Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Coming Together

I'm finally coming around the bend from the ACEOs. I'm enjoying working on these little guys, I'm going to continue with aiming for one a day, but I'm starting to get the itch to get my Queen of Hearts finally going. I'm mad at myself that I'm so out of my groove, but I'm trying to forgive myself a little bit considering the upheaval we've been constantly experiencing with our schedules and everything else.

I spent this morning at the printers, actually a new printer. I'm hoping that this will be the start of a good relationship, because if so I'll be able to offer all sorts of things (like cards) that people have been requesting for a long time, in addition to a slew of new prints. I was nervous this morning though, because they seemed to not be in a very good mood. I get so nervous meeting a new set of people. I used to be so social, and now... not so much. (The worst part is that I want to meet new people, but I'm hindered on many levels from my own anxieties to the culture here which is decidedly antisocial. Not that I expect anything from a business relationship, but even then it's hard.)

I received my paint-pens finally (Gelly Roll) and I think their idea of opaque and mine are two different things. Their straight opaque colors were thin and see through as watercolors, which makes me wonder what their non-opaque inks look like... do they even show up? The only ones that were actually opaque were the iridescent/metallic ones I also ordered (was there any doubt I would snap up the shiny, sparkly ones?) Now those I really liked! I did a peacock on black to try them out:

"Night Peacock" original ACEO on black illustration board

I like how it came out, but I think I yearn for a finer tip on these pens, and I rather miss the bit of blending I get to do with a brush. So, I'm a bit on the fence about them. I think I'll probably be happier hybridizing the two together (paint it out, and use the metallic pens to give it a snap!)

I also found the most adorable miniature frames (maybe they're so cute to me only because they're so small?) The frames themselves are the size of an ACEO and come with their own matting, so I had to draw out an even smaller space (1.5 x 2.5") to paint. It took a bit of thinking about what I should paint, but I decided on another cottage high on its own hill:

See how tiny this thing is?

"On Top" Mini-painting, framed, watercolor on watercolor paper.

I have other ACEOs in progress, and I really want to paint several more moons. I think I need to get them out of my system (if that's even possible.) But then, if things settle, I think I'm ready to start in on my Queen of Hearts. I have my model, I have the basics in mind. I think it's time to just make it happen.

I've been thinking over my female faces and I realize I really need to start sketching more. I think I got out of practice with faces since I didn't really do ANY last year at all. I'm rusty! I'm going to try to work more on that and see if I can't get things to snap back together once more!

On the kitchen front, we have some tiles picked out for the backsplash, and hopefully it'll help it all come together. I think I'm slowly accepting that I have slightly purple counters. I love purple, I just never imagined it on my kitchen counters! I hope everyone is doing well!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Little Structure

I think I've finally got the hang of the ACEOs. Last night, the one I finished just flowed:

"The Gift" available in my shop

This one is my new favorite! I'm going to do a slew of moons. I've always been enamored with the moon, and it's just calling to me right now.

And that's where I'm going to settle things for the moment. I have decided to make it a goal to do an ACEO original per day. So, I'm going to be posting a new one every morning on my Facebook Art Page! I think that even though I seem to be unable to work on the bigger projects right now, at least I'll be able to complete these. I need that sense of accomplishment right now, while everything is so wild.

Speaking of wild, we had new kitchen counters installed yesterday... and they're the wrong color. Oh, they're what we ordered, but folks, these things are pastel PURPLE. They were not that color in the store. I'm very sensitive to color, as you would expect. But apparently "some variations" can happen, and ambient light can make all the difference.

So now, I'm left with a really nice counter that is really the wrong color, and trying to figure out how to make that look nice. It's heartbreaking waiting almost a decade to invest in a really nice counter, and instead of it being the thing that makes everything nicer in your kitchen, it's the thing that screws everything up. I was literally in tears last night. And the worst thing is that purple is actually my favorite color... but not like this!

before we ripped out the old laminate counter
No counter, actually looks better than before...
Purple Counters.
It doesn't quite come through the picture how pastel they are. I just wanted a nice, classy kind of kitchen. *sigh* We're going to change the curtains, and do a tiled backsplash, and whatever else we can to make it actually look like a nice kitchen, but deep down I'm devastated that I somehow screwed this up. If we need to sell the house, we want people to walk in and actually like the kitchen, not think "Wow, I have to rip out everything..." We saved up for that counter, it wasn't cheap, and it was a mistake. That hurts. A lot.

I know, I know. First world problems. But it still was really upsetting. It also made that much more work to get the kitchen to look nice. What do you think about changing the cabinet doors to a wood color that matches the floor? So they're sort of two-toned cabinets?

Gah. I don't know. I can't believe I made this stupid, expensive mistake.

I need to go work on a little ACEO and try to forget it, but it makes me ill every time I walk into the kitchen. This might work for my diet, however...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Teeny Tiny

Working on those ACEOs was exactly what I needed to do. Once my brain clicked in with working on such a small scale, I was finally able to move forward. Finishing these ACEOs is giving me what I need right now, which is the idea that I am capable of finishing something in the middle of this tornado that is Summer Break!

These are the ones I that finished, and they're up in my website shop ($18 each, including shipping):


Lights On

Forest Cottage


3 Mushrooms

I just had to include the two I took with the mini-easel! I plan on offering these easels for sale at my art booths for the two events I've signed up for. I could do it online too, but I don't know if people would really be interested. Personally, I just love playing with the little things!

I'm still learning about working with ACEOs, and I haven't quite figured out everything I want to. I went with pencils on one, a little bit of watercolors here and there, and then acrylic. I also decided that I like them enough that I ordered some pens and liners to see if I can't tighten up some of the detail work I'd like to add.

My hope is that experimenting with all of this will lead to new things on my bigger works. I've long wondered about using liners, and never have actually done so. Any outlining type of elements you have ever seen in any of my work has been done solely with a paintbrush (and a fair amount of cussing, in some cases.) I also ordered a white pen, which for some reason was always forbidden in my mind (a holdover from those traditional watercolor purist professors I had, I think.) All in all, I'm excited about where this might take me.

Also, it is a relief to get something done while I feel like everything is inside out and backwards. I just feel like I can't focus! I have so much to do that it's overwhelming. It's so bad, I thought about packing up my entire studio and giving up. Like, REALLY giving up. I have tons of thoughts bombard me frequently with things like "You're not good enough. What about being a mom 24/7 like you should? Shouldn't you be out there making this summer something for them to remember? What about the other projects you're supposed to get done? Commitments  appointments, and oh hey, clean clothes would be nice. How's that laundry coming?"

As artists, we all have these nasty little voices run through our head from time to time. The reality is there will always be someone better than you out there, but they will never actually BE YOU. I'm holding tight to that, and trying to ignore the voices that tell me this is all a waste of my time and that I should be doing something productive. Art is a part of me, it's not even a choice. It's just a huge part of who I am, and packing that up, even if I'm not good enough, would be a mistake. I did that once, for several years. It was not healthy for me.

So, I'm here. In a whirlwind, with things flying in every direction, feeling like my head is going to explode and a big part of me waffling between wanting to cry with the covers pulled up over my head, and another part wanting to stomp my feet and get some sort of order restored (neither of which are actually options.)

For now, I'm just going to focus on my tiny paintings. That will hopefully be enough for now!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Little Things

I've still been struggling with getting myself to my paints. The truth is that when your household is turned upside down for summer break, there may be no recovery until school starts once again. However, I do have some positive art-news to report!

Someone suggested ACEOs to me a while ago. I bought some packs on my last major supply order, and they've just sat in a corner of my studio. I admit, I haven't been sure what to do with them. They're so small! I've worked small before, but not that small. And I don't think I have all the supplies I need (for example, I need a good white pen - I need specific suggestions? I've never used one, but I realize now that working so small it would be a boon to have! Help?)

After all these weeks of no productivity, last night I had finally had enough. If I couldn't do a painting the size of a business card, I was in real trouble. Time to make something, anything, happen. I went into my studio and grabbed my stack of blank ACEOs and then stared at them. Now what?

I sketched out a few:

I have fairy cottages on my brain a little bit, along with a few other things...

And then I noticed the black ones that were there too. When I grabbed my paints I also grabbed my pencils. I then went toward the black pieces rather than the white. I had this image of something with a glow, but it didn't quite come through. I still like the results, but I'm chasing something now.

I like how the pencils work on some levels, but I'm unaccustomed to the rough sort of quality they naturally lend a piece. I think it's why I went to paint, I'm attracted to a smoother finish for my own work, even if I appreciate it the rough quality in other's.

So, I switched to my acrylics. I tried for the glow too, but I'm not quite nailing it. I'm starting to wonder if pastels wouldn't be the right thing. I used to get an excellent glow with those, long ago. I think I still have my boxes of chalk pastels in my studio somewhere...

Still, the paint came out better. More vibrant, although I may try crossing the two a bit and see what happens then...

I realize that I love the black background, but I only have a few black pieces left! I also realized that these ACEOs are not necessarily something I have to buy. I have a ton of matting board that I bought when I was matting my own prints. All sorts of colors, and frankly? It seems to be the same kind of stuff these ACEOs are made out of. So, I figure I can make my own for a while.

I'm finally painting again! YAY! More, it'll be good to have some of these smaller paintings to sell which are at a much lower price point than a bigger painting would be. I'm trying to see what folks sell them for, and account for my costs (I looked into eBay, as a lot of folks sell on there. When  did they switch to taking 10% of your sale, and that doesn't even include the payment processing? WOW! Ouch! I think I'm sticking with either Etsy or my own Website for these.)

I figure I'll put them up for sale in a day or two, when I have a bunch to offer. I'm excited that I actually started and finished something. It's been so long! Hopefully I'll get things rolling again and get the bigger paintings finished too. I had been wanting to finish the unicorn and fairy painting so I would have that as a print offering for an upcoming show, but I'm starting to run out of time.

Anyway, I painted something! Yay!

Friday, July 5, 2013


Good grief, it's July!

Sorry that I haven't posted, but the awful truth is that I haven't accomplished anything in the studio at all. My time has been taken up with house and kid projects, and this unrelenting humidity and sticky heat (my next home will have central air. ALL through it, even if they only get one hot day a year! I'm determined! Also, it should have a cleaning fairy.)

I've been looking yearningly at my studio with lots of projects in mind, but instead:

We've made ice cream in a bag:
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup half & half (or light cream)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup coarse salt or table salt(I used canning salt)

gallon-sized Ziploc bag
pint-sized Ziploc bag

Mix the sugar, half & half and vanilla extract together. Pour into a pint-sized Ziploc baggie. Make sure it seals tightly.

Now take the gallon-sized Ziploc bag and fill it up halfway with ice and pour the salt over the ice. Now place the cream filled bag into the ice filled bag and seal.
Make sure it is sealed tightly and start shaking. Shake for about 5 minutes (or 8 minutes if you use heavy cream.)

Open the gallon-sized bag and check to see if the ice cream is hard, if not keep shaking. Once the ice cream is finished, quickly run the closed pint-sized baggie under cold water to quickly clean the salt off the baggie.

Open the baggie and pop in a spoon.

The onion bud opened to reveal a bunch of itty-bitty buds and I'm waiting for them to open too. I can't tell if it smells like an onion yet.

I set up a hammock on my back deck, all by myself.

I found a robin's nest full of four healthy babies watching me very quietly as I weeded a mulched one of the MANY flower/landscaping beds we worked hard on in the heat. Those feathers look a bit warm, actually. I don't think I could sit that close to my siblings in 92 degree weather and 100% humidity.

I learned that a redhead with a massive sunburn is not a pretty sight. *ahem* Sunblock would have been a novel idea.

I found that the ONLY trade-off for all this horrid humidity is a beautiful sunset. That's it. I can't come up with anything else. You can see the humidity in the picture, which actually makes it look less humid than it did! This is nuts! My yard is a complete stinky mud-pit with water squishing over your shoes!

And that with all the excess rain (and it is in excess, as there have been flash-floods for weeks on end here), the frogs and toads just love it. This one hopped up to my daughter the other night, and instead of a low ribbit as one would expect of such a dignified looking toad, instead he squeaked like a cartoon character:

And I always think of toads as he's. Do you? Maybe this one could be a she... but a toad just seems more suited to be a he. Well, unless I think of my third grade teacher. Then, perhaps, a toad is spot on for a she.

The truth is that I have my big watercolor/acrylic unicorn and fairy piece yet to finish:

You can see how it started off watercolor, and then somehow I got frustrated and ended up going heavy handed and more traditionally acrylic. I think I felt that the watercolor just wasn't coming through bold enough. On the other hand, I rather like that it gives the feeling of some elements being not totally solid, fleeting, while others are harsh and set. Maybe that's the whole point of magic depicted in a painting? Not so far off base after all?

I also have my two smaller pieces, the dragon hatchling twins, and the smaller unicorn, but those I haven't done much with either. I think I'm giving up the time lapse on the two of them in favor of simply getting them done. I'll try another time lapse later. When it's not so hot and the camera isn't so distracting. And then I have my Alice paintings to work on. Next up will be the Queen of Hearts. I have plans for her.

More, however? I want to finish out this series by the end of October. That is my goal, so I can start a new series next year. But I have a LONG way to go. It's time to step up the pace! I may have to set aside my other paintings while I really hammer this out to my satisfaction!

I hope you are all doing well! Are you keeping cool? Has it been blisteringly hot? Raining like crazy? Or have you had wonderful weather, where I will promptly be jealous?