I was commissioned for a piece of art this Christmas for the Petree family. The wife liked bluebirds and chicory flowers and her husband wanted to surprise her! He wanted 2 adult bluebirds and 2 adolescent bluebirds sitting on a fence with flowers around....It turned out to be a much longer painting than I anticipated, BUT I think I was psyching myself out with every step trying to paint REALLY carefully.
I didn't have a photograph of this painting to work from. I kind of had to piece it together from pictures of bluebirds, flowers, etc. Here are the washes and steps. Unfortunately, I didn't take a pic of the final wash with the cracks and weathering in the wood. I'll have to see if the customer can take a pic for me. I framed it, too, and it came out really nicely.
Feel free to try painting this!
Colors I used: French ultramarine, Moss green, Vandyke brown, Prussian blue, New Gamboge yellow, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Hooker's green, Burn Umber, Raw Sienna
I took some step by step photos of some of my Christmas present paintings. This is my in-laws kitty, Cuddles, that I painted for Rosemary. Cuddles wasn't the easiest subject to paint because her fur isn't really defined. When you look at her, she just looks like a big fuzzball. Painting fur can be tricky with watercolors, but if you continually soften fur line with water, you can get the soft effect that you are going for.
Check it out.
Pet portraits make great gifts! Keep me in mind if you're thinking of one.
I've been doing a great deal of thinking, reading, gathering of opinions about dating lately. Chloe is approaching her teens at light speed, so this is a subject that we need to consider and plan for soon.
From all of the books on the subject that I've read, we have come to the decision that we are going to encourage our children to NOT date until they are of marriageable age. Here's what I'm thinking...there are TONS of pros to this philosophy and not really any cons....it's a win/win in my opinion.
Back in the time, dating or courtship was reserved for when a young man or woman was in the market for a spouse. Children did NOT date, have boyfriends, girlfriends or romantic relationships of any kind. It was unheard of. Our forefathers would have laughed in disbelief at how foolishly we treat this subject of children dating just for the sake of dating.
Here's my issue with children who "date" or "go steady" before they are adults. They are practicing for divorce. Think about it. When I was a teenager, I had many boyfriends, I got my heart broken many times, I dumped many boyfriends when I became tired of them, it depressed me and caused me to be tempted physically and to sin. I didn't have the cognitive ability nor the maturity to deal with a relationship and love in a mature way because I was a child with a child's mind and ways.
If we allow our kids to leap in and out of dating relationships all through their teen years, how can we expect them to get married as an adult and remain in the marriage for better or for worse? Teens are practicing for divorce through repeatedly "falling in love" (not really understanding what true love is) having fun, tiring or becoming bored and then ditching the person.
And this is only one of the issues with teens dating! There's the problem of STD's, teen pregnancy, emotional baggage, broken hearts, inability to love maturely, depression, etc.....I could go on and on! Our kids just don't need that kind of pressure when they are growing up. Allow them to be children without all of the adult issues that we have to deal with. Those will come soon enough.
I've already had several chats with Chloe about dating, saving herself, enjoying her teen years with just being friends with boys without all of the pressure. She's fine with it....so far. I realize that we're not that far into her teen years yet, so it's going to have to be an ongoing process to resist what is going on all around her.
Anything that we practice in life over and over we are going to become good at, right? Why do we allow our children to practice "breaking up" with people over and over? We are setting them up for failure when the real thing comes along. They aren't practicing true love and commitment which involves working through problems with a spouse, forgiving, loving your spouse with all of their flaws, serving through sicknesses and times that aren't fun. No, a teen will generally bail when the going gets tough in a relationship and they will do this over and over and over for years!
Then, when they meet "the one" as adults, they deeply struggle with commitment. Our marriage counselors' offices are packed and our divorce courts can't keep up with the workload! The habits of shallowly falling in love and bailing will follow them throughout their lives.
If they've practiced for divorce all through their teens, we can't expect them to remain in a faithful long term "til death do us part" marriage.
Let's begin to set the stage for success in this area. I'm going to let my teens follow their dreams, be who they want to be, travel, study, have great times with their friends....but I'm going to allow them to be kids and not be pressured with adult issues until they are adults and ready.
Let's let our kids be kids. It's a precious time that they can never regain.
So, when I paint a portrait, it literally consumes me. If I have to stop to make dinner, fold laundry or vacuum up the glass ornaments that the cats broke, I will walk by my studio and just look at the painting over and over again.....I can't WAIT to sit back down and finish it. Unfinished paintings drive me nuts!
When I finally do sit back down and "finish" the painting, I am SO excited about it that I immediately photograph it and post it....and it's usually LATE at night and then I go to bed.
The next day, when I look at the painting that the night BEFORE I thought was oh-so-done, it just needs a little bit more here...and a dab here....and I leave it. I come back later and boy, it really needs something here.....and there....and so it goes.
Then I have to re-photograph it and re-post it both to Facebook and my website. That's alright though, b/c sleeping on it really helps and even though the add-ons are minute, they do make a difference in the final product.
There was this ADORABLE pic on Facebook of some friends' baby that I wanted to try....here was the first "finished" pic:
And here was the final FINAL finished product with a few small changes....but they made a big improvement, don't you think?
In the end, I darkened the warm colors behind the baby, lifted more reflections in her eyes, slightly deepened her rosy cheeks and defined her lil' nose a bit more. All in all, this has been my best skin tone in a portrait yet, so I'm really happy with it.
I have a LOT more to learn, but one painting at time, eh?
My dear friend, Kate, came over the other day with a painting project to work on. She's been commissioned to paint a river scene for a Christmas present....the customer desired a watercolor painting with water, sky, a tree line, some mountains, clouds, and some lily pads in the river. Not too hard, right? Even as she described it, I was mentally mapping out how to do it. This was going to be fun and beautiful, too boot! (what does that expression mean?)
Then, with a slightly mischievous twinkle in her eye, she says....it has to be 4x6 or smaller. Whaaaatttt???? lol
After I finished snorting up my coffee in disbelief, I realized that she was serious. I argued and hemmed and hawed for a bit, pouted, stuck my bottom lip out.....used all of the usual successful manipulating tricks (that work on my husband), trying to gain some inches to the painting, or heck, even some millimeters, but alas, to no avail....it must be painted that small.
Now, if ya'll know about my art history, I started out painting as a muralist. Painting small is not my cup of tea (or actually, cup o' Vietnamese coffee) I'd rather spend my time plucking my chin hairs (which I do spend time doing, BTW, considering that I am aging at an alarming rate, but that's another blog for another day) but we had to do it, so we ripped some small paper into tinier pieces of paper and then we ripped them again....into a piece that I would normally throw away as leftover scrap paper or use to scrape the cat food bowl clean so that the pieces don't end up in the sink drain..... aaaaand we started.
The sketching didn't take long and once we started painting, I actually started to enjoy painting small. Who'd have thunk it? (as my 9 year old says) (after which, I correct her grammar as any responsible homeschool mom would do)
All in all, it turned out cute and it was fun....surprisingly! I had thought that I was breaking the "small painting" records by my daisy paintings the other day:
But that was only practice for this painting....lol
Anyhow, thanks for the challenge, Kate and I thought that yours turned out really nicely!
I do doff my theoretical artistic hat to all of the small painters out there! It's tough stuff! The next time I see a lovely small painting, I will study it respectfully for at least a full minute if I don't get distracted by anything else.
Sometimes, I get done with a painting and it just doesn't seem right....doesn't seem to fit with a frame, doesn't have the right balance....I have one or two paintings like that. This painting of purple flowers in a vase was actually a demo painting that I used to teach a class, it was framed and was in a show a while back, but I just couldn't seem to like it, much less love it.
So, it's been sitting around, collection dust, looking useless and abandoned and yesterday, I had a moment of art slashing (yes, it comes upon me to cut up my art into smaller pieces) and I cut the whole thing in half, added some moths and butterflies....and voila! I loved it!
Here's the first painting....the one I didn't like initially....kind of bland, eh?
I think the balance if off....plus, there's a lot of white background space going on.....
Here's after the slasher (that's me!) hit it and the moths descended upon it....
I was happy with the results. I matted both pieces and I think it'll look really trendy framed as a set.
The moths were an idea that I got from the Watercolor Artist magazine that I thought I'd try. They are REALLY fun, so if you're into watercolor, you should try them.
First, sketch out the moth shape.....then wet the whole moth with clean water.
Start dropping in, or touching in colors, starting with the moth's body first. Do NOT mix on the page, but allow the water to move the pigment as much as you can.
After you've dropped in all of the desired colors, just lightly touch in darker pigment onto the very edges of the wings (the brown, for example) here and there. (I particularly like Payne's Gray and Van Dyke Brown) (Winsor & Newton brand)
It's a really quick and easy thing to paint and would look lovely on a greeting card or something like that. A butterfly or dragonfly shape would look cute, too.
See? I think it's a HUGE improvement and these might even sell, if I'm lucky....lol
I hope everyone is having a lovely start to their Christmas season! Feel free too email me with any art questions that you might have.