Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy 2015!

Here's wishing all my visitors a Happy New Year and all the best for 2015!

2014 was a mixed bag for me. I'm hoping 2015 will see things improve. I'm leaving you with a photo of the Charlevoix Bridge Drop , an annual event in my hometown to herald in the new year. I think I'll be skipping the festivities this time. It's going to be very cold and windy so I'm staying home, warm and cozy with a nice pepperoni pizza and a good movie.

 Photo Courtesy of Walter Barkley

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

To all my visitors. Thank you for a great year and your support. I hope you are enjoying your holiday.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Kitty Kocktail ~ drawing

This project may be beyond my expertise as a painter but I want to give it a go anyway. I've never painted a clear glass anything before but there's always a first time.

I met this adorable little kitten this past September at the hair salon I frequent. One of the hairdressers had rescued him and brought him to work because he needed to be feed every 1-2 hours around the clock. He was so tiny he fit in the palm of my hand and he was such a sweet kitten. The stylist that was caring for him had taken a photo of him in a wine glass and she showed it to me on her cellphone. I never forgot it so when I arrived for another hair appointment last week I asked permission to use the image for a painting. Thankfully she still had the photo and gladly she agreed. I know I've drawn this too small already and need to enlarge it. I'm not known for my steady hand so we'll see how well I do. I may have to paint this more than once to get it right.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mama Luv

I just completed my latest cat painting and I'm pretty happy with it. Shame that my blues appear more red violet in places but I was happy to get a halfway decent photo at all today. It's so gloomy.

I saw Karina's image of a mother cat with her kitten on PMP and knew I had to paint it. Shy kitten, protective mother...a short story, if you will. It speaks to a part of the mother and child bond that exists in both the human world and the animal kingdom, but a very important part. To quote Stephen King, "There's no bitch on earth like a mother frightened for her kids.”

Monday, December 08, 2014

Little S-Kittles

The title popped into my head while I was finishing this painting and I think it works. It's been almost a month since I updated my blog so I thought I'd paint some kitties and post them. I have another feline painting ready to go, too.

I was inspired by a photo a friend posted on Facebook, Tracy Meadows. Tracy rescued a litter of kittens recently. He said he found them under his porch and the photo he posted was just too darn cute to pass up. I asked him if I could use it and he obliged. The actual kittens are all a smoky grey so I decided to take a lot of liberty with my palette. And this is my favorite palette....golds and violets. I used DS Quin deep gold, DS Quin Burnt scarlet, DS Quin sienna, DS Carbazole Violet and DS Quin Violet. With these colors I can go just as vibrant or neutral as I want with no mud making involved. Hope you like. 

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Liquitex Flexible Modeling Paste ~ product review

I'm always on the lookout for ways to add texture to some of my paintings. Today I experimented with this product and I highly recommend it to artists that prefer to work on paper like myself. It's flexible, as the label states, so it won't crack on flexible surfaces. Up to this point I've been relying on Liquitex gesso to get a degree of texture but there's a lot of moisture in gesso and it takes a long time to dry. Also it's rather runny, causing the paper to buckle, and has to be worked and reworked with a palette knife or other tool to produce an interesting surface. However this product is thick, easy to mold and dries much faster. It's also possible to get a high degree of texture not possible with acrylic gesso. I created this sample floral to see how well the modeling paste accepted watercolor and ink. It behaved very similar to gesso. Paint was pretty easy to lift but I think the surface tended to stain a bit more. If a non porous surface was needed a coat or two of high gloss gel medium over the modeling paste would accomplish that.  

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Silverbark at Sundown ~ complete (acrylic and collage on paper)

I'm going to call this done now. It doesn't look like I've done much since my last post but I spent a lot of time just looking at the painting and deciding how I wanted to create the leaves. I finally settled on a paste paper that I copper leafed on one side, painted on the other. I used tracing paper so the copper leaf would show through and tone the yellow. This produced a fairly accurate representation of birch leaves in Fall. Then the issue was where to place the leaves and how many wouldn't be too many. Did they distract or benefit the painting? Branches were never where I needed them and I knew I should've added the leaf placement to the original drawing. Dang! Ah well, a Chinese white pencil and a violet Prismacolor Verithin solved the problem. Cutting those teeny, tiny leaves was a chore, as was using tweezers to handle them. I think it was worth the effort and time, though. I'm pretty happy with it. :) The final size is approx. 6 1/2" x 29".
Work in progress

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Silverbark at Sundown ~ WIP 2

Many glazes later...many, many glazes later, I finally started work on the markings on the birch trunks. I love the distinctive 'eyes' they display and am surprised so few artists that paint birch trees fail to include them in their paintings. The trunks will receive more washes of violets, yellow and cerulean blue. I plan to use cut paper collage to add the leaves when the paint work is complete. Birch leaves turn yellow in Fall so I need to make my own yellow paste papers to order. Then plenty of cutting and pasting is in my future.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Silverbark at Sundown ~ sketch and wip 1

This is the beginning of my latest project. It's another birch painting done with acrylic on 140# Fabriano HP w/c paper. I have a few stands of Silverbark birch across the drive from my home so I have plenty of reference material right outside my front windows. I plan to use the palette from my color study (see previous post). This painting will be much larger, approx. 6 1/2" x 29". An odd size but I've always wanted to do a long and very narrow format because I love the look. I've been waiting for a sunny day to forge ahead and that day has arrived. It's been so terribly gloomy lately that I've left lights on all day long. Not ideal conditions to create subtle color variations.

Side note: After painting 'The Rusty Gate Post' I contacted the photographer responsible for my reference image. I wanted to know more about this gate and he gave me enough information to locate the gate on Google Map. It resides outside a charming little B & B in the UK. Here's the Coach House B &B (link) on A413 Brackley Road, Silverstone, United Kingdom. Seems I guessed the wrong finial. Ah, well....

Monday, October 13, 2014

Autumn Scene ~ color study (acrylic)

Here is my painted color study, just completed. It's small, roughly 5" x 13". I decided to use tube acrylic because acrylics can be more forgiving than watercolor and I wanted the freedom to change things up should I want to switch colors. I just may paint the final piece using acrylics!

I began by using the acrylic paint like watercolor and gave the entire paper surface a Yellow Cad. Light wash, including the birch trunks. I switched to Cad. Red Light, which is actually orange, and added a light wash while the yellow was still wet. I've never been happy with any tube orange but decided not to sweat the small stuff just yet. I knew I could adjust things later. I didn't bother masking the lower leaves for this study either. I just wanted to see how my chosen colors worked together. Once the yellow and orange were dry I mixed Deep Violet and UB to create various degrees of red and blue violet and laid in my darker values. Then it was all a matter of tweaking. At one point I was afraid I had gone too dark on the birch trunks but as I kept going it all began to work. Birch bark is so white it reflects color well, even in shadow...especially in shadow...which provided an excellent opportunity to bring some excitement to the trunks. I completed the leaves using mostly yellow and violet but hit a snag when I added Cerulean blue, my 'pop' color. Full strength it looked awful but mixed with a little white to soften it, it worked very well. I added the pale Cerulean to the background, some of the leaves and both tree trunks. To complete the study I toned the orange areas with a light wash of deep violet, very diluted. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Autumn Scene ~ color study

Autumn Scene is a temporary working title until I see how this goes. I just completed this color study with Prismacolor colored pencils on a thumbnail sketch, roughly 4 1/2" x 1 1/2".  I want it to be full of vibrant, unexpected Fall colors and blowing leaves. Lots of windswept action. I'm using a double complimentary palette here...yellows and violets with oranges and blues. Because these colors (yellows/oranges) and (violets/blues) are analogous, it should work. I want one 'pop' color. Not quite sure what that will be yet. Possibly turquoise or teal. Something blue-ish and vibrant.      

Monday, October 06, 2014

Rusty Gate Post ~ complete?

Hi! Remember me? Well, here's my rusty gate. I'm happy with the gate but got stuck on the background which threw me into a sort of paralysis. I hate when that happens. It's like I can't move on until I solve this problem or the world will end. Crazy, huh? I'm still not happy with the background but it's time to post this 'as is' so I can start something new. This piece will land on the 'complete?' pile along with a few others that never quite made the grade.

To be more specific, I was very happy that I was able to make the chipped paint on the fence posts, which I hand painted, mesh with the egg shell paint chips on the actual gate post. After attempting some sort of background there was a noticeable disconnect between the gate and BG additions. But what to do? The gate is so busy I felt the background needed to be understated so as not to compete so I didn't think I could add any collage material to the tree trunk. Did I even need a tree trunk? What else would I put there? I don't know! The solution is probably simple and right before my eyes but I've looked too long at this to see it objectively anymore. Time for a time out.

Reference photo courtesy of ESP on PMP  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rusty Gate Post ~ WIP 3

More work done on this piece. So far it's been figuring out how to recreate the look of many layers of peeling paint and rust without spending a ridiculous amount of time on fiddly detail work. I've added more cracked egg shells but think I've reached the limit of that on the actual post. I will probably add egg shells to the fence posts, though. I've also got some ideas for a finer cracked paint texture for smaller areas. I toned down the blue cast in the background. It doesn't show up much in the image but I have been laying in some foliage growth behind the gate post. I'll be adding more after the post in complete.    

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Rusty Gate Post ~ WIP (mixed media)

I developed a small case of artist's block and not even Crabby Cat could rescue me. He's still in the sketch stage where I left him in my last post. I detest that funky feeling when nothing seems to inspire me. In desperation I began going through my reference photos and kept coming back to an image I found on PMP. It was a rusty, ornate gate post and I loved all the wonderful colors and textures but had no idea how to go about painting it. Finally it was time to try. This is a mixture of acrylic paint, collage paper, egg shells and God knows what else before it's complete. It's a project that will keep me occupied for quite some time as I figure out how to recreate all that wonderful chipping paint and patina.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Crabby Cat is Back

Scary enough?

The first two Crabby Cats

After several inking failures I've been having myself a pout...a regular crabby cat, if you will. What better way to break the gridlock than creating another Crabby Cat. Since Halloween is the next holiday I've been doodling up an idea for the occasion. Just a sketch so far. Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Alcohol Ink & Collage

I created a background with alcohol ink on Yupo, then added a small stacked paper collage of amate and Lokta paper with a photo image on top much like the cherry on top a parfait. I selected a photo I took of my Spring anemones, cropped a single blossom from the bunch, greyscaled it and printed it out on photo paper. Then I went over the image with more alcohol ink to tone it. I would've gotten more daring if my format wasn't so small (3 1/2" x 5 1/2") but I didn't want to cover the background completely. I wish the scanner would've captured the colors better but photos turned out much worse. This is really more of a color story than anything else.   

Friday, September 05, 2014

Revisiting Alcohol Ink on Copper Leaf

I tried the same method on copper Simple Leaf (see prior post)and was very happy with my results. The gel gloss medium works perfectly as a buffer between the leafing and the alcohol ink. I can also chose to add some texture if I wish while applying the gel medium. Various brush strokes, the edge of a credit card...anything that will create some added interest. I still have to take care not to get too rough but things are much more workable now. Waiting for the gel medium to dry before applying the inks...well, with the humidity we have right now, it's a wait but well worth it. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Alcohol Ink on Silver Leaf

With gel medium, 2014. I wish I could capture the colors in the sky better. It looks like sheet metal that has been treated with a torch. 
Without gel medium, 2013. The shooting star was added to conceal all the scratches.

I do believe I've solved the problem of working on silver leaf with alcohol ink. Last summer I created an ink painting on silver Simple Leaf applied to Yupo but it scratched so easily I was forced to toss it in the bin. I did get one scan of that painting I don't think I shared on my blog so I will today. Yesterday I gave it another go but this time I applied a coat of Liquitex gloss gel medium and allowed it to dry before adding any ink. I was thrilled the leaf now withstood quite a beating which included multiple layers of ink and blending solution plus some manipulation with a tool. The gel medium formed a protective buffer 'tween me and it with nary a scratch in sight. FYI, I don't recommend using Pearl mixative on silver leaf, though. It produced a rather flat, 'dirty' look I don't like at all.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy Patron

It's always wonderful to see one of my art patrons so happy with a piece of my this case,  my best friend who has supported me from the start. She loved my ink paintings, House on Thistle Downs Drive and The Timekeeper's Cottage , so much so that she bought them both. She also purchased Ladies on a Park Bench , which I painted with my homemade walnut ink. For her birthday this past winter I made her a card using a similar style and the same walnut ink. It depicts us both on a park bench where I have just presented her with a birthday cake, candles blazing and all. Today she came to visit and showed me the paintings. Two that were matted and awaiting frames and one already framed. I was most impressed that she had combined the two walnut ink paintings into one format. Clever gal! I hope you enjoy them all for a very long time, Betsy. Love you! 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to the Inks

Last night I cut myself a few 5" x 7" pieces of Yupo and played with my Adirondack alcohol inks. Here are some of my results. They are simple little abstracts and it felt so good to let the inks loose and let them do what they do. No plan, just play. Seems I usually wind up with a lot of tree shapes emerging or maybe I see trees in almost every abstract. I do like to add inks that have more open time like Pitch Black or one of the mixatives. Then I can manipulate them with a bamboo skewer or some other tool before they are too dry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Evergreen ~ collage (complete)

With so many metallics involved, this collage was difficult to photograph. I had to resort to using the flash on my camera to pick up the green hues which, in turn, blew out other colors. I'm afraid this is the best image I'm going to get and the closest to reality.

It has occurred to me that summer is coming to an end soon. Colder temps mean closed windows so I'd better get out the alcohol inks and get painting before that happens. Proper ventilation when using these inks is a must because of my COPD. I do miss ink painting and I can and will return to collage during the winter months. In the mean time I'm having a ball sourcing/creating decorative papers, stamps and discovering techniques that I can apply to this new (to me) art form.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Second Collage ~ WIP 2

All the pieces are now completed and adhered in place. I had thought of adding a few other shapes (maybe flying birds?) but decided against it. I think there's enough going on as is. There was a little struggle at the bottom of the piece so I used a cut mat to create better perspective and wound up adding two more shapes. Now I'm going to call this one done. Pine tree shapes were my inspiration so I'm thinking of titling this collage 'Evergreen'.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Second Collage ~ WIP

I wanted to post a quick update so my visitors can see where I'm going with this collage. It's clear I will need to make more triangles but I'm well on my way to completion. The papers I've made tend to curl once they're mounted on the yellow backing paper so tape was used to hold a few in place. Sorry for the blurry images. I didn't bother with a tripod. The goal was mainly to record the placement of the various pieces. I found a way to make quick work of the triangles. Each one was hand torn using a metal straight edge, then placed on the backing paper in a pattern similar to a backgammon board. After each triangle was glued and dry I used a small flat brush and a bit of water to moisten the backing paper between each piece and gently separated them, much like tearing watercolor paper. When completed this collage should measure approx. 9" x 18".    

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Collage Paper/Prep

Has it been an entire week since I last posted an update? I guess so! I've been busy trolling the 'net looking at video demos, browsing paper sources, all while waiting for a couple orders of paper I knew I couldn't produce myself (like bark paper) to arrive. In the meantime, I sketched out a possible idea for another collage. Starting yesterday work began on producing the decorative papers needed to realize my vision. I used Liquitex acrylic paint and lumiere metallic light body acrylics on tracing paper, let dry and using a metal ruler, I tore them into the intended shapes. These same shapes were then mounted on a golden yellow handmade(not by me!) paper I've had for several years. Looking at my sketch I'll need about 24 of these triangles to complete the task. I may use some decorative papers I purchased online to help the process along. I stacked the chosen papers and scanned them so I could see how they look together on screen. Maybe I should glue what I've posted all together as is and call it good...huh?

Note: I kept my Quiller color wheel by my side as I selected my color palette. It makes decisions so much easier for me.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

First Collage & Impression Lifting (How To)

I've been busy making paste papers these days. Not only does black Artagain work but Stonehenge kraft paper as well. I coated a piece of kraft paper with Liquitex gloss medium, let dry, then applied alcohol ink and blending solution. The inks moved very well on the surface, similar to Yupo. A particular piece of inked kraft paper inspired a landscape collage. The first collage I've been fairly happy with after many disasters. I'm not sure why I struggle with this art form so much. I believe I over think it. Whatever the problem, I'm determined to overcome. In this case I brought all my problems to bear and sorted them out on a single piece of 5" x 7" landscapes, collage and my latest focus, color theory. It's a conglomeration of paste papers, yellowed newspaper, a catalog image, colored pencil and acrylic paint. I threw a mat on it and scanned it. Sorry for the dirty looking mat. That's alcohol ink that has become a permanent part of my scanner bed. :(

I'd like to share another technique I tried today...impression lifting aka photo transfer. I printed out an image on glossy paper, then applied a thick coat of acrylic gel gloss medium over the image. I allowed it to dry thoroughly, then soaked it in warm water for a few minutes. Once the paper looked completely saturated I turned the image face down and used a damp paper towel to gently rub away the backing paper from the actual image which had now become 'one' with the acrylic medium. It's a bit of a mess but it went fairly fast. The result is a semi-transparent image that can be adhered to another surface, in this case, kraft paper. Note: If you give this a go be sure to take care in handling the image after the backing paper has been removed. The image will be a little stretchy and delicate. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Homemade Paste Papers

I created these four papers with Lumiere light body metallic acrylic on black Artagain paper

Although I've been studying my Quiller color wheel and painting every day, nothing worth posting has been produced. To say I'm frustrated would be putting it mildly but I will persevere. In the meantime I've ordered a small set of tube acrylics which were on sale(!) but haven't arrived yet. I'm using that as an excuse to purposely sidetrack myself.

A good friend of mine was downsizing her library of art instruction books and sent me a book written by Susan Pickering Rothamel. It's titled The Art of Paper Collage . Yes, collage...another art form that has sent me screaming. Today I needed a break from landscapes so I tried Rothamel's idea of creating homemade paste papers, those decorative and very seductive papers(I know you've seen them in catalogs and drooled)that can be so pricey if purchased ready made. She suggested putting down a layer of acrylic medium or other gloss adhesive on paper to stop absorption. Let dry, then go over the surface with acrylics or dry pigment mixed with gloss medium. Before the paint dries add texture with stamps, combs or other tools. Another layer of medium can be applied and various embellishments can be included as well. One is only limited by their imagination and wealth of supplies.

Note: I follow Elizabeth Nelson (Paper Paintings Collage Artwork) on Facebook. She mentioned the wisdom of making your own decorative papers. Not all ready made and exotic papers are acid free or lightfast. Creating your own papers guarantees they are archival and also provides endless color and design choices.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Color Theory ~ split comp 3

I fear it's going to get a whole lot of ugly around here until I get this split comp thing down. I have no idea if this is good or bad. I'm working from Quiller's personal color wheel and using his suggested tube colors. For blue/green he prefers Phthalo Turquoise, which I happened to have in stock. For the analogous compliments I had Quin. Red, Alizarin Crimson and I had to make my own red/orange from Cad. Orange and Quin. Red. These are a combo of colors I never in a million years would've chosen for a painting. I threw in some white gouache to create a few opaque colors.

Once I have the colors I must decide how best to distribute them throughout the painting. Which colors should be neutralized? Which should stay pure? Lordy! On top of that, many other widely varying secondary colors can be created. For instance, Quin. Red and Phthalo Turquoise make a stunning blue/violet which can be used to neutralize the orange/red.

Note: I got the idea for this landscape from a photo I saw on Paint My Photo. I liked the strong horizontal lines. I think the straight line through the lower third of the piece is actually a bike path in reality but I loved the effect it lent to this landscape. 

Friday, August 01, 2014

Color Theory ~ pt. 2

In my second color study Yellow Ochre was used as the dominant, Ultramarine Violet and Prussian Blue as intermediates and Ultramarine Blue as the subordinate.
In this color study I used Prussian Blue and UB as the dominant colors, Yellow Ochre as the intermediate and Ultramarine Violet as the subordinate.

Here are a couple of split comp paintings recently completed. This time I used a semi neutral, in this case Yellow Ochre. Then I selected Ultramarine Blue, a teriary color and the compliment of Yellow Ochre. Within the range opposite of Yellow Ochre on the color wheel, I chose Ultramarine Violet(a secondary color) and another semi neutral, Prussian Blue. In hindsight I should've chosen Indigo blue because Prussian Blue lies just outside the correct range of hues.

Before I go on I'd like to make a correction. I mistakenly called DS Undersea Green a teriary color in my previous post. It probably should be considered a semi neutral, maybe even a neutral. Whatever it is, it's a combination of Ultramarine Blue and Quin. Gold Deep. It's neutral qualities worked well with my previous palette plus I like the color!


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Color Theory

Landscapes (the bane of my existence) made fun by using a split comp palette and some imagination.

Because I've never received any formal art education, I've never studied color theory although I have a basic understanding. I can't count the times it's been a struggle to choose a palette for a particular painting. Painting with complimentary colors is something I do enjoy and I've found color combinations I like just by trial and error.

I had forgotten I bought the book 'Color Choices: Making Sense Out Of Color Theory' by Stephan Quiller. While browsing through the book I was blown away by his dynamic landscapes. The paintings I kept coming back to were painted with a split complementary palette so I had to try my hand at it. Simply put, I chose a color(green gold) and found it's complement (red violet...I used DS Quin violet) on the color wheel. Then I looked at the analogous colors of red violet. Analogous colors are those hues that are next to each other on the color wheel. I chose to go toward the more blue hues like blue violet(which I mixed myself) and Indathrene blue. I did add one tertiary hue which was DS Undersea green. If you're not familiar with it, it's an olive-y green.

Arrows indicting my split complimentary colors

Quiller also combines gouache with transparent watercolor. I have one tube each of white and black gouache that have languished in a drawer for a few years. I keep the white on hand just in case a highlight is lost and the black had never been opened. I got them both out and used them to lighten and darken my watercolors. Who knew painting with gouache was so much fun! Tinting gouache with transparent watercolor opened up a whole new world for me. It compares to getting new art supplies without spending a dime.

I won't go into everything I found extremely helpful in Quiller's book but in summary, I highly recommend this book to any artist, especially if they struggle with color. Mr. Quiller breaks down color theory so it's understandable without becoming boring.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Miss Willmott's Ghost...again

I can't get enough of this plant, it seems. I took more photos, this time closer to sunset to capture different lighting. The Aglaya daisies are blooming now and they look wonderful alongside Miss Willmott. This afternoon I did another painting, this time more loose. I painted the entire piece with a #2 squirrel quill. All very wet into wet.