Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Virtual Paintout 1: Vevie Goes to Slovakia!

I recently joined an online art group called Virtual Paintout. 
Started and led by artist Bill Guffey (his website)  ,each month Bill announces a destination and all participants "travel" to that place together to paint! The "traveling" is done via Google Street View, and we all pic our own spot, paint it, and submit it by email some time during that month for the Virtual Paintout blog.

December was my first month, and my only complaint is: I wish I had found this group sooner! It was SO much fun. Our December destination: Slovakia!

I spent a lot of time siteseeing in Slovakia (what a blast!) and when I found an old tree alongside the road, I decided to use Vevie (rhymes with Stevie) as my model. She is a shorthaired kitty, mostly black, with bits of white at her throat and paw tips... and loves to get into trouble exploring the house. So who better to travel to Slovakia and go on a Big Adventure!

Here is my (and Vevie's) first Virtual Paintout adventure... from the Street View photo to the finished painting:

This is exactly what the original photo looked liked of Hriadky, Slovakia from Google Street View (click on any pics to enlarge):

The same view, only I cropped it and removed the power lines and signs:

I played around in photoshop with different versions, to see what I (and Vevie) liked best. She said this one was her favorite. ;-)

Now for the painting! I started on a mini gessoed watercolor paper, only 4" X 5.5". Drew a grid onto mylar over the pic that I had printed out to make it simpler to transfer the image; and started with a bright blue drawing, using a Derwent Inktense watersoluble pencil. I misplaced my drawing board in my messy studio (blush blush) so I taped the watercolor paper down onto a stiff piece of plastic using blue painter's tape.

Here's a close up of the blue drawing, done fairly loose; after drawing it with the blue watersoluble pencil, I softened it with clear water:

Just for fun, I used vibrant colors (Chroma Interactive Acrylics) for the rest of the underpainting, and sealed it all. Sorry for the glare!

Blocked in the basic color scheme and values here, allowing little bits of the underpainting to peek through:

Painted in the silhouettes here, using combinations of black, blue and paynes gray:

Softened the sky, added highlights to the tree and kitty from the moonlight, and put in the finishing details to the field and background buildings and treeline. And voila! "Moonlight Prowl" is done:

And lastly, a close up detail of Moonlight Prowl:

Now Vevie is asking where we are going in January?!

Participation is open to all levels of artistic ability, and in any medium. So if you'd like to "travel" around the world and paint "on location", then come join the Virtual Paintout! 

Happy virtual traveling,


Thursday, November 29, 2012

This Workshop Was A Blast!

Not all of us are able to attend live workshops. But a few years ago I DID attend a painting workshop... only in book form! 

I was recently organizing my studio, and came across some paintings I did for that workshop, and thought I'd tell you about the book. I loved it so much, I gave it away for someone else to enjoy. :-)

It's titled:

Oil Painting
The Workshop Experience

by Ted Goerschner

You can currently find it on Amazon, and a good used hardcover can be found for under $5. (Amazon LINK) You can click on their "look inside" feature to get a peek inside the book.

Even though nowadays I mostly paint with acrylics, back then I was experimenting with a type of watersoluble oils. I had a blast with that workshop! And most of the painting principles he taught are also useful for acrylic painters.

Mr Goerschner teachs the use of toned grays as a part of your palette, for color harmony, and his examples are impressionistic.

Here is one of my little paintings (all are about 5 X 7) which showed how he uses the grays. Looking at it now, I'm not thrilled with my greens from back then (too yellowy and unnatural), but I was happy with how it turned out in spite of that (as always, just click any pics to enlarge):

Here's a detail...

He uses visual critiques in the book. He shows paintings which need help, and then how to improve them. I'm a visual learner, so this was very helpful to me. He includes a dozen student paintings, which he corrects.

Mr Goerschner writes a lot about Design, and how to achieve a good painting that is designed on purpose, rather than hoping it turns out well. He covers color mixing, composition; all the basics that go into a well-designed painting.

Here is one landscape lesson which focused on composition. I painted it loosely, and I enjoyed how the underpainting showed through:

Close up details...

While he mainly focused on landscapes, he did include still life paintings. Here is my version of a floral still life. I'm not wild about how the vases turned out, but loved the strong orange/blue color scheme:

And a detail...

All the information needed to do the workshop is included, even for beginners. The book is set up in assignments as though you are taking his week long workshop, except you can follow along at your own pace. I enjoyed his teaching method of using step-by-step examples.

Note, he is not teaching how to paint like HIM, but how to paint well, period. Bottomline... I can highly recommend it.

Hope you enjoyed this book review. It's made me want to buy another copy of his book and take the workshop over again! :-D

Happy painting,


Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Pig With A Story

Ever hear the saying "Everybody has a story"??
Well, I have a thing for flying pigs. 

And my story is... to me they mean Hope and Possibilities. They encourage me to believe in my dreams, in spite of circumstances or what others tell me.

Above my computer, I have this small piggy:

(as usual, can click on pics to enlarge)

Yesterday I finished my latest flying pig project:

 And my clay flying piggy has a story, too. He started life off in the studio of Etsy artist Jean Fleming (HERE).  He came to me "nekkid", as an unfinished bisque plaque. 

I sealed the bisque clay (fired but unglazed clay) with acrylic medium...

Then I created a scarf around his little neck out of modeling paste, to keep him warm as he flew. ;-)

After the modeling paste cured for a few days,  he got a coating of cream acrylic paint and shadows mostly out of burnt umber and a little burnt sienna.

I dinked around with colored pencils, deciding what color scheme to use for his scarf. I wanted bright and cheerful! The acrylics I used for this project are called Atelier Interactives. Love them! They are formulated to have a long open time, making it so easy to get soft edges and shading. Here's a link to their website, with more info and demos.

And here he is, all decked out in his colorful scarf and ready to soar!

In a week or two after the acrylics have totally "cured", he'll get a protective coat of varnish. If you'd like your own little flying piggy, you can visit Jean at her Etsy store (HERE), and tell her what word you'd like stamped on your own flying pig.

Happy painting & hoping & dreaming & BELIEVING,


Saturday, October 06, 2012

A Dolphin & The Rest of the Story

I wrote a post a while back about a series with 3 paintings I created based on Proverbs. Their story is HERE. 

Here are thumbnails of the set (can click to enlarge):

I sold a few prints from that series, and recently I was told a most wonderful story about the journey one of those prints took, and it warmed my heart.

A lady purchased the set of three, took them home, and displayed them. One day her granddaughter saw the one with the dolphins, and fell in love with it. Grandma had it framed and gave it to her granddaughter, hanging it in the young girls room. 

The Grandma says that now the young girl loves to make up fantastic stories about the dolpins! 

Hearing that just tickled me pink. Oh, how I'd love to hear one of those adventure stories!

How fun would it be to some day discover that this imaginative little girl had become a writer!!

Here is a larger view of that dolphin painting, titled "A Friend Loves At All Times".

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Art as Therapy... A Fun How-To Project

At times, we all have emotions we need to process. Some of us are very visual, and find it helpful to just relax and doodle. There's not a lot of planning to it. It's stress free, and it can allow our mind to relax and just feel. We're not out to impress anybody with our oh-so-serious art. It's just casual fun.

That's the approach I took after my Dad died in March of 2011. I wanted to contribute a personalized photo to a collection being put together in his memory. 

I picked out a favorite of photo of me and Dad from when I was about 3 years old... and doodled on it! Mine was done digitally. I found an old black and white photograph, scanned it in, cropped it, changed it to sepia tone, and then did my doodling in Photoshop Elements.

But you could use Sharpies or whatever you like on a printed photo (can click photo to enlarge).

Loretta and Dad, 1954

As I doodled, I let the good memories bubble to the surface... and yes, shed a few tears. There was symbolism for me in the design, with the hearts, thorns, stars, spirals, etc. It was all so therapeutic, and I felt like Dad would have liked the finished personalized photo.

Naturally, it doesn't have to be for such a serious event! It can be for anything... a wedding photo, a birthday, anniversary, a loved one, a favorite memory, or just because! 

There is something about doing this to a photo that makes it feel special. It made me feel connected to my Dad, and to good memories.

If you try this, I would love to hear about it. :-)

Happy doodling,


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Loosen Up... Fun How-To Project #1

Do you find yourself getting a little "tight" in your drawing or painting at times?? (I do)

Would you enjoy a short project aimed at having fun and loosening up? (I did)

I thought it would be fun to share a great way I found to loosen up in my drawing and painting. There are tons of free resources on the interwebs of course, and much more "scholarly" than mine. Mine is simply meant to be casual and fun, yet useful!

I enjoy colored pencils, pens, drawing, doodling, painting, etc etc. But over time I can tend to tighten up, trying to control the outcome too much. Then I get that tense feeling that says "Uh oh, what if I make a mistake?"

Here's a project to shake off the Tighties
 and get more of the Loosies:

The "Doodle" apron!

(can click any pics to enlarge)

Wanna try it? Here we go:

1. Get you a light colored apron, or pillowcase or hat or cotton shirt or white tennies, or whatever you like, to use as your "canvas".

Here was mine:

2. Get you a black permanent marker. Since this is for fun and "Loosen Up Therapy", I just used a good ol' Sharpie. I used the Gesso to cover up the advertising that was on the apron, so I could paint the motto on instead.

3. Now doodle!! No, don't plan it with pencil on paper first. And no fair drawing it with pencil first onto the item then tracing that with the Sharpie. The idea is to loosen up, and just draw. Use whatever style of drawing you enjoy. Or, be adventurous and try a new direction!

Remember, there are no mistakes here, only accidental adventures!!

4. Now have fun and color it! You can use plain old acrylics, or fabric paints, or permanent paint markers. Whatever floats your boat. I used DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Paint, since I wanted to set the paint in order to be able to wash my apron. I bought a set of little bottles from Dharma Trading Co. online, but they also have little "sampler" type sets for small projects, HERE.  I like this paint because it's washable without the hassle of heat setting it first. 

Tip: If you'd like to try this project without buying new paints, but already have regular acrylics, do like I've done in the past: just get one bottle of Fabric Medium, like this, and add it to your acrylics. It keeps them from getting stiff on your fabric, and works great.

Another tip: I used older brushes, so I could scrub it in to the fabric when needed, and not worry about ruining my nice brushes.

 Color scheme tip: If you aren't sure what colors to choose, a simple plan is to choose 3 (or more) favorites, then include a lighter and darker version of each. Above, you see I chose pink, blue, orange and green. Then included lighter and darker versions of each. Instead of adding white to lighten, or black or a dark color to darken, you can get fabulous clean and bright colors by choosing from around the color wheel. Example: for the Orange, I chose a red for the darker version, and a yellowish orange for the lighter side. Ditto for the rest of my colors. 

5. Here's pics of the painting in progress:

 I usually applied one color first with the little brush, 
then blended it out with the old small flat brush. 
I always started with the middle color, applying it 
everywhere on the apron where I wanted that color. 
Then added the darker version, again everywhere, 
blending it for soft edges; then lastly the highlight 
color, again blending the edges. Doing it in stages 
that way was faster than going back and forth 
constantly into the different colors:

I was having so much fun, I forgot
to take pics of the orange and 
green layers. :-D

6. And Ta Daaa! My finished Loosey Goosey Doodle Apron! :-)

Detail of finished apron:

There were lots of places that were "accidental adventures" on this design. But see? You'd never know it by the time the paint was on. 

I hope you enjoy this little relaxing "therapy" project. If you like it, I'd appreciate you mentioning it on Facebook to share the idea with others. Just click on the Facebook button at the bottom of the post. Thanks bunches!

Happy loose painting,


PS: Even kids would love this; it's the sort of project you can do together. Here is a LINK to a tutorial at Dharma Trading Co for painting a darling pair of kids sneakers!

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Your Chocolate??

Hey, it's a ChocFest amongst friends... so let's talk Chocolate!

Momma and Hershey Kisses.

That's the first thing that comes up as I think about "chocolate memories."

I don't eat sugar any longer, but I do love me some chocolate! I've discovered many excellent tasting chocolatey recipes that don't use white sugar.

 (my apron!)

But as far as memories go...well, it's Momma and Hershey Kisses.

See, back on 2004 we lost Momma to breast cancer. After we lost my Dad in 2002, Momma moved next door to me and my husband here in Southern Oregon, so we could be close as she needed help. 

As Momma got sicker, her appetite dimmed. But Momma never lost her Chocolate Tooth! One day my older brother arrived from Southern Cal bearing gifts... a HUMONGOUS tin full of what else?? Hershey Kisses. :-D

So yes... I will forever smile fondly when I see a Hershey Kiss. Not because *I* used to eat them by the barrel full (um, yes I did). But because they remind me of Momma. And that makes me smile.

Please to enjoy your chocolate as you visit others on the Bloghop list below!