Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Year-end Wrap-up

Per my tradition that I started a few years ago, I have constructed my Painting Quilt for 2014. This is simply creating a big square space and plugging in all the paintings from the year into one spot. It's a nice way to see what I have completed in a year's time, not to mention to be able to see some growth.

It might look like a lot to some, but I fear it's actually far below what I had hoped for this year. Oh, and I realize it's got this one in it that I forgot to mention that I finally finished by request right before Christmas:

Eye Spy, 9x12 chalk pastel on pastel paper. Original sold, prints available.

This and the little dwarf with the spoons represents my experimentation with chalk pastels. Chalk was something I did a lot with in high school, but not professionally. I'm not sure where I'm going to go with this medium, or if I'm going to abandon it. I imagine I'll work a bit more with it here and there, likely for the auction groups I work with on Facebook now and again.

Looking at my quilt, I can honestly say that I didn't complete anywhere near what I had set out to do. I looked up my post for last year and my big plan was to work on more large and in-depth paintings. I had such plans! ARGH! Instead, while I did finish the Queen of Hearts, as far as any large and in-depth paintings... I didn't do anything else. I'm pretty disappointed in myself on that level.

However, what I do see in my quilt, beyond experimenting with pastels, is a foray into digital art (bottom left corner) that I had been tiptoeing around for a long time. I had been thinking a lot about buying a real tablet (like a Cintiq) and trying my hand at digital art. To test out how I would do with that, I bought myself a Waccom pen for my ipad and the Art Studio app, which works a lot like photoshop. Those digital paintings resulted in a few that I really ended up loving like this one:

"Star Gazing" prints available

But I also realized that dropping major money on a high end tablet for digital art just isn't for me. I know that digital art always looks crisper on merchandise, and I'll probably create a few a year just for fun (and probably all having a bunny, rabbit, or bumblebee in them), but that I don't need to invest money in a big-time piece of equipment. The main reason is that I'm simply an artist who likes to get her hands dirty.

I like being able to see what I can create digitally, but I'm not drawn to it like I am a rack of paint on the wall and a stack of canvases. There's something about having the actual material beneath my fingers that I just need. So, I'll create my silly and fun digital work here and there (especially if I'm traveling or stuck somewhere), but my main focus will still be traditional work. I think realizing that about the digital artwork was a big accomplishment for 2014. It ticked one of those major questions off my artist bucket-list.

What I also see is a resurgence in my surreal side. I initially started professionally selling as a surreal and abstract artist, and then I kind of abandoned it for the fairy tale work. I realized a while ago that I need both, and I have begun to embrace that whole-heartedly. One of my very favorite paintings from 2014 is this one:

"Sail Away" 8x10 acrylic on canvas (original and prints available)

I had long been dreaming about a figure series where the character brings night with her. Honestly, I think I have been dreaming about this series since I was in high school. Finally, it just bubbled to the surface for a prompt, and I've completed two this year (the other being the black and white "Forward" painting.) Those two are the tiniest tip of the iceberg for me, and there will be many (MANY) more coming.

Looking forward to 2015 I see (and hope and plan):

  • The Nyx series (night bringer) in both acrylic and oils
  • Finishing out Alice if I can, I've been commissioned do many more paintings including the White Queen and Queen Alice which I am already started on and will be sharing that shortly. These are exclusively acrylic
  • Red Riding Hood (and possibly others), and a return to oils
  • A few more minis here and there because they're fun, in acrylic, watercolor, and possibly oils - but trying to not get sucked into them and have them take away from the larger pieces
  • An Alice in Wonderland Calendar, and possibly a surreal one for 2016
  • Creating a yearly Christmas painting that I offer as Christmas cards, as I did this year
I think if by the time I am putting together next year's quilt, I have less work but more in-depth pieces, I will be satisfied with that. So, here's to a very illuminating 2014, and I hope a more satisfying 2015!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Did you get what you wanted for Christmas? I did; my family together. That's always enough for me!

Last night, before the cinnamon rolls were even done.
Notice the lack of flour all over my hair and face. 

I didn't realize how long it has been since I have posted! I didn't even show my finished Stocking Stuffers painting, much less all the little holiday minis I recently completed! I guess I've just been nose-to-the-grindstone and not really doing much else!

So, on this Christmas morning, with wrapping paper strewn throughout the house (seriously, it's driving me insane! I've picked up and it keeps multiplying!) children on sugar highs (and lows) and pets zonked out on a few of their favorite things... here is what I was up to in the past month!

First, I DID finish my holiday painting for 2014, and made Christmas cards out of it and filled orders. I plan on creating a holiday painting every year and doing that. I going to have 2015's finished by September though!

"Stocking Stuffers" 8x10 acrylic on canvas, sold (prints available)

Then there were the holiday minis I got going on. Basically, this is brain candy for an artist. I LOVE doing these little holiday fun ones!

"Candy King" 2x4 inches acrylic on canvas, sold

"Cardinal" 2x2 inches acrylic on canvas, sold

"Mistletoe Bunnies" 3x6 inches acrylic on canvas, sold

"Snowman" 2x2 inches acrylic on canvas, sold

"baby penguin" 2x2 inches acrylic on canvas, sold

"Candy Cane Dragon" 3x3 inches acrylic on canvas, sold

"Little Light" 2x2 inches acrylic on canvas, available

"O'Christmas Tree" 3x3 acrylic on canvas, available

"Gracie" 3x3 inches acrylic on canvas, available
You know what's neat? Knowing that some of my work is under the tree for someone. That makes me all warm and fuzzy!

In addition to working like crazy and trying to balance out the holidays, I also invested (finally) in an expensive art printer so I can make my own prints. And let me tell you, it's fabulous! I love how crisp and vibrant the prints are. Plus, this sets me free from the print service - for many reasons, this is a welcome change!

It's time to start thinking about how to structure 2015 to make it successful. More on that will be coming, as I promise to post for New Years. Until then, though, I must get my website finished! AND THIS HOUSE CLEANED!

Is there a Christmas cleaning fairy I should wish on a pile of ribbon for? No? I should probably get the vacuum out then...

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Black and White

Happy Monday everyone!

I'm struggling with being sick. My son came down with a cold/flu thing and I thought it would miss me. I was wrong. I can't decide if the worst part is the coughing or the horrible headaches it gives me. Or a low-grade fever that just makes me want to lay on the ground and stare at the ceiling.

So, I haven't been all that productive. I did finish my black and white piece, however, so here are some progress to finish pictures:

Just starting in on the figures after filing in the back

Sky filled, working on the wolf

All the black and white is done, now it's ready for tiny hints of color. I didn't expect to add a key, I actually thought the dress would be in her hand, but it worked out very differently.

"Forward" 8x10 inches acrylic on canvas panel. Iridescent paint on the moon, key, pendant, and wolf's eyes.

I learned an awful lot doing this painting. I learned that I haven't painted in a monochromatic way since college and doing value studies, and that it's a lot harder than I remember. I think that's probably because you can create so many values with different colors easier than if you are forced to use just one. It was good for me to do this.

I also learned to "lighten up" on fur. Normally, I think I overwork fur and add lots of precise fur-type details. It makes an animal look sharp, sharper than they probably need to. I forced (and I mean that it took some real struggle for me to let go) myself to back the heck off and go "soft" with it. The wolf looks SO much better. He looks like you would want to pet him. You can see on his tail where things are still a bit sharp and see the difference. Letting go was seriously hard for me, but I realize that in order to improve my technique, I need to do this.

So, I'm working on applying the softer fur technique to my holiday cats. This is a painting I sketched out and fully intended to finish LAST year, and here we are a year later. When it comes to art, I feel like the year is just so short! When it comes to other things (like waiting to move or lose weight) it's a thousand years long.

The original sketch on canvas 2013
progress made 2013, fireplace

more progress, 2013, finishing fireplace
And then I under-painted the stockings a little and went through a bit of art ADD, and didn't go back until now. *sigh* I know, I know. But here is this year's progress:

Working on the stockings

mostly done with the stockings, although looking at it now, I'm trying to decide whether to add sticking to the patches on them. I probably will...
And here is where it literally sits this morning. I just snapped the photo. I've decided that both cats are going to be black and white. I think it works best for the painting.

So, while I'm working on the cats, I'm trying very hard to make them soft. That's my mantra. Soft. Make them soft!

In other news, I woke up to a very light snow! I'm feeling very much in the holiday mood! My goal is to only paint fun holiday paintings for a while! Smaller ones than this, that take less time hopefully, so I'll have some to put in my shop! I just want to feel like I'm accomplishing something, I guess. I should have started the holiday paintings much earlier than I did!

I hope you are all doing well!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Queen's Rule

I think we're at a stopping point for taking pictures of the back view... everything is just sort of dead and ugly right now. Once we get a pretty snow, I'll snap a picture of that! Autumn was fun while it lasted!

I finished my queen earlier this week, finally!

"Queen of Hearts" 16x20 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas.

She came out well, even though there were times I worried. It's funny, because I feel like this painting really fought me. I'm not sure why. It certainly took forever, if we look at actual time from the drawing to the completion... but that's mostly because I walked away frequently, frustrated with her.

I'm going to paint a companion piece to her, The White Queen, and I'm actually looking forward to that one! She lives backwards, so I'm working on coming up with things that express that!

I also finished two little pieces:

I named this one Bunk-bed, can you see why? I'm in love with this one because of the tiny mouse. I have this urge to paint all sorts of tiny mice and kittens on tiny canvases!
4x4 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas
This one is now available in my shop

I painted that little mouse, and he's smaller than an earring:

it's a bad picture, late at night off my phone, but you can see how tiny he is.
I realize I need to fins tinier brushes for a lot of the things I want to do. The ones I have, they're simply not small enough!

And then I finished this kitty too:

The moon and leaves are iridescent. I've started adding in jade to the edges of my moons and I just love it! 
3x6 inches, acrylic on stretched canvas
This painting is now up for sale in my shop

And then I didn't get any work done because everything got a bit crazy here between house showings and other things. I'm back to work now, and working on a piece for the Black and White November auction on facebook:

it's messy, I know. My idea is do paint everything in black and white, except for the moon, her, and the wolf/dog's eyes (which will match the moon somehow.) I've forgotten how tricky it is to paint in just black and white. This is funny really, because I used to be afraid of color! Black and white (and all the grays) were so easy! Color was tricky. Now, it's the other way around!

So, I'm a bit uncertain if the piece will turn out. I'm hopeful, though! And Christmas paintings are on the way too. I must get my holiday painting in! And with that, I'm also putting up one of my Christmas trees today. I know it's early, but normally I decorate on November 1st, so technically I'm late. Since we're showing the house, I wasn't going to put anything up until Thanksgiving, but the truth is that I need my twinkle lights!

I hope you all had a wonderful week! Anyone else have holiday decor up yet?

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Well, it's the last week of October! Sorry I missed last week, but here's this week's photo of my back yard:

Sunday afternoon, October 26th, off the deck
You can see that the leaves are pretty much done. We had a Nor'Easter blow in and for several days the wind was simply howling. We could have had a sweeter leaf season, if not for that. I'm actually amazed that there are leaves on anything after that storm, as it almost flipped our big table on the deck!

Last week I worked on my Queen of Hearts, and I'm super close to being done:

I was painting the hedgehogs, and the one on the left came out fine... but the one on the right turned into the Dormouse. This is what happens when I paint. I simply cannot plan everything out. Sometimes, it has its own ideas, and in this case it was including the Dormouse!

I need to paint the rose hedge that goes around the painting, because I will be including some white and red roses as well as some in-between that are dripping red paint. Those are more complicated elements, and I don't want to over complicate the painting by adding in more detailed flowers and such in the rest of the Garden just yet. I need to check the balance. I thought the hedge would be last, but that just shows what I know! Nothing! The painting rules me!

I am really looking forward to being done with it, however. I did paint some mini-canvas creatures for the online auction I participate in on Facebook:

"Elsie" Poor Elsie. She just wanted to go out trick-or-treating with everyone else... but no one asked her to go! I think they worried she might eat all of their candy, as Elsie has a fearful chocolate addiction - particularly if it has caramel too! 
"Charlie" Charlie is a friendly sort, but as he was out and about on Halloween night he suddenly noticed all manner of wee beasties knocking on doors and asking for candy! It was pretty scary for poor Charlie, so he went and hid in the pumpkin patch until it was all over!

"Gus" Gus is the bravest of our three little misfits. Once he realized what was going on, he made his own happy Halloween friend out of a pumpkin... isn't that what everyone else was doing when they carved theirs? Well, Gus certainly thought so! But he didn't want to get much closer to find out more. No, no... this is close enough. Definitely close enough.

I'm thinking more and more about reabsorbing my Whimsical Misfits (these sorts of creatures) with my Fairy Tale page. I'm just not certain what to do though. They're pretty specific, and yet, they certainly can be their own fairy tale too.


This upcoming week, I hope to finish the Queen (FINALLY!) That's my primary goal. After that, I think I'm going to take an Alice-break and work on Holiday art. Specifically to finish the kittens from last year for Holiday cards, and a few others as well. Christmas certainly comes fast for the artist community, because we have to be working well in advance! It makes me want to put my tree up early, though.

Normally, we put all the Christmas decor up the first week of November, except for the family tree. The family Christmas tree goes up after thanksgiving dinner (so we all don't go into comas after the pie) that way we know the whole family, and often out of town family are there to join in. This year, with showing the house since it's for sale, I can't put up any Christmas decor until Thanksgiving weekend. Although... if showings die off, I may sneak down and start putting stuff up anyway. It cheers me up, and I'm one of those people who has to have everything down on January 2nd because it bugs me after the fact. So, my holiday time is limited! Gah!

I hope everyone has a nice week ahead! We're having a teenage horror-movie party on Halloween. That ought to be... interesting. Or scary. Probably scary.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Scary Movies and Queens!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Socrates, yawning because the horror movie bored him.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 6, 2014

Feeling Autumn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Big foot for squishing creepies!

And then my son quit. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just breath deep and paint!