece ships with a foam core backing in an acetate sleeve
and is ready to fit into a standard frame. 


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Welcoming March and Signs of Spring

Welcome March, welcome Spring!! I know the vernal equinox and the official start of Spring is still a few weeks off, but here in the North Eastern U.S., Mother Nature definitely has other plans! Meteorologists generally define the seasons in sets of three months. March through May are defined as Spring, the season after Winter and before Summer. In the Northern hemisphere, it is the time of year when vegetation begins to reappear, hibernating animals emerge and birds pair up and become more active.

My Daffodils think it is Spring. They will be blooming very soon, most likely before the official start of the season.

The resident bucks are shedding their antlers early. Some are done. Others now sport only one.

Signs of Spring #1 - ROBIN - $45.00
5" x 7" Double Matted Original Watercolor w/ backing

sold •
To celebrate the kickoff of this wonderful season, I'll be doing some "Spring Influenced" original watercolors and offering them here at a special price this month. They are ready to fit into a standard frame and make unique gifts for Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduations, anniversaries and birthdays. Requests to render your special subject are always welcome.