Monday, March 31, 2008

State Park and More.......

Wow, the last few days have had some major up and downs. The first being our "breakdown". We had a broken leaf spring, no fun at all and took about 2 days to finally get the part and be up and running down the road. Managed to get to the Alafia State Park and did have a nice couple of days there. If you want to see some pics of our campsite, some scenery along the trail, and a friendly turtle that came to visit one morning, check out my travel blog The Goodelife. I do have a couple of sketches to post on my next project.

This is Sadie and Gus. I also have a 3rd, but haven't got to getting it sketched out yet. Here are the pictures I am working from......

Not sure, how much painting I will get done in the next few days. We are heading back to Indiana tomorrow, but I will post as things progress.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gone but not forgotten...I hope

I may be missing in action for a few days. Today is moving day for us. We are re-locating our home (the fifth wheel) to a state park , the Alafia . It is less than 100 miles from our current location, but it has some great scenery and bike trails. We plan on being there for about 3 days and we may be without internet for the duration of our stay. The trade off, I promise some great photos and a great "work in progress" of some of that scenery in the near future. I currently have three dog portraits on my easel. Just finished the sketches for two of the three and will share that with you as soon as I can.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Back to the Flamingo

Ok, if you remember a while back I posted my "flamingo" fabric painting. It is very free and fun, a long way from my detailed pet portraits that I have been doing. I find that I often need a break between portraits. In as much as I enjoy them, they can be draining. I have always loved sewing and especially hand embroidery work. I have decided to develop a line of purses. These will be known as "goodebags". Now, aren't I clever! The handbag on your right is my first adventure into the land of "goodebags"! If you are interested in purchasing my very first "goodebag", check out my new Etsy Site. I spent almost the whole day setting up the shop and listing my two items. I plan to offer not only "goodebags" on Etsy, but also my original paintings. It will take a while to build inventory, but "goode" things come to those who wait. I know, I know----I'll stop now. Seriously, I encourage any and all to check out Etsy. It is a community of some very talented artist and craft persons. If you are looking for something special, I'm sure you can find it there. Many of the items are "one-of-a-kind" and there is a large range of prices. Isn't it time we stop giving our hard earn dollars to the big corporations and especially to China.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Boston is finally done!

Finally done with my Boston Terrier. I was all set to post this on my web site and offer it for sale, but something happened to change my mind. A few days ago the owner of the Boston Terrier had an opportunity to see the portrait. He just couldn't say enough about how wonderful it was and even wiped a tear away from his eye. He said he wished his wife could see it. I told him, anytime she wanted to see it just let me know. It was then he informed me that his wife was in the hospital and not doing well. I was shocked, had no idea she had fallen ill. To make a long story short, I finished the portrait and gave it to him the next day. He wanted to pay for it, but I said no. I told him to take it to his wife and if it made her smile, that was payment enough for me. Later that same day, there was a knock at my door. It was my neighbor, standing there with a half dozen beautiful red roses for me!! He told me his wife absolutely loved the portrait and was very happy. He thanked me again. I was truly touched my the gift of the roses. I also feel such a warm, glow inside my heart. I did a good thing. No matter how much someone else would have paid for that portrait......they would have neither loved nor appreciated it the way those two do. That's what it is all about, isn't it?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Boston Phase 5 we are again. I'm very happy with the face, dare I say "done". Everything from the collar down is still in progress. I decided I wanted to re-do the portion of the collar between the clasp and the D-ring. Just felt I could do it better. Have not spent to much time on the body---just basic stuff. I have spent most of my time on the hand. A challenge for me. I did a few portraits back in my "oils" days, but never acrylics. I think the hand is coming along---what do you think? Comments are always welcome here. My goal is to build a little confidence with the "hand" and try my "hand" (lol) at an actual "human" portrait in acrylics.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Boston Phase 4

Well, those darn ears are giving me fits!!! Now, I see that the one on the right needs rounding at the top. I spent a good deal of time working on the neck area and collar. The collar still needs some work, not quite happy with the way it looks at present. I have the first couple of layers on the hand, basic shape is looking good. I also put in a background layer today. I decided on a soft gray, but I think I'll try deepening some areas with a darker value wash. I really enjoy being able to take my time with my painting these days. I think that is so important. Everyone needs to take that time to step back, take a break, and see their painting with "fresh" eyes. I am also finding that it is very beneficial to take photos of your work. Not only, does it give you a record of your progress; but it also helps you spot problem areas (like those darn ears) that might otherwise be missed. Sometimes you can get so involved in the details, that you don't see the "whole". That's where the photo comes in----it helps you to see the whole.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Boston Terrier Phase 3

Finally, back to work on the Boston. Spent most of the day refining areas and I did manage to block in the body. I still have bunches to do on the face, but I'm pretty happy with the direction I'm going. I do have to say that I have struggled with this little guy. Sometimes it takes me awhile to really "see" the painting. I have to get past the point of painting the "dog" and on to painting the "shapes"----what I actually see, not what I "think" I see in my mind's eye. Once I get in the "zone" things start to come together. I'm able to move quicker and the dog finally starts coming to life for me. At this point, most of the "shapes" on the head are established. Now, it is just a matter of building layers, adjusting values, and adding texture. I think I'm really gonna like that red collar! I'm also looking forward to painting that "hand".

Taxes---OH MY!

Sorry about the delay in developing the Boston. My husband insisted I get my tax stuff together. I'm a terrible book keeper. I have everything I need.........somewhere. At any rate, I'll be back painting today and will post the next phase soon. Thanks for watching!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Boston Terrier Phase 2

Here are two phases in the Boston Terrier. The first is the initial placement of washes, just blocking in of color with a little texture. I achieve the texture by using the "chisel edge" of my brush through the wet paint. All I'm doing at this point is getting an idea of the general direction of hair growth. The direction the hair grows is very important and can really throw off a portrait. I have found you can't always rely on what the photo shows on hair growth. Some areas may look almost flat, but you may need to "round out" the hairs to make that cheek "pop" or flatten hairs to get an area to recede. So, don't be afraid to make those judgement calls----you will know if it is working or not---trust your artist eye. After I finish the initial block in, I always take a little break. Get up and move around--don't keep staring at the portrait. Give yourself a chance to come back with "fresh eyes" for your next round.
Here in the second photo, I worked primarily on the right side. Here I start to lay in those first batch of hairs. I generally start with a mid tone or slightly darker value than the initial wash. Remember I'm looking for shapes now, areas of dark against light. I'll will worry about blending later. I also did a little more work in the eye area. The eyes have been a bit of a challenge. First, there is a lot more "white of the eye" showing and 2nd, they are quite large and not shaped the way you would expect. The "white of the eye" isn't really white---in this case it has a slight pink tint from the blood vessels of the eye. The shape of the whole eyeball is of course round, but the Iris is somewhat flat on one side. Tricky, but I think I'm getting there. I've been working for about 5 hours and that is usually my max! It is hard to quit, there is always one more thing to "fix" or start anew. Once my eyes start to tire, I know it is time to quit for the day. I always put the portrait away---where I can't continually look at it and "pick it apart". Somehow it always looks better the next day! I used to tell my students that the "paint fairy" would come to visit sometime in the night if they were good little artist! Hope I have been a "goode" little artist!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

New Project: Boston Terrier

The original photo is below the sketch. I know I cut the ears off in this photo, but I really liked the expression and I have other reference photos for the ears. I paint much better than I sketch, I just try to capture the general expression and shapes. I have a special place in my heart for Bostons. My great-grandfather owned a Boston Terrier named Suzie. She and I became grand friends! She was my playmate, my protector, and my dinner companion. I would sit on the front stoop and whatever I was eating, I shared with Suz. I'd take a bite and then she'd take a bite. Drove my grandparents nuts! So, although this isn't my Suzie (shes been gone for years now) I'll paint this little guy in her memory. I love ya, Suzie-Q and I know someday we will be together again----sit'in on the stoop.......

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Peanut FINI!

Peanut is done. I finished just a few minutes ago and decided to go ahead and post. Do I absolutely love what I have created..........? There is a lot about the painting I like. I feel I have captured "Peanut", that sweet little face and expression. I'm happy with the "Tufted Titmouse" as well. I do feel, however, that I could do better on the foreground and especially the small tree branches and leaves. Overall, I am pleased with the results. I would be interested in your comments. I find that most of us (artists) are very critical of our own work. I have been painting for more than 20 years and I always feel my work can be improved upon. Maybe that is how it should be.........that burning desire to continue to grow and explore new techniques and subject matter. I have also spent most of those 20 years as a decorative artist. I painted murals and decorated furniture and home accessory items. I want more now----I want to paint with more realism.......I want something I can't quite put into words..... as of yet. Hopefully, I will at least know when I achieve it! I know painting makes me happy, so I'll pick up my brush once more and try a new subject, a new technique, a new way of thinking.

I'm back

So sorry, been gone awhile. My husband and I (plus the two furballs) went for a visit with my Mother over in Bradenton Florida. It was a fun couple of days and I think the furballs enjoyed have the run of a large house. Today I will be getting back to "Peanut" and hopefully I'll be posting the final piece soon. I hope those of you that are following along this blog feel free to make comments. I would love to hear from you and would be happy to answer any questions. I would also like to direct you to a blog I have been enjoying, She is currently doing a series on commission works and it is marvelous! She is inspiring to say the least.
I'm still playing around with the "funky flamingos" and I will continue to post my progress. I will be starting a new pet portrait soon. I'm thinking of doing a Boston Terrier. There is one that is staying across the street from our site and he is cute as a button. I took several pictures the other day. I thought you might enjoy seeing more of the process of how I work, so I will be posting more pictures of this piece. Again, please let me know what you think---good or bad!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Funky Flamingos

I decided to give "Peanut" a break and do a little working on my mix media project. I painted this funky flamingo on fabric with some iridescent fabric paints and then added some free motion stitching. I know you can't see the stitching, but I think I did pretty well for a first attempt. I know, a big departure from my usual detailed portraits. Sometimes its nice to break out of that "box" and go at something with wild abandonment. That's exactly what I did and I had fun! I'm actually making a tote. I have attached the flamingo painting to the tote fabric with a buttonhole stitch and metallic silver thread. Next, I added some silk ribbon embroidery. The "tote fabric" isn't really fabric in the traditional sense. The weave is very much like a counted cross stitch fabric, but it is actually a soft, pliable plastic. Where did I find this stuff? Well, we had noticed that several of our fellow rv'ers had a type of "shade fabric" attached to their awnings. We inquired and were directed to a small town shop that made these sun shades. They had rolls and rolls of this stuff in all different colors and they would sell it by the yard. So, I bought a yard of a soft green, soft pink, and a green/purple stripe. I thought they would make great beach bags. So, I'm playing, experimenting, and stretching my artistic wings. I'm not done----not by a long shot! I see buttons, beads, threads, and fibers...............stay tuned for the next exciting chapter of "funky flamings, gone wild"!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Peanut Almost Done

I'm making progress as you can see. I feel pretty good about everything at present. Yesterday, I was ready to pitch the whole project. Funny how that happens, I'll be working along and all of a sudden those nagging doubts start creeping in..........You know the ones. The--"this looks like "poop" thought, or " I'm never going to get this right". At that point, I have learned it is time to put the painting away---completely out of sight. I don't look at it again till the next day, when I have "fresh" eyes. This painting has had its challenges. My biggest mistake was using a canvas with a particularly rough texture. I did sand it before I started, but it really didn't do much good. When you are working in such fine detail it pays to have "portrait grade" canvas. Unfortunately, I'm currently in the middle of "no mans' land"and had to take what I could find. I should have taken the time to put several coats of gesso, sanding well in between each coat till I achieved a smoother finish. Oh well, the trials and tribulations of being an artist! I have also learned that it pays to have a reference photo to work from whenever possible. I spent a lot of time on the little violet closest to Peanut yesterday. I just could not get it right--I was painting from memory. Not a good plan at my age. Today, I located a photo of some violets. I'm much happier with the way that violet turned out. I have another started on the left and I'll probably add one more (ya know, the old "rule of threes"). That's it I'm done for the day---I'm kicked back in my "easy chair" with my feet up at least for the next few minutes anyway!