Friday, December 21, 2012

Counting My Blessings

Christmas is just a few days away. I managed to get everything done (shopping, wrapping, mailing cards and presents) around the 17th of December. A personal best!

I'm trying to keep things normal and keep my eyes and ears away from the news. The tragedy in Newtown, CT last week really shook me as a person and as a parent. Seeing flags around our town flying at half staff make me tear up.


I am trying to live in the moment. I'm remembering Christmases' past.




And trying to create new memories for this Christmas. Almost every night we drive around and look at the decorations. We're painting ornaments. Baking cookies. And maybe we'll even visit with Santa.

Every moment I am counting my blessings.

I hope you and yours have a joyous holiday filled with laughter and love.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us, everyone!"



Saturday, December 15, 2012

Experimenting with Faces

I think faces are a challenge for every artist. Getting the depth and personality can be very difficult. My shading has been hit or miss in the past. I really want to achieve depth and texture in my faces since I'm not going for realism. I went through my Paint Your Story videos again and played in my sketchbook. I decided to write down the steps I took to hopefully achieve the look I wanted.

I started with a head shape and then scribbled in my shade colors with pencils.

Then I used my favorite paint colors with some GAC 100 (this helps thin the paint) and tapped it onto the face with my fingers. Pretty scary looking, huh?
Then I used a bristle brush and scrubbed white gesso over the whole face. Not so scary now, is it?

I kept repeating the process adding heavy body white paint into the mix as I added more layers. I also used my Neocolor II crayons. By the end of the process I was using my paint brush instead of my fingers to apply paint.

Here are some details of the face.



I really like the texture and the depth of color I achieved. I need to keep practicing and find the methods I like best. I want my faces to each be unique and filled with personality. The more I practice the better I will get.

If you haven't checked out Mindy Lacefield's E-course, Paint Your Story, you really should. It has really helped me blossom as an artist. It's the best course out there to help you find your style.



Friday, December 7, 2012

Squeezing Art In During the Holidays

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

And the craziest with how busy it is around here. Today is the 7th and I feel like Christmas Day is tomorrow. On the bright side, I'm pretty much done with shopping and I am in wrapping mode. There are a few other things to do. Christmas cards need to go out for example. I don't want to think about it.


I'm trying to squeeze art in and get things finished so I feel a sense of accomplishment as well as maintain my sanity. Working small helps. I finished these two pieces in the past week or so.

This is on 5x7 hot press watercolor paper. I used inks, water soluble crayons and pencils. My daughter requested the mermaid.


This is a 5x5 mini canvas created with paint and inks. I love these little doggies. I'll definitely be making more.


I'm not putting too much pressure on myself to "finish" things. It is the Christmas season after all. After Christmas is my son's 5th birthday (I can't believe it)! Once all the parties are over (one for family and one for friends) I can really buckle down and make some art.

I hope your holiday season isn't too crazy. Remember to take time for yourself so you can remain sane!



Friday, November 30, 2012

A New Journey into Art Journalling

See all these. This is my collection of sketchbooks that I keep near my bed.

And these are the journals and sketchbooks in my studio.


I may have a hoarding problem. Anyhoo, I am shifting my focus from taking e-courses to further my art education to using my collection of journals/sketchbooks instead.

I've never been great at keeping an art journal or a sketchbook. I love seeing other artists sketchbooks and journals and they look so amazing. Mine don't. I realized comparing my work to others was putting huge pressure on myself to be perfect. For me, my sketchbooks are going to be about practice, experimenting and play.

This is my favorite brand to paint in. It's only available at Michael's. I grab one when I can with a 50% off coupon. The paper is 140lb mixed media. You can find the 90lb version at any art store.


I'm going to really take the time now to practice drawing.

Explore materials.


Play around and experiment.


And maybe finish a page or two.



They won't all be masterpieces. They will all educate me in some way. I'll learn what I like and don't like. I'll learn what "not" to do. I'll understand my materials better. I will develop my style.

I'm very excited about this. I am giving myself permission to explore and screw up and not freak out about something not working. I get to turn the page and just try again. How freeing is that!



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Artistic Children

A continuous inspiration to me are my kids. I've tried to encourage their artistic interests without pushing too much. I show them some techniques but I mostly let them explore. What they come up with just playing around amazes me. I pretty much find myself saying "Why didn't I think of that?"


Some of Caitlyn's work. She's 3 1/2. She loves painting next to me.


The animal above was a collaborative effort between Caitlyn and me.

Below is my son Evan's work. He'll be 5 in a few weeks. He likes to draw funny characters.



The above bunnies were also a collaborative effort. Evan did the paint streaks and I thought they looked like two bunnies embracing.

It's so much fun creating with my kids. They aren't critical. They just create and when they are done, they're done. It's wonderful!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

I am grateful for my Family.





Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

I Can't "Art" Without.... E-Courses

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I'm a huge fan of E-courses. I discovered them last year and am addicted (they say the first step is to admit you have a problem). For those who don't know what an e-course is, it's basically an online class. The artist creates a platform to teach you her painting style as if you were there in person with her. The ones I like have HD video instruction, extended access (usually 6 to 12 months) and sometimes the instructors let you download the videos for you to keep or give you PDF's to keep. They all have a place to post your work and exchange feedback with your fellow students. I've taken a lot of courses. Some were awesome and some didn't really do it for me. All of them gave me a place to start. I was a decorative painter years ago but stopped painting when we moved and had two babies back to back. I knew I wanted to create again. I knew I loved mixed media. But I didn't know where to begin...until I found e-courses.

Below I'm going to share with you my all-time favorites from my e-course explorations. These classes gave me so much information and so many tools. They opened my creative mind and got my mojo going.

Jane Davenport's Supplies Me

Jane Davenport is an admitted art supply addict. In this course she reviews dozens of art supplies. In addition to her wonderful reviews she shows you how to draw a pretty face and the basic body. I almost didn't sign up for this course because I had little interest in drawing people. (I didn't think I could). But I had a plethora of art supplies so, I went for it. I fell in love with drawing faces! It takes practice and I'm still not great on the body but Jane makes drawing so much fun. This is an incredibly informative course. You need to take notes because you won't remember everything she tells you. The only downside is you'll want to buy more supplies.

I made the face below with the skills I learned in Jane's course.

Juliette Crane's How to Paint a Girl and How to Create Whimsical Animals

I am a huge fan of Juliette Crane's e-courses. These are my two favorites. I like How to Paint a Girl because Juliette shows you three different whimsical girl styles. She starts with backgrounds then focuses a week on each of the three girls. How to Create Whimsical Animals is the only 6 week course I've found just on creating different animals. Juliette takes you from sketchbook to canvas. I love her sketchbook exercises. They really help you get in touch with your inner child and just have fun.

Below are the favorite paintings I made from Juliette's courses.

Mindy Lacefield's Paint Your Story

I admit this is probably my number one favorite course. I was on the fence about taking this one because Mindy Lacefield's style was so different from how I painted. It was really taking me outside my comfort zone. I loved her use of color though. I loved the layers. Something inside me was saying "you must take this course". So, I signed up and it was amazing! Mindy broke down her process into simple steps that built on each other but my own style came through. It really freed me as an artist.

These are a couple of my favorite creations from this course.


If you have never taken a course it can be difficult to figure out what to take. There are a lot out there. I suggest checking out the artists you admire first and see if they offer an e-course. Another resource is Creative They have a large selection of courses for you to peruse and some have reviews. I found the above courses through blog hopping. One artist supporting another would talk about this new e-course on their blog and I would "hop" on over to get the details. Creative didn't exist when I started taking them.

In the new year I'm going to be changing my focus a bit and diving into the world of sketchbooks and art journals. I have loved taking e-courses. They have given me so much information and really helped me improve my skills. Now I need to put all I've learned to work and create/find my own style. The ladies above offer other courses as well. Just go to their websites to check them out.

One last e-course I'd like to mention is Life Book 2013. There will be 16 instructors all with different styles and techniques. I took Life Book 2012 and enjoyed it but I found a lot of the artists had similar styles. Not so for next year's installment. The line up is amazing! Life Book 2013 is an excellent choice if you've never taken a course or have taken a ton of courses. The format is year long with new things to learn every month! I will likely be taking it. (No surprise there!)


Monday, November 12, 2012

Creating Whimsical Animals

How To Create Whimsical Animals by Juliette Crane just finished up its live run. It's her latest e-course and it's available for self study. Juliette takes you from sketchbook to canvas and helps you create your own whimsical animals. Here is how a favorite painting I did for the course came to be.

This elephant I created in my sketchbook.


Then I traced him onto deli paper. Deli paper is thicker than tissue paper but still thin enough to see the pattern underneath.



Next came the painting. I used all kinds of materials to paint my elephant. Mostly water soluble materials like Inktense Pencils, Pan Pastels and Gesso.


Then I decided he needed a friend.



Aren't they just the cutest!

I highly recommend this course, especially if you want to paint animals. You also don't need to have any painting or drawing experience since Juliette shows you how to take simple shapes and make cute animals from them.

I'm also very excited for Juliette's new mini course Backgrounds & Layers coming Nov. 16th. Juliette did a bonus video in Whimsical Animals of her art journalling. This new course is an expansion of that. The art journalling Juliette does is so inspiring to me. Here's a little video she did previewing the new class and below is a page I did inspired by Juliette's methods. I set my timer and used whatever materials I had in front of me. It was totally fun!