Sunday, January 4, 2015

Watercolor Kitten

Happy New Year! Let's make 2015 a great year filled with love, family, friends and of course, ART!!

Last Christmas, I gave my friend a little watercolor painting of her kitten.  She got another kitten over the summer and when I asked her what she'd like for Christmas this year, she asked if I would be able to do another painting of the new kitty so she could display them together.  I was more than happy to, as I love cats and really enjoy doing animal portraits for people. 

When I paint animals, the first thing I start with is the eyes. If the eyes are wrong, the rest of the painting will be wrong, so that's why I start there. I also love painting eyes, the challenge of making them look real with different tones and colors and highlights. It's the best part of the painting!

 He seems to look a little angry here, but that's just the shape of cat eyes. So enjoyable to paint, especially in watercolor. I love painting cat's green eyes, like my cat has and my friend's other cat. This little guy has more yellowish eyes though, and finding that shade was a little tricky. I used some sap green, yellow ochre, naples yellow and burnt umber. I think. 

Next is just the progression of the rest of this face, body and background.

"Maverick", watercolor on paper. 4"x6". 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Japanese Art

I recently completed a 5 week course at the local art museum in Japanese woodblock printing and calligraphy. I love all kinds of Asian art, and I was looking forward to this class for months. We did a wood block carving and print, made a name stamp and did some calligraphy. 

The first day of class, we had a Japanese model come in and we all did sketches of her in different poses with props.  This pose with the fan was my favorite and the one I used to make my woodblock. I cropped it to just the corner of the fabric and her arm and hand holding the fan. 

The final print on good Japanese rice paper. I'm happy with the print, though I do feel there is a bit of empty space on the right hand side, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Possibly do some light sumi-e painting in the background, cherry blossoms or something. 

There is also the red name stamp.  We got to carve our own with the same wood we used for the print, but obviously on a much smaller scale.  I used a cherry blossom because it was more fun than just my initials. 

My name stamp. Traditionally, they are carved into soapstone, but since we were doing our own, we used wood. I have a little cheap soap stone stamp that came with a Chinese calligraphy set I bought years ago. I'd love to get it carved!

The wooden stamp we carved, next to my little soap stone stamp and a chapstick for size comparison.

On the last day, last week, brush calligraphy!! We practiced these for a while and then did them on highest quality museum quality board, complete with name seal. I love these and I really want to frame and hang them up.


"Zen Meditation"


Monday, November 10, 2014

Japanese Wood Block

I'm taking a Japanese art class at the local museum and our first project is a wood block carving.  I love all forms of printmaking and I haven't done wood block carving in years.  The first class we had a live Japanese model in a kimono with props (fan, bag, parasol) and we drew from life.  We then took our favorite drawing/composition to turn into a print. 

I just finished cutting my block last night and did a quick test print with crayons to get an idea of how it will look completed.  The block is roughly 6"x8" and carved on both sides.

I'll do a more thorough post on this after the actual printing. For now, here's my block and crayon test print. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Black Cat Halloween

In honor of Halloween, I'm going to share some small paintings I've done of my brother's black cat.  I love this guy and I take tons of photos of him whenever I'm home for a visit. (He's very photogenic).  Several of these photos have  become references for paintings.  They're on the small side, the largest is only 9"x7". 

Watercolor on paper, 9"x7"

Watercolor on paper, 3.5"x2.5"
Artist Trading Card (ATC) size.

Cut paper, about 1.5"x2".

Acrylic on mini stretched canvas, 2"x2.75".  

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Taking another quick half a day break from commissioned work a couple of weeks ago, I made this little picture of poppies.  I found the blue and purple background I had put aside from a friend and decided to draw some poppies on it.  More simple free hand drawing with no worry about precision or pleasing anyone but myself. 

I had taken several pictures of poppies on a road trip through the Balkans last summer.  These particular ones were from a pretty area right on the border of Bosnia and Croatia, looking out to the sea.  

First, I picked out the poppies I liked most and drew them on the first scrap of tracing paper I could find. When I had all the flowers I liked, I transferred it to the blue background paper.  I actually really like the scrap tracing paper and I might do something else with that in the future. I like the horizontal composition. 

I traced these flowers onto the blue background paper and then filled them all in with white gesso.  I wanted to use watercolor and colored pencil for these and if I colored straight onto the blue, the colors would have turned muddy.  So I gave them a clean white base to start. 

I decided to use my Cretacolor watercolor pencils to put down a base color of yellows and light oranges. After I sort of scribbled the color on, I washed over with a watercolor brush and clean water. 

 Detail of the scribbled color.

After washing it with water. 

After the base color was added, I filled them in with more colored pencil, but not with the intention to turn it into a watercolor wash.  I used a variety of oranges and reds to fill them in, and then used a fine black marker to hatch in some lines in the darkest areas.  I used a white gel pen to add some more hatched lines for the highlights and then outlined the whole composition with the black marker to make it stand out more. 



Finished picture, about 8 1/2"x11". 

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Watercolor Coming Up...

On a trip to Italy three years ago, I took this photo in Florence:

 I had climbed to the top of the Cathedral and took this shot looking up at the gorgeous carved architecture.  I've been wanting to do a watercolor painting of it ever since!  

I made a quick sketch in my sketchbook on top of some random orange scribbles from some other project or other (and I think it actually adds to the sketch, I like it!) 

 Anyway, that's nothing special but this photo has been on my mind for a while and I finally took the time to start it.  I did a sketch on large (well, large for me, 14"x20") hot pressed (smooth) watercolor paper. 

I know it's hard to see, but it's a very light pencil sketch and as I'm using watercolors, I don't want the pencil to show through or get smeared and dirty the color.

I did make a small print of the drawing and played around with some of my Winsor & Newton colored drawing inks I've had forever and never used. (Another problem of mine, hoarding art supplies and not using them. That's going to be a new project, start using all the supplies!)

This one is small, a little larger than 8"x10" and my aim here was to loosely apply some color and see what happened.  It was also a small break in the middle of my dresses and I wanted to not worry about being precise and accurate, but throw down some color and get this image off my chest a little bit. 

When I start this painting, I'll post as I go along. Until next time!

In Between Projects

Ok, I have to get better at keeping up with my blog. I've been a terrible slacker and I mean to get a bit more serious! 

In my defense, I have been very busy with Etsy work.  I'm so excited my little shop has taken off and I even added a new listing, thanks to some special requests I received. In addition to wedding gowns and watercolor paintings of the bouquet, I do "Bride and Groom" drawings too.  I can't believe I hadn't thought of it, but thank you to the customers who asked for it. What a cool idea!

Then, one of my personal favorite wedding gown drawings:

 The more folded and draped fabric, the better, I think! I love drawing all those folds and shading. Fabric is a fascinating subject.  Drawing with white pencil on black paper also adds to the challenge. It's like drawing in reverse, all the opposite shading you would do with a pencil on white paper. Am I making sense?  I don't always when I talk about my art!! I get so into it and in my own world.  

Right now, I am working on a watercolor bouquet painting. I'm excited to have a flower painting to do, as flowers are one of my absolute favorite subjects. More on that one later. Until next time!