Monday, September 29, 2014

Virtual Paintout 18: Swedish Teddy Bears!

For September the Virtual Paintout gang took off for Sweden! Our fearless leader, Bill Guffey  chose the city of Gothenburg for our destination. 

I went site-seeing and ended up at the seaside. I was delighted to discover that the Google camera guy had somehow gone INSIDE the seaside resort. All the rooms were empty but beautifully set up, as though expecting guests at any moment. (You can visit HERE and guide the camera around inside the resort; it's fun).

Then I saw it. A big wicker box next to a crackling fireplace. And in the box lay a Teddy Bear. 

I instantly felt it. A feeling of patiently waiting... eager and ready to be loved, and wanting to give love in return. The little bear has a specific and wonderful purpose in life, a destiny. 

I had to paint it.



Here is the original image:
(can click any pics to enlarge) 




And here is my interpretation of it:

"Waiting To Be Loved"
Gothenburg, Sweden
6 x 9 sketchbook
acrylics




Had to have a Teddy Bear close up:




Thank you for looking, hope you enjoyed it. And as always, anyone is welcome to join the monthly excursions with the Virtual Paintout gang. HERE is where you can find all the deets.


Happy painting!

Retta

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How to be MORE Productive at... Whatever!


I met author Mary Pax  several years ago on the internet. She made me feel welcome, and I consider her my friend. I've watched her career blossom, and have been amazed at her level of productivity... rain or shine, illness, sick kitties, weather, you name it.

I was listening to a podcast the other day (forget the name of it) about advice for artists. And I was struck with something they mentioned in passing: Leave your STUFF at the studio door.

I always thought my art was intricately tied to how I felt. I was convinced I couldn't work - with joy - if I was upset or having a tough time in my life. Obviously, my production level was insconsistent. Life has too many ups n' downs!

But that suggestion - Leave your Stuff at the studio door - wouldn't go away. 

And I thought back to a waitress Jim and I were impressed with YEARS and years ago. She went to church with us, so we knew her backstory. Her life was NOT a bed of roses. Lots of struggle and pain. Yet she made amazing tips! She took care of her kids very well on what she earned as a waitress. She made her customers feel like they were king or queen for the day, and was cheerful and happy. So one day we asked her what her secret was?? 

She said: she left her troubles at the restaurant door.  

!!

Why didn't I get it back then???!!! The memory of what that amazing waitress told us collided with the advice on that podcast, and a NEW BELIEF was birthed in my heart: that I could do that, too.

Well, I HOPED I could. And I soon had my chance to see if the idea had, indeed, taken root deep enough inside me to actually change me. I signed up to do a post for Mary Pax's new book series, The Rifters.  Not only a post, but I got this idea to make a whole sketchbook based on the imaginary Oregon town of Settler, where her series is based. A huge project, with a looming deadline!! You can see that completed post here; yep, I made my deadline, and the drawing is still open there for a set of FREE e-books! 



No time to wait til I "felt" like it. Time to sketch, NOW.

And lo and behold... it works. It really does.

I leave my "stuff" at the studio door... crank up My music, and enjoy myself.

Who knew?!!

So, if YOU, too, want to increase your productivity: Leave your Stuff at the studio door!

I'd love to hear if you already to this... and if you have any tips for me. Thanks!



Feel free to download a copy of my Cowgirl Up poster if you think it would be a good reminder for you. I have mine hanging in my studio where I can see it every day! :-)
(Be sure to click it open before you download, so you get the full sized file to print).


Happy productivity!

Retta

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Sketchcrawl Adventure... and Win a FREE e-book!


My friend, author Mary Pax, is having another book launch!  

I'm super excited to be participating, since I enjoy her writing. It's a strange combination of urban fantasy/contemporary sci-fi/paranormal adventure/ and even steampunk. Weird is a good word for it! 

Mary has generously provided a FREE set of e-books (Books 1 & 2 of The Rifters series) to one of my lucky commenters here. I'll announce the winner on October 1st (last day to comment and be included in the drawing: Sept 30th).

The new series is called The Rifters, and Book 1 launched on Sept 8th. Here is the LINK to Mary's website, where you can read Chapter One of The Rifters; it also has links to Amazon and other sources. As of this writing, The Rifters e-book is FREE at Amazon, Smashword and others! Cool deal, yes?? 



I've read several stories by Mary Pax, and enjoyed every one. I always end up shaking my head, thinking "how in the world does she think this stuff up??!" 

I have a lot to share, so will be posting thumbnail pics from my sketchbook. Just click on them to enlarge... don't wanna crash anyones pc, with so many images to load, ha!

Without further ado, here is our "Book Launch Vacation":

(Spoiler alert: 
forget what the Settler Tourism Department says... 
there ARE weird happenings around Settler, Oregon!)



I'm one of the lucky ones. I live in Southern Oregon. The infamous town of Settler, Oregon is within a days driving for me, being up north from my town. Since my husband is a photographer, we drove up to the Caslow County Fair and Expo at the end of August. Jim wanted to take photos of the high desert country, and maybe Swit Lake if he had time before sundown. 
Me? I did a SketchCrawl.** That's where you take your sketchbook and painting/sketching paraphanalia and just hike out to... wherever. Last time we visited Settler, Francine at the Settler Mercantile let it slip that the rumors were TRUE about "otherworldly beasts" being spotted near Settler. 

We found out for ourselves this time! I had hoped to stumble on some Beasties to draw. Was thinking... "Wouldn't that be cool?? If I survive the encounter, that is! Mwa ha ha, sure wish they were for real."  Careful what you wish for!

                                 
          
Well, we DID make it home in one piece, and I am so excited to share images from our "vacation".

I really DID get to see some of the rumored "other worldly beasts". Honestly, I thought it was just "marketing hype" for the tourists, ya know?? But after Jim dropped me off so he and Joey (our Mini-schnauzer) could go exploring on their own, I took my time poking around. It was an overcast afternoon, so not too hot.

There were boulders to sit on and sketch, but it was almost dusk when the adventure REALLY started. That's when the beasties ventured out!! 

Enough jabbering... below are pics from my 5.5 x 8 inch sketchbook. Some were rough... I was trying to draw fast, the light was fading. So a few of the color touches were added from memory once we made it back home. But wow, it was amazing to see what really lives in Settler, Oregon. You've GOT to visit Settler for yourself. Honestly, if you love "weird", you'll have a blast!

You can click the pics to enlarge. I didn't caption these; they are in order, so you could read each journal entry if you'd like to know about the sketch following it.





















And a few of the photos Jim took:


He thought this was funny...











Morning glow on a pansy...









And they were functional!!









Taken right before the sun came up...









He said he noticed a lot of strange things around Settler, this being one of them...












Yikes, Jim almost ran nose to nose with this guy...









He said he had a hard climb to get this view of Swit Lake, but it was worth it...











Even some of the plant life there is weird...









He stumbled upon this old house right at sunset...










A full moon!










I wonder if that full moon might explain some of the weirdness, including these strange lights he saw??












Well, what can I tell ya... I now know where Weird lives. 

Hoped you enjoyed the visuals from our vacation, and I know you will enjoy this new book series from Mary Pax. And don't forget to leave a comment by Sept 30th so I can put you into the drawing for a FREE set of e-books!

Happy painting - and reading,
Retta

=========================

**The town of Settler, Oregon is a figment of author M Pax's     imagination, as is my account of our vacation, my Sketchcrawl, and my encounters with the Beasties. Oh yes, the sketches are real!! But they were drawn right here in my own safe little studio, with Joey barking and Vevie and Butterfly meowing to be petted or fed. They are the only carnivores around here, and they don't glow green. ;-)




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Virtual Paintout 17: Lucky Red Boots!

For August the Virtual Paintout gang, led by Bill Guffey  visited Kinmen Island, Taiwan. It's an island rich with history, off the mainland of China. 



We toured around (virtually, of course, via Google Street View) and I was fascinated by a lady walking down a country road. As the little google car with the camera went past her she partially covered her face. 

This view is of her looking back over her shoulder at the camera. I was intrigued, wondering if she was keeping her privacy, or just protecting from dust?? And the light was lovely as it played over her very oriental outfit.



But most of all, it was her RED BOOTS that captured me. Loved them! 

While reading about the island, I found that in China the color Red was considered LUCKY. Hence the title of my painting "Lucky Red Boots". I hope I got the Chinese characters correct. They are supposed to read Lucky Red Boots; my apologies if I got it wrong. :-)

Here is the link to the original street location, in case you'd like to visit for yourself. 


This is my 6 x 9 sketchbook of watercolor
paper. I had previously toned the page
with Indian Yellow. My reference photo
is of the original location. I played 
around in Photoshop with the color 
scheme til satisfied, then printed it out.
I started by applying some loose colors 
with my palette knife for the background:



 Still adjusting background with 
palette knife; adding, scraping off, 
just having fun with it:



Switched to brush; applied some glazes
 to background til satisfied; started 
with a silhouette for the lady:



 Here she is on the easel, finished. I 
added the lettering (hoping I got it right) 
to read Lucky Red Boots in Chinese:



 And a couple of close ups:






And all finished (can click any to enlarge):



"Lucky Red Boots"
Kinmen Island, Taiwan
6 x 9 sketchbook
acrylics


Happy Painting,

Retta

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Virtual Paintout 16: Liverpool, England!

On my, am I ever behind! 

For the month of April the Virtual Paintout gang went to Liverpool, England. 

It was a blast siteseeing via Google Streetview. So many places I've heard about... famous and not-so-famous landmarks. But when I saw this seaside street all strung up with large colorful decorations, the whimsy of it just tickled me. I chose to paint the Mermaid in the Sky (can click pic to enlarge).



"Mermaid in the Sky"
Liverpool, England
6 x 9 sketchbook
acrylics



And for fun, here's a close-up to see some of the texture 
(can click pic to enlarge):



As usual, anyone is welcome to join the Virtual Paintout gang. Each month Bill Guffey leads us somewhere new in the world, via Google Street View. No obligation, just join in as you have time. All the details are HERE so come and join us!  

Happy Painting,

Retta

Friday, February 21, 2014

Virtual Paintout 15: Washington DC!

The Virtual Paintout gang has been traveling the world for 5 years now! Yay for Google StreetView!

This is my 15th outing with them. Remember, we are not ACTUALLY and physically there... we travel via Google Street View. It is SO much fun, and I encourage anyone to join. There is no obligation. You can do it as often as your schedule permits. Here is Bill Guffey's blog, Virtual Paintout, where you can find all the deets. 

So... for February we "traveled" to Washington DC. It's amazing how you think you are familiar with a place so iconic. Until you really LOOK at it. I totally enjoyed cruising the streets, both the familiar landmarks and the unknown backstreets. And that is how I stumbled upon "my" spot to paint.

I was cruising past the Marriot Hotel when a brightly painted 5 ft tall statue of a Panda bear caught my eye! I laughed, and just HAD to stop and zoom in. Yep... this was it.




The Panda was originally a part of a fundraiser for Arts and Grants Education programs in Washington DC. There were 150 pandas generously painted (for free) by local artists, which were auctioned off at the end of the summer of 2004.

The original artist of "my" panda was Anne Marchand, a prominent and talented Washington DC artist.   Panda was exhibited all summer in Chinatown, Washington DC, before he was auctioned off at the fundraiser.

Painted fiberglass statues like this are special to me because I've done them myself. I painted two 3 ft tall cat statues to help raise money for a cats and kittens shelter. If you'd like to peek at them, here are the links:
 

So... on to the making of Political PandaMonium!

(Can click on any pics to enlarge)


I cropped the original version down to this size:



First I sealed the paper in my sketchbook with acrylic medium, since I was going to be using acrylics and didn't want to risk any wrinkling issues in the sketchbook. 

It's a Super Deluxe Aquabee sketchbook with Heavyweight Drawing Paper, "For use with wet and dry media". I love this sketchbook, but still, it's only 93 lb paper and can't take a LOT of water. 

Here I roughed in a colorful underpainting for all the bushes and flowers behind Panda:




Drew in Panda and underpainted him yellow, for brightness and so I could SEE the design I was about to add. :-)




The first layers of flowers and foliage in the background:




Drew the Panda design in with charcoal pencil, then acrylics. 


Began painting the colors for his design, starting with a darker underpainting (this dark brownish-red was for the red areas). I used a simple "3 value" system. That's where you simply think "light, medium, dark" for each color. By blending and shading, you naturally end up with a lot of variety this way. 

For example: on this section of his finished tummy there are several design elements that are predominately Yellow. 


I let the yellow be the lightest value, using orange and red for the middle and darkest values. At the end of the day though, I usually end up playing around, and adding some purple shadows here and there, white highlights, and whatever strikes my fancy. Whatever works! :-D


Here is Panda in my sketchbook:




Close-up of his face:



And the finished image, Political PandaMonium:

(oopsie, see my goof? Kinda makes me think 
of political goof-ups.. mwa ha ha ha)


Political PandaMonium
acrylics in 6 x 9 sketchbook



Happy Painting,

Retta