Monday, December 31, 2012

Closing the Year

2012 is fast headed out the door, and 2013 looms before us!

This has been a large year for me on the art front because, while I've been selling professionally since 2001, I shut down every other business and idea outside of art this year and committed to it 100% by June. I shut the doors on my photography business in May when it became clear that both businesses were heating up and requiring too much to allow both to survive, and that's when I made the final decision to finally say yes to the paint.  (Want to know more about my art-business path? I was invited to talk about it in a guest post here.)

I even figured out how to make a time-lapse video of my paintings (I made three, actually!)

I also learned that I can make a video blog (vlog?) from my phone, and tried it out:

I plan on actually doing more of those vlogs (and decorating my studio a bit more, because it looks depressingly stark on the video! I should add that my house is vibrant everywhere else, and I think I removed the color from everything in there so mine would be the focus when I added it to the canvases!) And I hear tell that some artists are trying art-meet-ups via Skype or other video chatting, and I'm interested in giving that a go... if I can get over my shyness, and find others who want to chat while we work!

I have a lot of goals for 2013, and I'm looking forward to a year filled with paint and opportunities! I'm going to make it a goal to finish a painting a week. Sure, my larger paintings take more time (months and months in some cases) but I promise to take the time to work on some smaller, faster ones as well. Allowing for some sick and vacation time, that means about 48-50 new paintings next year!

I'm going to tighten back up my sketching skills so I jump forward in other ways. I used to work solely in pencil, not even color. I remember working so hard in high school on detail that I made a picture of my hand that looked like a black and white photograph when I was finished (boring, but all about the detail - composition didn't matter then.) Once I achieved that, I wanted a new challenge, and that was color. I slid first to acrylics and I didn't like the results, so I backtracked and went heavy with chalk pastels. For some reason, color meant more about expression than detail, and I loosened up in order to allow for that.

Eventually I conquered the paint, and my tight detail rendering slid into the shadows as I learned I just needed the basic outlines for painting, and the detail came from the paint instead. It's time to revisit the detail and work on crossing it with the color - in particular with watercolors, where the details count in the pencil rendering. This will make my "painting a week" more achievable, because watercolor just works a bit faster than acrylic or oils for me.

Speaking of oils, they're coming out this year. I miss the depth! I plan on using them for any people I paint, because it just looks better to me. It's going to be tough waiting for the oils to try as the trade-off, but it'll be worth it. I'll still work in acrylics as well, though.

Lastly, I'm going to continue working on my fairytale series, but I'm also resurrecting my abstracts and surreal body of work (I had pulled them from my site when I did a major revamp almost two years ago, I think.) I'm going to be offering some prints of the older ones, and new ones are already lining up for the easel! Also, this work dovetails nicely with THRICE Fiction Magazine, where I have been lucky enough to be asked contribute artistically, along with other talented artists and writers.

I'm thankful to all who have supported my art, as well as those who have found a piece they like and took it into their homes! It's been a huge 2012 for me, and I'm looking forward to 2013! I hope you had a wonderful year, and have a fabulous 2013!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter Wishes

Tonight, I finished a mini-painting (while piles of cookies and remnants of wrapping paper lay all around me):

"Flurry" 4x6" watercolor, available for purchase on my main site.
I really love the snow queens lately, but even more than that I love the luminance that watercolors give to the "skin" of the people I paint. It's something I guess I never really paid attention to before. I remember watercoloring figures and faces about a decade ago (maybe a few here and there since, but mostly about 10 years ago) and I always felt like I was fighting the paper. I was always trying to add layers all over, the way one does with oils when building the skin. You under-paint, and build, and build, and that's how you create a depth and luminance with paint and canvas.

However, with watercolor? I finally - finally - got it. I stopped fighting it. I learned to let the light shine through it and I'm simply in LOVE with it. It's almost like capturing light with the slightest of cages of your paint, and shaping it into something else. I'm a hard contrast type of painter though, I can't live without the vibrancy that the colors bring, so when I get the chance to use color I go hard and heavy with it. The resulting contrast and "glow" is something I'm a wee bit obsessed with at the moment. I just love it... I sort of crave it, like I would a piece of chocolate cake. (I'm rather grateful for the calorie-free satisfaction of it all!)

I believe I'll not only be painting more snow queens, but more figures in general with my watercolors, as I work through this newest obsession. I'm working on a Santa that I started at the same time as my snow queen, but my hopes are dwindling that he'll turn out:

You can see my snow queen was in progress. They're smaller paintings, so I needed to be able to switch between the two to allow for drying time and making myself walk away from the paper!
My Santa just looks a bit... feminine. I paint women for the most part, so it's understandable I suppose. We'll see. I still have a ways to go, and there's always the chance it'll work out in the end!

I'm going to try to finish him, but I may walk away for a bit. I have a strong desire to paint some abstracts right now. I have one in progress, and another one on my mind. I've also been playing with the theme of angels. I plan on playing tomorrow by combining the two and seeing where it leads.

I recently was able to watch the whole documentary Who Does She Think She Is? I found it to be both inspiring and depressing at the same time. If you're a woman artist, I think it's worth the watch. I've been thinking a lot about it over the past few days, and I realized that the disconnect with my abstract side needs to be remedied. I've been starting to do so already, but I'm going to make a bigger effort to allow that to happen.

My best selling print, even to this day, is an abstract/surreal work that I painted many years ago:

"Tempest", 16x20, Oil
There is a reason for that, and I'm realizing where the connection is for me personally. It's not about selling, it's about feeling complete. My abstracts seem to be more steeped in emotion, and I miss painting that way. However, I also enjoy painting the ones I do now, like my Alice in Wonderland Series that I'm in the middle of, and others like the snow queens and fun holiday themed paintings. Just like with the watercolors and learning to embrace the light within them as well as applying my heavy hand with contrasting color, I realize that I crave the balance between my emotional abstracts with my story telling and playful paintings.


I am both, and I'm going to allow for that to flourish! That is my gift this year to myself. I thought it was taking time off to just play in the studio, but really that was just my stocking stuffer. My real gift is allowing myself the room to learn how to embrace all of me as an artist, and it will likely be a lifelong endeavor!

On a side note, when my facebook art page is up to 300 likes, I'm going to give away a free 5x7 panel painting (or a watercolor if the winner so chooses). So stop by and say hello!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Today was the first day back to school for my son who had been on house arrest for whooping cough. That meant that today was mine... ALL MINE!

I don't know what it is about having the kids around, but I swear to you that my ability to concentrate goes to zero, and I just wander around randomly picking things up, moving laundry, and feeding people. I'm supposed to be playing in my studio, and instead I've suddenly gone 200% into Mom-Mode.

It happens.

I did manage to tackle a large portion of our holiday baking, however!

These are my peanut butter Reese's cup cookies.
These are sour cream sugar cookies on the back left, chocolate chip on the left, and double chocolate chunk on the right. There were plain peanut butter cookies off to the side too, but they didn't fit in the picture. Bagging up the goodies for neighbors, teachers, and friends is next!

Later that night after dinner, we somehow ended up with the box of extra plastic ornaments and it turned into an impromptu game of ornament floor hockey (with lots of added giggles):
Not all of the ornaments survived.

So, while I didn't accomplish anything artistic, I did have some good family time!

However, I have been looking forward to today since last week. Normalcy. Children in school, house to myself, studio here I come!

Unfortunately, I think I was so stuck in Mom-Mode that I had to wander aimlessly about the house for a few hours this morning before I could pull it together. At least, that's what I'm using as my excuse. I did a lot of "Now WHY on this green and blue earth would they think it's OK to put their socks there? I mean, who in their right mind would think to themselves that they should put their socks there?!!?! That better not be mustard on the ceiling. Actually, maybe I should be hoping that's mustard on the ceiling. How did they even... you know what? I don't what to know. Nope... Ignorance is bliss. Yup! Ummhmm. sure looks like mustard..."

Eventually, I got to my studio and got this small piece of an elf taking a nice hot bath finished:

"Little Dip", exclusively in my Etsy store.

I also had my order show up with some new watercolors and blocks. I thought I had ordered a 5x7 block, but apparently not. I have a 4x6 and a 9x12 now. Odd, but I'll roll with it and see what happens! I also ordered some ACEOs to try out. With that in mind, ACEO folks? Explain these to me? They just look like small cuts of matting board? Is there really anything all that special about them? Why did you start using them? What has your experience been? I admit, I'm a bit confused about the whole phenomenon of ACEOs, but I'm willing to play it out and give them a shot.

I'm really enjoying my watercolors right now, and I'm going to do another small snow queen, and a Santa. I still have the spider in mind, but I think I'm going to try that one out on my new 4x6 block. I'm realizing that a lot of my sketching skills have gotten a bit rusty because I'm used to loosely working out my composition in pencil and then refining it with paint. Watercolor doesn't allow for that kind of refinement, so I need to banish the rust from my pencil!

In particular, I want to fix my feminine faces. I know they can be so much better (and were, back when I only worked in pencil.) However, I'm also realizing that as I had noticed with the paint, I am having some days that my hands simply won't work as well for that fine detail. I know I have carpel tunnel syndrome in both wrists (diagnosed over 12 years ago), but I'm starting to wonder if I don't have some arthritis setting into my knuckles as well. I'm only 37, but my body is telling me that everything simply doesn't run as smooth as it once did. Working on my sketching skills again, maybe I won't be able to reverse what I apparently was compensating for in the paint with, but perhaps I can learn a new way to produce the results I am after!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Let It Snow!

I finished my first snow queen!

"Crystal" 8x12" acrylic watercolor (sold)

I like how she turned out. Watercolor is so much less forgiving than oils or acrylics, that there is a sort of low level of anxiety riding along on any piece you are working on. A couple times there, I thought I had gone right off the cliff and ruined it. I think I got it in the end though! I'm still relearning old techniques and working on sussing out new ones and adding them to my arsenal.

I had some issues with the masking fluid, which I knew I would when I realized it got gone a little wonky on me as it had been years since I had even cracked the bottle. So why did I use it? I'm a little stuck between the traditional "Never add white! White is a violation of the rules of watercolors!" and the realization that I'm not competing with anyone, so I can add any darn color I want. I can enhance with whatever suits me. I could use my earlobes to make prints if I really wanted to, and who's going to care? So, with that in mind (well, maybe not the earlobes, that would be awkward, and then I would have paint in my hair...) I did enhance with white. The masking created a bulky result. That may very well be due to the age, but perhaps the application too. I'd like to find a way to add it to my work in tiny lines (and also to remember where the heck those are when it's time to take the masking off. I keep going back and spotting another snowflake or something that I forgot to pull the masking off of.) I think I wish it came in a pen form. I don't suppose it does? I found this, so maybe that's what I'm thinking of, and I'll order it on my next round and give it a try.

I enjoyed this one so much though that when I put my order into my supplier recently, I made sure to order new watercolors and several smaller hot pressed blocks (maybe one day I'll find a way to fall in love with the texture of cold pressed, but as it stands now I want things smoooooooth!) I forgot to add the masking. Sigh.

It's nice to return to my figures too. I started out with women in my work, whether abstract or not, and it's been a while since I've seen them. I've been on a fairytale kick, and while I love it, I've been yearning to put my figures into process once again. Watercolor, being so quick, is a great way to do this while I'm still carrying out my Alice series in acrylics. It's also giving me something fun to learn. I was an oil painter, and I couldn't make anything come out right in acrylics. It took time, but I finally learned how to do that, and so this year seems to have been all about acrylic painting. I think it's possible that 2013 will be about watercolors, because I love the luminous quality using watercolor and paper can bring to skin tone. I'm still figuring it out, but I'm on to something, and I plan on chasing it!

In other news, THRICE Fiction Magazine is out with their new (free to download) issue, and two of my works are in it. If you like short fiction and fun art, give it a shot!

The forecast says snow this weekend... I'm hoping! I'll be working on my snowflake spider (as well as something involving hot chocolate - on a painting, not drinking it... well, ok maybe drinking it too) in between baking sessions and wrapping up holiday shopping! I need some positive, because this week has been hard on me. I found out one of my dogs most likely has bone cancer (we're waiting on the radiologist, but it's not really in doubt) and I'm worried he'll even make it to January, and we already lost one dog this year (Max, although he was an old fellow. Cosmo is only 7 years old!) My kids possibly have whooping cough, and my son has been told to not go to any public place until Wednesday. The rest of us are allowed to, but he isn't (he doesn't see a problem with this, as it means no school!)

I'm just in sore need of some holiday cheer!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vacation... Sorta...

As I mentioned before, since my deadlines for any current commissions or projects are past the holidays, I have given myself the gift of play. As in, I get to play in my studio and do whatever I want!

I was so excited for Monday to roll around, because that would be my first play-work day! YAY! And then Monday came and I suddenly found myself realizing it was the 10th of December and I hadn't squared away a single person on my Christmas list. Oh, dear.

So, instead of playing in paint, I surfed in retail nightmares. I made some progress on my holiday-to-do list, but none in my studio. In my head, however, things were cooking!

I decided to cut my Halloween witch watercolor free from my hot-pressed block. I didn't like her anymore. She's making me grumpy and I think she's beyond redemption. Cutting her away and exposing that lovely white paper beneath was so wonderful!

It's a really large space, and I realized that I needed to dial myself back a bit. There's no need to fill it all! It's not like a canvas, where you have to; I can cut paper down to size! I drew out a three segment set-up, and I knew the biggest piece was going to be used for my first experimental snow queen:

All sketched out and ready to go. I thought about a figure, but I've been wanting to do a face on a larger scale.

My masking fluid is a bit... questionable, but I blocked in her eyelashes and some random snowflakes, and then got to applying some color:

Underpainting skin tones with purple first.
I am finding it is hard to get my brain on the same page and to remember to NOT load the brush up as you do with normal paint. Watercolor is probably good for my brain, because it dumps all my habits on their heads. You can see where things went a bit off the rails, but I'm hoping as I work my way through it'll all come into focus. This paper just sucks the pigment down and isn't very forgiving to my colors. I'm going to order a new watercolor set, and I have high hopes it'll help (be more workable, I'm positive it's the paint and not the paper.)

Layering in some blues, along with a sienna wash for the skin tone.

I find myself getting impatient. I need to walk away and let things dry out. It's so odd, when you work with acrylics and you have to work quickly or it dries, or with oils and you can over mix it and then have to wait forever (I miss my oils, I'll be digging those out soon too. I've decided to do a fancy Victorian type of Santa in my oils.)

Layered in some reds, and more blues. Her hair, I originally wanted white, but now I want blue so the snowflakes will show up. You can spot the masking now pretty easily as they showed up after I put the washes on. The right side has some wonky parts with heavy pigment, but I'm going to push the pigment layers to hopefully make the image pop anyway, so it should all even out. *crossing fingers*
I have a long way to go. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the background blue, or layer in some purples or greens across it. I think her cloak should have a white trim, but I'm uncertain if the cloth should be white also. I think so, though. I like the "cold" feel to it in white (now I just need to figure out what color to use for shading. I've kind of boxed myself in as I usually shade white with blues, but with her blue hair... Well, maybe if I push the pop hard enough, I can still shadow lightly in blue to give a white effect? Hmmm.

Anyway! On the left of the snow queen, I have two more squares to play with. In one, I am planning a holiday spider, spinning a snowflake. On the other one? I'm not quite sure. Maybe a fairy? Or a kitten with a cup of hot cocoa or something? Any ideas, I'm open!

I figure I'm playing. Or I'm trying to play. Deep down there is the "Don't screw this up, you could make something you can sell and this won't be a waste of your time!" voice. I'm trying to fight it with the "You're kinda on vacation, lady, so chill! Play! So what if you have to throw a sheet away? Take some time, and enjoy it!"

So, I'm trying to enjoy it. Making your favorite thing your career isn't always as easy as one would think it is. Because no matter how successful you become, you still need to make an effort to keep it as a favorite thing and not lose that sense of play!

I even took time to read a book today. In my pajamas! Unfortunately, it was about zombies and I think my stress level was higher after the book than before it. Well, it was a good attempt at relaxing, anyway!

I'm looking forward to more work on my Snow Queen tomorrow! It's a major bonus for me how quickly watercolor goes compared with acrylics or oils. Anyone paint intricate snowflakes before? I'm thinking about that too...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Irish Kick

With my husband in India (he comes back tomorrow, yay!), my daughter's friend and her mother came over for dinner on Thursday night to keep us company. We had a lovely dinner, with Reese's cheesecake...

Not bad looking, huh? This was my piece! Notice the bowl full of Christmas ornaments? My mother had a box full of plastic ones she was going to toss, and I just couldn't bear the thought. I brought them home and couldn't figure out what to do with them, so I dumped them into a bowl! I like it so much, I want to do it all over my house. That would be over-kill, of course... *ahem*
It was a nice night. Unfortunately, at about 2AM I woke up with the flu. For a while, I was worried I had food poisoning, but as I seem to be the only one affected, I'm going with flu. I'm fortunate that it's a fairly functional one, so I'm still able to operate (even if I did sleep most of yesterday.) Today I finally finished my Irish lass commission piece:

6x6 stretched canvas, acrylics
I think she came out pretty well! I used iridescent paints on her hair and the clovers (I can't seem to stay away from them. I just love the shiny stuff too much.) I was wondering how another figure in acrylics was going to go. While it went well, I still miss the smooth-mixed texture and appearance you can achieve with oils. Granted, I've always had a bit of a heavy hand when I paint... but even so, when it comes to people, I feel better about the results in oils. I just feel that they're deeper. Of course, this was on a small scale too, so likely the results would have been about the same. I'm pleased with her, regardless.

With that in mind, I am finally working on some Santas and the thing is that while I'd prefer to do them in oil, I'm so far behind this season that I there is no way they'd be dry in time to ship anywhere. Of course, on the other side of the argument, if it results in a piece I'm more satisfied with, then I should do that anyway. Maybe I'll do both. Test out how I want my Santa to look in the acrylics and really make a nice piece in oils when I'm ready. Really, I love the holidays, I ought to paint stuff year round when the mood takes me, and then I'd have dry stuff when the season rolls back around!

This conflict between acrylics and oils is going to be tough going forward with my Alice series, because I have one Alice painting started in oils. Bringing together the characters, if they've previously been done in one medium, they likely won't look the same in another... it might make the series appear visually disjointed a bit, do you think?

Now that this commission is done, and the others I have don't have the December deadline, I've decided to stake out my studio as a commission-free-zone and just work on what I want until January. I want to paint Santas, and I really want to work on my Snow Queen. She's been in my head for weeks now! She's going to be in watercolor (to start anyway) and I just can't wait to get started!

I did manage to get my Studio Newsletter out, even if I missed November. I'm working on trying to organize my Zazzle store (advice always welcome on that, because it seems like it would be easy and instead I feel like it's akin to doing advanced mathematics!) I'm also opening up a separate store with my photography on Zazzle. I figure, what the heck? Of course, then the migraine sets in with all the issues of trying to get it to work, just like I have with the first one. (I know, one would ask why I would open up a second, if the first is giving me fits? I don't have an answer. I'm as baffled as you are. *sigh*)

And that's where things sit on this drizzly, dreary Saturday! Oh, except I'm already working on sketching out the elephant I mentioned before. Alice needs an elephant!

I hope you are having a good weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I had been waiting to write a post until I had something to show for it, but I'm starting to realize that  isn't going to happen. I have hardly had any time in my studio lately, because life has simply taken over!

My husband is in India right now on a business trip (I'm lobbying to go with him next year) and I suddenly have the urge to paint elephants with beautiful paint on them, and so on. I think a pretty elephant would be a nice addition to my paintings... were there any elephants in Alice in Wonderland? No? Well there should have been! Maybe in my series, there will be.

I'm realizing that being a "single parent" means I have to get in everything, no matter what time it is, and that cuts right into my studio time. On top of that, we're decorating for the holidays. For some reason, it's taking a lot of effort this year and I feel like stuff is missing. I can't quite figure out what it all is... I know my snowmen have gone MIA, but other than that? No idea...

This set is in my bedroom, which I finally got up last night.
And this is what I did with my kiddos last night...
I have a strong urge to paint and work in my studio, but not nearly enough time, and the holiday deadlines are breathing down my neck. I'm starting to realize why so many artists shut down about a week into December. I had been confused by that, thinking "isn't this their busy time to sell?" But I get it now.

Last year, I hadn't fully committed to selling art as my main career. I was still maintaining a split between my photography business and my art. Now that I look back, I realize that I didn't do much at all in December for my art, but I was hopping on the photography front like crazy with family portrait sessions! Fine art takes a certain mindset that is hard to maintain in the insanity of the holiday season. I see that now!

I'm going to do my best and work with my holiday deadlines, but then? I may just declare a two week period of vacation from my studio. Maybe it'll be a good thing after all! I just feel like I have so many paintings stacked up in my head that want to come out, so I'm climbing the walls at the same time as being able to get nothing done.


I know it's only the 5th, but how's your season going?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Real Snow

This morning, I woke up to cold. Not chilly, but COLD! After I chased the children out the door to the bus (why I still have to do this at their age continues to baffle me), it started to snow. This is the first snow, with big fluffy flakes, that I have seen in a very long time. We had a bizarre winter with almost no snow at all. Storms would come in and leave a hole over the state where it was too warm to snow or just flat out sunny blue skies. I missed snow so very much!

But today! Today it snowed! The flakes came down furiously for about 30 minutes, and then they eventually lightened up into sunny blue skies once again... but I saw them! I saw the snowflakes! It looked like winter! I curled up with a book in front of the fire and with my pumpkin spice tea while it was happening, and simply enjoyed it!

Once it was over, off to the studio I went. It was a shame it couldn't continue on all day!

It's funny how some paintings take a lot of time, and some take almost none (by comparison, anyway.) It's also interesting how a groove just takes over and that's all you want to do for a while. I'm well and truly in the holiday mood for painting, and I've managed to make these three little ones (I'm really enjoying the fast nature of the 3x5" canvas panel, even if they are rough as burlap):

"Snow wave" $30, Etsy

"Bendy" $30, Etsy

"Night Light" $30, Etsy

They're so little, it's a bit odd to finish so fast - as in an actual day, instead of MONTHS for a change! Sure, they still take several hours of work, but there's something about starting something in a day and finishing it in a day.

Also, it's a novel feeling to hold such a little, yet complete piece in the palm of my hand. For now, I really like it!

I'm also working on a commission piece, the one with the Irish theme? I couldn't figure out where to put the Celtic knot work in it (although I have a tree sketched out on the left, I might sneak it into the trunk):

Although, it's a bit too far to the left I think unless I get really tiny (and this is only a 6x6" anyway, so that's unlikely to happen, without testing my sanity.) We've got Irish castle ruins on the right, hills, tree, flowers, and picking clover. Her flower-basket won't be empty, I just didn't feel the need to plot it out.

I'm finding that at a certain age, girls become difficult to draw. It's easy to draw them as babies, toddlers, young children, late teens/adult. But that in-between stage when they're not so little anymore and yet not womanly yet either... tricky. Seriously tricky. I ended up having to scrap a canvas (well, set it aside for something else to cover it up) because of it. This one, well, she may end up looking a bit older than I'd like once she's painted in, but my hope is that won't happen. It's the plot-lines on the face that make her look a bit older right now (I'm aiming for the 9-10 range), and the expression, while looking peaceful (adultly sedate?) like that, I think with a blush can look younger as well. Still... tricky.

So I'm working on my Irish lass, and then switching to a bit a snow and sparkle, then back again! We've got a cold weather week in front of us, but it's unlikely to snow... still, a girl can hope!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

In the Season

I'm finally working on some snowy, holiday work! Yay! I love it! It's also just started spitting snow outside, so even better! Before Thanksgiving, I finished my first holiday painting of the season:
"Orb"5x7 Canvas Panel Normally a 5x7 would be $85, but I'm kicking off my holiday season with it on sale at Etsy only for $65 (incl. shipping US & Can). On my main website, it's the normal $85 price.

Then this morning I managed to finish a happy snowman and his little feathered friend:
"Snowbird"5x7 Canvas Panel$85 (inlc. shipping US&Can)
Zazzle merchandise is up too. I spent some hours this morning on that!

I had so much fun getting to paint these seasonal paintings, that I have two smaller ones in process right now. One will be a Christmas tree with a moon, and the other has a ball ornament and a pine cone together. They're small (3x5 or smaller, I need to measure...) so they're just fun! 

I've been struggling with listing paintings just on Etsy or just on my main website. I sell most of my paintings through my main website, but with these fast numbers I've been leaning more on Etsy. Unfortunately, I think that might leave some of my customers in the dark when I'm coming out with something quick and new. So, this morning I worked a little bit to put some of the Etsy minis up on my site, but I'm waffling on putting up the snowman on Etsy just yet. I don't know how some of the artists manage to get their stuff up consistently on so many sites. The time spent on that alone just boggles my mind!

I'm also working on learning Celtic knot-work (or relearning, I used to doodle in class... a lot. *ahem* But it's been almost 20 years since I was in High School, so it's been a while.) I have a commission with an Irish theme, and in addition to that it's my heritage on both my Scottish and Irish sides. I have a... need to start working some knot-work in. But! I have to relearn how to do them in the first place, and it's not easy.

I'm working on a clover right now, and I keep finding myself going a wee bit cross-eyed and losing track sometimes. It's there, my ability to do them, it's just rusty. Really rusty.

You can see where I went wrong easily in the top one. The bottom one is trickier, but it too isn't correct. Not all my over-unders went that way. Some of them went over-over-under and so on. *head*desk* But that's why I'm practicing, playing on notebook paper (I just got my hands on some graph paper, so that should help.)

Oh, and I just this past week received some pendants from my Zazzle store:

I had some extra credits to spend, and I thought what the heck? They're so pretty! I just didn't realize there were different sizes until they arrived. Anyway, I'm only sharing them because I thought they were cool (no matter who's artwork is on them.) I've been really impressed with Zazzle, especially considering my old experience with Cafe Press and feeling like CP's stuff was just so... cheap. My iPhone covers I ordered are simply fantastic (I did the Vibe cases), and I ordered postcards from several of my favorite artists on there and was impressed again. It's just nice  not to be let down!

I hope your week has been wonderful! Who's got something new on their easel?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Snowy Moods

I finished the little commission I was working on:

"Two Owl'Clock"
5x7 canvas panel, Acrylic

While it's sold, I set up some items through Zazzle with it on them (like cards'n'stuff.)

I have another commission I'm working on involving an Irish theme, but my head is completely in the snowy-mood (even though it's bright and sunny - if freezing - out!) With that in mind, I'm digging into more of the holiday decorations and today I'm tackling the main Christmas tree because there are some ornaments I want to use as inspiration for a few paintings... but I can't GET to them without going through everything, and if I'm going to do that, I might as well put the tree up! Plus we were able to get ahold of LED string lights this year (for two years running, they've been sold out every time I have tried to purchase some) and I'm dying to see how they look on our tree...

See how I just made putting up a Christmas tree a work-related activity? I know, you're marveling at my brilliance.

Well, it was brilliant right up until I remembered that there are 90-bajilliony pieces and stereo-type-instructions to get it together. I'm determined though... I have a holiday painting similar to the owl one I'm working on too. Moon, tree, and ornaments... I have the moon done so far, but I really just need to do a quick dive into a couple of these and then I can focus on other work again.

I think, deep down, I'm hoping it'll make it snow.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Playing Catch-up

I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted! I've had a lot of projects against a deadline hounding me, I've had a nasty cold, and my daughter is also in a school play (which means all our schedules have been completely dumped on their heads! Just last night I was sitting in my freezing car at 11:45PM waiting for rehearsal to get out so I could take her home. The poor girl was so tired, she was almost tearful this morning!)  Fortunately, it's show-weekend, so by Monday that part of the stress will be over!

I did get my finished Halloween Kittens up for sale...

on my main website: here, and prints starting at $17: here.

I also just finished another piece for the upcoming issue of THRICE Fiction Magazine. I can't just post a picture of it, because it is NOT work-safe. However, you can view it at the following link: here.

I'm working on a cute little commission right now of two owls in a tree:

And I realized that I'm simply dying to start painting snow, holiday type paintings. I was grumpy, working along, until I started painting that snow. Once I started, I felt my mood physically lift. I want to paint snow-stuff!

Queued up I have paintings of holiday ornaments, a snow queen, a Santa Claus, a snowman, and more! It's time! I've even started one that's similar to the owls, but in the branches I'm going to paint three ornaments. I haven't figured out which ones yet, but there will be three, and if I can make them shiny with iridescent paint - I will!

I've also started trying to learn how to sketch Celtic Knots. They're so linear that you can get a bit lost at times. I'm waiting on some graph paper and pencils, but I'm going to spend my doodling time on this right now so I can work some knot-work into some of my paintings (as well as possibly on another commission I'm still fleshing out a bit right now.)

Oh, and lastly, I've decided that if I can get my facebook page up to 300 likes, I'm going to give away a free 5x7 (acrylic, canvas panel) original in a drawing. Once I hit 300, anyone is eligible - I'll put the call out, and then have a random drawing to see who wins (they don't have to be new to the page.)

And that is where things are at! I'm in a Christmas mood, and just trying to keep up with my schedule! I hope everyone else is doing well!

Friday, November 9, 2012


Alright, I can finally share what I was up to with my watercolor pencils. I won't explain the backstory because it's personal to the recipient, but I'll leave it that she and her husband lost a member of their furry family.

I simply couldn't get the images out of my mind, and before I knew it I was pulling out my cold-pressed and my watercolor pencils and sketching away! I wanted to use the pencils because I thought I could bring a uniform look to the texture that way, but it backfired on me. It was even more rough in texture than I could have imagined (I should have gone with the hot-pressed, but it still has my Halloween witch on the block.)

I quickly grabbed my brushes and set to wetting the color and I ended up pleased with the results. While I like the hot-pressed smooth results, the cold-pressed texture gives a little bit of movement, a hint at it not being in stasis. 

This sweetie had the most perfect heart on her side that I have EVER seen on an animal. It wasn't subtle at all! So beautiful!

I definitely plan on exploring more projects with the watercolor pencils and both the hot and cold pressed. It's definitely a new avenue for me to explore!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kittens and Sketchbooks!

I finished my Halloween Kittens painting, but the daylight has been so low that even with my studio lighting I haven't been able to take print-worthy files of it. So, here is just a quick snapshot of the finished painting:

My grey kitten came out a little grumpy looking, but my husband thinks that's fine for a Halloween painting!

I also took a few snaps of a print of Tea Time I ordered, with the original before I shipped it out, so I could show what a print looks like in comparison:

Honestly, I really was quite thrilled with my print that showed up. It's relief to know that partnering with Fine Art America was the right move for my business!

My print gallery at FAA is here: 

For me personally, I haven't decided if I'm going to keep the print for myself or sell it as a signed copy... I'm leaning towards keeping it. I really fell in love with this painting. I'm so pleased the new owner loves it too, but I admit I miss it a little. It was such a long process!

Switching topics here, I have decided I'm going to pick up a bunch of sketchbooks. I stopped working with them when I shifted to selling everything, because it felt like I was wasting my time on work that wouldn't go anywhere. In other words, I forgot how to play! Shame on me!

I've been waffling back and forth over it, but I finally realized that I really want to do this for a couple of reasons. The first is that I need to develop (or decide whether or not to develop) a "type" for my people/women/girls characters that I paint. I have a developed style, but I've been wondering if perhaps there is more to discover as I am heading back towards painting people once again.

The second reason is that I want to work on my Celtic drawings, in particular knot-work. I used to play around and draw out knots when I was bored in school, but it's been so long. I have a strong Scottish and Irish heritage, there's something about it that just calls to me. I think it's about time I start answering!

I'm hoping having a goal with my sketchbooks, that it will allow me to start playing again. I want to stop worrying over making something that won't go anywhere (or worry that I'll put something fabulous down on a piece of paper that isn't archival!) It's time to play! (And yes, I owe it to all of you wonderful artists who shared your sketchbooks and reminded me what it was like to have one! Thank you!), who's got snow?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Yesterday, I found myself simply at loose ends. I woke up feeling off, and sort of fumbled about the house, reading, drinking tea, warming up in front of the fireplace... but not painting. It turns out I have a bit of a cold setting in, but I'm hoping it won't be a big thing. I'm shooting for "just annoying" and passing quickly!

It was also election day, and so I knew I had to head out and not only get my painting and print shipments out, but also stop in the town hall and vote. It doesn't matter what your politics are, if you know your history, you know what a big deal it is to be able to go and vote - and how cool it is that a little peon like me is worth just as much as the most successful person in the voting booth (although, I would imagine they have a much cooler car to drive off in! One that probably doesn't make that weird knocking-wobble sound which I'm certain is heralding my impending doom...)

See? I voted and got my sticker. Stickers are the best. I love stickers. I used to collect them when I was a kid on the back of my bedroom door. I have no where to put them now (my husband would frown on the whole door-thing), but I still like to get them! Stickers are just fun!

Anyway, knowing I had a bunch of errands to run also threw me off a bit. I paint a lot better knowing I don't have to be anywhere, than I do when I know I have to "stop at * time and get ready to leave." I think I fear getting into my groove and having to stop. It really is awful when that happens!

Once I returned home, I brought up a minion studio helper to hang out with me.

This is Chester. Isn't he just fabulously fluffy? (for those keeping count, we have 1 giant cat, 3 dogs, 2 rabbits, and 25 chickens. It'll get worse in the spring when we add geese and pheasant to the flock. My husband keeps lobbying for alpacas, and my daughter for horses, my son wants a pig, but I can barely keep track of what we have now!)

I was able to paint a bit more and actually made some progress for a relatively small window of time. I worked solely on my Halloween kitten painting because I really need to finish it. I managed to finish the sleeping kitten:

I'll add whiskers to him tomorrow, but other than that he's done.

But now I'm a bit stumped on what color to make the kitten in the boot. Originally he was to be grey, but I'm worried that will be too dark what with the hat and boot right there. The sleeping kitten ended up basically brown, even though it's meant to be black because it's just too dark to show proper values otherwise.

It's a bit blurry, sorry about that.

Maybe sticking with grey is the way to go. Hmmm... Well, anyway, I'm hoping for a more productive day today!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sleepy Studio

I ended up taking the weekend off to focus on the family, and so I thought I would be jumping right into studio work today. Instead? Well, I recently quit coffee (as in Saturday I quit - health reasons) and I found myself falling sleep and lacking motivation for most of the day.

I'm rather disappointed, because I'm finally down to working on the kittens in my Halloween painting:

I know it's blurry, sorry. The cell phone only does so much, it seems!

I finished the boot, and I really like the textures I achieved (in particular in the checkered areas.) Tomorrow, I'm planning much kitten-goodness.

I also did manage to finish a secret project which I hope to share in a few days... But until then I'll just say I played with watercolor pencils, thinking I would just use them like colored pencils on cold pressed, but I ended up wetting them to smooth out the values. I just don't like rough-choppy in my own work. I'm fine with it in other's, but on my own it drives me absolutely batty. I want smooth!

I have plans, once I finish the Halloween painting, and two commissions (which I'll post the sketches to soon), to start in on the backlog of holiday paintings. My kids took down our Halloween decor, and put up some of the winter holiday decor, and I'm simply dying to start painting those! Especially since I have some left unfinished from last year! It'll be good to paint with the season, and to clear out the backlog!

I'm also itching to work on an unfinished painting of my Alice, but I'm thinking she'll probably have to wait until the slower season in January. Clearly, there's never enough time - but that's complicated by the unexpected napping from the caffeine withdrawals!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've been doing a lot of thinking about my studio space lately. It's been amazing to see other artists' spaces, and then to take a second look at my own. My studio space used to be in the basement, but I found the darkness a dreary and draining sort of heaviness that I couldn't stand, no matter how many lights I brought in. So, I ended up moving my studio into one of the bedrooms upstairs.

It originally was my daughter's old bedroom, and it used to be two different shades of Pepto Bismal pink. I'm sure you can imagine my panic need to paint it something else as quickly as possible! It's a very small room (about 9' x 10' at best) and thus any color on the walls can be problematic when painting, because they can change the tones of what I'm working on. I went with something just a touch off-white, to try to avoid the color refraction problem. I cannot tell you the relief I experienced when the vibrant pink was finally covered up! However, this is now the only room in my house with white walls. I'm simply addicted to color, so it's strange to think that where I work is the most lacking in it. Still, it seemed the only solution.

With such a small space, I tend to "leak" into the other areas of the house. I had recently set up my studio table in the family room to accommodate both my need to feel less isolated, and also have access to the television (I simply love shows playing while I work. It's hard for me to sit still and watch anything without finding most television shows annoying, but I can paint through them and follow the stories just fine!) I also had shipments working off the dining room table, and other canvases and prints stacked in other areas. My poor family was tiptoeing around my work, which seemed to have exploded into almost every area of the house!

I reorganized and cleaned up this week, pulling my studio back into my studio space. I have to be constantly vigilant with my space due to its size, otherwise my small space becomes a disaster area! It's all clean, but I'm realizing how... cold it all feels.

This is on the door:

A friendly face to greeeeeet you!
Several years ago, I helped with an elementary production of Alice in Wonderland (before I ever started my current series). I created the Cheshire Cat costume by painting this on fabric (which took forever, having not painted on unprimed fabric before, it was a multi-layer process), and it went on one child's chest. The costume took three kids, all dressed in black. The second had a black cylinder spiraled with bright teal fur, the third had painted legs, fur and tail on them. We set them up in a dark area with a black light on them, and it allowed the Cheshire to come apart or go back together, and really turned out very cool! I kept his face when we were through, although I'm not sure why. I just kind of like him. As I develop my Cheshire for my series, I expect him to be VERY different, but this one will always be my first!

Looking through the door (you can see how Lily has grown!  compared with the photo below?) She's still rambunctious at 6 months old, but she immediately settles down the moment we set foot in my studio. She's my studio dog!
Puppy Lily! Just for reference. 

Art table, brought back up and set up to look out at the mountains (it's a bit dark this morning!)
Without drying racks (or space for one), I've been using my walls. I hang paintings over every spare inch of space (away from my easel, because of the splashing) and I think that I hadn't noticed how barren everything was because I had so many hanging for the Alice show. Since I released them for sale and shipped everything out, suddenly everything is stark once again and I realize I don't like it. 

When I had envisioned my studio, I always thought about collecting things that I enjoy around me, and that inspire. Yet, I didn't do that. I'm not sure why. Space is certainly an issue. I've already proven I can fill up an entire house with my space needs! So bringing it down to such a small space makes it tricky. Maybe if I put in shelves, I can start collecting stuff. I also have a collection of work from other artists and some friends that I'd like to put up, to have around me. I have purchased prints and such, but haven't hung any because I can't figure out how to pull that off. 

In my head, I have a lovely cottage in the woods, with flowers blooming in boxes out the windows which are swung open to let the light in. There are bits of things on shelves and tables, sparkly finds, and more. There is room for everything. Drying racks, a table for shipping, a supply room, a sink. Cabinets, and fluffy chairs. 

Ahhh, some day, perhaps! (If you post or have posted a picture of your studio/workspace, I'd love to see it!)

In other news I didn't get my Halloween painting finished because I was pulling my studio back together and out of the rest of the house, but I did finally start in on the boot! Working on the checkered squares, I think I learned something that will help me go forward in acrylic painting with more speed... I hope. 

Current progress on Halloween kittens painting. 
I layered and then walked away. When I came back hours later, I realized I loved the effect. This is important because I'm a mixer. I want to smooth everything out to get it to work, and layering feels choppy. Yet, with something like acrylics where the drying time is dramatically different from oils, mixing is simply asking for a migraine. I do it, but I know this is what is holding up my progress and costing me so much time. I like the way the checkers came out. If I can sort of adapt to layering and being OK with the choppy nature of it, I may finally be able to speed up my own process. Wouldn't that be grand?

 I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2012


Up here in Vermont, the television news and weather folks have been going absolutely bonkers. I think perhaps they're a bit traumatized from hurricane Irene, but that's probably warranted considering no one really thinks about hurricanes in Vermont. Nothing has started yet except for a light breeze and light misty rain, but we'll see what the weather brings!

What it has brought already is a day off from school for the kids tomorrow. I wonder how much painting I'll actually get done! I didn't get as much as I would have liked done today, because I was trying to push laundry through and make sure we did have what we needed on the off chance we get nailed with the storm. Still, I thought I'd share my progress, since it's my Halloween kittens painting!

All sketched out

Moon and sky in (the sky is actually purple, I don't know why my phone wants to make it blue so badly.)

Started in on the pumpkins! You can see some of the iridescent paint in the reflection on the moon in this shot.

Finished off a good chunk of the pumpkins and the Jack-o-Lantern.

Finished the pumpkins! I was so excited because I was finally going to get to work on the parts I was most looking forward to!

Finished the fabric of the witch's hat, but I couldn't figure out what color to make the sash. Normally I'd go with orange, purple, or green but the painting was too heavy in those colors already.

I decided to go with a pink/maroon color, and finished off the buckle with gold and copper iridescent paint (it's a sickness, I know, but it's shiny. Who can resist shiny paint?)

I'm looking forward to painting tomorrow, although I haven't decided if I'm starting on the boot, or the kitten snoozing on the pumpkin... I'm leaning towards the kitten!

I also need to reorganize my studio space as well as painting space. I've taken over the family room, but I've been using my art desk to paint, and I really need to be standing. It's a health-thing at this point, I just don't feel good all hunched over for hours and hours (do any of you have problems with this?) So, my plan is to organize my tiny studio room, and move my easel down to the living room. I wonder if anyone will notice.

Someday, I'll have a nice, lovely, big space to spread out!

If you're in the way of the storm, stay safe! Here's hoping it doesn't do as much damage as anticipated!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Artsy Evil (Halloween Blog Party)

This is my party post for the Halloween Blog party! Welcome!

I love Halloween! I love the season, the smells, the colors, the feelings the season brings! But most of all, I love dressing up in costume. The fascinating thing about a costume is that I believe that people pick something that they identify with on some level, don't you? One of my favorites over the years has been to be the "Evil Queen".

It's my opinion that everyone should own a tiara, if only to wear around the house while in your pajamas!

Now, I know the Evil Queen is, well... evil, but in my opinion she's just a wee bit misunderstood. It takes a lot of effort to be evil all the time! No one thinks about all the work that goes on behind the scenes of an Evil Queen's life.

For starters, her household help is spotty at best! Oh sure, you have your evil minions, but when it really comes down to it, are they reliable? NO! They're evil minions! By their own definition, they're simply not to be relied upon! Well, if the minions aren't getting the work done, who is?

The Evil Queen is! Magic only gets a girl so far, you know! After that, it's do it yourself, or leave it undone. Oh, the suffering the Evil Queen must endure... I mean, the laundry alone!

Some of the evil minions even stop by to give some pointers, rather than help!

Or they're just too busy doing evil things to be bothered with simple chores!

Of course, there are the dishes to do - and we all know those potions do not come off easily!

Dusting the knick-knacks...


 Terrorizing the village people... (although, this is more of a hobby, really.)
And what about those bigger household projects?

Let's not forget about the basics like coordinating household decor...

I'm telling you, it's never ending!

Fortunately, an Evil Queen does have her pursuits that are fulfilling, like painting (funny how the minions show up when it's something FUN to be done, ever notice that?)

No matter how inviting you make your domicile, you never get visitors unless they're carrying torches, pitch forks, or swords. (And you thought all the politicians knocking at your door was bad! Try having to fend these arrogant fools off every time the draw-bridge-bell rings!)

How is an Evil Queen supposed to have a social life with all this work going on? 

Well, I suppose there is always dating...

But that never seems to end well for some reason. There's always some tart that gets in the way and needs to be dealt with...

Yes, it's a lonely life for an Evil Queen. A lonely, busy life... 

But at least she gets to come out and party on Halloween!

Anyone want to bob for apples? I don't know why everyone says no when I'm dressed like this...