Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Wicker Bounty" Watercolor - Step 3 (Finished)

LOVE the texture of rough watercolor paper

I am trying to keep some of my paintings looser and softer looking. I decided not to totally detail the wicker and each separate leaf. I am not sure if it is the right choice and I really, really want to get back in there and DETAIL. It was very difficult for me to stop and leave it looking more relaxed. Same goes for the softer background. I chose rough surface watercolor paper to give it texture and am working on 18X24" this time. I am a detail loving artist and my favorite paintings are my super detailed oil still lifes on masonite (each and every little speck and line shows). It is hard to break old routines, but that is why I love watercolor- the loose quality that is possible.
I couldn't help myself from putting in the darker areas since they really seemed necessary to help suggest the light areas without going into too much detail and over-painting. Most of the darker shadow areas are just more layers of Payne's Gray. I used some Burnt Umber and Cad Red mixes in the dirt and in the leafy areas. The leaves are mixes of Sap Green, Olive Green, and Burnt Umber. I also used Raw Sienna on the leaves so it wasn't just shades of green. The cushion is Burnt Sienna, Sap Green, and a wash of Burnt Umber. Some of the mum petals are put back in with white gouache to give them a stronger look.
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Wicker Bounty" Step 2

I started this watercolor by putting in a wash of Cobalt and Ultramarine Blue, working wet-on-wet. I am painting on 140 lb rough surface paper. I love the rough surface because I want that watercolor paper texture. Starting with some background color helped to define the white wicker. As usual, I couldn't wait to get to the details, so I jumped around a bit to get some colors on the paper.
I am using Payne's Gray to give the wicker some shape, but really want to not paint every separate piece of wicker. I want to show that it is wicker without getting too into detail like I usually do. I started with Sap Green and Chromium Oxide Green for the leafy greens. The reds are mixes of Cad Red and Thalo Red and the pots are Cad Red and Burnt Sienna.
My watercolor supply is a mixture of Windsor&Newton and Grumbacher, depending on the colors I want at the time and availability. I often order online and like to try out different brands of the same color. Basically, I use whichever color is working for me at the time and try not to get too stuck on a brand name unless there is a major difference.
Next, I will be continuing with my details and getting to the darks.
Thanks for looking!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Trip to The Nursery for Fall Flowers - and a new watercolor

My garden and pots are in need of some perking up. That always seems to happen at this time of year. The petunias are tired and leggy, and many of the summer perennials are just about ready to quit for the year. I could just let it go, but I am never ready for the garden to slow down and I fight it all the way. I make numerous trips to the nursery during the summer to buy fresh plants to energize my pots. With the hot, dry summers we have and all the hot wind that comes along with them- I am constantly needing to replace dry looking flowers. I am always trying to extend my growing season as long as possible- I am forever thankful for the rose garden, they work hard practically year round.
When I was unloading my latest haul onto the porch and setting the plants wherever there was room, I loved the combination of the flowers with the wicker chair. I couldn't wait to start drawing...of course I do need to plant all the pansies, mums and cyclamens I bought (after I get a good drawing). Gardening and painting are two interests that really go together well and my garden gives me an endless supply of painting ideas. This is the drawing and I plan to try to keep it from getting too detailed as I paint. I hope so anyway.
Thanks for looking!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Jinx Watercolor


I think I am done with this watercolor, and actually probably should have stopped sooner. Over-painting is my own personal curse. I plan to keep painting her until I am completely satisfied that it shows her unique personality. I think her nose needs to look longer and then her head will look less round. I used burnt umber in the areas of her nose and "beard "that have slightly lighter fur, and I am thinking maybe if I left it a little lighter on top of the whole nose (not just the tip) maybe that would have given it more depth. Like I mentioned when I started, this is really my first attempt and I definitely will keep at it until I feel comfortable. A fellow artist suggested using french ultramarine blue and burnt sienna for the black (thanks, Pat!) but I had already used the payne's gray in layers for my lights and darks then added the burnt umber later. I will definitely try that mix next time (SOON) and don't actually know why I didn't this time! I always use a mix of ultra blue, b.umber, and alizarin crimson as my standard dark- varying the blue and crimson, depending if I want it warm or cool. Also, Pat suggested leaving some more white when starting to lay in color. I am thinking (in hindsight of course) that even though she is all black, more light would help with giving her head shape under all that thick black fur. I didn't detail the fur except for a few ares where I added some lines. We learn so much from all of our attempts at painting! One of the next challenges on my list is people. I have painted my kids before and while I am happy with the results, I would love for it to be easier for me. That's where practice and perseverance come in.
Thanks for looking!

Friday, September 24, 2010

New in My Studio- Watercolor of my puppy, Jinx

I love to paint and enjoy painting a large variety of subjects. One area I try to avoid is painting animals and people...nothing with a face, basically. I don't know why, but I just never gained any confidence in that area. I have decided it is time to do something about this irrational fear. I am starting with my cute puppy, Jinx- I might as well start with something I like, right? The main problem with painting people and animals, isn't making them look like a person or an animal- it is trying to capture their unique personality. I know I can paint a dog, but will it look like MY dog? My other concern is the black fur and trying to give it texture without painting every curl and wave on her head. In the photo, her left eye isn't really visible so I am changing that- even though we rarely see her eyes unless we are outside and the sun is on her face! This is my progress so far today, after about an hour (including the drawing). I am starting with getting some of the shading in so I can see a shape. I will post the finished watercolor tomorrow and welcome any helpful tips.
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Zin Bottle Watercolor Step-by- Step (well, sort of)

I started this wine bottle watercolor when I started the cork series. I just loved this bottle. With a name like Artist Series, and an easel on the label- I had to paint it! It is from one of our favorite Lodi wineries, M2 Wines. We belong to the Lodi Wine Club and they have a huge selection of wineries included. It is a great way to try out wines from many wineries in one place. M2 happens to be one of our favorites, but we have lots of favorites! So, the wine from the bottle was awesome, and now I got to have more fun with it by doing this watercolor. I already have my next wine bottle watercolor chosen- a bottle of Fisticuffs Cabernet from Tu Tu Wines in Napa Valley. When you see the label, you will understand why I have to paint it - I already painted the cork in my wine cork series. When I get the bottles painted, I can finally throw them away- my husband would like the empties gone already (he doesn't appreciate them as future works of art).

I took some basic color notes as I started painting, because I am not usually thinking about the details as I paint along. I started with all of the base colors
- Sap Green for the bottle, leaving light areas (I don't usually use masking fluid except on tiny white areas)
-Raw Sienna for the cork
-Thalo Red bottle top and wine stain on cork end
-Raw Sienna and Thalo Red for the skin tones and Cad Yellow pants
-Easel, Burnt Umber, and artist background- Turquoise
-corkscrew and bottle shadow Payne's Gray
I based most of the color wet-on-dry, but the shadow area was wet-on-wet as was the raw sienna background I added later to make the bottle stand out. The last steps are the details (lettering), darkest darks and highlights.
Most of the lettering on the bottle label and the cork are done in Burnt Umber, but the M2 is heavy on the Payne's Gray as is the 2007 on the end of the cork. I went back in with white gouache for the brightest pops of highlights. Cheating? Maybe, I don't really care if it gets me the result I am looking for!
I kind of got into my painting and forgot to slow down and take step by step photos- as usual. At least I took notes- I am getting better at this process! My main focus was on NOT trying to put in every little detail and to loosen up a bit. I love loose, flowing watercolors- unfortunately, I seem to lean towards tight and detailed. I need to remember sometimes that I am not creating a photo, but a watercolor. That is where the Twenty Minute Challenge will hopefully help me in the future.
Thanks for looking!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Twenty Minute Challenge- Wine Cork Watercolor

I found out about Twenty Minute Challenge last week from the blog of another artist, and couldn't wait to try it out. The blog is administered by Teri from Teri's Painted Daisies
When I paint, I tend to rework and rework the watercolor until I have overdone it. I always seem to think there is more to do. The TMC is the perfect answer for artists like me- you time yourself and stop (finished or not) at 20 minutes. You just start out with your watercolors, a blank sheet of paper, and an idea. I didn't know how much I would get painted before my timer went off, but was surprised with the resulting watercolor. I have been painting wine corks this last week and thought a cork would be a perfect way to try out the challenge. I can't believe I could finish a watercolor in 20 minutes, let alone one I actually like! I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and plan to continue doing these 20 minute paintings.
Thanks for looking!

Wine Cork Series Watercolors- Finished!

I finished the wine cork watercolors and will soon be listing them on Etsy. I think I might make a set of cards with various wine corks, too. I still need to scan the watercolors to make prints.
These were so much fun to paint- they are simple subjects, but so unique and they have so much detail to add. I love to get caught up painting the small details.
I am painting on 130 lb. rough surface paper this time- I tend to use different papers depending on what I am painting and this time I really wanted the texture to show. I use almost all Windsor & Newton watercolors. For the corks, I started with Raw Sienna and Burnt Umber washes to get the base colors of the corks and used Payne's Gray for shadows. My darkest details are mostly less diluted versions of Burnt Umber and Payne's Gray. The wine stains on the cork ends are a mix of Thalo Red (Alizurin Crimson works also) with Ultramarine Blue to get a nice wine shade of purple. My favorite part of painting these corks ( and most paintings) was adding the final details and tweaking the shadows and highlights. While I do leave my lightest areas when adding washes, I do sometimes go back with white gouache or acrylic to get stronger highlights. At the end, I am also adding in my darkest darks in the shadow areas.
I will show the finished Zinfandel bottle next time-
Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Starting New Watercolors- Wine Cork Series

I spent a few hours yesterday drawing some wine corks to watercolor. I love to paint them- they have great details and each one is so different and unique. I save all the wine corks that come into our house and we like wine, so that is a lot of corks! They look great in tall jars, but also give me lots of painting ideas. Sometimes, we come across a cork that would be perfect to paint and now I have a small pile that I am wanting to use in watercolors-the last cork set was painted on small canvases in oils. I will post my progress as I work on them. The wine bottle I drew is one I have been wanting to paint for a while. It is perfect with an easel on the label- the wine was very nice also!
Thanks for looking!

My FiestaWare is finally here!

I have always loved Fiestaware and have some of my grandmother's original dishes. For years, I have been thinking about ordering a set of my own and just kept putting it off. The main thing was that I already had several sets of dishes not including my china and did not want to get rid of any to make room! When we moved from Long Island to California, mysteriously some of our dishes did not arrive in our new house- like about half of them. My theory is that the packer from the moving company now has a nice set of Wedgewood dishes on his table. Anyway, I guess I should thank him since I now have room for this bright & shiny new set of FiestaWare. I love it- I chose all of the colors I liked to mix and match. It looks awesome and I can't wait to set the table with it!
Thanks for looking!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Postcards from Long Island, New York

Wagon parking on Fire Island (Ocean Beach)
Greenport, Long Island as seen from the Shelter Island Ferry
Fire Island Lighthouse
Robert Moses State Park

This is another set of my watercolor postcards. In earlier blog posts, I featured my painted postcards from Paris and from Italy. I painted these from some of my favorite Long Island locations. After painting the postcards, I mailed them to friends and family in California. These are a sampling of the Long Island set. The postmark isn't anything special- the postmark on some of our mail on Long Island had a great outline of Long Island in the shape of a fish. Anyway, these postcards give me great memories of Long Island now that I have moved back to California. Now, if I can try to plan ahead -I would like to paint more of these postcards before I go on trips, so I can mail them from each destination and add to my collection.
Thanks for looking!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

World Trade Center Memory

This is a page from one of my scrapbooks- made many years ago. The photo was originally one of my favorite photos of my boys taken about 2 weeks after we moved to New York in 1993. It is still one of my favorite photos, but not simply a happy memory any longer. My last photo of the World Trade Center was taken during a weekend stay in NYC for my birthday- August 27, 2001. We stayed at the Millenium Hilton on Church Street in Downtown Manhattan. I took a photo of the Statue of Liberty from our hotel window and the Twin Towers were directly in the line of my shot. I didn't know at the time that I wouldn't be taking any more of those photos and taking those buildings for granted.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Las Vegas Weekend

For my birthday this year, we spent a weekend in Las Vegas. One of our sons is stationed there, and we had been to Vegas many times, but this time we got to spend the weekend with both of our sons. One of them is stationed in Germany and we don't see him often, and we rarely get to see both of them at the same time. We had a great time and it was definitely a memorable birthday!

The drive to Las Vegas from our house is a long and not very interesting one. Lots of desert in between- about 5 of the 8 hours. So- the scenery is dry, dry, and more dry. We are not among that group of people (and it is a strangely large group) who think the desert is a beautiful place. The Baker Thermometer is maybe the most exciting thing to look at between Bakersfield and Las Vegas.

FINALLY - WOO HOO! Las Vegas Blvd, the Las Vegas Strip

Our hotel, The truly awesome Venetian
Inside the Venetian- really beautiful with lots of Venetian landmarks. Canals with gondolas, St. Mark's Square, The Rialto, etc. Beautiful art everywhere- it is covered with paintings and frescoes.
We went to the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur - dinner show, very fun.

We had a great weekend, and so much fun with both sons and their girlfriends. - Then, had a HORRIBLE drive home. There was a traffic mess that made the Long Island Expressway look like fun, and added several hours to the normally mind numbing drive. Travel tip: NEVER leave Las Vegas on a Sunday!
Thanks for looking-

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Watercolor Postcards from Italy

These are more of my watercolor postcards. In my last post, I included postcards I had painted and mailed from Paris- these are from our trip to Italy 5 years ago. I painted them from reference photos taken on vacation. After I made them into postcards, I had my son (stationed at Aviano Air Base near Venice) mail them for me. I didn't have the watercolor postcard idea before our trip. I had read an article -after returning from Italy- about an artist who did them whenever he went somewhere. I loved the idea, and decided to do it even though it was after the trip this time!

I have been MIA for a week or so having an awesome time with our sons- a rarity since they are both in the Air Force and getting time with them together just doesn't happen often. For my birthday, I got to spend the weekend in Las Vegas with my husband, both boys and their girlfriends- best birthday ever! Now, it is time to get back to my routine- and definitely back to painting.
Thanks for looking!