Friday, May 31, 2013


I finally finished Alice.

"Alice" 9x12x1, Acrylic on stretched canvas (original sold, prints available)

I wasn't sure I was going to at one point, given that I had sort of lost interest. I'm not sure why. Figuring out that I wanted to hang pocket watches all over the tree made a difference though. Again, not sure why. I've always been fascinated with clocks, and I'm sure that had something to do with it.

Some parts went fast, others slowly, and in my head I was already well onto the next painting. The next one up will absolutely be the Queen of Hearts. I have this image of her... she might be a bit racy though, so we'll see how that one develops.

However, until then I'm going to work on the two little watercolors (dragon and unicorn) that I'm doing a time-lapse video on, and then on to the big watercolor with the unicorn and fairy. I'm hoping those go much faster. This painting took entirely too long.

More and more, I've been contemplating the Cintiqs. The smoothness of the finish you get with digital is just not something I seem to be able to pull off in traditional mediums. I wish there was a master's class that taught that, because I would sign right up!

It's very, very hot here. It got into the 90's today with high humidity, with worse expected tomorrow. I'm wishing I had A/C right now! Especially since I have to bake a birthday cake for my daughter's party. She turns 15 this weekend. I can't believe it!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eyeing The Finish Line

I can see the finish line on my Alice painting! I can!

This is where it's at this morning. I hope to have it done tonight or tomorrow.

I had hoped to finish it over the weekend, but that just didn't happen. Instead, I had all sorts of other things happen.

But before I get to that, the contest vying for a licensing contract is in the last days here, and I could really use your help. You don't have to register or give any information to vote, but if you could support me, I would really appreciate it. Simply follow this link, and find my name at the bottom and click vote. Thank you!

So, my weekend. It started off with my husband and daughter headed out of town for a soccer tournament, and a storm blowing into town. A big storm. I think they said it was a Nor'easter, but when it's not cold enough to snow, I admit I don't pay much attention. In the winter, a big storm like that would mean gobs of snow and "you better have groceries in your house, because it'll be a while!" But with it warm, so it only rains? Yup, I totally ignored the warnings.

So it stormed. For days. The house rattled nonstop, the BBQ almost blew off our deck, and several pieces of deck furniture actually did. The chickens even stopped laying eggs. You know it's bad when a chicken says "I'm not working today!" Of course, I absolutely love snuggling and snoozing during a good storm. Hearing the windows rattling and the wind whistling around through the trees is like someone coming into your living room and saying "Stay home! Snuggle! Enjoy!" With every gust. So, it was miserable and rainy, and I loved it.

Right up until my furnace/boiler/hot-water died. By Sunday morning, we didn't have any heat or hot water. I didn't really notice this until after I went for a run and was all icky. However, I noticed really quickly when I tried to take a shower. Well-water is icy! I ended up filling up the tub 1/4 of the way and hoping the icy water would warm to room temperature, and setting three pots of water to boil on the stove. I managed a very quick luke-warm bath. Clean, but not happy is how that ended up.

I then took my father and my son up into town to see Iron Man 3 (we liked it!) But first we went to Walmart, where I finally remembered to pick my husband up a nice, big cutting board. I'm one of those people who perpetually forgets things when I finally make it to the store. So, it was good that I finally remembered, as the store is an hour away from home. However while in the parking lot, my dad overlooked the cutting board in the cart. When we looked over at the cart right next to our car, we would have seen it and hopped out to grab it, this was literally just a matter of seconds between forgetting and sitting down... a man (probably in his 30's, kind of a yuppy) had seen the item and ran across the parking lot and took it. He looked right at us, smirking.

And that is how I had my cutting board stolen in a Walmart parking lot.

This infuriated me on multiple levels. The first was that the board wasn't cheap. For a while, I thought that was the main thing that was making me so angry, all that lost money, but it wasn't. The truth is that I would NEVER do something like that man did. In fact, if I saw that someone left an item in a cart like that - well, first I would wait and see if they noticed, because it had only been a few seconds. Then I would point and try to tell them that they had left something. And if I failed at all of that? I would have taken it back into the store to customer service and turned it in with an explanation of what had happened and who had left it. I never, in a million years, would have taken something that wasn't mine, much less so brazenly in front of the people who had paid for it.

It took me hours to calm down. It's so hard to believe people are "decent human beings, for the most part" when you see someone behaving like that. I struggle with humanity as it is, and so even a somewhat little thing like this is enough to make me horribly angry and sad. I'm still upset about it.

My husband tried to fix the boiler that night after he got back from his trip, only to find that it wasn't the part we thought it was. So, still no heat or hot water (even now.) The next day was memorial day, and we were going over to my parents for a BBQ, so we ended up showering there. However, while there and out tossing the football around with my family I managed to hurt myself.

My wedding ring finger, actually, and I'm pretty sure it's broken.

I went to catch the ball, and everything just went wrong. I heard a weird snapping sound, and if I had nails I would have thought I had broken them all. That's sort of how it sounded. But I had trimmed all my nails off that same day (long nails and holding a paintbrush don't mix) so it wasn't that! I've jammed many fingers over the years, so I know how that feels. This... is different. This hurt unbelievably at first, and then even worse later. Right now, it's buddy-taped to my middle finger (fitting, on so many levels) and I'm exhausted because every time I moved my hand last night, it woke me up. I've been doing Advil and ice. Since it's not a scary break, I don't see any reason to go to the doctor, but I am going to pick up a finger splint.

So that was my weekend. A storm, a theft, and a broken bone. I can look at it with silver linings:

  • The storm was fun, and at least the weather is warm enough that the pipes won't freeze while we don't have heat or hot water (hopefully this will be fixed tonight.) It's actually supposed to warm up this week, so I shouldn't be freezing for long.
  • At least it was just a cutting board. The jerk. But still just a cutting board. I sincerely hope he got a flat tire or a speeding ticket going home. 
  • At least my broken finger is on my left hand and not my right, so I can still paint. I also didn't wear my wedding ring yesterday, so that saved us having to cut it off (and there's no doubt that we would have had to.) 
That's the best I can do for silver linings. 

How was your weekend?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stop. Breath. Paint.

It's so humid here today! It was bad yesterday too, but this weather is unexpected at this time of year. It seems like we've all been saying that a lot, doesn't it? Clearly our weather patterns have shifted all over, and nothing is "normal" any more. Of course my thoughts are with those in Oklahoma (one of my best friends is out there, fortunately she and her family are safe.)

My life didn't get back on track, as I spent earlier in the week taking care of my sick daughter and in the doctor's office ruling out appendicitis. It just seems like life is determined to be a pain in the neck lately! I've made some progress on my work, but not much. Here is where I am starting this morning:

I, yet again, have the goal to finish this painting over the weekend. I'm going to wind ivy and flowers in the tree trunk, somehow... I have this image in my mind, but it's not fully in focus yet. I always put in the flowers last when they're just decorative, so the green will light up with a lot more color too (they go in last to balance out the colors in the painting. Sometimes I'm not sure what color things will be, and it's a nice final touch to bring everything into harmony.) I also plan on working on the butterfly today. Basically, I just want to work. I have so much work to do, and I can't seem to make it move fast enough.

Which makes me stop, because that isn't right. I stopped enjoying this painting, and I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm just grumpy at all the speed-bumps I've been hitting in my life lately, and it's translating to my work?

Or it could be the weather, because, seriously. It's so humid, I feel like I'm still damp from swimming or something. This makes me want to buy air conditioners for my house. Blah.

I'm also worried that this painting has taken so long, when I have much larger ones planned to finish out the series. My brain has already started thinking ahead to next year, when I get to pick a new fairytale to explore for the year, instead of focusing on poor Alice. But then again, poor Alice accidentally stretched into a two year period... so maybe it's that.

I did sign up for two small local events where I will have a booth, and I just received my new tent (my husband borrowed my old one for his soccer team and basically destroyed it. He's lucky he's cute.) I ordered this one from Undercover, and it's got excellent reviews for being extremely sturdy (and I plan on denying all requests by my husband to use it. He can buy his OWN tent!) I'm also considering branching out to local galleries once again. I swore that off long ago, when so many of them had policies where they took 40-60% commission AND demanded I work a certain amount of days a month in their gallery for free. Just insane. But I've been hearing that some new galleries that have popped up might be less mentally unstable, and I have decided I need to go and check them out. It's time, and maybe once again my work won't sell well in Vermont, but you never know! Maybe people are tired of cows and barns. It could happen!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Progress is a tricky thing. I find that no matter how well prepared I am to make it, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'll make any.  These past two weeks, I really thought I'd be getting on track with all sorts of things. Instead, life reared its head and I found myself thrown into an almost constant state of flux. This is a very unproductive thing for me.

Family issues meant that I was constantly where I didn't want to be, and constantly at odds with my art when I was there with it. My life was basically tug-o-war this week, and I was the rope. I found myself in situations where I didn't like myself very much. I failed at many things. Even the silver linings were tarnished.

This feels bad. Feeling badly and creating happy art... well, that just doesn't happen.

I managed to squeeze out some progress on what I've been working on. I started the time lapse of the two small watercolors:

I also got most of Alice painted in, but I'm still working on her hair. Still, the painting should be flowing more freely than it is right now. I'm in a sort of unhappy place, and that makes my art a thing of frustration rather than success. Maybe I need to switch my style, and vent a bit on canvas instead.

Today was interesting because when I got home from a morning appointment, there was a yellow butterfly fluttering weakly in my driveway. I stopped short of it, and went to check him out. He was alive, undamaged, but... off.

I gently put him on a flower, and later my children told me he had just died. I've seen lots of dead butterflies out here, but none that just... stopped.

Sad though it is, I couldn't help but think of my Alice painting. I have two butterflies in it. I'm already planning on the one in the sky to be orange, but I hadn't decided on the one on the tree closest to Alice.

I think I have now.

So, the pretty and sad butterfly will live on in this painting instead of out in the fields where he should. I'm going to save him, and keep him in my studio (unless he gets gross, but it's my understanding that this is about it for a butterfly which is why some people collect them.) I'm starting to collect lots of bits here and there for my studio. Things that make me happy, or snuggly, or sad. Precious bits of flotsom that will someday be looked upon likely as one gigantic mess of junk to be gone through. My grandfather did this, and I really didn't understand it before. I do now. Although, I don't plan on getting quite as bad as he did and to keep it confined to my studio where I can actually look upon it and enjoy it. I plan on being selective!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I have obviously really been struggling since my vacation, but finally yesterday something broke. I ended up going down and pulling out all my in-progress works (there are five, not even counting the piles up in my studio that I'm making a fabulously great effort to ignore.) I put the largest watercolor that I sketched out aside, I wanted to make sure I was back on track before I started in on that one as watercolor is so unforgiving (this is the big one with the fairy and the unicorn from my last post.) I grabbed Alice, even though I had set her aside a while ago because everything just kept going wrong. I figured I wouldn't be working on her, but maybe when I made some progress on the others she would appeal to me.

I took over the kitchen table again. I pulled up the center expansion even, and then I proceeded to lay out all my paints and supplies and canvases and papers... and then I circled a bit. I walked from one room and to another, and each time with the mission that I just had to do this one more thing before I got rolling. It shouldn't be this hard, I was just going to do the two little watercolors to start (the twin dragons and the small unicorn.) That's easy enough. Right?

I decided to try another time-lapse photography film with my two watercolors, and given their small size, I'm decided to do them both together in the frame. It might be choppy, it might not work, but we'll see what happens! I got my camera all set up, and I even put the masking over the images I wanted to protect from my rather aggressive background application (I'm a heavy masker. If there was a way to do it without it, I'd love to know, but without fail I get paint on everything!)

All the while, I kept glancing at Alice.

I started pacing again while the masking was drying. And watching Alice.

Finally, I said to her (like a total crazy person, because talking to a drawn out figure on a canvas doesn't strike me as the most balanced of occupations) "I can make you today. I really think I can."

And right there, I tossed my plan out the window. I shoved the watercolors aside. I cleared a different space and started painting.

It was a struggle at first. Have you ever noticed that sometimes the paint just fights you? It's as if the last and most important ingredient in the recipe is missing. I knew it was there somewhere, and I had to fight for it, but after several hours finally... finally it clicked in. It took far longer to paint her face than it should have, but I wonder how much of that is due to working in watercolor on figures for so long (it really is a different process to switch from watercolors to acrylic, and when painting people I sincerely miss my oils as well. But this series is in acrylic, and I want to stay consistent with that.)

In person, her face fairly glows. I finally got her. HA! The rest of the painting will be so much easier comparatively. YAY!

I was closing up last night, realizing how exhausted I was from this fight with Alice, and I realized I had forgotten about the watercolors. I quickly, with the time-lapse on (although I wondered whether that was a poor choice), added in the backgrounds. So, all in all yesterday ended up being a good day in the studio!

Oh, I also got my postcards from my printer and they really came out wonderfully!

Aren't they cool? I'm going to start selling them, but given Etsy's fees it looks like I need to sell them either in person or on my main website. I only wanted to sell them for about $1 each, and a lot of these online venues like Etsy would end up taking most of that for themselves and I wouldn't cover my costs much less receive anything. Unless perhaps selling them in packs. That's a thought!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

In The Lines

I'm a person who has long been in the arts... you know, since preschool - crayons rocked. Do you remember the moment you realized that they came in bigger boxes than the standard eight colors? Do you remember the first time you saw that massive box with a ton of colors and its very own sharpener? Moment of bliss, right there.

Still, as a person who has long been in the arts (and the art supplies) you can never know it all, see it all, do it all. More, sometimes you've been doing for a while and then suddenly find out that maybe no one else is doing it that way, and has instead been doing it in a much different (and possibly easier) way all along. Such has been my experience this week.

When I got my art degree in the 1990's, there were a lot of classes to choose from. I pretty much dove into everything that was offered from drawing to painting, and sculpture to throwing. The only classes I did not take were digital, watercolor, and airbrushing. I likely would have gotten to the last two eventually, but the digital was reserved for those going only for a commercial graphic arts degree. I think no one knew how blended they'd all become back then. I suppose it's worth noting I stopped after I got my Associates because I didn't want to teach, and I realized I was learning more on my own than I did from any classroom - for the record though, do hold a Bachelors in business administration, but that came almost ten years later.

In the drawing class, we spent time on the exciting live models and then the most boring still life's you can possibly imagine. We explored all sorts of drawing techniques, and through it all was a mantra that was burned into my mind; "by your own hand." I didn't pay much attention to that, because what else was I going to draw with? My foot? But that wasn't what the teacher meant. What was going on was a sort of revolution with projectors. Remember those silly things that the math teachers used to sit next to that looked like a mini-alien from War of the Worlds? Apparently, many artists were using transparencies of various things and putting their paper/canvas on the wall and tracing it on. More sophisticated projectors were around that did even more than that with photos, and thus began a new (?) art movement of tracing the picture onto the canvas and then relying on the artist to paint it in nicely.

It seemed so far fetched to me that leaving that behind for my art classes was no hardship. It didn't make sense for me anyway. Well, unless you were painting a mural - then I would definitely want to draw something out and blow it up for the wall. Otherwise, it's a bit tougher to get correctly. Not impossible, but trickier.

What I didn't know about was that in the watercolor genre, some method of tracing is actually quite common. The professional method is to draw out what you want, erasing as needed until you get it right on tracing paper, then putting it on a lightbox with your watercolor paper over it and tracing the correct lines onto the surface so you eliminate erasure marks and paper degradation. Another method is to use carbon paper on top of the watercolor paper and transfer the traced design that way. I never knew that! I only discovered it this week, if you can believe it. I suppose if you are an artist who needs the ability to work and then rework until you get it right, it makes extremely good sense. Plus, it IS your own work, so it's not like you're tracing a photo or someone else's hard work.

I never knew that. I know of many people who use projectors or lightboxes to trace things that they did not draw themselves, which I don't like - especially when it is someone else's work. I even know of one painter who actively makes her living in portraiture who uses a projector to not only trace the lines on the canvas, but also for color placement. I really don't like that. I know it takes skill to blend the paint correctly, but for me it just seems one step above a paint by numbers kit. It just isn't for me.

But I have no problem with people transferring their own work to paper. In fact, it makes a lot of sense. It makes it all seem a bit easier, less fraught with worry over getting it right the first time. I wish I had known! I really do, because... I think I'm too old to switch my method. No, really. I think I'm actually set in my ways on this one, and incapable of switching to a tracing method. I have always free-handed it right onto the paper - rarely even plotting out where elements of the painting are going to go beforehand (I tend to draw the main element, and then build the painting around it.)

Even though my stomach ties itself into knots every time I approach a blank canvas or block of paper, even though my mind races with the worry I'll mess it all up... I think I'm stuck this way. I wonder if my drawing would improve with refinement, and I'm doing myself a huge disservice. However, the voices of my teachers from way back keep echoing in my head "From your own hand" coupled with the idea that even if I'm tracing one of my own drawings, that it's just adding an extra step to what I already do. More work, rather than freeing myself.

I don't know if I should try it, just to see. There's something that makes the back of my neck prickle about it. But I might pick up some carbon paper today while I'm in town... just to see. Maybe I'd stink at tracing the lines anyway? Hmm.

For those of you artists; how do you all work? Do you freehand it? Do you draw many "drafts" of the painting and then draw it? Do you draw your draft and then transfer it somehow? What's your method?

Well, anyway... we'll see. I think I'll try it on one painting, just to see if I'm even capable of switching or if it's worth my time. In the meantime, however, here are three free-handed, right onto the blocks paintings all sketched out.

I did these two little ones so I have something to work on while the big one is drying:

Another for my small dragon hatchling series. I decided twins were in order. This is 4x6".

I've been getting lots of requests for unicorns, and I don't know why I've been dragging my feet. They're even a part of my family crest. I've drawn them for many years growing up and such, although it's been many years since I've drawn them. 

And then this is my new big one. It's 12x18, the biggest I've worked in watercolor in a long time. I have one bigger pad, a 14x20, but I haven't even unwrapped it yet. We'll see how this one goes:

I've set Alice aside right now, until I feel back in my head with the paintings. I'm hoping these will get me there! I don't know how much time I'll get this weekend to work on them though. I was also thinking of doing a time lapse video of one or more of the paintings. I might get that going this week.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Unfortunately, I continued to stumble along while trying to get my painting groove back. I'm not sure if it was just the vacation that threw me, or a combination of things. I painted in a bit on my Alice piece, but then it all started going wrong. I had to step away.


I worked on my other new business that I am starting (I've gotten my LLC and I'm finalizing numbers and more paperwork) right now, and that really is a distracting thing. It's a huge amount of work, and it's stressful. It's possible that this is part of what's bothering me right now. It'll be so much better once it's finally rolling (and I'll announce to everyone once it is, and explain what it is then with the grand opening. No idea when that'll be just yet.)

I guess with two businesses, I kind of have business ADD and it's a major distraction when it comes to the easel. Still, I decided I must do something to spark the art again! I thought about my watercolors, and that was appealing. I pulled out all sorts of blocks in different sizes, and I figured at the very least I can do another little dragon hatchling!

Instead, I started in on the biggest watercolor I've done yet (18x12"), it seems I can't do anything the easy way. It's not all sketched out yet, but it's in progress!

A unicorn and fairy. Now, I'm just trying to figure out the scenery, and then it's on to painting! I feel pretty good about it so far. Hopefully, it'll spark the drive to paint like crazy again. I've been splitting my week with Mondays and Tuesdays dedicated to the new business, and the rest of the week dedicated to my studio business. Hopefully I fall into that swing of things again!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Grooving... a little bit.

I sketched out my Alice in Wonderland, Alice painting before I left on vacation.

Alice, I drew her first and then the rest of the canvas around her.

I've started wondering if my having a rather long face has led to me constantly drawing faces a little too long, that perhaps should be more round? But when I go to try and fix it, it always looks wrong to me. I can't decide if her face looks too long or not at this point.

The full rough sketch on the canvas. I'm only trying to decide if a window or two should be on the tree as well, or if I should stick with my original intention of ivy winding up it with some flowers. I'm torn. I might just put one small window in as a compromise. This is on an 11x14 canvas, fine tooth - even though that still makes for a rough sketch. I want to try boards since they're so smooth, and I have them, but I haven't had the guts to do it yet!

My son brought his bunny in for approval. Fortunately, we're good to go.  Smoke, the bunny, was very interested though. He does enjoy hopping around my studio sometimes while I'm working.

I was all ready to jump in and paint, but I knew I couldn't start if I was going to be gone for a week, so it stayed on my easel, all alone. Well, I'm sure my cat visited, but I wasn't there to paint it!

When I got back, I had lost my mojo. Now I'm just starting to ease back into it. I forced myself, after working on other "projects" for my studio, to finally just start painting the sky in. I mean, worst case scenario I can always repaint that part. It helped. I'm ready to paint today, now!

So, once I get my walk in with Lily (I've been walking her every day for two miles, and she simply loves getting out), I'll be all set to dig in!

From our walk yesterday. Lily is a year old now!
We're having such lovely weather right now, in the mid-70's (although it actually hit 81 degrees yesterday!) The buds are starting to come out on the trees, and flowers are thinking about coming out. Spring is always very slow here, in Vermont, but once it really gets rolling, it's fabulous!

How's the weather where you are? Are you seeing flowers and headed outside to play in the sun, or snuggling inside while it's cold?