Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry Christmas, a little early

Its still 10 days away, but the next week will go by in a whoosh! of activities, so I thought I'd post now and have that one small thing crossed off my 'to do' list. (That didn't sound very festive, did it?)

Oh, I'll get festive. Sometimes it takes me a while. Its like before you've had coffee in the morning, and are not at all awake, then all of sudden you come to life and can function. That's how I am with Christmas. I kind of start the season all draggy, then at some point it kicks in and I'm good.

I finished my Christmas art! This is "Kitty's Christmas Tree". Its my first foray back into watercolors after a pretty long hiatus, and I had a blast. Of course I had to add some colored pencil to it too, for detailing. I could have done more, but decided to leave well enough alone.

And no, I did not count how many pine needles there are. If you are some sort of savant (like Rainman) you may do it for me if you like. 


In addition to all the usual busy Christmas things to do, I'm getting a new fence put up in the back yard. They were supposed to start it today, but it was raining too much. (Wait, did I just say "raining TOO MUCH"?) Yeah. Drought for how many years, and now we've had storm after storm. Crazy. So hopefully tomorrow it won't be too bad and they can get going on it. 

Tonight I'm putting up the tree, and am anxious to see how my newest kitty, Tracy, will behave with it. He's so young, and a real climber - I have a feeling it won't last long in the vertical position! Fingers crossed. 

I hope all of you have a peaceful, healthy, joyous, warm, cozy, happy, (what have I forgotten?) Christmas or Winter Solstice or whatever else you may celebrate!


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Back to watercolors


Its been a while since I've done any real painting with watercolors. I've been busy being a colored pencil artist for a while now, with some detours into digital, but have been wanting to go back to watercolors, so here I am.


This piece is my Christmas card, a little behind schedule, but on its way now. I'm working on illustration board (Strathmore 500 series) which is my all time favorite surface to work on. I get cranky with watercolor paper because I can't stand when it warps when wet (even if its stretched and taped down), and illustration board doesn't do that. The only drawback is that you can't transfer art onto it with a light box (its too thick to be 'see-through'), so its back to old-school transferring methods - tracing the drawing down over a graphite transfer sheet.



Here is my glamorous set-up. That's a fancy ceramic yogurt cup for the paint water, held steady by a roll of packing tape. Hey, it works. My drawing table is at a slant, so I have to keep stuff from rolling down. The parallel ruler on the bottom keeps most things from rolling off altogether.



I use a combination of Winsor Newton, Holbein, Daniel Smith, and Turner watercolors. I'm not really a purist - whichever brand has the color I need is what I use. I tend to stay away from the really grainy ones if I can help it, unless I'm doing something with special effects. I like a more even kind of pigment. Sometimes I use gouache (opaque watercolor) too if I need to. Here I've squeezed out some Winsor Newton Hooker's Green, Permanent Sap Green, and Green Gold. So far all I've use on this piece is the Permanent Sap, in various strengths.



And here we have some Christmas tree needles. There will be a lot more of them by the time I'm finished. A LOT.



We're due for an apocalyptic storm tomorrow and the next day. 60-70 mph wind gusts, and 3-4" of rain. This, after years of drought. I think last December it rained one day for about 10 minutes, and the rest of the time we had sun sun sun. The year before, too. Now, we're getting the opposite, and its too much! They're warning the power will go out, trees will fall over and all sorts of awful things will happen, so I thought I'd better blog something in case I'm offline for a while. Let's hope its not as bad as they say!





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Candy, Colored Pencils, and Christmas

I've been kinda busy I guess, finishing up some projects and trying not to panic about the holidays. Let's get started with the 'catch up', shall we?

The finished SKOR bar. This is with its new owner and is being framed as we speak. (And I'm so glad I bought a few extra of these for reference, which are still in the cupboard, because I just read an article about how there's a chocolate shortage looming on the horizon - !!!!)


I did this with . . . trying to remember . . . Prismacolors and Polychromos I think, on Stonehenge paper. I know that sounds bad that I can't remember, but when you have as many brands of pencils as I do, and they get cleaned up and put away after each project, its easy to forget.) This is 5" x 10".


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Then I did this house and people portrait for a nice family who wanted to remember their vacation together in France. This one required some photoshopping to get the people from different photos all looking out the correct windows in this photo before I could start the drawing. 

On this one I used Prismacolors and Cretacolor Soho Urban Artist pencils. The Sohos are pretty hard, and had the exact right shade of blue grey I needed for those shutters. I also used a lot of their Lamp Black for shadows, which is really a grey. I don't always mix brands of pencils, but do when I need a certain color, or need something soft or harder to do a specific task. 


The original of this was 11" x 15". And it was going to Buffalo, NY, which had 5' of snow today!!! I feel like I should have wrapped it in a blanket or something. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I'm really honored to be included in Katherine Tyrrell's new book, Sketching 365 (or if you're in the US, its called Drawing 365). She has a Facebook page dedicated to it.
I can't remember now which pieces of mine she asked for, and I don't have a copy yet to check. But I'm in there, somewhere, along with a whole bunch of other super talented drawers. Thanks Katherine!!




~ ~ ~ ~ ~


And then . . . dun, dun, DUNNNNNN . . .

CHRISTMAS

(insert those Psycho screeching violin noises here)

Every year I say "I'm not making cards! I hate making cards! I'm not making them!" and then I do.

Some of these are newish, some are oldies but goodies, image-wise. I found these fun blank cards with ornamental embossed edges, which I thought were perfect for festive cards. They all have fancy deckle edged envelopes. And they're all in the shop.














I have a couple other pieces I want to make into cards, but we'll see. One is square, so I ordered square envelopes, and when they arrived yesterday I realized I ordered the wrong size! (note to self: never order stuff before the coffee has fully kicked in) I should probably just work on my new card for this year, and some other projects that are pending. 

Its raining here, which is great for our drought. But of course the kitties are all out of whack because they can't go outside as much (translation: they're all climbing the walls in here). They have catnip and snacks and 500 places to perch and sleep, so they're OK. Which reminds me -  I need to order their new catnip cigars for Christmas (shhh, don't tell them). Seriously, if you want a really amazing cat nip toy, go here and get these - Hot Cat Treats.

Stay warm!!


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Bricks and chocolate

So, this is some of what I've been up to. 

This drawing was a commissioned piece for a realtor. The house is stunning (inside, too). And will you just look at all those bricks. When I started this I didn't know I was going to be so fiddly with them, and do them individually like this. Usually I develop a kind of shorthand to indicate bricks or whatever, but once I started, I knew I had to draw them all to do it justice. (Yes, I'm a little nuts.) So, long (long long long) story short, I glued myself to the drawing table and drew them all, and this is how it turned out.

This is 9" x 12", Polychromo and Prismacolor colored pencils on Strathmore bristol.





And now I'm doing more chocolate. Another commission piece. This is how they begin. I like to 'map it all out', then go back and do the detailing.



That's it for now. No time to chit chat. Back to the drawing board! 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

UArt 2014 Open winners

University Art, who sponsored the UArt Open 2014, sent me an email with the list of winners. I think they'll be putting these up on the website at some point, but for now, this is all we have to look at. The images are small, which is what they sent, so this is the best I can do, sorry. The show is up at their Redwood City store now through November 8th if you'd like to see these in person. I've put links to some websites, for the people I could find easily online.


BEST OF SHOW



1st Place: Vincent Lu, "Kung Pao Chicken" oil



2nd Place: Lynette Cook, "Connecting the Dots in My Life" acrylic



3rd Place : !!! ME ME ME ME !!! "Molasses Cookie" colored pencil


CATEGORIES

OIL & ACRYLIC


1st Place: Hallie McKnight, "Fedoras" oil



2nd Place: Laura Snable, "Dirty Dog Blues" oil & oil pastels



3rd Place: Andrew Morrison, "Timeless Tenderloin" acrylic



WATERCOLOR


1st Place: Nancy Near, "James M: Soul Man" watercolor



2nd Place: Debbie Bakker, "Lenox Lilacs" watercolor



3rd Place: Peter Carey, "Underwater" watercolor




DRAWING / PASTEL



1st Place: Arena Shaun, "Elegance-Life Drawing of Annie" charcoal



2nd Place: Samantha Holland, "Pele" drawing



3rd Place: Craig Sanborn, "Layers and Segments" graphite


MIXED MEDIA


1st Place: Jenifer T. Renzel, "Optical" mixed media



2nd Place: Davida Feder, "Woman Behind" mixed media


3rd Place: Noreen Rubay, "Trust" mixed media



EMERGING ARTIST


1st Place: Elaine Lu, "The E-generation" oil


2nd Place: Annie Zhang, "Keturah" acrylic


3rd Place: Katrina Hernes, "Paint Chip Portrait" mixed media




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Bleeding for my art

This is one little humble pimento olive - the kind you put in your cocktails. I haven't eaten many of these, not being much of a martini drinker, and was surprised to find I actually like them!



But that's not the whole story here. Look closely at the bottom edge of this drawing. See all those little red marks? They're BLOOD. I had a small cut on my hand that I didn't even know about, and accidentally rubbed the edge of the drawing. Eww. And then, hours later, I did it again, with a different scrape on the other hand. I know! I couldn't believe it either. 

Luckily, they were all along the bottom edge, so I was able to just trim them off. People on Facebook seemed to think it added value to the art, but I'm not so sure. I think its just icky.

So here's how it looks all cleaned up (blood, and also the background) for prints. 



I can't seem to look at any food now without seeing it in this 'top, side, and section view' way. I find myself analyzing things in the grocery store for their drawing potential, trying to visualize them cut open, and lined up like this. I've bought a few things that didn't turn out to be very good subjects, but luckily since its all food it just gets worked into dinner or a snack.

Oh, this was done with Prismacolors on Bristol, and is 4" x 9".

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A bicycling cat



This is Seth. He is a cycling enthusiast. He especially loves taking long rides in the Fall, when the air is crisp, and he can wear his tweed trousers and favorite sweater. After a good ride he always stops in the pub for a pint of milk and a good chat with his mates.


Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Plaid, chocolate, and an award


I love plaid! It must be my Celtic roots. I don't think I've ever met a plaid I didn't like (unless it was shiny, cheap fabric). I'm a big fan of the show Outlander on Starz - men in kilts, lots of plaid and also some nice knitted things. 

This little drawing is an artistic interpretation of the Chisholm clan tartan. Doing a pattern like this is kind of like meditation. Once I get the color pattern worked out, I can kind of zone out and think about other things while I do the coloring. Its a good way to keep my mind what I call "passively active" - I think its sort of like when you're in the shower, and some idea comes to you, or when you're driving, or knitting . . . your brain is working on the task at hand, but also open to receive thoughts or creative ideas or whatever. I'm not explaining it well, but you know what I'm talking about.





I also love chocolate! This is a Milky Way Dark Mini candy. Its wee tiny - a little more than an inch square. But its packed with lots of chocolate and caramel goodness! These are pretty addictive, because they're so small.

This is 5" x 7", and a little larger than life. I used all Prismacolors, on Fabriano Artistico paper.
I have prints in the shop. I may list the original too at some point.





And then . . . drumroll . . . my little Molasses Cookie drawing has won an award! It won 3rd Place - Best of Show in the UArt Open 2014 competition! This is a regional show, sponsored by University Art. They have art stores in Sacramento, San Jose and Redwood City, CA. All the accepted entries will be on display in their Redwood City store - 2550 El Camino Real - from October 25th through November 8th. If you're in the area, please go have a look!

I was especially proud of this little drawing because its so small and kind of quiet. Its only 8" x 10", and not showy or colorful. My Berry Tart drawing was also accepted into the show, and to be honest, I figured if either drawing had a chance at winning something, it would be that one - its bigger, and 'prettier'. Just goes to show, you never know with these things.




It doesn't feel very much like Fall here yet, with 90 degree temperatures still keeping things too warm for my taste. But its getting dark earlier, and I love quiet evenings, working on my art or knitting, while the kitties come and go, stopping in for a snack, then going back outside to lounge on the porch or explore. Soon it will be time to buy the Halloween candy - more chocolate to draw!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Its Fall!


I've been tempted to do this a time or two; at a Wayne Thiebaud exhibit, with a Holbein at the Frick, some stuff at the Met. Didn't try it though.

Its FALL, finally. Now if it would just rain . . .


Monday, September 15, 2014

More herbs, good news, and some knitting

I was tempted by some more herbs - Bay Leaves and Oregano. So I did drawings of both. I am really enjoying doing these. I like the size (5" x 7"), and the soothing quality of the subject matter. And they smell nice!

Fresh Bay Leaves



Fresh Oregano


I used Polychromo colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico paper for the whole series. I thought it was important to have them all look and feel the same.
Prints, and some of the originals, are available in my shop.

I'll be doing notecards too, but have hit a minor snag. The nice card stock I ordered won't go through my Epson printer - boo. I can't figure out why, since I have other card stock that's, to my eye and hand, the exact same weight, which goes through fine. It must be something in the finish. Whatever it is, the printer either refuses to take the paper and flashes lights and has a fit, or just spits it through un-printed, then prints the image on the sheet of cheap bond that's queued up behind it. Baah! So I will now have to make lemonade somehow out of this batch of lemons (250 sheets of it!), which I think may end up being hand made knitted cards or something. I'm sure I'll figure something out. Meanwhile, I have to find more of the paper I already have that the printer does like, which will go with the envelopes . . . oh, the trials and tribulations of being a 'do-it-yourself' art maker and etsy shop owner!


In happier news, I just found out that two of my pieces have been accepted into the UArt Open 2014 art show! Berry Tart, and Molasses Cookie will be going in to be framed tomorrow, so I can meet the final 'deliver the art' deadline. I'm pretty happy. This is a nice regional art show sponsored by University Art. The art will all be on display in their Redwood City store. Both of these pieces were done with colored pencils on paper.


Berry Tart


Molasses Cookie



And then, you know (or do you?) that I also do a bit of knitting, and have a little shop on etsy here
I was excited to learn that someone who bought several pieces last week will be using them in a production of "Annie" in New York! (no, not on Broadway, but still)

These are some of the pieces that will be in the show:




There was a little bit of drama with the post office not getting them there when they were supposed to - I paid extra to get them there overnight, but they didn't, and whoever was in charge of the package didn't think it was important to scan in any tracking info for a whole day, so we were dying a little, wondering where everything went! But then they got there the next day, in time for the show, so phew.

I'm doing some more knitting, trying to get a few more things in the shop for the holidays. Now its actually starting to be real knitting weather (well, actually it was 103 here again this past weekend, but its September at least, and the cool crisp weather will be starting soon - I hope!) 

I also have a 'Fall' illustration piece on the board that started out being done with watercolors, which may now be started over with colored pencils. Its funny - I've been doing so much colored pencil work that going back to painting feels awkward to me. I will of course share when its finished, whatever medium it ends up being done with.