Monday, October 13, 2014

Scary Movies and Queens!

This week I have less art and more life to share, I think, as far as the visuals go. Here is my weekly shot from my back deck for autumn. Actually, I think I'll just continue to do this until we move. I'll have no view at all of anything in North Carolina. I asked what a view is there, and it's either a "city" view (when you live in the city and high up like in an apartment building), or trees. That's right, if you have trees smack up against your windows and can't see your neighbors, that's the best you can do for a view. Well, at least where I am moving. I imagine there are some amazing places on the beach and up in the mountains, but that's not where I'll be living.

A bit chilly and dark this morning... but pretty colors!

My son completely bailed on the Inktober challenge, and my daughter, despite saying she was going to pick it up, didn't. I just sorta let it go after that. So, my Inktober challenge was very, very short lived.

This is fine though, because I shifted my focus to my Queen of Hearts. I tried painting like normal, but the truth was... I was having trouble seeing. Darnit. I finally gave in and got my glasses. I just HAVE to wear them now while painting, even when I'm not doing close-up work. As a matter of fact, I need to go buy super-magnifying reading glasses for the close-up and tiny stuff. I'm NOT happy. I feel like a librarian when I wear them (no offense to any librarians, but I got yelled at by a lot of them growing up because I checked out too many books for their liking and they didn't believe I was reading that many every week! Speaking of which, I just finished the Maze Runner trilogy. I then proceeded to download a ton of romances to my kindle because I need non-apocalyptic brain-candy for a while or I'll go insane!)

I even snapped this photo, proving that I gave in to my glasses.
Getting old stinks.

When last you saw my Queen painting, she looked like this:

And then I actually made quite a bit of progress! I started painting away, and finished with her at this point on Friday:

I'll add flowers to the garden behind her very last to balance out the colors overall. It'll be pretty!

A close up of the queen and the pink flamingo on her shoulder:

So, the first thing I have to say is how sinister flamingos can look. I went through all sorts of reference photos and I have to be honest here; flamingos kinda freak me out. I actually dialed back the rather sinister feel from the real pictures to make it a little less scary, and they're still quite the intense minions for the queen.

The second thing is, yes, I am making the lower flamingo blue. Well, to be precise, it's a mixture from purple to teal. Both flamingos have iridescent paint that make their feathers light up, and while that's pretty on the pink one, it's amazing on the blue because it brings to mind a peacock. Which makes me want to paint a peacock. I know I have painted a few (like Flight) but it makes me want to do an even bigger one!

Anyway, the queen's dress is done except for her sleeves which will be a sheer white once I paint her hands (unless I go back and embellish her dress a bit more with some gold here and there. I haven't decided yet... there's something to be said about gussying her up a bit over the top. On the other hand, she's pretty severe and intense as she is, and I don't want to distract from that either. I don't think she needs extra stuff to make her point, so to speak?)

Now, one of the things I have spoken about before is how I don't actually like the genre of horror films. Because. You know. They're SCARY. Yet, if I put one on (that has a plot line - violence with no plot and point are a complete waste of space in my opinion) and I work, I make amazing progress. My reasoning is that I don't want to be too drawn into the scary movie, so instead of putting my hands over my face to peek through my fingers, I paint, and occasionally peek at the screen instead. Given that there is rarely a time I want to focus on the screen, I end up pretty intent on my painting and make great progress!

Well, I was playing the movie Silent Hill (I can't replay any horror movies I have seen before, because they're not exactly movies I want to relive - so if you have suggestions for movies please tell me) because it happened to be on cable. Monsters. Scary things. And this is what I saw when I looked over to my right, on my bed (I'm painting in my bedroom, I'm so desperate for a big enough studio!):

Socrates, yawning because the horror movie bored him.

The horror genre has nothing on my cat, I'm telling you. Look at those teeth! Good thing he never bites, or I'd lose an appendage! My daughter's sleep mask to the side of him makes me giggle though.

Actually, Socrates has been quite the character this past week. He set up a toll-booth one morning and wouldn't let anyone pass without paying the toll:

"What's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"
My son paying the toll before school. No exceptions!

Over the weekend we worked on house projects. One of them involved a forklift and I couldn't help with it, so I made pumpkin spice lattes and my daughter and I sat on the deck and watched. It's better than reality TV!

I'm looking forward to a nice week, with the hope that I might get close to finishing the Queen... we'll see. It may be another week after that yet, but I suppose it depends on how many horror movies I can catch! Good thing it's close to Halloween, then, right? Have a great week!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Feeling Autumn

Here is my weekly photo from my deck, showing off the hot autumn colors!

It's less brown in person, much more rainbow with orange, yellow, and red with the green. My phone simply doesn't do it justice.

Well, this has been a less productive week, unfortunately. I'm still finding my balance with things. I needed to do something fun for Halloween, just because... So, I painted this:

4x6 inch acrylic painting on professional canvas panel
It sold right away, so other people are clearly in a holiday mood too! It felt good to paint something fun and carefree! Even though I paint fairy tales, sometimes my work can get so serious!

October also kicked off #Inktober online, where artists all over the world are doing a daily drawing in ink. I saw one set of artists that were each drawing a monster to eat the other's monster from the day before and told my son about it. He instantly fell in love with the idea, and begged me to do it. I agreed, and his first drawing was this (all of these are simply ball-point pens on sketch paper):

Kinda creepy to start with, don't you think? I went for the guilt-route and did a "you don't want to kill and eat lil ole me, now do you?" with this:

The next day, my goal was to eat/kill his squid creature so I went with this:

See, the little lantern at the end of his stalk lures in the evil squid-things my son drew, and he eats them!

My son had no problem with killing my cute creature with this:


Now, that looks like a spider to me, don't you think? So the next day I drew this to squish the spider:

Big foot for squishing creepies!

And then my son quit. 

He said it's too much like a homework assignment to have to draw every day. *sigh* I ended up not drawing yesterday, because I was kind of bummed over the whole thing. However, my daughter had been watching from the sidelines and when she heard he quit, she said she wanted to draw with me. Instead of killing each other's monsters, however, she wants a daily prompt instead. So, we're starting back into it today, and the prompt is Candy Land. We'll see what happens!

I'm working on doing the flamingo over the shoulder in my Queen of Hearts painting, and shipping out other paintings, and I just discovered the owls I painted last year, I guess I never listed them!

2x2 screech owl, now in my shop
2x4 white owl, now in my shop

So, oops. Caught that... maybe I was saving them for myself?

I also, after another showing and feeling bummed about the season, went into my crawl space and pulled out a couple fun Halloween decorations, including my favorite Halloween Cat:

I'm thinking that perhaps that cat shouldn't be put away anymore, as he tends to get lost. Perhaps he should just migrate to my studio in the off season?

I know my house is not supposed to have much personality at all while it's for sale, but it was getting depressing. I love the holidays, and it's hard not putting all the tacky crazy stuff up! So, a few things are up now, and even my kids said it makes them feel better!

No news on the house. We're still having showings, but I imagine it's as I feared that we're past the real estate window and we'll be here until it comes around again in the Spring. Things were pretty stressful this past week, but I think it's all going to be OK. 

Just breath deep and paint!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Trying To Find The Calm

Since I took a picture last week of Autumn starting up here in Vermont, I decided I'd do one every week, just to show the changing season right now. So, here is this week's Fall foliage photo, taken from my deck, Sunday morning:

You can see that the colors are definitely heating up! Peak season falls around the first two weeks of October, so we're right on schedule. It gets flat out brilliant. I'm waiting for my oak on the left there to start turning orange!

I finished my piece for the live auction on Facebook on The Rabbit Hole Artist Collective:

"Sail Away" 8x10" acrylic on fine professional canvas panel.

I really am happy with the way the auction piece came out, and I am planning several paintings. I've just got the whole hair-turning-into-night-thing stuck in my head. I've got all sorts of ideas. Luckily, that will fuel my surreal side very nicely for a while.

I also painted a mini that was months past-due:

And then with all those obligations finally taken care of, I was finally able to start back to work on my Queen of Hearts (which I am sure the client who has reserved her is relieved about! Heck, I'm relieved too!):

This is where I had last left it, and started back in...

And the light was gone by the time I stopped (hence the bad lighting in the photo), but this is where I ended it. 
Now, I know I covered up a lot of the spiral trees, but that's part of how I paint. Maybe I didn't need to spend as much time on them, but the truth is that *I* know they are there and I'm not 100% sure how my paintings are going to come into being. They tend to have a mind of their own, and if I try to control too much I end up messing them up. So, I complete a lot of the painting that perhaps no one will ever see (like the wall on the White Rabbit painting, for example) because it's important to me to do it right and not have gaping holes if it goes in a direction I didn't expect. So, while no one will see how much went into those spiral trees, I know they're really there.

I went with a yellow flowering tree in opposition to the purple flowering tree (and if you look beneath them, they have opposite colored iris flowers too.) I plan on making the garden an explosion of floral color, so although it just looks very green now... it won't for much longer! I have to be careful though, because I know those flamingos are going to be a huge wash of pink!

I'm sill trying to decide about her skirt too. All one color? Red? Black? What about red and black stripes down? The center will be white ruffles, of course. But this is how the painting grows on its own; I'm never quite certain how it'll all end up. Just mostly certain. Mostly.

That wrapped my busy week up. Then it was time for two house showings on Saturday. There was a live bid on the house, but it's dead now because the other side was looking for a cut-throat deal and that simply isn't going to happen. I'm well aware we're past the Vermont real estate window, and I'm simply preparing to be here until next Spring. We're actually fine with that, because it is better for us financially anyway, we'll be likely to get a much more reasonable bid on the house, and I get to have one last winter! Win-win! If we got a reasonable offer, we'd take it, of course, but until that happens I'm happy with where we are.

All this back and forth is messing with my calm, though. I just found it, just started back to work on painting, and now I'm having problems keeping my calm because I want to yell at someone. The truth is that we're fine. Better than fine, actually. So, I should be calm and all this should be background noise. I just like things settled. Calm. I need to find my calm.

Saturday also brought with it a fever for me, which wasn't a huge surprise as my kids were sick this week too, and I'm worn down by all the unsettled energy going on. A cold isn't all that much of a shock. It's kind of like the other shoe finally dropping, actually!

I've been trying to take a few more "selfies" because my daughter pointed it out that it's fun to look back years later and see yourself. As I have avoided the camera as much as possible, there are actually very few pictures of me around. So, what the heck, right? This is me on Saturday with a fever, a migraine setting in, and laying down for a nap. For the record; I have a lot more wrinkles than this... which is probably why I like the picture! Sure, I feel like heck, but I look 10 years younger! HA!

I felt a bit better Sunday even worked out! Saturday was just a very big day after a very big week, I guess!

I'm typing this out on Sunday, and it's my day off... but I think I want to paint. Because it's a day off from the major studio work, I have decided to paint some Halloween minis! So, I'm off to do that! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

(I did start a halloween mini, and we had a last of the season fire last night)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome Autumn!

It's the first day of Autumn here, and I have to tell you it's just perfect outside! I typed that sentence, then ran outside to snap a picture from the back deck:

Now, it's harder to see in the photo, but trees are just starting to turn. Some orange and red ones are scattered about! I'm told that's one thing I won't lose in North Carolina, the brilliant autumns! That's good, because it really is my favorite time of the year. The air turns crisp and the world lights up with color! It's something I never experienced in Colorado. We drove up into the mountains to see the aspens change sometimes (all yellow), but in general autumn in Colorado was all about trees starting to change, a sudden major snowstorm, and then all the leaves were gone. This subtle meandering through color and raining leaves, it's something I've grown to adore! I don't think I'd do well living without it.

I am a bit nervous to be living without snow, however. We'll see how I handle that transition.

Speaking of, we finally got our house on the market. There has been some interest from a couple different parties, but it's one of those things that simply may not work out (I'm an optimistic pessimist; I don't think things are going to go well but I really, really hope they will!) We hope it does, but I am also preparing myself for being here until next summer when the real estate season comes back around (it's very seasonal here with most people buying in the Spring and Summer.) We could sell our house for far less than it is worth and leave now, of course, but that would hurt my family financially and there is no bonus for doing that on any level. So, perhaps I won't miss out on snow this year. Maybe I'll get one more season in my pretty house in the Vermont mountains after all? 

It actually doesn't bother me all that much, if we sell fast or not. I see positives in going now if we can, but also for staying. I suppose that's a good place to be in! The panic has faded, the urgency. The only fly in my wine (wine sounds better than ointment, really) is keeping the house clean for showings! Seriously, people who live in spotless houses naturally, how does that even work?

In other news, I FINALLY got back to painting. Really painting. I missed two auction deadlines for the Rabbit Hole Artist Collective. *head*desk*

BUT! This month's prompt is The Lovely Bones. Now, I don't know if the group meant the prompt to be from the book or movie, but I remember it clearly (a girl who was murdered, watching over the people in her life.) It was hard, and sad, and... well, anyway. Many of the collective went a very different way with the prompt, and I decided to fall somewhere halfway between the two.

I decided on an 8x10 fine tooth canvas panel:

All sketched out
Adding in the background...
Night sky and moon in, body in, working on dress

Now, her dress morphs into a bone-boat. I debated the color of the dress being red, because it creates a blood and bone image that might be too much. Yet, I don't think it could have been any other color. Not only would another color blend too much, but frankly? The blood and bone boat makes a significant metaphorical point if you know the story. This is about journey, personal sorrow, and transition.

I'm already in love with this painting. I've been meaning to paint a series where the hair or dress of my figure is causing a shift (from day to night, spring to fall, etc) for about two years now. This prompt and where I went with it gave me my excuse. 

This is definitely more surreal than fairytale, so this is coming from my Abstract and Surreal art page, rather than my Fairy Tale one. I have a yearning to paint more and more of these as I've been working on them in my mind for a very long time, but I also have a strong desire (and a client) to finish off my Queen of Hearts and her companion piece (the white queen) along with the secondary characters I had meant to paint as well (i.e. humpty dumpty, etc.) And then there is the urge to get on the holiday stuff too! I never finished my kittens with the stockings last year either!

Basically, while I didn't intend to take this long off from painting (it's been months now if I add up my parents living here and getting the house ready until now), but I'm charged up to make things happen! PAINT! PAINT! PAINT!

I expect this current painting to be finished today, and up for auction this week at the collective, so pop by if you are interested! I also expect I'll have a lot more painting progress to share next week!