2nd Set of Secret Garden: Cats

 

HB4116

5×7 inch study for watercolor painting series.

Here is the comparison of the first attempts and my latest adaptation.   As you can see, this one hasn’t changed that much.  The concept is still the same, I’m just trying out different variables…

cats

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It does seem that my sole focus has been on figuring out the setting.  Creating that background.  I like the new layout from the 5×7 drawing, so I will keep it but my next focus will be on really punching up foliage and flowers.  After all, this is supposed to be a secret GARDEN!

2nd Draft of Sketches

Today I submit my second draft of sketches for my Secret Garden Series.  I love working large, which is quite an investment of time and resources, so with this project, I have slowed down to take the time to really have a strong idea of a layout before I go big.  Below is a comparison.  The painted images were my first attempt and their size is 8″ x 10″.  My second attempts are the sketches to the left.  Here I have begun to make changes to the initial ideas.  The ones to the left are slightly smaller.  They are 5″x7″ inches.

As you can see, I only kept two images rather the same.  That means I am happy with most of these images.  The other 6 sketches not so much.  They now have different backgrounds and animals switched from one sketch to the next.  I am currently painting these 5×7 sketches and as I do, I am synthesizing and already coming up with changes to the next concepts.  I shall finish them up and then share my findings.

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Creating My Pottery Shadow Boxes

It’s been a long time since I reported on my pottery.

Since the new year, I have been working on more of the driftwood/cigar box assemblages I have created in the past. I have tons of little pottery pieces all over the place! In these images, the pottery has not been fired or glazed nor have I painted or included any of my beach finds yet.

Nevertheless, here are some photos to show the beginning stages…

I am obsessed with folk art. You can clearly see it’s influence.

I probably have 30 of these installations at various stages of completion. I will keep reporting on their progress. I like to work on things in quantity as opposed to starting one piece and finishing it before I move on. I can be more efficient this way even if it looks completely hectic :)

So there it goes. I’m plugging away at a ton of stuff. I am wheel-throwing a bunch of pitchers, mugs and bowls as well, but I forgot to take pictures of those :)

Nothing is complete. Everything needs something done to it. Some months are like that. Not days. Not weeks. Months!!!

Teaching Glazing Watercolor Techniques

Each week I try to find a particular concept to cover during my painting class that I teach. For this particular week I wanted to explore watercolor glazing. There are two different ways to apply watercolor paint. One way is to apply clean water from a brush onto the paper and then drop pigment into the water. The colors bleed and mix together creating unpredictable color patterns and combinations. This technique is called the wet-on-wet technique (wet paper and wet paint).

The other technique popular with watercolor painting is called glazing. Glazing is a fairly dry painting technique. It is a method of applying a coat of watercolor paint on top of an already dry layer of watercolor paint. Because the paper isn’t wet, the paint only goes exactly where you paint it. The beauty of this is that you can color mix the bottom and top layer. So if there was already yellow paint on the dry paper, a quick brush of red paint over it would create orange when the paper dried and a brush of blue would create a shade of green. You can transform an existing image quite quickly and easily.

The artist has to decide when to use each technique. The rooster photograph I provided to my students offers the perfect opportunity to use both techniques.

First,each student fills the entire rooster image with clean water and drops in watercolor in different places. Where the pigments meet, you get beautiful what I call “happy accidents”. It is unpredictable but it’s what makes watercolor so pretty. That’s the wet-on-wet technique.

Next, the students are going to add the detail. Think of all of the feathers and the head. The details are applied sparingly and with very little water. This is when you use the glazing technique.

Below is the Rhode Island Red rooster photo I provided and two paint demos I did during the class. See if you can pick out the two different painting application techniques.

The rooster image truly allows for so many variations of glazing. In total, I painted the chicken 3 times and each painting is completely different!

Here are some of the paintings from my students. You’d think we had 15 different chickens running around in the class!

 

By far, my favorite thing about art making

is that no matter what, each artist provides their own unique expression.

My new painting called “Close to Home”

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Let me show the progression of this painting before I start talking about it.

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I have this terrible affliction called insatiable stimulationWhat is this you ask?  

OK. I made this up but let me tell you the symptoms:  If my surroundings are not well-lit, sunny, happy, colorful and changing every 2-3 months I get agitated, depressed, restless and I want to physically move to a new home.  More poor husband.  Can you imagine your wife asking to move every 2-3 months?  He has learned to nod, smile and pretend he’s listening. I know he thinks I’m crazy and yet he still sticks around -God Bless em’.

So, it’s probably not realistic to move every 2 months.  I have had to create coping mechanisms to trick my system into thinking it’s in new surroundings without actually moving.  What I do is I gut my living room.  I empty it of everything and then I refill the room with whatever I own in a very different way.  For instance, this was my fireplace mantle at Christmas and this is what it looks like in January…

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I change the pillows, blankets, nick-knacks, table.  Everything.  And for about two months I lose that itch for new surroundings.

I tell you this long winded-story because it is the muse for my new painting.

I feel like I have kind-of run out of inspiration for a new room given my same-old tricks.  So I said to myself, “You’re an artist.  Create a new painting to give you inspiration for a new room”.  Duh, I can actually do this!

Now this new painting is a bit weird I know.  It’s incredibly bright.  A bit naive. And a bit wonky – (In a nutshell it’s me!). I had a hankering to cut paper like the artist Eric Carle of The Very Hungry Caterpillar child’s book.  Cutting paper is very physical and in reality it is carving away at negative space instead of creating a positive image.  Paper arranging allows you to move your composition around so that you can work on the spaces in-between images and make sure those spaces are just as interesting as your true subject matter.  Now when I say it’s me, what I mean is that it is incredibly personal.  I live in a little yellow house, the 4 birds represent my family unit, I am an avid gardener and environmental advocate, the two people represent the long hikes I take with my daughter and dead center is our lovely kitty-cat Willow.

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After painting all of the paper cut-outs, I truly had no idea what I wanted for the back-ground.  I sat with it for about a week and then I took a deep breath and decided to start with a grayscale under-painting.  My idea was to paint color over the under-painting but the black and white had so much energy to it I stopped.  It sort of reminds me of when the Wizard of Oz moves from B&W to color.  That is the most magical part of the movie. So I kept it black and white.  About 6 layers of varnish later and it’s one cohesive unit.

The painting is large. It’s 48 inches across.  It will be the focal point of my room.  But not until I become stir-crazy sometime in March.  I am content with my current living space, so I better not push it -LOL.

When that day comes, I will post a picture :)

 

My Favorite Time of the Year

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My first jug has come out of the kiln and I am IN LOVE.

The flowers find their place in it perfectly.

Both pieces above feature my hand-crafted stamps. I keep gushing about this, but it really makes it feel so personal. LOVE.

No faster than I could park my car, was I in my garden finding the perfect buds.  This is my absolutely favorite time of the year, especially as a potter.  I get to take my pots from form to function.  I get to bring the beauty of the outdoors – in.  It is simply delightful!

Here’s a few more pots out of the kiln:

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Seriously though, the jug below here is my FAVORITE.  I generally don’t keep much that I make because my darling cherubs break them all, but this one might be a keeper.  I’m holding off though, I have two more coming out… you never know ;)  They might be winners too.

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I’m crossing my fingers!

Living Room

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Living Room  18″ x 18″  watercolor

Now  can you see why I love watercolor?

It’s translucent.  I can create very light lights, very dark darks and very bright colors.  It’s been almost 3 years since I played with watercolor and now I’m remembering what I loved so much about it.

I’ll take you for a walk through the method of my madness:

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First I tackle what I see as easiest.  It calms my nerves because there are areas of a painting I have absolutely no idea how to tackle.  The couch and table are nice big blocks which define the space and allow me to avoid the bouquet which I am still really thinking about…

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Next, I go for the pillow and carpet in the back. There’s a lot of detail in these.  I will even go on to fix them later, but it still seems like tackling these are going to be a lot easier than tackling those flowers.

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Next, I tackle the houseplant.   Do you get the sense I might be avoiding something?  I lightly block out the vase and sketch the flowers in pencil more thoroughly because I know I’ve reached the point where I have to tackle the flowers whether I have a game plan or not.

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The thing I’m so freaked out about is how am I going to paint the green sedum plant? 

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Now, this might make sense only if you are a painter, but let me try to explain it to those of you who are not.

With acrylic and oil paints they are solid, opaque and you can paint many layers one a top of the other, building up your image.  So if I were using acrylics to paint sedum, first I would  paint a dark background of green, then I would add the medium tones of green as layers on top of that and finish with layers of a light green. The top layer would be composed of tons of tiny light green dots denoting seed heads.

However, with watercolor it is the complete opposite.  The whites and the lightest shades of the green would be created by the absence of paint.  Those areas of the painting are simply the whiteness of the paper, not white paint.  The entire time you are painting, you need to not paint where you want it white (i.e. the white pillow is mostly composed of leaving the paper free of paint.)  So, if I want really light green seed heads, I have to not paint there.  That now means I have to create dark areas and medium areas around every single seed head.  As you can surmise, that’s pretty difficult.  There are thousands of tiny seed heads!

This is what made me tackle the bouquet last.  The solution I came up with, was to simply tell the quivering little chicken in my brain to SHUT UP and dive in.  I didn’t have an answer, I’m not even sure how I did it, but I got the paint to closely resemble the green sedum plant the best I could.

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From there my anxiety quieted down.  The little chicken in my brain stopped screaming “the sky is falling!  The sky is falling!” and I was able to push on to the zinnias and vase.

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The final part for me, is going back through with a clean wet paint brush and “lifting” paint out of the areas I want the lightest. Lift means to pull up and remove the paint on your paper.  Take a look at the photo below.  Can you see how I create stronger contrast in the green houseplant and the pink flower petals? I lifted some of the paint out to make white reflections.

zinnias

With acrylic paints I would simply add some white paint to create highlights, but for water colors I removed the paint to reveal the white paper.

Totally,  different theories and applications.

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Painting can be like a large puzzle that hurts your brain to figure out.

But I have to say, that must be what keeps me coming back :)

Backdrop

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For the past two weeks, I’ve been posting photos of my latest jewelry creations.

I wondered if any of you had noticed the backdrop?

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Did you guess right?

I found this crate of children’s blocks in a dumpster behind a kids consignment shop.

Yes. I was digging through a dumpster.

No. I have nothing else to say about that ;)

When I looked in the crate, these weren’t modern-day made-in-China building blocks.  Instantly, I could tell these were made by hand.  Each piece was not perfect.  You could tell which blocks were cut from the same piece of wood.  But my favorite attribute was the color/paint/patina.  These blocks have a wax finish, so as they have been played with and toppled about, they have gotten even prettier with age.

I mention this , because it’s darn hard to make jewelry photos look interesting.  I was hunting around the house for dishes and boxes.  I pulled out some fabric to try to create an interesting backdrop, but they were all boring.

Then I remembered the crate out in the garage. Blocks.

Blocks?  Could I?  Should I?  Hmm… they are just the right size for jewelry.  I can build with them which will allow my pictures to have visual depth.  This might just work…

Scroll back through my last few posts and take a closer look at the backgrounds.  Then look at the photo in this post where I scale back and you see the jewelry on my table in a pile of blocks.

I think I got some pretty cool effects.  All it took was thinking outside the box and a little dumpster diving.

You might want to try it.  Just sayin… :)

 

I Have my Evil Eye on You

I blame my morbid curiosity for the Illuminati on my children.  I don’t know why it has infiltrated the 5th grade, but the kids flash each other triangular hand signs and point out the countless eyes, pyramids and triangles throughout our daily lives.  Free Mason architecture is all throughout New England which just fuels their imagination. My son is always taking his magnifying glass to money and even our family photos have the four cousins creating a pyramid.  Each time the kids yell out “Illuminati Confirmed!”  They believe man.  They get it.  The world really is a conspiracy!  

Boy oh boy.  Lately, I almost want to go there and believe it with them.  Secret societies.  Big brother watching with it’s electric eye.  Those with power and wealth trying to keep “the man” down.  When one is feeling helpless, there is comfort in explanations, alternative fact/fake news or not :)

The flip side of the eye motif is the Evil Eye.  Many cultures have adorn themselves and their homes with eyes to watch over them, protect them and ward off evil.  Again, superstitious or not, it brings people comfort.

Myself, I think of it like that college anthropology major.  I’m simply fascinated by relics and humans attachment to them.  I love to study people. I love to study things.

My observation:  thousands of years ago until now, humans haven’t changed much.  We all seek comfort from the fears of the unknown.

do do do do

Creepy Crawlies

This post is devoted to all the strange animal findings I collected this trip.

A crab.  A deer head with antlers?  Owls & birds.  But my favorites are the insects.  Probably because I’m an avid gardener.  All the creepy crawlies are my friends.  Boy, do I miss them. Weird right?  I love digging in the earth. smelling it. Watching every inch of my yard teaming with life.  Our fence has carpenter bees boring throughout.  I know, I know, I’m supposed to get them exterminated, but it is amazing how they go into the hole and a couple of minutes later you can actually see them push the saw dust out.  If they were attacking my house, that would be one thing, but the fence is like a science channel show.  I love science channel shows! Here’s another one: I still remember watercolor painting outdoors sometime back and a baby praying mantis the size of a popcorn kernel was hanging out on my painting.  For at least two hours this tiny thing was running back and forth on the paper.  I couldn’t kill it.  I didn’t want to swat it away because how often does a praying mantis hang out on ones painting?  So I just worked around it.  Kind of laughing.  Totally amused.

Oh and birds.  The birds. Yeah, birds are my other FAVORITE.  I’m a little obsessed.  I nearly run myself off the road staring up at the hawks and blackbirds that seem to be in the sky every time I drive.  I guess I probably shouldn’t admit that one :)

In a nut shell, I love nature.  I love color. I definitely love sparkle.  Creating jewelry with the occasional grasshopper. Totally awesome!

 

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